The Fergus by Tori Grant Welhouse Genre: YA Fantasy
In the mystical Highlands of Scotland, Rork, missing his beloved gran, wakes up with the ability to hear voices. And not just any voices. Fantastically Rork can hear voices of the dead, which lead him to a charismatic banshee and a colorful near-death survivor. The three are bound together in a time-tested banshee tradition with perhaps a side-goal or two. In the course of their adventures, they are pitched into an otherworld of before-death, after-death and in-between-death.The Fergus will appeal to fans of ghost stories, parallel universes and life-not-being-how-it-always-seems as in the worlds created by Laini Taylor, Stephenie Meyer or Helene Wecker.
“Loonie, hold my arm,” said Rork’s gran.
He caught up to her and held out his arm, wondering at her asking for help. She was a small, compact woman, less than five feet tall, agile and energetic into her eighties. Rork towered over her, and she had to reach up to take his arm. It was rare for her to ask for help, and he noticed she was flushed, her lips pursed with breathlessness.
She’d insisted he drive her to forage for nettles in the woodlands surrounding their Highland village. They walked slowly through the spring-soaked grass, one of her hands in the crook of his elbow, the other resting in the pocket of her pinny as her sturdy shoes crunched windfallen leaves. Heg-beg, she called nettles, and lopped the tops to use in concocting a tonic they drank each spring – Rork, his father, and his gran.
Rork scrabbled for his smartphone in the back pocket of his jeans. He wanted to write a few notes to help him code later.
His gran squeezed his arm. “Rork, the Fergus,” she said, “that machine language will wait. Right now, I need you to keep an eye out for —”
She was interrupted by a thought or a spasm and stopped walking for a moment, standing still and closing her eyes.
“Gran, are you —?”
“Don’t,” said his gran, holding up a hand. “I can’t abide any fussing. It’s why I —”
She didn’t finish her sentence.
Chastened, Rork kept silent. Her urgency unnerved him, and he concentrated on looking for nettles, a tall plant with serrated leaves and stinging hairs. The plants were not easy to harvest, which was why he carried a pair of gardening gloves and kitchen shears in his backpack.
His gran dragged on his arm. Rork slowed his step. The muted sun pierced the cathedral of oak, pine, and ash trees, casting into beatific light a small clearing to their right. His gran breathed out with effort. She gave Rork a reassuring smile and linked her arm tighter with his.
Rork and his gran stood under the canopy of trees for long seconds, minutes, inhaling the tang of ancient pine. His gran relaxed her grip on his arm, her eyes flitting about the clearing like Small Blue butterflies, rare and striking with their bright blue wings, white margin, and dark fringe. Rork loved his gran’s curiosity. Her interest in the things around her. Even the nettles were worthy of her wonder. But worry prickled the back of his neck. She seemed slighter. Less. Should he say something to his father? His stomach knotted anxiously. His father was the opposite of curious. His cold indifference made Rork want to run away from home. If it wasn’t for his gran, he might have.
His gran’s eyes, like balefire, found his. “I especially feel your grandfather in the woods, in doing the tasks we used to do,” she said with a shake of her pin-curled head. Rork had only a dim memory of his grandfather, how he used to tease Rork about his tousled head of hair like flame flower.
“Life and death go side-by-side, you know, loonie,” said his gran. She chuckled softly. “How that man could natter.”
Woodland light burst into smaller particles, twinkling.
Rork didn’t understand. It wasn’t like his gran to dwell on the deceased. Usually she only remembered them during the high holidays, and he felt her wavering at his side, like a boundary was blurring between past and present. What was she trying to tell him? What was she preparing him for?
Rork tried to lead his gran to a fallen tree to rest. She braced herself with one hand on the tree but remained insistent, pointing to a clump of nettles just off the path. While she waited, she lifted her face to the sun-dappled light of the clearing, her other hand resting on the front of her pinny, fingers poised near her throat.
Rork crouched down to pluck the veined leaves. Although semi-cultivated, nettles grew best in patches near busy areas of a trail or outbuilding. The garden gloves stretched tightly on his hands but protected him from the many stinging hairs. He followed the vine-like stems, crawling along the loose earth to reach for more leaves. In warm weather the plant’s catkins would grow tall with budding brown or yellow flowers. He hoped his gran would be happy with the harvest. He thought it’d make enough tonic to see them through the winter. Maybe she was in need of tonic? And that was the purpose of the outing? He hoped so. He was concerned about her. She didn’t seem herself, and Rork hoped the tonic would restore her. He was looking forward to an afternoon in the kitchen with her.
The kitchen was his gran’s domain, a place where she was quietly and emphatically in charge, and Rork had many happy memories of helping her bake bread or oatcakes, cauldrons of soup or mince and tatties. Endless cups of tea. Steam from the stove and fragrant food, much laughter. Rork and his father had only basic kitchen skills. When his father was home, he would wander into the farmhouse kitchen for a cup of tea and a taste of whatever they were making. Rork would catch his father’s eye over the head of his gran, and there’d be a moment. An out of the ordinary, isolated moment. A moment when they felt like a family. Rork was happiest in his gran’s kitchen. She was the connection between his father and him. The only language they spoke.
