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Interview: Terie Garrison

February 17th, 2007 (03:00 pm)
thirsty

Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Only Hope by Mandy Moore

In The DragonSpawn Cycle, a girl named Donavah must defend her brother's innocence when a discovered egg hatches something extraordinary - a dragon who becomes Donavah's confidante and traveling companion. The DragonSpawn Cycle consists of four books: AutumnQuest (released in 2006), WinterMaejic (out now), SpringFire (June 2007), and SummerDanse (September 2007). The author, Terie Garrison, dropped by Bildungsroman for a spell.

Did you initially write one long story which was later split into four parts, or did you always plan for it to be a series?

The DragonSpawn Cycle was conceived as a four-book series, with events taking place over a year and the book titles reflecting the names of the seasons. I tried to reflect the moods of the seasons in the books, too. For example, WinterMaejic is dark and introspective.

Donavah has the ability to communicate with critters, which greatly aids her quest to find Xyla. Have you any pets of your own, winged or otherwise?

I currently have a ginger cat named Marzipan. He's a grumpy critter who does better on his own, so I don't have any plans to get more pets. For most of my adult life I've had cats, but I've also had dogs, snakes, and frogs. I even bred snakes for a few years. I guess that's where my soft spot for reptiles comes from.

If you could have any maejical ability, what would it be and why?

Probably the ability to speak to animals so I could tell Marzipan to stop scratching the furniture, stop snagging my sweaters, stop peeing on the carpet and start peeing in the litter box. Oh, wait. That's probably too much information.

I love fictional dragons who are good, as opposed to evil. My favorites are Falkor from The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende and Fiddlestick from Strangewood by Christopher Golden. Who are yours?

Canth and Mnemoth from Anne McCaffrey's Pern books. And McCaffrey's fire lizards, too, of course. I'm sure real dragons would be absolutely terrifying in real life, but I think they're more fun to play with, storytelling-wise, when they're the good guys.

Which fantasy authors or series did you read growing up? Who or what helped shape Donavah's world?

I didn't read much fantasy as a child; I don't think my school library had any - or at least I never managed to stumble across it. I read mostly mainstream children's novels and biographies. When I was in sixth grade and my best friend was in seventh (junior high back then), she discovered The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings in her school library and introduced me to them. I read them over and over, somehow not venturing beyond them in the fantasy genre until I was an adult.

I think the writers who've had the strongest influence on my fantasy writing today would be Robin Hobb and Carol Berg. There are a number of very fine fantasy authors right now, but I strongly relate to these two in particular. Their stories are not only wonderful, but their writing styles completely engage me.

Hobb even had a direct impact on The DragonSpawn Cycle. In the early drafts, Xyla and her ilk were black. Then Hobb's Fool's Fate came out, in which a black dragon figures heavily. Not wanting to look like I was copying Hobb, I changed the color to red. I'm not a very visual person, but changing the dragons to red really made the images in my head come to life. Whether that changed the writing (beyond the find-and-replace task), I couldn't say, but I like the movies that play in my head better now.

Between your work on technical manuals and with magazines, you've written your fair share of non-fiction. What was your oddest assignment? Your most rewarding?

Oh, gosh. Now you're asking me to wax boring! The oddest event I wrote about was a 24-hour bicycle track record, when Jim Elliott set the then-record for distance covered on a velodrome in 24 hours. Staying up all night watching someone ride a bike round and round and round is a bit surreal. It's the only time I've ever been awake and listening to the radio when Daylight Savings Time changed.

My most rewarding assignment would be a particular manual in my current job. When it was assigned to me, it was a real mess: poorly organized, badly written, and not much use in helping people accomplish a particularly difficult and complex task. I spent two years (off and on) revamping the whole thing, and when we issued the new version, consultants who work with our clients loved it. I even won an internal award for it. See, I told you this answer would be boring!

You have excerpts from your books available at your website, including the forthcoming juvenile adventure series The Book Addicts Club and the sporty teen novel Changing Gears. Tell us more about your future works.

My current project (as yet untitled) is a futuristic novel set in Southern California. It's been fun mixing old and new technologies together and seeing what comes out. The Book Addicts Club is the first book in a potential series for middle-graders, and it's about a group of kids who love to read and end up stumbling into adventures. I have ideas for several more fantasy and mainstream novels for both middle-graders and teenagers, but they're all percolating right now, waiting for the right time for me to start writing them. Changing Gears was my first novel and is about bike racing, but it's made the rounds, gathered a full complement of rejection letters, is now too dated to work with, and has been retired. I guess I should take the excerpt off my website, eh?

What are your ten favorite books of all time?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
Transformation by Carol Berg
Harper Hall Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey
Dream Thief by Stephen Lawhead
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee Harper
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Visit Terie Garrison's official website.