Rhiannon answers your questions here on her blog.
What have you been reading recently?
Rhiannon replies: I’ve just finished two novels by Steph Swainston: In The Year of Our War and No Present Like Time. They’re urban fantasy – a sort of cross between Joan D. Vinge’s Catspaw and Steven Brust’s Taltos series. I acquired them at a friendly bookswap and liked them so much I’ve just ordered the next two from Amazon. I’ve also read a detective story Why Shoot a Butler by Georgette Heyer, a YA novel The Devil you Know by Leonie Norrington (which I’ll be reviewing for Armadillo) and Seaworld, real world fiction by Ursula Le Guin.
What have you been writing recently?
Rhiannon replies: I’m still working on SPIN, but haven’t written words because I was in a field without computers over the August bank holiday.
Why were you in a field?
Rhiannon replies: I was at the Reading Festival – listening to bands and dodging rain showers.
Thomas asks: What inspires you?
Rhiannon replies: Unusual situations. They inspire me to come up with stories about them. Children in unusual situations are an example of this. Celebrity children, gifted children, independent children. But I’m inspired by everywhere I go and whatever I do. Recently at the Reading Festival I wondered if I wanted to write a novel about a music festival in space and sketched out the first chapter in my head.
Sarah asks: How do you get into the right frame of mind for what you’re writing?
Rhiannon replies: Reading books in the right sort of area helps… as long as they are not too close to my own ideas. Listening to music is sometimes helpful. The weather is also surprisingly relevant. I find it difficult to write about frozen winters on a hot sunny day and vice versa.
Sarah asks: Which is harder: plot or characterisation?
Rhiannon replies: I don’t find either more difficult than the other. There are different challenges. Plots come quickly for me because my head is stuffed with ideas. Characterisation sometimes comes more slowly as I get to know a character. But later on in the book I have to do a lot of work on making a plot work out the way it should, while characterisation gets easier as I go on.
Sarah asks: Have you ever been tempted to write something that stars your cat?
Rhiannon replies: No. Recently I was reading Palace Without Chairs in which a (fictional) writer character says that to write about a fictional cat would feel untrue to his own real cat. For me, while I can write happily about fictional cats (Rameses in Ghost of a Chance for example) I wouldn’t want to write about my own cat.
Thomas asks: What age did you start writing? And what was your first ever story?
Rhiannon replies: I started writing at 7. My story began like this “The night the old priestess died the
soldjers souljers soljars solljeers solders ….” until I gave up in frustration.