In the woodlands, Rork sat back on his heels to gently arrange the plants in his backpack, careful not to crush the soft leaves. They reminded Rork a little of mint but without the distinct smell. Still, they were wonderfully fresh and green, like shade on a hot day. He got to his feet unsteadily, his hiking boots shifting in the soil.
“Gran,” he said, opening the pack wide for her to see the verdant pickings. Looking up, he saw her perfectly illuminated by the sun’s rays, light dispersing around her in a hazy halo that seemed somehow to also buzz. Or maybe Rork imagined it, but words stuck in his throat at the unexpected sight of his gran—glowing.
“Och,” she said, barely above a whisper, as if in surprise. “Are you coming for me, then?”
Rork grew alarmed. Who was she talking to?
Suddenly, his gran folded to the ground and lay peacefully on her side, head pillowed on the bend of one elbow.
“No!” yelled Rork, startling the birds from the trees. He cinched the backpack and flung it onto his back. In three frantic strides, he was lifting his gran in his arms, holding her gently under her knees and head. Her cheek rested on his chest. He lifted her, lurching back the way they’d come, willing the car to come into sight. She was heavy with collapse, and fear made Rork’s heart race. The sound of his own panting was loud in his ears.
“No, no, no,” he kept saying. With superhuman effort, he got her into the backseat, laying her tenderly on the cushion, using the backpack as a bolster against the door. As he made final adjustments, his gran gripped his hand fiercely. Surprised, Rork sucked in a breath and stared into her opened eyes.
“Find a way —” said his gran. Rork leaned nearer. He could hardly hear her.
“What?” he asked.
“Find. A. Way. To. Connect,” she said, haltingly. Her eyes stuttered and closed, and the strange buzzing from before returned.
Rork climbed into the driver’s seat in shock, not sure what to do or where to go. His clumsy thumbs could hardly operate his phone. “Da,” he said, his voice breaking as his father answered. “It’s gran!”
“Bring her home,” said his father, abrupt as always, somehow understanding what Rork was too incoherent to put into words.
“But Da —”
“Bring. Her. Home,” repeated his father, and then added in a gentler tone, “I’ll call the doctor.”
Tori Grant Welhouse is a poet and writer from Green Bay. Her most recent poetry chapbook Vaginas Need Air won Etching Press’s 2020 chapbook contest. Her YA paranormal fantasy The Fergus won Skyrocket Press's 2019 novel-writing contest and will be released Summer 2020. She is an active volunteer with Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.
Can you, for those who do not know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I started writing poems in high school. I rode an orange Schwinn to school, which most kids recognized because I parked it by the flagpole. A boy I liked started leaving me poems on my bike’s book rack, and I wrote him poems back. That is how I started with poetry. I explored fiction in my MFA program, writing a collection of short stories as my final thesis. A novel was always an aspiration, and I started and stopped many over the years. I loved the world I created with The Fergus, and it kept me engaged despite the time it took to complete.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
My kids tell me I have a very distinctive laugh (which they used to be very embarrassed by).
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
My life has had a few twists and turns. When I was in college, I got a job for the summer at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. At the time, the park liked to hire young adults who represented every state in the union, so I was there on behalf of Wisconsin. It was a summer of discovery for me. I met kids from across the United States. I interacted with tourists from around the world. I immersed myself in outdoor adventure and was the fittest of my life. I climbed mountains, I canoed rivers, I biked lonely highways for miles, and I hiked. I count that summer as one of my life’s idylls.
What are some of your pet peeves?
My biggest pet peeve is when people say they are going to do something, and then do not. Why say it, then?
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in southern Wisconsin and moved to Green Bay when I was 5. My parents built a house in a new neighborhood within blocks of Lambeau Field. They were season ticketholders. Football is like a religion here, and the arts have struggled, although that is slowly evolving. My parents instilled in me and my sibling very Midwestern “work-hard-play-hard” values.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
If I were capable, I would get up early and write a draft of a “last day” poem. Something to leave behind. Perhaps engrave on the memorial bench I have told my kids I would like them to find me somewhere overlooking a pretty or meaningful view. Then a strolling walk with my husband. Or perhaps a meandering trek through the woods on a 4-wheeler or snowmobile. (He likes his toys.) And lastly, a lingering dinner with my kids, my brother, my sister, father, and their families. Either out at a favorite restaurant or a potluck at home. I would feel some anticipation because I would be joining my other sister and my mother, who have already left us, which I would think about while drifting off to sleep, spooning with my husband.
Who is your hero and why?
