Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ember Blog Tour: Author Interview

Today we are going to be joined at A Trail of Books by the fabulous Carol Oates, author of Shades of Atlantis and the newly released Ember. She is an absolute sweetheart and I'm so glad to be hosting her here on the tour.

So without further adieu, let's get started!

So, you've said before that you love Irish folklore and that's part of what inspired your first novel. Is there a particular lore or legend that's your favorite? One that's always stayed with you.

My favorite tends to change depending on my mood. There are a few tales that I always seem to go back to. I find the strong woman in Celtic history particularly inspiring. At a time when woman were treated no better than property elsewhere, Celtic women were queens and warriors. My favorite lady right now is Queen Medb (Maeve).

She was a great warrior with many lovers and eventually married a much younger man, her bodyguard, after he defeated her previous husband in combat. They argued over who had more wealth. It turned out they were pretty even except for one bull Madb couldn’t match, The White Bull. This didn’t suit her at all and she set her sights on the Brown Bull of Ulster, first she requested it. When she was turned down, she invaded Ulster and this led to a battle with the great CĂșchulainn. His men were overtaken by a spell but he fought Madb’s army one at a time. None could defeat him, but he was distracted long enough for her to steal The Brown Bull.  On returning to Connaght, the bulls fought, The Brown Bull killed The White Bull so Madh made her point that no man would best her.

The bull returned to Ulster madden over the loss of the White Bull and died.
CĂșchulainn was a man of seventeen at the time. He was previously known as Setanta. Setanta is another of my favorites in lore. 

The main thing to remember about Irish lore is these stories were told around fires and passed down from generation to generation, so there are often variations depending on who tells them. Images of The Brown Bull can be seen all over Ireland, especially Northern Ireland, and Madb was immortalized on the old £1Punt.

Do you spend a lot of time planning your characters out with character profiles and such, or do you just start writing and see what comes?
I usually start out with a flaw or some behavioural quirk, something unique and individual to that character but also something that will immediately make them less than perfect. For instance, Draven hates wearing shoes. I think perfection doesn’t exist in real life so how can it in books?  Generally the character I begin with in my head is nothing at all like they end up in the finished book. They take on a life of their own during the story and evolve just as a real person would when faced with challenges and choices. 

I know this isn't an easy for me, but what is your favorite book? (either right now or of all time)
I do have a favorite, The Princess Bride. I know people are probably sick of hearing me talk about this book but I just love it so much. I read it over and over. Most people know the book or the movie but not the back-story. The book was published William Goldman as an abridged account of story by S. Morgenstern and Goldman comments throughout. S. Morgenstern doesn’t really exist, yet is presented as a real person. For years, legal difficultly with Morgenstern’s ‘estate’ prevented the sequel, Buttercup’s Baby being published by Goldman. For me it is the ultimate dream within a dream and that’s what we writers are all about.

The mini website, where you can request a scene deleted because of legal issues with Morgenstern. I won’t ruin the surprise by saying what it is.

When you’re writing and get stuck on a scene, what do you use for inspiration?

The inspiration always comes from the characters. It’s a little like sitting in a room with friends and watching how they interact. I am aware of how crazy that sounds. lol. But, these guys and girls do become like real people to me. I have been known to talk about them to other people as if they are. I’ve been known to talk to them and even more worryingly, for them to talk back. Sometimes I will listen to music to keep my motivation going and keep things flowing. I enjoy instrumentals from the likes of Two Steps from Hell and ES Posthumus.

With Ember, did any of the characters really stick out for you? What was one of your favorite scenes to work on?

Now we are getting to the hard stuff. Without giving anything away, Ivy will stay with me for a long time. I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say Ivy was the most unplanned character I have ever written. I had no idea things would turn out as they did for her and it influenced everything afterward. I mean right up to writing the scenes, I had no idea. I think I was probably as shocked as Candra, but it just came out that way. Sadly, there was no hot angel there for me when it did. As a result one of my favorite and hardest scenes was between Sebastian and Candra in the bedroom. He has no frame of reference to help her and her desperation weighed on me for days after, but I love how it turned out. I loved the growth for Sebastian. He stuck it out even though it was difficult for him. I think the fun scenes to write are probably the fight scenes. Draven and Sebastian are fun to write together.   

Have you ever read a book and wished that you could actually be a part of the story, as one of the characters?
Back to The Princess Bride, learning to sword fight from Inigo Montoya. How cool would that be?

Okay, thank you so much for doing this. I have one more question for you. Is there anything you can tell us about what you’re working on now? Any little tidbits to tide us over?

I’m currently working on finishing two projects, the Shades of Atlantis sequel and the Ember sequel. This week I’m in revisions on the Ember sequel before it goes out for critique. In the past I’ve put out a couple of teasers as I write, with the warning they are un-edited and may end up cut or dramatically different. With that in mind, here is an exclusive from the Ember sequel when Sebastian has a clandestine meeting with Ananchel in a dark Alley.

“Why not ask Lofial or Gabriel?”
            “You know why,” he retorted sharply.
            Ananchel hummed thoughtfully, keeping her back to Sebastian. After a moment, her long legs crossed at the ankle and she spun lightly as a ballerina toward him. Her hair lifted and captured the few stray beams of silver moonlight, becoming like flames caught in a draught.
“Silly, silly Sebastian. You really are clueless and you honestly have no idea what’s going on here, do you?”
            Sebastian tilted his head attempting to measure Ananchel’s body language. His fingers became rigid, his joints cracking in the process.
            “About?” he asked uneasily.
            Ananchel smirked. “You better hold on to your petticoat, sweetheart. You are about to go down the mother of all rabbit holes.”

Twitter: @caroloates

Thank you for joining us today, Carol!

Here's the tour schedule to check out the other participating blogs in this tour and for the prizes:


Six random blogs on the tour will be giving away an ebook copy of EMBER. Make sure you comment with your email to be entered into the giveaway. RUNNER UP PRIZE: An EMBER canvas tote and print copy of EMBER. GRAND PRIZE: A silver butterfly necklace, an EMBER canvas tote, and an ebook of EMBER. To enter into the GRAND PRIZE and RUNNER UP PRIZE giveaways, you must comment on ALL blog posts with your email during the tour.


  1. I like this Maeve. She sounds like a righteous cougar!

    I've heard The Princess Bride book is much darker than the movie, which I loved. So many great quotes from that movie. "Inconceivable!" "Farmboy, fetch me the pitcher." "Princess of pubescence!" "Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." and so on.

    Great interview, ladies!

  2. Fantastic interview! The Princess Bride. I agree, that would have to be one of my faves, as well =) Love it! Thanks, ladies.

  3. Thanks for hosting me today, Megan. Jen, I have a feeling you could have gone on quoting for a while. lol

  4. Oh!! The Princess Bride...well then for the win! But seriously, this sounds awesome :)

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  5. Great interview. THanks so much. Who doesn't love THE PRINCESS BRIDE? I'm getting more and more excited about EMBER with each stop. Love it!

  6. What a fabulous post. A little folklore, a little story telling, a little movie fun.


  7. Great interview! I haven't read The Princess Bride, but I feel like I need to sometime soon.

    Jess @ The Midnight Bookworm

  8. Love the interview!!

  9. I really like the plot of the book mostly because there's an angel.
    Thank you for this opportunity.

  10. email wrong excuse-me

  11. Love how you start with a character quirk. Its those little things that really make them stand out. I don't think you can talk about The Princess Bride too much, not possible.

    candicerjames [at] gmail [dot] com

  12. Great interview! Can't wait to read.

  13. Great interview, the book sounds an awesome, can't wait to read it:)



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