Thursday, January 20, 2011

Trickster's Girl Blog Tour - Hilari Bell Interview

Today, thanks to everyone at Teen Book Scene, I have an interview from Hilari Bell! She's the author of Trickster's Girl.

So, let's welcome Hilari!

NA:How did you come up with the title?

HB:With a lot of work, that's how. For me, a title either appears with the concept of the story, it's the perfect title, and no one ever tries to change it--or (far more often) the book has no title throughout its writing and coming up with one is really hard. My clever and original working title was "Book One". All I knew then was that I liked the word Trickster for the title, but didn't know what to put with it--much less what to call the second book. And I was worried that Trickster it made it sound like Raven was the main character, when in fact the main characters are Kelsa in the first book, and Jase in the second. I turned the rough manuscript over to my critique group and asked them to come up with a title for me--as I frequently do at this stage. We brainstormed back and forth and came up with some things, and I mulled them over and finally settled on Trickster's Choice, which I really liked. I then gave the title (with the book) to my editor, who also liked the title really well...until she realized that Tamora Pierce had recently used that exact title for one of her books. Contrary to popular belief, titles can't be copyrighted--but there are a lot of disadvantages to duplicating the title of a book already published in the same genre for the same age group. So my editor and I brainstormed some more and came up with Trickster's Girl instead. I'm very happy with that, and it also goes well with Traitor's Son, which was the perfect title for the next book.

NA:Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

HB:Not really a message. Most of my books have a theme, but that's more to keep me on track than to demonstrate something to the reader. I doubt many readers will pick it up, but in the first book, what Kelsa learns is that sometimes you have to give up control/responsibility, and in the next book what Jase learns is that sometimes you have to take on responsibility, even if it's not a fight you started. But as I said, I don't think too many readers will notice that bit of balancing. In fact, there's a lot in both stories about achieving the right balance.

NA:How much of the book is realistic?

HB:I write SF and fantasy--and this book crosses both genres, so there's a double dose of not realistic! However, because it's near future SF set on this planet, I got to take the same trip, over the same roads that Kelsa did--so all the places are real, and (without the magic parts) I did most of the thing she did in healing the leys, including exploring lava caves with a very inadequate flashlight, wading into icy lakes, sneaking out of sight of the ranger to pass the don't-cross tape and lay hands on the glacier. And the places Jase goes in Alaska I also went, and discovered for myself how alive the sickly looking taiga feels. I had so much fun doing the research for these books! I wasn't, of course, being chased by a homicidal biker gang, but the restaurant where they attacked Kelsa is real too, though I moved it's location a bit. And Pickhandle Lake, which really was a First Nations gathering place called Chetthel Chi. And the museum Kelsa robs is real, though I changed its name. In fact, except for the science fiction parts and the magic parts, most of the things in this books are real.

NA:Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

HB:My own father died of cancer, about 10 years ago. And because he had come to passionately hate hospitals, we let him die at home, in his own bed. But I have to admit that was hard on our family in all kinds of ways. The debate about whether to put a dying family member in a hospice is a very real one, and neither decision is right or wrong. You just have to make the right choice for your family and the person who is dying.

NA:What books have most influenced your life most?

HB:Books as a whole have been a huge influence on my life, but I think the most influential ones were Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books. The were the first "real" books (not picture books) I ever read, and they made me into a lifelong fantasy reader, and eventually a fantasy writer.

NA:If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

HB:Lloyd Alexander, for all the reasons mentioned above. When someone asks me who my style most resembles, I think it's probably him.

NA:What book are you reading now?

HB:First I should confess that I mostly read adult books, and not so much YA. But right now it's Robert Parker's latest Spenser mystery. Next up on my list is Mercedes Lackey's new fantasy novel. And the last book I read was Lois Bujold's latest Miles Vorkosigan book--science fiction. I added Lois, because she's probably my favorite author right now. Both her Miles books and her Sharing Knife books are absolutely wonderful.

NA:Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

HB:New in just publishing their first books? No one I can think of offhand. New authors as in, I just discovered them recently? I've really enjoyed Lindsey Davis' Marcus Didius Falco mysteries (historical mystery) and Susan Elizabeth Phillips (humor/romance) I don't read a lot of romance, but the humor in the Phillips books is delightful.

Thank you Hilari for stopping by on this amazing Blog Tour!

Until next time,

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