Feb 21, 2011

The Iron Witch - Interview with Karen Mahoney

You used to work in an occult bookstore in London, how in the word did that come to be, and how did that influence your writing?
Well, I guess I just got lucky! ;) I actually saw the shop advertising for a staff member in the window, and was interview for the job in the normal way. They particularly wanted someone with knowledge of Tarot, which is something I've been interested in since I was about 16. I've read the cards for years, and it was that background that probably helped me to get the job. As well as buying for the Tarot and Divination section of the bookstore, I eventually ended up reading Tarot for clients while sitting in the shop window. Pretty surreal...

Working in that kind of environment gives you such great access to all kinds of cool and interesting books. It's like a goldmine of research and reference material! Mythology, folklore, magick, astrology, world religions, psychology, philosophy, healing, UFOs, etc. The list is seriously endless.

Watkins Book Store - Cecil Court, London

You created 4 Orders of alchemy; Dragon, Crow, Lion, and Rose for THE IRON WITCH. Donna is in the Order of the Dragon - will we learn more about the other Orders?
Nobody has asked me that, so thank you! I loved creating those Orders and YES, you will totally learn more in future books. It should be a trilogy, and in Book 2 (THE WOOD QUEEN) you'll see representatives from all the Orders coming to Ironbridge for Donna's trial. There is a young alchemist from the Order of the Crow in London who becomes quite important (though not romantically), and in Book 3 (THE STONE DEMON), we may even see Donna travel to London... ;)

*Wow, so glad I asked! 

Where did you find the names for your characters?
Donna's name is an homage to one of my favourite characters in literature, in Daphne du Maurier's FRENCHMAN'S CREEK - the main character is the Lady Dona St. Columb, and my Donna Underwood originally had her name spelled the same way. We changed it to the more familiar spelling during edits, though. Her surname is a nod to the 'woodland' nature of the Ironwood where the elves live, and I also like that it sounds like "underworld" - there's something quite shamanic about the journey Donna goes through in her life, what with the way she's injured and then remade with magic.

Xan... I don't know, to be honest. He was always Alexander/Xan, though his surname is taken from one of my favourite comicbook characters, Dick Grayson (who used to be Robin when he was a boy, but is Nightwing now that he's all grown up).

Navin is a variant of Naveen, and Naveen Andrews (from LOST) is one of my favourite actors. :)

Donna has a great best friend, Nav, did you have a male best friend that served as a model?
Ha! Yes, absolutely. My best friend, Vijay (or Veej, as he likes to be called), is the model for Nav. They are very different, of course - and not just because my friend is a lot older! - but the humour and loyalty is DEFINITELY there. I know that a lot of authors say they don't base their characters on real people, and I suppose that's true... But with Navin, it just happened and I couldn't help myself. My friend loves it and thinks he should come to booksignings with me. ;)

*Um, he totally should!

Something has to be said about the book cover - gorgeous! How did the cover art process go?
The cover art process was honestly awesome - I couldn't ask for a better cover, and I'm just incredibly grateful to Lisa Novak at Flux for working so hard on it. Everything about it is brilliant, right down to the Elixir bottle that Donna is holding (the liquid inside is even red, which is perfect!). If you want to know more about the cover, I did an interview for Melissa Walker's "Cover Stories" feature - including feedback from Lisa on how she approached designing the cover to The Iron Witch HERE.

Australian cover

Any plans to come to the USA?
Sadly, not at the moment. I was going to try to attend BEA, but that's unlikely now. However, 2012 is a big possibility - I hope to do something then. :)
Thank you, Karen!!
Thank you so much for having me and for such great questions!

You can find Karen on her site HERE or on Twitter HERE

Check out my review of The Iron Witch HERE