Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Interview with Jennifer Ridyard and John Connolly - February 11, 2014

Please welcome Jennifer Ridyard and John Connolly to The Qwillery. Conquest, the first novel in their Chronicles of the Invaders series, is out today. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Jennifer and John a Happy Publication Day.

TQConquest is the first novel (out of many) that you have co-authored. How did your writing process change for Conquest?

John:  I'm not by nature a planner. I tend to know the beginning of a book, and then I work my way gradually in the general direction of the end. Obviously, though, that process doesn't work if you're collaborating, so I had to outline for the first time. Oh, and because I'd always worked alone in the past, I had to learn to concede points occasionally, and develop some diplomatic skills, which probably didn't hurt me to do.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Jennifer:  Fear, and deadlines! Fear of deadlines! And starting: actually sitting down and starting to write is terrifying, as is forcing out that first line, which always seems tortured and overthought. After that it gets easier some days, but even when it doesn’t flow you still have to keep putting those words one after the other, even when they clang and clunk like deadweights. However, when you’re done there’s nothing like it.

TQ:  Which strengths did your co-author bring to the novel?

Jennifer:  John bought the vision, the staying-power, a wealth of experience, rigorous attention to detail and probability – I’d think up wondrous things and he’s go “not possible” – and mostly a vivid, dark, dream-filled imagination, tempered by science. He’s a force to be reckoned with…

John:  Jennie writes well about, and in the voice of, teenagers, so she gave them a depth and personality that I probably would not have, or at least would not have in the same way. She also has a good eye for detail, so she tends to spot errors and inconsistencies.

TQ:  Describe Conquest in 140 characters or less.

Jennifer:  It’s the story of the first female alien born on earth after the invasion…

JohnConquest tells of the first alien child to turn 16 after her people's invasion of earth, and of her discovery of the reality of that invasion.

TQ:  Tell us something about Conquest that is not in the book description.

Jennifer:  Oooh, spoilers. There’s a dog called Lex. The last time you see him will choke you up. If it doesn’t, you’re probably a cat person. Or dead.

John:  It's often very funny, I think. It's not completely dark, although it has some dark moments.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Conquest? Why Science Fiction?

Jennifer:  John had an idea about a story he wanted to write, and he felt he needed a female touch (that sounds bad!), because the main protagonist was a teenage alien girl. I think perhaps it’s a metaphor for his own teens…

We both enjoy science fiction, but I loathe the cliché that is the hammier, tri-boobed, Lycra-clad variety: it alienates many females. I wanted strong, adventurous, intrepid, imperfect but interesting females to take an active part in the action – much like the women in my own life. 
There is much out there that girls love about science fiction, yet when young women are sold scifi it’s usually packaged as less-threatening fantasy: just look at the wild success of the Hunger Games. But so much can be explored through the genre… it’s unfair that such a cool thing has become a boy thing. I hope we can help redress that.

John:  Well, the initial idea was mine. I have always loved science fiction, both in the form of classic novels (John Wyndham, H.G. Wells) and, more particularly, science fiction film. I wanted to write something that expressed my love of the genre, but with an awareness that the science fiction label is often off-putting to female readers. I wanted to redress that imbalance, perhaps.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Conquest?

John:  I'm curious about physics, and possible future developments in, for example, fuels and medicines, so some of that comes through in the book. Otherwise a lot of my research was trying to recall what it was like to be a teenager, and then realizing that I was still a bit of a teenager inside, which was helpful.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? Who is your favorite good guy, bad guy or ethically ambiguous character?

Jennifer:  I think I got Syl best of all, because I spent the most time with her, getting to know her, fleshing her out. She’s most like me, but she doesn’t really care if people like her, which isn’t like me at all. I admire the freedom that gives her. I admire her courage. I also enjoyed Fremd, and Just Joe, and “designing” Syrene.

The hardest was probably Gradus, because there’s a fear of turning a bad guy into pastiche.

Meia is my absolute favourite character, because you don’t know if you should love her or hate her, and her motives are so shadowed. I adore her intrigue. I rather like the baddy Vena too, and of course I love Syl and Ani, because I identify with them best of all.

