Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Author Interview: Marie Brennan + Giveaway

Writing under the pseudonym Marie Brennan, Bryn Neuenschwander is the author of several novels such as ‘Warrior and Witch’ the Doppelganger duology, ‘With Fate Conspire’ the latest Onyx court novel, and ‘Lies and Prophecy’ a YA fantasy novel. Marie is here today to talk about her latest novel, a Victorian Era-Fantasy, A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent as part of her blog tour. A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent was released on February 5th and is available wherever books are sold.

Hi Marie! Thank you for being here today, can you give us the elevator pitch for ‘A Natural History of Dragons’?

The first volume in the memoirs of Lady Trent, world-famous lady adventurer and dragon naturalist.

I know this question is probably asked a lot, but how what inspired you to write this book? Why did you choose to write it as a ‘memoir’ style?

It came out of a collision between the Dragonology calendars and the D&D supplement Draconomicon. The two of them gave me the idea for a natural historian studying dragons. Since natural history is a very Victorian kind of thing, I decided to set in a world based on that time period; after that, the memoir approach just seemed natural. And when I tried it, the voice just clicked instantaneously.

I was checking out your website but didn’t see much on your bibliography/FAQ sections. Besides being an anthropologist and folklorist, what are three interesting facts that readers don’t know about you and that isn’t found on your Bio/FAQ page?

I have abysmally bad vision, I was a ballet dancer for thirteen years growing up, and I once played a concert in Carnegie Hall.

(Not playing “two truths and a lie”: all of those are true. The Carnegie concert was in high school.)
 Todd Lockwood did an amazing job on the cover art, it’s so beautifully detailed and exactly how I imagine dragons to look like. What was your initial reaction upon seeing the cover art? Did you have any inputs on what you wanted for the cover?

I did have some input, yeah, and the cover is basically a hybrid of my idea and my editor’s. He came up with the general look of it, with the cream background and the lifelike style you get on the front half of the dragon; my suggestion was the dissected look on the back half. (Possibly this is a signal that I have a more gruesome imagination than my editor does.)

As for my reaction when I saw it, I was pretty much walking on air. The cover is just absolutely stunning. 
Lady Trent, the heroine/narrator of the novel is compared to Alexia Tarabotti (The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger) as being a headstrong female whose intellect/will can’t and won’t be stifled by her times. What are your thoughts on the comparison? Have you read The Parasol Protectorate series?

Unfortunately, I generally can’t read stuff that’s like my own projects while I’m working on them -- I’m already in danger of overdosing on the subject. So while I read Soulless several years ago, before I started writing anything Victorian-era, I haven’t picked up any of the subsequent ones yet. (There’s a whole pile of Victorian-era/steampunk fantasy I haven’t touched. I am so far behind the curve . . .) 

Based on what I know, though, I’d say Isabella has more of the “outrageous old woman” thing going on than Alexia does, and less of the “sexy.” It’s a memoir, so although she’s talking about her youth, she has the old-lady advantage of being able to get away with saying whatever she pleases. The flip side is that she’s always conscious of telling her story to an audience, which means that for every shameless thing she says, there’s probably one she’s decided to keep secret.

Is A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent a stand-alone or will it be part of a series? 

Definitely a series! I’m contracted for two more, and hope to take it a bit further than that. This first book only relates how Isabella’s career got started; there’s a lot more to tell about what she did once she really got going.

What other projects can we look forward to reading from you in the future?

The second book of the series will take Isabella to Bayembe and Mouleen, two tropical countries inspired by West and Central Africa. That will be out next year, and -- to quote Isabella -- will involve her being accused of “fornication, high treason, and status as the worst mother in all of Scirland.”

Other than that, I have a short story in the upcoming fourth volume of Mike Allen’s Clockwork Phoenix series. I hope to have a few other things besides, but I prefer to keep stuff under wraps until it’s definite!

Lightning Questions
Coke or Pepsi? Cherry Coke!

Facebook or Twitter? Twitter. I canceled my Facebook account over their privacy violations.

Favorite Paranormal Creature? Going to have to go with faeries, for obvious reasons.

Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings? You just made me imagine a terrible fanfiction crossover.

All time favorite Movie? The Princess Bride.

Physical book or E-reader? Physical book. Still don’t own an e-reader.

Thank you Marie for being here today and taking the time out of your schedule to answer my questions.

 Tor Books has generously offer one (1) copy of A Natural History of Dragons to a Short & Sweet Reviews blog reader! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter below. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. hi and thanks for the great contest! what inspired you to write about dragons?


  2. I love the illustrations :) Dragons are interesting creatures that I want to learn more about. Raffle name: Fiery Na

  3. This book sounds like such a wonderful book, I love dragon stories. And all of the art I've seen is fantastic, I'm looking forward to reading the book and seeing it all.

  4. I didn't know this was going to be a series- I'm looking forward to reading them. I absolutely love the idea of a natural history-y memoir, it's really different from all the other dragon books I've read, which are generally about elves and wizards and huge battles, and honestly this sounds way more interesting to me. Also I'm a sucker for books full of pictures :P