I have lived in St Andrews, Oxford, Aberdeen, and Nottingham, and am old enough to remember black and white TV. I am a pedantic bibliophile, a sometime lawyer (in both England and Scotland), a not-completely-orthodox Christian (and churchwarden), a wishy-washy socialist, a quiet feminist and a compulsive maker of lists. In the distant past, I invented a world where the buildings and manners were medieval, but the sexes equal, and a few years ago Dorac Kingsbrother walked into this world.
1) When did you first discover your love for writing?
I wrote my first book at the age of six. It was a shortened version of “The Jungle Book”, in a notebook with a spotty orange cover.
2) Do you have a favourite place to write? The sitting-room.
3) Do you have a writing routine or process that you adhere to?
Not really. The great question is scribble first, or go straight to the keyboard? On the whole, I scribble illegibly first.
4) Are there any authors or specific books you aspire to?
I admire the concept of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Darkover” series: books that are all set in the same world, but not necessarily at the same time period or with the same characters. I love world-building that feels solid and plausible (JRR Tolkien, George RR Martin), and also distinctive prose with a light touch (Jane Austen, Nancy Mitford). I also like stories where the author’s beliefs can be deduced but are not rammed down the reader’s throat. But these are high aspirations!
5) What inspired you to write We Do Not Kill Children?
For about a month in 2012, I experimented with writing daily snippets of description, story or dialogue in an unused diary. Then I forgot about it. A year later I picked the book up again. Two pieces gripped me – the condemned warrior Dorac, and the Place to Die, and I put them together. After a while, I realised that Dorac needed a time and place to live in, and remembered the continent of Ragaris I’d invented twenty or so years ago.
6) Can you tell us a little about your book?
It’s a story of murder and intrigue; a fantasy without magic; an attempt to see what would happen if women really were valued the same as men in a pre-modern society; and in places a courtroom drama.
7) Do you have a favourite amongst all your characters?
Dorac is my protagonist. He is a xenophobic, violent, surly nerd, and I love him very much, but I’m not sure I’d want to meet him in a dark alley. Kai or Hassdan or Makkam would be better conversationalists. In the next book, the king is a bit of a scene-stealer…
8) Does your book contain a message for readers to consider?
Every criminal justice system needs a court of appeal.
9) Would you be interested in sharing a teaser?
The King stood up. Silence beyond imagining.
“Dorac Kingsbrother, I find you guilty of the murders of Ilda aged twelve years, Gaskor aged nine years, and Filana aged five years.”
It still seemed impossible.
Hands pressed on his shoulders, pushing him to his knees. Blood pounded behind his face. Possible and actual. At least he would soon be dead.
“You have served my mother and me and this land with great loyalty for many years. I do not doubt that you thought what you did was for the best. Words were spoken at Council that may have helped you to believe this. But whatever your motives, it was an abominable act.
“From this day, and forever, you are exiled from this land, and from the fellowship of the Thirty. If you are still within the realm one week from today, or if you ever return without the King’s word, I will have your life.
“I take back your companionship, I take back your land and your gold to comfort the bereaved, I take back your horse and your armour.” He paused. “Your sword you may retain. Go from here, make a better life, and may God forgive you.”
That was all. He barely noticed the eyes now. As he stood up, he overbalanced and had to steady himself on the floor. Someone almost laughed. He bowed to the King, turned, met Kremdar’s eyes one last time and walked out of the Hall.
So his life ended.
But still he walked and breathed, and had to decide what to do.
10) What would say has been your biggest challenge and achievement in writing We Do Not Kill Children?
Getting to the end, and making the plot fit together.
11) What have you learned about yourself as a writer through writing We Do Not Kill Children?
That I love writing emotional dialogue…
12) Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?
Dreaming is fun, but you will never write a book without sitting down and doing the work. Anything you write you can remove later. The first draft is not a finished book.
13) Anything else you would like to say?
Thank you for having me on the show!
14) And finally, do you have any future works planned?
We Do Not Kill Children is the first of the Tales from Ragaris. I am currently waiting nervously to see what my publisher makes of the second, “The Tenth Province of Jaryar”, and trying to write the third.
Publisher: Mightier than the Sword UK