Today I have the pleasure of hosting Jamie Marchant, author of The Goddess Choice, which released April 2012 from Reliquary Press.
Marchant lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband, son and four (four!) cats, and she teaches writing and literature at Auburn University.
She’s presently hard at work on a sequel, tentatively titled The Soul Stone. Her short fiction has been published in Bards & Sages, The World of Myth, and Short-story.me.
Q: The Goddess’s Choice is based on a Norwegian fairy tale. How did that come about? Did you immediately sit down and write or did you ponder the idea first?
A: The Goddess’s Choice originates deep within my childhood. My sister Jalane–she is ten years older than me–told me stories, fairy tales mostly: “Midas and His Golden Touch,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Hansel and Gretel.” But my favorite was always “The Princess and the Glass Hill” or “The Glass Mountain” as my sister titled it. I had her tell that story over and over again. I was captivated by the bold hero on his magical horses of bronze, silver, and gold.
When I had a child of my own, I wanted to pass that fairy tale on. My son, Jesse, loved it every bit as much as I had. One day after telling it to him, it came to me that the story could be so much more than five pages and sparse details. However, I didn’t want to write a children’s story but the type of epic fantasy I enjoy as an adult. I upped the dramatic tension, villainy, and sexuality of the piece to create something far different than the original fairy tale. The Goddess’s Choice is intended for an adult audience.
As a child, it never occurred to me that the princess had no name and no role other than being handed off as a prize to the victorious male. As an adult, this bothered me, so when I rewrote the fairy tale, I remade the nameless princess into the strong heroine Samantha, a woman who is as likely to be the rescuer as the one rescued.
Q: You teach literature and writing at Auburn University. Does teaching strengthen your own writing? Does it ever intrude?
A: Every writer needs to be widely read, and I think my training in literature has strengthened my own work, but the actual teaching intrude more than helps. It takes up time that I could be writing, and reading dozens of bad student essays is a muse killer. Part of me loves teaching, but most of me wishes I could afford to write full time.
Q: When did you know that you were a writer?
A: I never remember wanting to do anything else. When I was about six, I started writing stories about the Man from Mars for my older sister. I wrote my first fantasy novel while in high school—not that it was publishable. Then I became practical. Making a living writing is a really long shot, so I pursued a Ph.D. in American literature, which I received in 1998. But in doing so, I put my true passion on the backburner and neglected my muse. Instead, for a few years, I wrote literary criticism. Then one day, in the midst of writing a critical piece, I realized I had no interest in doing so. What I wanted to do was write novels. My muse thus revived, I began the book that was to become The Goddess’s Choice.
Q: The Goddess’s Choice and Demons in The Big Easy are classified as fantasy fiction. Did you set out to write in this genre or was it part of an evolution?
A: Beginning with my sister’s fairy tales, I have always been a fan of fantasy fiction. I love the way it allows you to escape the real world and enter one that is magical and more primitive. I wrote a few non-fantasy pieces as a young adult, but since my first attempt at a novel in high school, I have always been drawn to write fantasy. Real life is too depressing. The world needs the magic of fantasy.
Q: What do you normally read? What are you reading now?
A: Unsurprisingly, I read mostly fantasy, although I like an occasional mystery. Jim Butcher and Mercedes Lackey are two of my favorites. Now I’m reading The Black Prism by Brent Weeks. I’m finding myself not very fond of it. There is no true good guy. I need a hero or a heroine that I can identify with and root for. I’m also reading Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero to my son. If you’re into young adult fiction, it is a good read.
How do you feel about the self-publishing industry? Do you think it helps or hinders writers? Readers?
A: I’m torn about the self-publishing industry. The Goddess’s Choice is published by a small press while Demons in the Big Easy is self-published. Self-publishing allows an amazing opportunity for writers since finding a publisher is so difficult, but since it is so easy and so cheap, it has created a glut in the market. It seems as hard to get your book noticed as it is to find a publisher. There is simply too much out there, and it hasn’t been vetted by anyone for quality. That’s why many top reviewers won’t touch self-published books.
For readers, it provides a wider choice of material since top publishers tend to stick with the same, old formulas. Readers can also get the book at a lower price, but sorting through the myriad of works to find the gems can be kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack. There are some really good, self-published works out there, but there’s a lot that really isn’t ready for the market yet.
Q: What is your biggest challenge as a writer?
A: My biggest challenge as a writer is ridding my work of what Peg, one of my writer group members, has termed “Jamieisms.” I have a disconnect between my brain and my fingers, and I frequently type a word other than the one I meant. Peg’s favorite example, which she often quotes, is a sentence where I wrote: “He whipped his mouth with the back of his head” when I meant to type “He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.” Mistakes like this appear everywhere in my writing, and I have a very difficult time catching them while proofreading. I tend to read what I meant instead of what I typed.
Q: What’s up next in your writing life?
A: The sequel to The Goddess’s Choice, tentatively titled The Soul Stone, is nearly finished. Then there is the third volume of the trilogy and another book set in the same world but outside the trilogy that focuses on the character of Darhour, the captain of Samantha’s personal guard. I also have an urban fantasy novel in the works, titled The Bull Riding Witch.
Want to know more? Contact Jamie at:
Purchase The Goddess Choice at: