An Interview With Rachel Neumeier on LORD OF THE CHANGING WINDS
Have you always known that you wanted to write novels?
I always made up stories in boring classes – as far back as I can remember. (Doesn’t everybody?). And I never was interested in short stories. Novel length is the only length that works for me. Or longer! It was HARD to learn to write SHORT novels.
After a hard day of writing, is there anything you like to do in your free time?
It would be nice if I could read, which has always been one of my favorite things. But when I’m actually involved in writing a book of my own, I read very little fiction. I read nonfiction, or cook, or work in the garden, or take the dogs for a walk, or if I have a show or obedience trial coming up I might work on, say, teaching one of my dogs to stand beautifully or heel backing up or something. Of course, if I work with one dog, they all want in on the fun, so training sessions can take a while.
Do you have any particular favorite authors who have influenced your work?
Certainly! I love Patricia McKillip and Robin McKinley. And Patricia Wrede, Diana Wynne Jones, CJ Cherryh and Lois McMaster Bujold, in no particular order, and I’m sure I’ve missed a couple of my favorites. But I have to say that I can only hope Patricia McKillip has influenced my writing; I think she writes the most perfect stories in the most beautiful language.
The connection between the desert and griffins is a unique take on griffin mythology. Where did you draw your inspiration from?
It just happened. I didn’t have that connection in mind at all. I like griffins and wanted to do something with them, but I had no idea there was going to be a connection between griffins and fire. Then I wrote the very first paragraph and boom, there it was, right out of a, so to speak, clear sky.
Do you harbor a secret preference for any one griffin?
Actually, yes, not that it’s secret. Eskainiane, the griffin who at the end – well, that would be giving too much away, I suppose. But to me, Eskainiane really exemplifies what the ideal griffin should be – generous, joyful, passionate, courageous, even exuberant. We don’t see too much of him, but he’s the sort of griffin who would make you think, Hey, being a griffin might be pretty neat.
The subtle, earth-based magic is seamlessly woven into the fabric of Kes and Bertaud’s world. Was this an idea you had from the outset or did it develop over time?
It was a necessary part of the structure of the world as soon as griffins became connected to fire. I immediately saw that fire should be intrinsically opposed, or at least foreign to, something else, something human. The something else became earth. The exact nature of human magic developed and changed a lot over time, though, and is actually still changing now as I finish Book 2 and think about Book 3.
What’s in store for the next novel of the Griffin Mage series?
That would be telling. Oh, okay, it’s set in the country of Casmantium, it concerns the ongoing problem of imbalance between humans and griffins, and it develops a different aspect of earth magic than we see in the first book.
Finally what has been your favorite part of the publishing process?
You’d think it would be seeing the book actually on the shelf in real bookstores, wouldn’t you? But actually, by the time the book hits the shelves, I’m pretty accustomed to the idea that it’s going to. (Not that this isn’t still a fine thing!). No, the BEST part is when you FIRST hear that an editor at a good publishing house loves one of your books and is making an offer.
The funny part about LORD OF THE CHANGING WINDS is that I had JUST moaned to a friend that this book hadn’t found a home and I was starting to be afraid it wasn’t going to – twenty minutes later I got the good news from my agent. That is a thrill that isn’t going to get old anytime soon.