Monday, March 12, 2012

Book Chat Special: Interview with Lindsey Duncan, author of FLOW


Please welcome Lindsey Duncan to the blog. She's the author of Flow, which is now available.

Tell us a little about yourself, Lindsey.

Besides writing, I am a professional harp performer and teacher.  I play the traditional lever harp, sometimes known as the Celtic harp – not always accurately, though it is in my case.  I play primarily Celtic music (Scottish, Welsh and Irish), with some Renaissance, popular, contemporary and seasonal repertoire.  Some recent tunes I’ve worked up range from the Hebrew “Eyli, Eyli” to “Under The Sea” from The Little Mermaid.

I live near Cincinnati, Ohio with two little white puffballs, otherwise known as Bichon Frises:  Lexi (meaning “protector of humanity” in Greek) and Peri (meaning “nymph,” also in Greek).  If you take nymph to imply mischievous, the name are pretty accurate on both counts.

Another fact about me:  I was a child of lifelong homeschooling.  Beside college courses, I’ve only ever set foot in a grade school to vote.  I credit the freedom of homeschooling with opening a lot of options in my life.

As an aside (relevant to Flow), I did take figure-skating lessons for a few years and got up to basic jumps before I stopped.  I was not physical enough or serious enough to pursue it competitively, but there is definitely something magical about it.

Wow, sounds awesome! Your publisher for Flow is Double Dragon Publishing. How did you find out about them and submit to them?

This is a short answer – I can no longer remember how I initially found Double Dragon!  I’ve submitted to them in the past, coincidentally also a contemporary fantasy, and was impressed by their setup.

In a two-sentence pitch, tell us what Flow is about.

Flow follows the water-witch Chailyn, on dry land for her first mission, and Kit, a contemporary teen with mysterious powers, as they seek the man who killed Kit's mother ... a goal which catches the interest of the darkest of fairies.  They must also deal with the Borderwatch, a zealous organization that hunts fairies and has been in a cold war with the water-witches for decades.

In the book description, there is the mention of fairies. How are your fairies similar to the ones found in fantasy novels? How are they different?

The fairies in Flow begin from a traditional background and have many familiar elements – weakness to iron, aversion to holy symbols, and an amoral perspective on human mores and ethics.  Where I have taken a different course from some portrayals is by focusing on one specific explanation for the existence of the fairy.

When I was researching for the story, I came across a legend that fairies began in the Garden of Eden when Eve was bathing her children.  God called her to present the children – and ashamed of those who had not yet been bathed, she told them to hide.  He asked if all her children were gathered, and she said they were.  So the children who had not been bathed, who were still in hiding, were banished and became the first fairies.

This really caught my fancy, so I decided to use it as a theoretical origin story for my fairies – even to the point to referring to them as the Unwashed.  This led to another important facet of fairies in this setting – their reaction to the element of water.  Again, in my research, I noticed that some fairies were heavily aspected towards water (asrai, kelpie, etc), and others had an aversion to it (not being able to cross flowing water being a common one) … but the importance of water seemed a common theme.  So I enhanced this to a commonality between all fairies.

Where I hope I have taken further steps away from the expected kind of fairfolk is I’ve expanded from some of the traditional species into related types – for instance the Grey Kin, who take the common theme of psychic vampirism and use it as a means to survive in modern society, and Urban Legends, based on the shapeshifting Lutins.

That's a really interesting story about fairies and the Garden of Eden. What kind of magic did you create for Flow?

There are two main forms of magic seen in Flow.  The first is fairy magic – the abilities and powers the Unwashed possess.  The second is steeped (ahem) in water imagery:  it involves manipulating invisible currents of energy that move through everything and is the domain of the water-witches.  I also briefly touch upon mediums – those who can see and speak with the dead – and coldseers – though who can see the currents and identify supernatural beings, but are not themselves magical.

It is also implied that there is another type of very traditional ritual magic practiced by a select few – but this has only a brief appearance in Flow.

What inspired you to write Flow?

