Joining me today in the hot seat is author Anna LaForge. Thank you, Anna, for taking the time to chat to me. Please sit down, get comfortable and let’s begin.
About Anna LaForge
Anna LaForge read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings at fourteen, Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy at sixteen, and LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness at eighteen, at which time she decided that she, too, wanted to create new worlds.
Born in Philadelphia, her work as an actor, director, dramaturg, and professor has taken her to San Francisco, Washington D.C. and New York City. Once an executive director of two not for profit theater organizations, she now divides her time between teaching, writing, and seeing live performance.
The Marcella Fragment, the first book in her Maze series was published in June 2012. The second book of the series, Agave Revealed, followed in June 2013. Book three of the series, Pelion Preserved was published in January, 2016.
What’s the name of the book you’re here to talk about?
Pelion Preserved, Book Three of the Maze trilogy
Tell us a bit about your book
For generations Pelion has been a city of rumour across the land, guarded and hidden behind its walls. Yet for the last hundred years, Pelion has opened its gates to seekers from foreign realms, returning those transformed by the Gift of the Sowers to use their new skills in towns, villages, and scattered settlements spread across a vast, empty continent. Not all transformations are successful ones. Still, the Nineteenth Mother of Pelion perseveres in keeping the promise of the Sowers—aliens who had seeded this world with the remnants of a ravaged and broken Earth—a promise of human enlightenment and a world reborn.
If the Mother’s design–-to bring together a scarred prince (Sandur of Endlin) and a blind bard (Alyssa of Cinthea)-–should succeed, it would prove that the Gift can be received by all and that out of tragedy and failure, hope can be reborn. For in that hope lies the critical balance of whether Pelion will turn from its path and preserve only the prejudice of the past or embrace the preservation of a promise for the rest of the undiscovered world …
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
Reddin, a healer of Pelion, has the most grounded name of all my characters since it comes from an old Quaker verb– “redd”– which means to clean or straighten up. It came to me because I knew his mate, Alyssa of Agave, was going to be a hellion, a little bit of chaos with whom he would have to cope in order for them to survive in Agave Revealed, Book Two of the Maze series.
Give us an insight into your main character. What makes them unique?
I suppose Alyssa, a bard of Cinthea, is unique in that she is blind, although not blind from birth. A childhood fever took away her sight, but she has a distinct skill, storytelling, and her training as a bard give her status in her homeland and other lands as well. Sandur has been abused by his father and has never experienced real friendship with anyone until he meets a blind woman in a cell in the Maze. That meeting begins their great adventure in Pelion Preserved.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
My trilogy was designed as one complete entity, taking the reader over the course of a century, each book separate and standing on its own, but always working toward the thesis that the new Earth will not be destroyed as the old Earth was. Another accomplishment is that while two people, male and female, live at the centre of each book, neither one is the protagonist. All three books pass the Bechdel test–women have conversations that do not focus on their relationships with males. The women who serve as The Mothers of Pelion, are, in fact, the most active and powerful persons in the entire series–young, old, lame, thin, and well-padded, they move the story forward. There are wonderful male characters to be found here–mute Stanis and Tyre’s mentor, Beal–to name two characters from The Marcella Fragment, Book One of the Maze trilogy.
Do you have a favourite conference / convention that you like to attend? What is it?
Without a doubt, it is WisCon. I participated in 2014 and was fascinated by the number and quality of the authors they featured. I’ve been to others, LunaCon and Baycon, but WisCon is a memory that will never fade, including the excellence of those Wisconsin cheese curds!
Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?
The big public scenes are the hardest to write. For me, nothing compares to the difficulty of portraying a large crowd in action. The Equerry Court scenes that come at the end of Pelion Preserved were especially difficult since they include actual legal procedures and points of law.
The first meetings of potential lovers are not difficult so much as they are challenging. How can I avoid cliché? How will the way the lovers begin determine the way their lives together will progress?
What are you working on now?
Funny that you ask. It’s about six months since Pelion Preserved was published and I’ve just started thinking about the next phase, which will include the return of the Sowers. It has to happen, I think, and another five hundred years must pass so we can see how things have progressed. (Or not.)
Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
I learned long ago to write, write, write, spewing words everywhere, not thinking about making perfect sentences, focusing on the five senses, until, finally, it’s time to take a break. After I’ve walked around a bit, sipped some tea, and changed the CD, I come back and begin by giving a thorough editing job to everything I’ve written. I could never write a perfect sentence first time out of the gate. But give me some time to reflect, and I just might be capable of writing one.
Describe what your ideal writing space looks like.
It’s midnight in the city. Traffic is quiet; people converse out on the street, but their words aren’t distinct. My desk is organized, the room is clean, and WQXR plays quietly in the background. The lamp is lit, the computer purrs, and I begin …
Available formats: ebook, paperback