Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Julia Ibbotson’s replies to my questions and am very happy to have the opportunity to share them with you today. Read on to discover how she responded, find out more about her and her book ‘The Shape On The Air’ and to have the opportunity to enter the rafflecopter giveaway associated with this book tour!
Where did you get the inspiration for the book/series?
Firstly, thank you so much for taking part in my book tour, and for having me on your blog today. Inspiration? To be honest, my ideas come into my mind pretty much unbidden. I’m constantly curious about people, relationships, history, things around me, so often an idea for a book comes from my everyday life, but with a lot of imagination to develop it into a viable story. In A Shape on the Air, I wanted Dr Viv to have a troubled relationship, to have a traumatic experience that would lead to a time-slip and a deep connection to another woman in the distant past. The idea for A Shape on the Air came from my interest in early medieval history which was my first research field, the post-Roman, early Anglo Saxon era, commonly called the Dark Ages. I’d been reading recent research, mainly archaeological stuff, that supported my view that it wasn’t so ‘dark’ and that it wasn’t just all about barbaric fighting, invasions, and brutality, but that it was actually marked by richness and diversity. I am also very interested in the concept of time and I’d wanted to write a time-slip for ages – but then you have to think, how could it actually happen to normal people in their everyday lives?
What is your writing process?
Before I sit down at my computer to write, I go swimming, every weekday morning first thing. At least 30 lengths of the pool and a session in the gym. Then I feel I have a clear mind to start writing. I take the first coffee of the day into my study with me, and keep replenishing it through my morning and afternoon sessions at my desk. I do my emails first but I try to avoid looking at social media until I’ve reached my target for the day. I aim to do my research in the summer because I can do it outdoors and I hate being cooped up inside! All my books take quite a lot of detailed research, including recent papers, even though I’m familiar with the field. Then I do the actual writing in the winter. I’m a planner and I start with a 3-Act plan for the structure and edit as I go, but then do more edits when I think I have a decent final draft. It’s all a long process, but worth it as I want my books to be accurate in every way. Readers do pick up on anything incorrect (rightly so) and so I try to avoid complaints!
Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?
I write on my computer so that I can easily edit as I go, but my research notes and planning notes and graphs are usually the old pen and paper, and post-its everywhere. I have a pinboard beside my desk and I fill it for the novel I’m currently writing, with pictures from the history I’m writing about and inspiration for characters. For example my inspiration for Dr Viv is a pic of Rachel Weiss and Rev Rory is James Norton (gorgeous!). And there are lots of pics of early medieval banqueting halls (mead halls), Anglo Saxon warriors and ladies, a dark ancient mere, and the prototype of Viv’s apartment which is actually somewhere I lived just outside Oxford.
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
My favourite character is always the one I’m writing at the moment! In A Shape on the Air, I loved Dr Viv/Lady Vivianne (traumatised by Pete’s betrayal) and Rev Rory/Sir Roland (a hunk but also sensitive and caring), but I was especially fond of Tilly/Tilda who is very sweet and such fun I really enjoyed writing her.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
I think it would have to be Lady Vivianne because I guess 499 AD would have been an exciting time to live in, caught between the Roman world and before the Anglo Saxon era was properly established. It was a time of change and uncertainty but also an opportunity for making your mark. Women were respected as part of the leadership of communities and Lady Vivianne holds her own in difficult circumstances. And I think she’s a good person with the interests of her community at heart. Although she was brought up as the daughter of the king/chieftain, she is not arrogant or entitled; she wants a more equal world.
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
I started with Lady Vivianne. The names Vivianne, Nimue, Nivian etc are the names associated with the Lady of the Lake in Arthurian legend (which is important in the story) and I had to choose a name that could translate to a modern equivalent, hence Dr Viv. Likewise Sir Roland which was a common name in English and French medieval legend, and then Rory came from that. It was the same for all the other characters in the two time periods. I deliberately didn’t choose totally authentic pre-Anglo Saxon/Britonic names because that wouldn’t have worked with the dual times and additionally, they would have been more difficult to read! It was a conscious decision to approximate a modernisation of historic names. After all, I’m writing characters who are from different ‘tribes’: Briton, Celtic, Roman, Angles, Saxons!
What are your future plans as an author?
My current WIP is the sequel to A Shape on the Air and is set in Madeira. It’s provisionally called The Dragon Tree. Again Viv has a traumatic experience, so you can guess what that leads to! It is a time-slip/dual time story and goes back to the 14th and 16th centuries on the island which were fascinating times. I hope to finish that shortly and I also have the outline of a third book in the Dr Viv DuLac series which returns to my favourite early medieval romance/mystery. After that, I have no idea. Things change so quickly in publishing that it’s difficult to predict the market or what I will fancy writing in a couple of years’ time. Probably I’ll stick with early medieval/Anglo-Saxon, but it may not be a time-slip but a straight-forward story set in that time.
Thank you so much for featuring A Shape on the Air today. It’s much appreciated.
It is definitely my pleasure – thank you so much for your enlightening answers to my questions, I really did enjoy reading them!
Read on to discover more about A Shape on the Air , its author and to have the opportunity to enter this tour’s giveaway:
Unlocking a love that lasts for lifetimes – and beyond! When Dr Viv DuLac, a medievalist, slips into 499 AD and into the body of Lady Vivianne, little does she realise that both their lives across the centuries will become intertwined as they fight for their dreams … and their lives. How can the key which Viv bring back with her to the present unlock the love they both crave, and help them through the dangers they both face? And how can they help each other across the centuries, without changing the course of history?
Purchase Links – http://myBook.to/ASOTA
Acclaimed, award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She read English at Keele University, England (after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana, West Africa) specialising in medieval language, literature and history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a school teacher, then an academic as a senior university lecturer and researcher. As well as medieval time-slip, she has published a number of books, including memoir/history of food (The Old Rectory), children’s medieval fantasy (S.C.A.R.S), a trilogy opening in 1960s Ghana (Drumbeats), and many academic works. Apart from insatiable reading, she loves travelling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga and walking in the countryside in England and Madeira where she and her husband divide their time.
Social Media Links –
Giveaway to Win a Paperback copy of The Old Rectory, book mark, postcard, key ring, handbag fob. (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the link to the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Many thanks to Julia Ibbotson for answering my questions and to Rachel’s Random Resources for providing materials for this post and organising the tour it is part of.