Flow began as a character-based novel.  I had three characters, all initially from short-lived roleplaying games.  I knew they had more life in them, that I wasn’t nearly done exploring their stories … so I reworked their backgrounds to be appropriate to a new setting and thought up a plot around which they could meet.  Flow was all about giving Kit, Chailyn and Hadrian a chance to live on the page.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I’m working on editing my soft science fiction novel, Scylla and Charybdis, about a young woman from an isolated space station who – to save a mysterious refugee – flees her home and enters a universe shattered by Y-Poisoning … a genetically engineered disease that affected only men.  Two civilizations developed in reaction to the plague, and she seeks her place in them.

I consider this my first serious attempt at novel-length science fiction.  I did a lot of background research about planet types, revolution and rotation, fractional light-speed travel, etc – very little of which appears in the book, but which hopefully provides it with solid underpinnings.

If you could recommend one book—not your own—what book would that be?

One book?  How cruel!

For book and literature lovers, and especially fellow writers, I have to recommend Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series (is it cheating to recommend a group of books?), starting with The Eyre Affair.  They are wonderfully zany, witty and entertaining … while still managing moments of tension and emotion.  The premise of the books?  That any fictional characters dreamed up by authors are real, repetitively living out the events of their story … and what they get up to while “off-camera” is a blast to read about.  There are few books that make me howl out loud while still taking the story seriously.  These definitely fall into that category.

Flow sounds wonderful! Best of luck with this novel and your other works.

Kit Morgan has always known there’s more to the world than she sees – it’s hard not to, when her emotions cause objects to shift and glass to shatter. Then she encounters water-witch Chailyn, who reveals to her the existence of fairies, old and treacherous. Chailyn knows as little of surface life as Kit does of the supernatural – but both have to learn quickly, for Kit’s powers are surfacing.

Joined by Hadrian, whose hypersensitive perceptions have left him jaded, they rouse a hornet’s nest. They must also evade the Borderwatch – a supernatural agency that believes fairies are too dangerous to live and takes issue with Kit’s rogue abilities. Unable to take shelter with the water-witches, but with some unexpected allies, the three are forced to make a stand.


LINDSEY DUNCAN is a life-long writer and professional Celtic harp performer, with short fiction and poetry in numerous speculative fiction publications.  She feels that music and language are inextricably linked.  She lives, performs and teaches harp in Cincinnati, Ohio. 



Aubrie said...

Great interview! I love the cover! Under the Sea is one of my favorites! I bet it sounds beautiful on harp.

Talli Roland said...

Wow, what a great interview from such an interesting person. I've always wanted to play the harp. Maybe one day! Good luck with the novel, Lindsey.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good luck, Lindsey! And I haven't met too many harpists.

Margo Kelly said...

Great interview! And ... I've tagged you on my blog today! :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

I've always loved listening to the harp. I wish you the best, Lindsey!

Lindsey Duncan said...

Thanks, all!

I love playing the harp - hard to make it sound bad ... ;-)

Rachel Morgan said...

You play the harp? That. Is. So. Cool! Seriously. No instrument I've ever played can rival the coolness of the harp.

It is incredibly interesting to see the different ways in which authors use mythological/magical beings. While it seems you've used a lot of traditional faerie elements, I ignored most of them in my faerie books!

FLOW sounds like a story I'd enjoy. Oh, wait, is there a love story? I'm a sucker for one of those!

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful interview, and what a fascinating twist on the origins of fairies.

Lindsey Duncan said...

You wouldn't think it was so cool if you had to carry it. ;-)

That's a good part of the fun with using mythological creatures - to play with expectations or subvert them. You have a cool blog, Rachel.

There is a love story, but it's quite subtle and definitely a side thread.

Margo Kelly said...

Cherie - if you hate the whole "TAG" thing - feel free to ignore it! :)

Jamie Gibbs said...

A writer and a harp player? I am so envious right now :)

M Pax said...

Neat on the cello playing. Congrats, Lindsay! Flow sounds amazing.

Waving at Cherie.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful interview... Flow sounds really good.

Alleged Author said...

Great interview! Hope Lindsey has much success with her novel!