- Tell us a little about the inspirations behind The Man of a Thousand Faces
I’ve always loved escapist fiction and when the idea of a set of worlds governed by star signs came into my head, it would not leave me alone. With this came characters who had been conditioned by their environment and other people’s perception of what it meant to be of a particular ‘sign’. Once they all started to exist in my mind they decided to rail against me until I wrote their story.
- Can you tell us a little about your writing process?
It involved a lot of scrap paper, messy scrawling and poorly drawn maps which then had to be pulled together to create ‘The Eight Worlds’ in which the story takes place. Creating new worlds from scratch was the real challenge as each of the planets needed a different way of life, beliefs, government and environment, but this also gave an enormous freedom to the writing because you find yourself in a place with no set rules – literally anything can happen and that’s very exciting.
- Why did you choose to personify Horoscopes? (and if you don’t mind me asking which are you – I’m a Capricorn)
I don’t mind at all! I’m Sagittarius as is one of the lead characters Nadine, which as my sister has pointed out seems like ‘star sign favouritism’. However the very point of the book is how an individual cannot be defined by predetermined factors, but by their own choices and understanding of what is important to them.
Horoscopes seemed like the perfect device to illustrate this as they are half believed in, half dismissed, but also belong to everyone and place everyone in an unofficial and for the most part irrelevant category. They have no real bearing on your life.
But there are so many categories that do affect people: race, gender, country etc. so ultimately I chose to set the book in a world where the category of horoscope dictates how you are viewed and how you view yourself, both to illustrate the ultimate inanity of discrimination and of course for entertainment.
- Did you do a lot of Research into the beliefs and history behind them? What was the most interesting thing you found out?
Mostly that the star signs originated from Greek and Roman legends. This meant that each one was already steeped in so much mythology and the fact that the novel is set amongst the planets and both the Greeks and Romans had so many stories and ideas behind each planet was helpful to build upon when creating each world’s values, social system and rules. I think that this really compliments the fantasy genre, the ancient Greeks and Romans were some of the best story tellers and in a world where so many things were yet unanswered by science there was so much more room for fantasy.
- Who were the easiest and the hardest horoscopes to personify?
There are so many accompanying images and stories behind the Star signs and so the characters emerged from a very clear initial visual image. Then it was a case of how much of the initial idea to take. For example, for Scorpio I kept the sting and the tail and pincers but added a women’s upper body.
- Who was your favourite character to write?
I love characters who go on a journey, who have things they need to overcome, who are flawed and who have a lot to learn. In this respect I enjoyed writing Achill because his story is one of redemption. However, the most fun was probably Robin who is a hired entertainer at the King’s court, very good looking and knows it, with an arrogance and wit that can disarm anyone whether they’re royal or not.
- Which planet would you like to visit and why?
Hmmm, I’d love to take a day trip to Venus. I’m fascinated by the idea of Palace politics, tradition and the veneer of respectability which hides the secrets and intrigue which all occur behind tapestries, down secret hallways and in the crossover between nobles and servants. But having to live there would be pretty trying!
- How did you come up with the ways to get worlds?
Well the obvious means of space travel is spaceships, but I also wanted a secret network of tunnels that linked the worlds. And then it was a case of thinking that tunnels which connected through time and space could not be straight forward. For example the ‘Mortal Silk Way’, which is a spider-web structure suspended between Venus, Saturn and Neptune mirrors the idea of a Tesseract, often cited by those who write on time travel as a way of opening up another dimension which I’ve utilized to make travel between the worlds quicker.
- What can we expect from book two?
Oh, you can expect Queens who are reluctant to rule, Pirate warriors with a revenge mission, Prisoners of war with a desperation to live and the mix-ups, sacrifices and heartaches that comes with war. Book two, ‘The Queen From A Thousand Places’, brings more adventure and more conflict as war begins to break out amongst the worlds.
- What are some of your favourite dystopian books?
Finally if you could pick five songs to accompany the book as its soundtrack what would they be?
This is a tricky one because the book is set amongst planets other than Earth, ideally the music would not be from here…however that is potentially problematic. So from our earthly selection I would pick:
Ivan Torrent - Before I Leave This World
Mordred's Lullaby- Heather Dale
Soul Meets Body-Death Cab for Cutie
Ice of Phoenix -