September 09, 2010
Interview with Jenna Burtenshaw
Q: What type of stories have influenced you?
A: I have always enjoyed many different kinds of stories, but the ones that influenced me most have always been on the dark side. I love reading anything with a supernatural theme, post-apocalyptic books, or stories where society has broken or gone wrong. Elements of those themes often squeeze their way into my own writing.
Q: What kind of stories do you like writing?
A: I enjoy writing about characters who are not always what they first appear to be and sending them into places and situations that are dark and mysterious. The best part of writing is letting the characters find solutions to problems themselves and trusting them to find their own way, rather than forcing them into situations that they would never choose in real life. They don’t always take the easy path, but that’s what makes it interesting!
Q: What fascinates you about death and the supernatural?
A: It has to be the mystery of it all. Everyone has a theory, opinion or belief about what happens after death. The magic of it - for me - is that no one can ever know who is right. Death is the one thing that connects every single one of us and it is something we know absolutely nothing about. The ‘not knowing’ intrigues me. People’s rituals and beliefs surrounding death are often so different and interesting. I find death and the different elements surrounding it, such as spirits and the existence of the soul, fascinating subjects to explore through fiction.
Q: Because Kate communicates with the dead does that mean that you want to have that power? If so, if you could talk to someone who has passed on who would it be?
A: That is a very difficult question! I think being able to speak with the dead would be very interesting, but would come with its own drawbacks too. If I did have the chance to speak to anyone, it would be one of the people who built Stonehenge. I’d love to know why they built it and what it was originally used for.
Q: What do you hope a reader will come away with after reading your book?
A: I hope they enjoy the book and see something within the characters that they like. Friendship and trust are very important in the story. I hope readers take away the idea that true friends can change each other’s lives and enemies may not always be what they seem to be.
Q: Your descriptions are so vivid, do you have really clear mental images of the characters and settings, or have you drawn the places from real cities, artworks, or movies?
A: When I think about a place within the book – Fume for example – I see it very clearly within my mind: the winding streets, the ancient buildings and carriages rattling along the roads. Fume is a graveyard city and was inspired by the architecture and atmosphere you find in old Victorian graveyards with their statues, stonework and twisted trees. I did not use any particular cities to create the places described in the book, they’re all pieced together from my own imagination and I enjoy spending time in them when I’m working on my books.
Q: Were your characters inspired by any real or fictional people?
A: Not directly, but there are some similarities between Edgar and my brother. Some elements of his personality definitely seeped into Edgar during writing. All of the other characters feel very individual to me. They all walked onto the page with their own quirks and problems. Each one is a personality in their own right and I like them all for different reasons.
Q: What part of Wintercraft did you enjoy writing the most?
A: I definitely enjoyed writing the description of the Night Train. It is such an ominous machine, patched together with gnarled metal taken from the remains of other old trains. I was right there with Kate when the huge train pulled into Morvane’s station to carry the prisoners from her town away; a moving hulk of smoke and noise. The thought of it still unnerves me a little when I read that chapter.
Q: Was the setting of Wintercraft influenced by where you grew up?
A: Elements of my local area have crept in to Wintercraft in small ways. I grew up in a market town, just like Kate. The underground sections of the story were inspired by a drift mine I visited when I was ten (a very scary experience!) and the idea for Fume grew from an abandoned chapel in an old cemetery I used to walk through every day on my way to school. I still visit that cemetery sometimes. It is a beautiful place to walk.
Q: Do you foresee any sequels to Wintercraft?
A: Wintercraft is the first book in a trilogy. I’ve finished the second book and I’m working on the third book in the series at the moment. The second book is called Blackwatch and is due to be published in April next year. There is a lot more of Kate and Silas’s story to tell.