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Author Interview - Avril Borthiry

I am happy to have Avril Borthiry as this week's Author Interview guest.

Avril is a historical fiction author and I was fortunate enough to meet her at Kalicon 2018.

Thank you, Avril, for participating in the interview.

About Writing/Books/Being an Author

1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you - in what way and what was the name of that book?

The first book that had a real impact on me was Jane Eyre. I loved the tragedy and romance of it. To this day, it remains my favourite book. I must have read it a dozen times.

2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?

I’m not sure I ever realized it, to be honest. It’s just something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I would write poems for my Mum. I have to say that Mrs. Taylor, my English teacher in High School, encouraged me to ‘keep writing’, which certainly motivated me.

3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?

Hmmm. I have a few – nay, I have many!!!. My genre preferences, like my musical ones, are wide ranging! I love George R R Martin, Sharon Kay Penman, Stephen King, Ken Follett – and so many others, including some of my author friends. Really, I just enjoy a good story, strong plot, and characters that stay with me afterwards.

4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing writing?

Favourite thing are the highs I get when I’m on a roll and the words flow like honey. Least favourite would be the opposite situation, when I’m sitting there, staring blankly at the computer screen like a zombie!

5. Where do your ideas come from?

All over! Song lyrics, news stories, poems, places I visit. Sometimes, they just arrive unannounced at the most unexpected times, and … BINGO!

6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?

I’m a good knitter. I used to knit toys and I love knitting baby clothes. But I rarely have time anymore.

7. If you could jump inside of a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?

Probably Here Be Dragons, by Sharon Kay Penman, just to see all those wonderful historical characters.

8. When you create characters, are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?

I’m sure traits of people I know work their way into my characters, although I’m not sure I purposely set out to do that. The beauty of writing is that an author can create and mold a character to her/his specifications. I find that quite powerful, actually. That said, many of my characters then surprise me by rebelling and disobeying me entirely!

9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?

No, I can’t say I’ve ever done that. I have created some characters that I would love to meet in real life, I must admit. One is Alexander Mathanach, from my book ‘The Cast of a Stone’. I fell in love with him as I wrote the book. He is wonderful!

10. How do you come up with titles for your books?

It varies. Sometimes it’s symbolic to the subject matter, or I might find them as I write – a single line in the narrative, perhaps, or a dialogue comment that leads to a title. That said, on my trad books I had to come up with a title right away. The reason I don’t like doing that is because my plots rarely stay true to the original idea, so I had to be careful to choose a title that would ‘generally’ work, and also endeavored to stay on track with my original plot.

11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?

I am currently working on two books. “Gabriel” is the second book of my series, ‘The Sword and the Spirit’, which tells the tale of three Templar knights who find themselves in exile after the dissolution of their order in 1307. The Templars were, quite literally, warrior monks; a combination of military prowess and spirituality that I find fascinating. I am putting these men back into secular life, where they have to face the temptations that go with it, the main one being, of course, women. I am also working on my second book for the Pirates of Britannia publications, which is run by authors Kathryn Le Veque and Eliza Knight. I LOVE the challenge of these stories, which are a little out of my comfort zone, but so much fun to write! This next pirate book of mine is called ‘Red Cutlass’ and focuses on a wild, Irish pirate captain of that same name. The plot is still being worked out, but I guarantee the man, his crew, and the heroine of the tale is going to be a blast to write!

12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?

Not recognizable awards, no, though I have won prizes on writing websites for my short stories and poetry. I also garnered a ‘Crowned Heart’ review from InD’Tale magazine for my book, ‘The Sentinel‘.

A Little More Personal

13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?

To drive from one side of Canada to the other, taking my time to see this beautiful country.

14. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?

Well, I could. But that would be SO embarrassing!

15. Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?

A few things. One night I was out with the dog when I saw something strange flying over my house. Whatever it was made no noise at all, was not travelling very fast, and looked like three very large tv screens in a row, but all dimly lit. It flew quite low over the roof and then disappeared. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. I have asked myself again and again what it might have been, but have no answers.

16. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?

I’d probably say I’m not, yet I love the old superstitions and beliefs and often use them in my stories. But I take life as it comes. That said, I have had many experiences that felt totally fated – meant to be. All fodder for a writer!

17. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

I was raised in the UK, and my dad was a butcher by trade, so there aren’t many parts of an animal that I haven’t eaten. Tripe, for one (the lining of a cow’s stomach) and a lamb’s testicles. My tastes, as I’ve aged, have changed, however. I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat those things today!

18. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?

Southwest France (the Basque country). I have family there. It is a glorious area. I love it.

19. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?

Being Maid of Honour (myself and my best friend) to the Carnival Queen in our village’s annual carnival! Princess dresses (made by my mum), a ride in a decorated pick-up truck, and taking our place next to the queen on the stage!

20. What makes you happy?

So many things! But especially my granddaughters. I cannot tell you how much I love those little girls. I’m someone who loves to laugh. I enjoy jokes and puns and (wouldn’t you know it) word-play! I try to find something to laugh at every single day. It’s healthy, I think!

21. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?

I love to read when I can find the time. I enjoy a good movie (again, my preferences are extremely varied). And I like walking my little dog.

22. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?

Yes. I’ve met celebrities on both sides of the Atlantic. Here, I’ve met Alice Cooper and John de Lancie (the latter is a very lovely man!). In the UK, I met all the members of Status Quo, Billy Connolly, Gary Glitter, The Goodies, Bob Monkhouse, George Hamilton IV, Jill St John (a Bond girl) and several members of the Coronation Street cast, who frequently stayed at the hotel where I worked.

Avril's Links


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