John:   I enjoyed writing Meia because she has interesting layers, but I suppose there's a bit of me in all of the characters. I don't think you can create believable characters without finding a personal connection, even with the worst of them. Paul and Syl were relatively easy for me, Ani less so. I don't know why. I did get a kick out of writing the Sarith Entities, who are really quite awful, but most of the Illyri are very morally complex. We tried very hard to shy away from conventional bad guys. The Illyri, by and large, are just trying to make the best of a difficult situation, and any evil in them comes out of hurt, or selfishness, or simple expediency.

TQ:  What's next?

Jennifer:  We’re writing Empire, the next in the Chronicles of the Invaders trilogy

John:  Well, I have the new Charlie Parker book, The Wolf in Winter, coming out this year, but I'm currently working on Empire for a UK release date later this year.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

John:  My pleasure! Thanks for inviting us.


The Chronicles of the Invaders 1
Atria/Emily Bestler Books, February 11, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Earth is no longer ours. . . .

It is ruled by the Illyri, a beautiful, civilized, yet ruthless alien species. But humankind has not given up the fight, and Paul Kerr is one of a new generation of young Resistance leaders waging war on the invaders.

Syl Hellais is the first of the Illyri to be born on Earth. Trapped inside the walls of her father’s stronghold, hated by the humans, she longs to escape.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Syl’s life is about to change forever. She will become an outcast, an enemy of her people, for daring to save the life of one human: Paul Kerr. Only together do they have a chance of saving each other, and the planet they both call home.

For there is a greater darkness behind the Illyri conquest of Earth, and the real invasion has not yet even begun. . . .

About Jennifer
(text from The Chronicles of the Invaders website)

Photograph by Cameron Ridyard
JENNIFER RIDYARD spent a happy, sun-drenched childhood in the mining town of Benoni, South Africa, during the 1970s and 1980s—her only defense for this being ignorance.

On leaving school she embarked on a rocky career path including a short stint as a nurse, several waitressing jobs (the best was at an ice-cream parlor), a prolonged run as a bank clerk, and a span as a barmaid.

She worked as a check-out girl, conducted market research surveys, and was even a Sunday School teacher, albeit briefly.

Finally in 1994—the year of South Africa's first democratic election—Jennie became a cub reporter at a local newspaper. Her first job as a newshound was literally a wild goose chase, rushing to the scene when a rare waterfowl landed in someone's swimming pool. Unfortunately the bird left before she got there. She went on to become the lifestyle editor on a national daily newspaper.

In 2004 she moved to Ireland, but spends much time in South Africa.

She writes, reads, recycles, tries to paint, doesn't eat meat, loves cake, and enjoys long walks with the family pound puppies, Sasha and Coco.

Jennie has two children, Cameron and Alistair.

The Chronicles of the Invaders Website  ~  Twitter @JennieRidyard

About John
(text from The Chronicles of the Invaders website)

Photograph by Ivan Gimenez Costa
Ivan Gimenez Costa
Ivan Gimenez Costa
JOHN CONNOLLY grew up in Dublin, Ireland. Before he started to write books, he worked as a journalist, a barman, a local government official, a waiter and at Harrods department store in London. He studied English in Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University.

John's first novel for young people, The Gates, was published in 2009, followed by a sequel, Hell's Bells/The Infernals, in 2011. The third Samuel Johnson novel, The Creeps, will be published in autumn 2013. He is best known to adult readers as the creator of detective Charlie Parker, who has appeared in eleven novels, beginning with Every Dead Thing (1999), and most recently The Wrath of Angels (2012). John is also the author of Bad Men (2003), The Book of Lost Things (2006), and a collection of short stories, Nocturnes (2004). He is the co-editor (with Declan Burke) of Books to Die For (2012), a prize-winning collection of essays from the world's top crime writers.

John hosts a weekly radio show, ABC to XTC, on Internet radio station RTE 2XM.

John lives in Ireland, but also spends time in Portland, Maine, where many of his novels are set.

You can read more about him on his author website.

The Chronicles of the Invaders Website  ~  Twitter @jconnollybooks  ~  Facebook


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