Cecilia Dart Thornton broke onto the fantasy scene after being discovered on the internet with ‘The Ill’Made Mute’, which began the Bitterbynde trilogy. It was one of those series that grabbed you and did not let go. I was sad to see it finish. The great news is that Cecilia kept writing!
After the success of them, it was followed up with the Crowthistle Chronicles. Spread over four volumes, it told the story of a cursed and gifted family.
As a personal comment, I have found Cecilia quite wonderful, incredibly eloquent in her answers and lovely to talk to. She even apologised for being tardy when it took her (a whole) 12 days to reply to the questions. So, I introduce Cecilia Dart Thornton.
What genre would you like to write a book in (that you haven’t yet)?
Non fiction (is is it a genre?) I love reading well written non fiction by authors such as Simon Winchester. As a child I read only fantasy and sci-fi, but these days I find myself being more interested in history and the natural sciences. I’d like to write about the First World War.
Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?
My ideas fly in through the window of my consciousness like ragged pigeons in a cloud of blowing feathers.
Then they have to be tidied up and tamed before being set free, flapping away on paper wings. (I couldn’t help inserting a bit of purple prose) . Ideas spring into being at the most unexpected moments. Yet if I sat down and tried to conjure a story idea, it would not happen.
When you start a new story, do you have a title for it? Does that trigger the story?
No, the trigger is some core concept I want to explore. The title comes later. That said, thinking up titles is one of my favourite hobbies.
Do you see the future of fantasy and science fiction as bright? If so, which authors are driving it?
Of course it is bright! People love to dream. Dreamers are driving this huge economy of fantasy movies and books right now. Human beings will never stop wanting to fly to the stars. Interest in fantasy waxes and wanes from decade to decade but it will never fade. Stephanie Meyer is driving it, and JK Rowling, and JRR Tolkien.
What themes are being overused?
Vampires! (Did you guess I’d say that?) Oh, and vampires. Probably werewolves, too.
Are movies of books ruining the book?
Not at all. Nothing can ruin a book. Its words stay inviolate on the page no matter what cringeworthy establishments or amputations screenwriters apply to the motion picture script. The book is not the movie and the movie is not the book. Some directors make a better version of a story than others. The original book remains forever pristine.
Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?
Yes, but in a good way. When the video player was invented everyone thought it would be the demise of cinemas, and when synthesised music evolved everyone thought live instruments would become passé. Neither tragedy occurred. The introduction of ebook does not spell the end of print. Each medium for conveying words complements the other, according to preference. Ebooks also make it easier for authors to self publish.
Print books might have to become more beautiful, decorative artefacts in themselves, to give themselves an advantage over ebook readers. As a matter of fact my latest book THE MIDNIGHT GAME, does just that. Its hard covers are gold embossed and pasted inside with traditional-style endpapers, its pages have gilded edges, it has a green ribbon bookmark and a green and gold headband. Its design is based on those beautiful books our grandparents used to own, which were often given to them as school prizes, and which become family heirlooms.
Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors? How do you choose which ones to read?
I choose by word of mouth. I’ll read books recommended by friends who have similar tastes to mine.
What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?
The limitless possibilities. The sheer escape from the harshness of the real world. Escaping into a book is like a holiday for the mind, and when the story evokes a realm of magic, the holiday is utterly thrilling.
Can I get an autographed book? (lol)
Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to? How much impact can they have on the whole story?
I never showed my first seven books to anyone until they were finished – then they went straight to my editor. Recently I tried showing a work in progress to some friends, but in the end I found the experience confusing and decided to return to my tried and true method.
Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?
No! My stories just get longer and longer no matter how hard I try to limit them.
Do you have a target each day?
I wish! I am a totally disorganised writer.
Do you write constantly or have breaks between books?
It’s hard to say. In some ways I write constantly because writing is more than the act of putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard). Before you get that far you have to develop your ideas. I spend a lot of time thinking about plot and character every day, even when not actually writing. The more I think about them the more they fatten up into words that can eventually be written down.
Do you have characters running around your head? Do they dictate events and their histories to you?
My skull is a pretty crowded and chaotic venue, but I like to think am the master there and none of the characters dictates to me. Real life is so utterly beyond my control that I feel there has to be someplace I can rule with an iron fist, even if it’s only inside my own brain.
After so many books, how do you keep them unique?
Well, its a worry. It’s often said that authors write the same story over and over, and I am always aghast when I think I’ve discovered certain tropes repeatedly creeping into my work. I sometimes wonder what these themes say about me. Writing non fiction ought to put paid to all that!
What is your biggest (self-imposed) time waster?
Do you remember the first time you saw your book in a shop?
You’re not going to believe me, but no. I just have a vague recollection of seeing THE ILL-MADE MUTE everywhere I went – bookshops, airports, libraries… When the book was first released I was being taken on a whirlwind National Author Tour and the experience of being published just sorted of melted into a blur.
Do you read other people’s writing?
Other than published works? Hardly ever – the reason being that there are simply too few hours in the day.
Would you read mine?
Okay but I can’t guarantee a time frame!
Cecilia’s latest book is THE MIDNIGHT GAME, a fantasy novel for young adults. Its website is here http://www.midnight-game.com/index.html. There is also a limited edition and an online bookshop where people can buy it here http://dartthorntonbookshop.weebly.com/midnight-game-limited-edition.html And there’s a Cyberhunt to find the first three chapters free online!
Her website can be found here: http://www.dartthornton.com/