Please welcome Ilana C. Myer to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Last Song Before Night is published on September 29th by Tor Books.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
Ilana: Thank you for the welcome! I’ve been writing since I learned to read, basically—I was so enraptured by reading that I knew I wanted to write books.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Ilana: I try to plan out a general direction in advance, but most of the major decisions are made while the novel is in progress. For me the biggest challenge is that disparity between what’s on paper and what was in my head. The only solution to that—constant rewrites.
TQ: You are a journalist. How does that affect or not your fiction writing?
Ilana: Journalism, for me, mostly involved talking to lots of interesting and skilled people and extracting their expertise, and this certainly can be useful to a writer of fiction. You never know when a particular bit of information or an insight will be useful.
TQ: Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?
Ilana: I’ve been influenced by every book I’ve ever loved, which is a long list! I’m sure somewhere in my writing is evidenced my childhood love of Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game, for example. Other early influences include Lloyd Alexander, E. Nesbit, T.H. White, fairy tales and the magnificent D’Aulaires books of mythology.
Current favorite authors include Helen DeWitt, Dorothy Dunnett, Guy Gavriel Kay, Mary Renault, Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, and Jane Gardam.
TQ: Describe Last Song Before Night in 140 characters or less.
Ilana: Last Song Before Night is set in a world where art and magic are intertwined, and the protagonists are poets.
TQ: Tell us something about Last Song Before Night that is not found in the book description.
Ilana: Last Song is a fast-paced adventure story while simultaneously it is a series of questions about art and its place in the world.
TQ: What inspired you to write Last Song Before Night? What appealed to you about writing Epic Fantasy?
Ilana: What I most value about fantasy is the opportunity it gives us to explore great questions on a mythic scale. Last Song is about art, power, and the sometimes troubling convergence of the two—among other things.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Last Song Before Night?
Ilana: I read many, many books, in history and mythology.
TQ: What's next?
Ilana: Right now I’m hard at work on the sequel, which is different from Last Song in many ways, and introduces new characters and places.
TQ:: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Ilana: Thank you very much!
Last Song Before Night
Tor Books, September 29, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
A high fantasy following a young woman's defiance of her culture as she undertakes a dangerous quest to restore her world's lost magic in Ilana C. Myer's Last Song Before Night.
Her name was Kimbralin Amaristoth: sister to a cruel brother, daughter of a hateful family. But that name she has forsworn, and now she is simply Lin, a musician and lyricist of uncommon ability in a land where women are forbidden to answer such callings-a fugitive who must conceal her identity or risk imprisonment and even death.
On the eve of a great festival, Lin learns that an ancient scourge has returned to the land of Eivar, a pandemic both deadly and unnatural. Its resurgence brings with it the memory of an apocalypse that transformed half a continent. Long ago, magic was everywhere, rising from artistic expression-from song, from verse, from stories. But in Eivar, where poets once wove enchantments from their words and harps, the power was lost. Forbidden experiments in blood divination unleashed the plague that is remembered as the Red Death, killing thousands before it was stopped, and Eivar's connection to the Otherworld from which all enchantment flowed, broken.
The Red Death's return can mean only one thing: someone is spilling innocent blood in order to master dark magic. Now poets who thought only to gain fame for their songs face a challenge much greater: galvanized by Valanir Ocune, greatest Seer of the age, Lin and several others set out to reclaim their legacy and reopen the way to the Otherworld-a quest that will test their deepest desires, imperil their lives, and decide the future.