ALLISON SYMES - Q&A
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I love the classic fairy tales, P.G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Terry Pratchett. I “got” Austen’s wonderful use of irony thanks to a great English teacher (Miss Mackenzie). Wodehouse’s use of language is sublime, Pratchett is so funny and proves a series can work and Dickens came up with so many great stories. I also liked Enid Blyton, especially her Famous Five series. I admire Agatha Christie too. It’s been said she writes puzzles but there are ethical dilemmas too – Murder on the Orient Express probably being the best example of this.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
It is still on-going as my books are not published at all! I am considering trying to be e-published instead, a friend of mine has just done this successfully with a very good book, but am still doing the rounds of agents at the moment. I do know I mustn’t give up.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I would probably not have submitted The Trouble With Mother to agents in its very early form as I did a massive rewrite to improve it and effectively limited how many agents I could sent it out to, as most don’t want rewrites submitted. I would like to have discovered the joy of outlining sooner as that has saved me a lot of grief when writing short stories and later novels as I can “see” my plot on the page and tighten it even before I write it.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
My plans for marketing my work are via conferences I attend, Facebook, local bookstores, Waterstones if possible, writing articles for local magazines/being interviewed by local paper/radio station. I have set up two websites. Fairytales with Bite is about my Brenebourne novels. Allison Symes – This and Other Worlds gives a global view of all of my work including the short stories. It will also be an apt place to put this interview! Can’t really answer second question at this stage though all interviews I’ve read have recommended the ideas for marketing I’ve mentioned.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
So far, all of the Brenebourne series! I hope that changes soon.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
The Trouble With Mother has clashes of identity, conscience and worlds. The theme is the importance of loving someone for who they are, not what they are. The main characters are Eileen McCarruthers (later Paige), a fairy godmother who changed her name to a human one in protest at long running Fairy Kingdom injustice, and her cousin, the Fairy Queen, who, feeling duty is all, tolerates nothing threatening her realm. Eileen’s awkward questions about magical conduct and outright disobedience are not welcome. What saves Eileen from exile or death is being Heir Apparent, continually risking her life serving the Kingdom and the Queen being conscious Eileen is her only family now after a lengthy period of violent upheaval in the magical realm with many casualties in all the magical groups and where even the land was badly damaged. The Kingdom and its Queen does not need anything or anyone else rocking the magical boat.
From Eileen’s viewpoint, what does she do when she’s a disillusioned fairy godmother who falls in love with someone from a species the Kingdom despises? She defects, marries him and cheats to ensure her old world can never pursue her. When that fails, what does she do when she’s forced to reveal what she is to the daughter she was never meant to have (half breeds are considered dangerous by her old world) and how does she cope with the inevitably bad reaction? As for daughter, Jenny, will she ever accept Eileen’s fantastical tale even when proven true? Where does their relationship go from here? And will the Queen ever get her cousin back? What does Eileen’s story make Jenny herself?
When Eileen’s forced to reveal what she is, Jennifer must decide what world she wants and is there a place in it for her troublesome mother? When the Kingdom’s Chief Witch rebels against the Queen, the monarch wants to know which way will Eileen jump – with her old world or her new one? The wrong answer could prove fatal… And it is made clear Jenny will not be left out of the chaos either. How is she supposed to handle this?