Please tell us a bit about yourself: I'm a late bloomer. I didn't start writing until I was halfway through my 40's (that's almost ten years ago now.) I didn't have my first drink until I was 20. I didn't get married until I was 32. I had my first kid at 36. That probably makes me sound circumspect and virtuously patient, but really I'm just sort of lazy and unfocused.
Tell us about "Flight of the Wren": Wren is my third completed novel. It was all ready for publication with Lycaon Press when they folded up their tents and called it a day. Armed with a fantastic cover, I stumbled on and published it myself. It's about what happens when a disaffected, disconnected seventeen-year-old girl is given a flying carpet. I know, that nutshell description probably conjures up images of Aladdin or some Magic Tree House type of adventure, but it's nothing like that. It's actually a pretty gritty story. Renny (my protagonist) finds that the freedom (and escape) offered by flight comes with a lot of strings attached, including onerous responsibilities and personal connections. She is finally dragged, kicking and screaming, into the painful realization that maybe she really does care about other people after all.
What inspired you to write this particular story?: This is one of the few stories where I can remember the exact inspiration, because it came from someone else. A writer friend named Ilona Bray sent me a piece she'd written—a comical middle-grade magazine article called "Your Flying Carpet: A User's Guide." I loved it and said she ought to write a novel based on the idea. She wasn't interested, but I sure was! In fact, I couldn't let it go. I had no choice but to write the damn thing myself.
Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?: Personality usually, but there have been a couple of times when the name came first. Appearance usually comes last. Truth is, most of my characters are pretty average looking. Maybe it's just my own insecurities, but I find it sort of off-putting when every hero is chiseled and rugged with dark smoldering eyes, and every heroine perfectly proportioned with flowing auburn locks. Renny describes herself as having "lank blonde hair…(a) deathly pale complexion…oversized grey-blue eyes." The girl on the cover is gorgeous, of course, but that's Hollywood for you. The artist (Victoria Miller) definitely caught something about the eyes, a sort of haunted, distrustful look that I like a lot.
Any tips for aspiring authors?: My standard advice is to eat nourishing foods, sleep a lot, and try and get outside once in a while. And since I'm not using any of it, you're all welcome to it.
Questions for fun:
What super-power would you choose?: The power to induce instant, temporary amnesia. I like the idea of disarming conflict and averting danger by simply having everybody forget what they were doing and why they were there. "I waited a long time to take vengeance, Ignatz! Now, you are at my … damn, why am I holding this sword? And where are my car keys?" Everyone could forget at once, including me.
Which fictional mode of transport would you like to own and why?: Well, I suppose I'd have to choose a flying carpet, for obvious reasons. I'm not sure I'd do all that much flying around (I get motion sickness, after all) but what a fantastic object it would be! I did a lot of research on carpet lore for "Flight of the Wren," and there's some pretty amazing stuff. (See Chapter 11)
Your weapon/instrument/gadget of choice?: In Samuel R. Delany's "Nova," Mouse plays a SensoSyrinx, a musical instrument that stimulates not just the sensation of hearing, but also sight, touch, scent and taste, allowing him to create a sort of total music for the senses. Turned up to eleven, it becomes a lethal (and rather cruel) weapon.
Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, Butterbeer or Romulan ale?: Well, Butterbeer always sounded sort of noxious to me, and Romulan ale is illegal, so froth me up a Gargle Blaster. I'll drink it at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
Coffee, tea or wine?: An easy one: coffee. I never drink tea, and I usually choose beer over wine. Given a chance, I'll guzzle coffee all day long.
And to finish:
What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!): That's just too hard. I'm currently reading "The Time of Our Singing" by Richard Powers, and it is magnificent. Truly a novel for the ages.
Favourite genre and why?: The stuff I really like bends genres, like a space-western or maybe a dystopian-comedy. I like playing with the conventions. I think most of my stuff is pretty hard to categorize, which is yet another way in which I am solidifying my obscurity and commercial insignificance.
Favourite colour?: Dove grey.
Upcoming news and plans for the future?: Yes! Black Opal books just offered me a contract to publish a new book of mine called "Whisper Blue." It's going to be fantastic, but it'll probably take the better part of a year before it's out, so everyone just needs to chill, okay? Okay.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!
“The Arcane Order of Carpet Flyers! The Sublime Society of Scudders! Didn’t you read the contract I sent you, Miss Drake?”
Sure, Renny had read it. Obviously it was some kind of joke. And this guy with the flakes of pie crust in his beard, he is obviously some kind of whacko.
But no. Parnell Florian is no whacko – and Maysa, the ancient silk-brocade carpet now rolled up under her bed, is no joke. It really can fly, and Renny’s life just got a whole lot more interesting. And when she meets the other members of the Order – her flock – life gets more interesting still. Most interesting of all is the boy called Stonechat, who seems to find her pretty interesting as well.
But when a vengeful rug-rider called Mistral kidnaps Parnell and steals the all-important Orb of Descrying, Renny and the ragtag flock of misfits must ride to the rescue – or else face an adversary who can control their very dreams. One by one, all the people Renny has come to care about fall into Mistral’s hands, and she must find courage and ingenuity she never knew she had.
A modern day fantasy that Publisher’s Weekly called: “A great combination of fantasy, adventure, and romance...an engaging and enjoyable read,” The Flight of the Wren is, at its core, a story of family. Estranged from her mentally-ill mother, bounced from one foster home to another, Renny feels no connection to anyone in her life. In her darkest moments she fears that she will never really care about anyone...only to find out that having someone you really care about can be the scariest thing of all.
Available at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Flight-Wren-Atthys-J-Gage/dp/069246946X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1441579999&sr=8-2&keywords=atthys
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