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  • Writer's pictureG R Matthews

10 Quick Questions with Timandra Whitecastle

Today we welcome Timandra Whitecastle, author of Touch of Iron, and entrant in the current #SPFBO. Bibliotropic has already reviewed the book (link below), giving it 7/10 (a great score). The last line of that great review reads, "Touch of Iron is a self-published novel that could go far, carried on the strength of Whitecastle’s writing." Now, that has to be a recommendation to pick it up and read further. And if it is not, perhaps the words below will change your mind!

GRM: Tell us about your book.

TIM: Touch of Iron is the first novel in what will eventually be a five book grimdark fantasy series called The Living Blade. I wrote it as an answer to the call for strong female main characters, because frankly I haven't seen too many in the Fantasy genre. And no, your sexy, kick-ass, sword-wielding 'heroine' who always dreamed of being a knight doesn't count as one. And no, neither does the noble, heart-of-gold queen/mother figure, I'm afraid. Touch of Iron is my attempt break the mold.

GRM: Where did your inspiration come from?

TIM: I'm a sucker for destruction. No, seriously. Where are the fantasy books that construct new worlds in which women create their own religious systems, governments, and economies instead of merely coveting a man's crown or throne? Where are the strong female heroes whose goals include the full destruction of their corrupt culture, instead of acquiring some percentage of ownership over it? The Fellowship of the Ring didn't set out to talk nicely to Sauron and um kinda convince him to um let other people maybe like rule over their own kingdoms in a tolerant, politically correct manner. No, they saw the evil and they set out to destroy it. I need to see those kind of heroes being women. What's more, my daughter needs to see them, too.

GRM: Why did you choose to go Self-Published?

TIM: Look, many people – not just writers – are stuck in this either/or mentality that's totally not helpful. I chose to go self published for reasons like: a fierce love of challenging myself, learning new things, and yes, being in full control. (Now there's a fantasy...) But that doesn't mean an indie writer shouldn't accept a traditional deal, or shouldn't enter self publishing when their goal is that traditional deal. And vice versa. Some authors who already have publishing deals may choose to self publish some of their works. In publishing, as in life, all things flow. You must find your own reasons for why you do the things you do and then … ride that sandworm, baby.

GRM : What was the hardest part about taking this route?

TIM: This route? Every route! Life. Is. Hard. There is no comfort zone, and if there is, you should destroy it and fucking LIVE RAWRRGSJKFQUsfkcbt...

GRM: Morning, afternoon or evening writer?

TIM:Evening. I teach at school during the day, then take care of my own kids, and then prep lessons or correct papers in the evening. But after all that's done, I get to stop being everyone else's girl and can just write to be me. I consciously let go of the ever-present watchman in my head, and allow myself to breathe. (Not bleed. Obviously, Hemingway was not a woman and therefore unacquainted with actual bleeding periods. It's cool. He understood what writing is anyway.)

GRM: Architect or Gardener? Planner or Pantser?

TIM: I do what all writers do, I follow the story to wherever it may lead. Sure, I love planning my journey ahead, but unfortunately, these damn characters have minds and lives of their own. Like people. Which is a very good thing. So, when their plans diverge from my carefully crafted roadways, I'm curious to follow.

GRM: Silence, music or what when writing?

TIM: Bit of both. Writing isn't always putting words down. Sometimes it's skull cinema, and name me the film that doesn't come with a soundtrack or score. But when at the keyboard, typing late at night, I keep the exhaustion in check and my rage focused by listening to It's science.

GRM: What’s the weirdest fact or piece of information you had to research in order to write the book?

TIM: Lots of things related to charcoaling and smithing. There's a Commissioner's report on Children's Employment in the iron manufacturing district in England (around Wolverhampton and Dudley) from 1864 that is pretty horrific to read. 10-12 year old kids working at 16 hour jobs, making nails, working at a forge, getting burned, not being allowed to wash off the coal, and “we eat it when we can catch it, Sir” quotes. I couldn't think up this kind of stuff.

Also, did you know that the English word 'spade' comes from the romance word for sword? (Thank you, Harry Dewulf, editor)

GRM: To steal (paraphrase) from Rod Stewart, what do you wish that you know now, you knew when you started the journey to a finished and published book?

TIM: It's never too early to build your list! I got sidetracked with writing, though ...

GRM: You’re on a deserted island with enough food and water to survive. There no building materials around so you must wait for rescue. What three books would you have with you, to help you pass the time?

TIM: Depends. Do I have toilet paper in that stash of food and water?

I'd like to thank Timandra for answering the questions and I hope you'll do the same by picking up the book and leaving a review (Amazon and Goodreads).

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