Interview: Samantha Marshall

Samantha Marshall is an author of speculative fiction, a mother to two tiny dictators, an artist, a keen drinker of chai tea and, in her spare time, a unicorn. In addition to writing, she enjoys hand crafting journals and illustrating.

Your fourth book, Sorcery and Sandstorms (The Weaver’s War Book 2), comes out on the 22nd of June, 2020. What was the inspiration for the story?
This is the second book in my Weaver’s War series, and there’s a couple of things which prodded me to turn it into what it is. Inspiration for the series as a whole came over a laughing coffee date with a friend of mine, where we were challenging each other to make up corny titles for sci-fi/space opera style movies. We were flinging about a lot of nonsense, when I came up with ‘Sorcery and Stardust’. We both loved the title and in our giddy joy, set about adding as many cliché style characters as we could – a mage, a vampire, a green-skinned alien, a cheesy animal sidekick, a spaceship, a troll, and some werewolves with body odour issues. It was all a huge joke but by the time I’d made it home, I’d turned those cliché stereotypes into real characters (a sorceress, a green-skinned alien warrior who’s half vampire, and a space deer who flies the spaceship) and their enemies (the troll turned megalomaniacal warlord and his band of stinky werewolf-type creatures) and suddenly a laugh over coffee became real, true inspiration. As Sorcery and Stardust progressed, I realised my ideas were too big for just one book and so the rest of the series began to evolve in my mind. I arbitrarily decided that each book should be called ‘Sorcery and *something*’ and so the idea for Sorcery and Sandstorms was born. The sorceress, Arcana, has an older brother who wormed his way into my heart through the process of book one so when it was time to start writing book two, I knew he had his own part of the story to offer and voila: here we are, with Sorcery and Sandstorms (The Weaver’s War Book 2).

Which author would you most like to meet?
I’m going to say Nalini Singh. I’ve technically already met her but it was very brief, a hello and a handshake and a selfie. She’s amazing at weaving together complex plot layers, deep characters and powerful emotive connections and I would adore the opportunity to sit down and share an author to author chat one day.

Do you have a book from your childhood that really resonated with you? What was it about that book that was special?
I have many, but perhaps the one that struck me hardest (and first) was actually Silver Brumby, by Elyne Mitchell. I was in primary school when I first discovered it and immediately fell in love (hard) with the concept of these beautiful, free horses who thought, felt and acted with a humanity that often far surpassed that of the humans they were up against. Elyne’s got an older style of writing but her descriptions are beautiful and she taught me a valuable lesson as a child which I hold close as an adult when I write: you do not have to be a human to experience human emotions. The wild brumbies in her books lived, loved, hoped, grieved and fought with the same depth of feeling that you and I do. So, it became something of a thing for me (okay, maybe an obsession) to take unusual characters and work them over to display true emotion and humanity. As far as Sorcery and Sandstorms is concerned, Caelum is the perfect example of this – and he won’t be the only character I ever write who isn’t entirely human but is, in his own way, more human than many of his counter-characters. To this day, I still go back and read my favourite of the Silver Brumby series on a regular basis – at least once every 12 months – to remind myself of the magic that inspired me to write even as a child. Thowra and Storm are awesome, and Baringa is perhaps one of my favourite characters ever to exist in the history of favourite characters.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Hah. I told a story for show and tell when I was in Grade One, which I embellished because I thought it would be more interesting, and then didn’t understand why the teacher took my parents aside in concern to verify the truth of the story. Even though what I said was not entirely plausible, I was convincing enough that the teacher wasn’t sure. Parents and teacher all then sat me down and asked me why I had told such an unusual lie, and I can remember being horrified; I hadn’t lied, I’d been telling a story – only they didn’t realise, when I, in my childhood mind, thought it was obvious. That is the moment I realised words and language have an unusual power and should be wielded with care. To this day, I’m not great speaking aloud, but I work very hard in my writing to use that power to maximum effect.

What would be the worst thing to put in a piñata?
Ice cream. Sticky, melty, messy, and impossible to eat once the piñata is busted open. I’ll take mine in chocolate, in a bowl, with ice magic, thanks!

Blurb

A slave. A fire sorcerer. A grumpy cyborg.
When an otherwise perfectly good night for drowning his sorrows is ruined by the fiery destruction of his living room, Flare Veritax is forced to accept not only sobriety, but the spine chilling realisation that his sister Arcana is in mortal danger. Desperate and a little singed, Flare bargains his way aboard Galactic Station as Sorcen’s representative to the mighty Galactic Alliance, the last true bastion of safety in the war against the warg. While he has no interest in politics itself, the Alliance has both information and influence which, if Flare can access it, may be the key to locating his sister.
After surrendering his freedom to save the lives of his loved ones, Fenris languishes in chains on the primitive desert world of Hiraptha. All the while, Arcana’s spirit floats in the custody of the Weaver, her continued survival dependant entirely on the other female’s ability to keep her hidden from the ever-seeking Taelon.
Before Flare can harness the strength of the Alliance, he must prove Sorcen’s loyalty by locating a fleet of missing starships. Thrown into partnership with a mysterious rogue and dogged by a murderous spy, he’ll need every ounce of wit and magic he possesses if he’s to successfully navigate the murky waters of intergalactic politics.
Waking to the gut-wrenching news that Fenris is a slave, Arcana vows to do everything within her power to set him free. With her magic no more than a whisper in her veins and Caelum her only ally, locating the Guardian who holds her heart could prove more dangerous than it first appears – particularly when the Empress of Hiraptha wants Fenris for herself.

Buy it here
Amazon Affiliated link: Sorcery and Sandstorms (The Weaver’s War Book 2)

More information on the book here: Samantha’s Website

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