Georgia O’Keefe’s work and life inspire me — her singularity of purpose, her attachment to the land, her very individual approach to painting. A few years ago, I did a writing retreat in Santa Fe and rented a car to Ghost Ranch. It is well named. Breath-takingly beautiful but also haunting, as if spirits truly lived there.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
Having been a manager for a good chunk of my career, I can say that I am a very hand’s on leader. I like to know how things work, how one person’s work affects another’s. I also endeavored to make sure everyone understood the vision and was supported in doing their absolute best work, incentivizing where appropriate to ensure we were all on the same bus, going in the right direction.
What are you passionate about these days?
I have been working at home since March, so between that and writing I spend an inordinate amount of time in my own head. I am obsessed with golf and power walks and trees. I have also been immersing myself in goddess myths and teaching myself meditation and gardening. I am kind of all over the place.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I still live on the outskirts of Green Bay but in a more rural neighborhood on the Suamico River, near the county zoo. From my office I can look out onto our pond, where duck, geese, and heron visit. We are on the Wisconsin Rustic Road system, so I enjoy walking and biking
How to find time to write as a parent?
When my kids were small, I used to get up early and write before they woke. There was something about writing when the whole house was asleep that was intimate and inspiring. Now I am an empty-nester, and I still prefer to write in the early morning, although perhaps not *quite* so early.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
I have taken many (many!) personality tests over the course of my career. I find the Clifton Strengthsfinder most relevant and akin to how I regard myself. My top five strengths are:
Intellection (or introspective)
Connectedness (or conscious; I believe all life is connected)
Input (I accumulate ideas and artifacts)
Responsibility (I take psychological ownership of what I say and do)
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote a bio with “writer” in it after I published my first poetry chapbook. There is something about the physical fact of a book in your hands that is emboldening, that feeds your confidence.
Do you have a favorite movie?
I do not know if I could pick just one, and I have noticed my top pick movies change over time. Right now:
The Replacements (I mentioned I grew up in a football town, right? I cannot help a football fascination, so football, underdogs, Keanu — need I say more?)
Hidalgo (Omar, Viggo, native memory, and a woman challenging her culture’s expectations)
The Hundred-Foot Journey (the comparable Helen Mirren and sumptuous food)
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
So far, I have only written the one but feel it could make a new kind of ghost movie.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I have visited the Brontë moors, Virginia Woolf’s Bloomsbury, and Bath, that recurring destination in Regency Romances (Georgette Heyer is a not-so-secret indulgence, all in England. I have also traveled to Abbotsford in the Scottish borders, home of Sir Walter Scott. Edna Ferber grew up in Appleton, which is only thirty minutes away from Green Bay. She is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of So Big, which was my mother’s favorite book.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Can I choose a spirit plant? Tomatoes are meaningful to me because of my childhood and this quote by Erica Jong: “If a woman wants to be a poet, she must dwell in the house of the tomato.” I commissioned a designer to create one for me for blog site I had for a long time, now defunct.
What inspired you to write this book?
A few things converged in the writing of The Fergus. Grief. I lost my first husband and then a few years later I lost my sister. These were my first significant losses, and they hit me hard. I did not know what to do with the vast sense of emptiness. A dare. Then my younger brother, a huge fan of graphic novels and Dungeons and Dragons, and a graphic designer, dared me to write something mystical, so he could illustrate it. Nostalgia. Although my son had been born in Scotland, we lived in the states, and after his father died, I worried he would have no sense of national heritage, something that was particularly important to his father. The novel allowed me to combine all these things, conjuring a different system of death.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am working on writing novels about the other characters in The Fergus, starting with Deirdre, the storyteller’s daughter. The book tells her story before she ends up in the grove with Rork and the banshee.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Yes, they will be the source of other novels. Stay tuned.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Fergus?
I wanted to write the story from the viewpoint of a teenaged boy because I was thinking about my son, his grief after his father’s death and his absent connection with his Scottish heritage. My son had years of wandering in the weeds after his father died, and I was writing a version of him that got through to the other side of sadness and regret. Gran is based on his actual Scottish grandmother, who he only got to meet once. Deirdre is a recurring character in Celtic myth, although I made her my own — a mix of many literal and nonliteral characters, including my daughter, my sister, who I lost. I wanted a female presence, perhaps a love interest, because I adore love stories, and I wanted to explore the male-female continuum.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
The character of the banshee came to me first, in a distracted daydream during a business meeting, no less! I was thinking about creatures of fantasy — vampires, werewolves, demons, fairies, witches — and wondering if there were any less written about. I was obsessed with Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches trilogy and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and aspired to world-build in a similar way.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
The name for Rork came first. I wrote the first chapter in response to a dare by my younger brother. Because I was already thinking about my son, and writing for my younger brother, it felt natural to write from viewpoint of a teenaged boy. I had always loved the Celtic name Rory, so I just tweaked it. For a while, I spelled it Rourke.
Deirdre is named to honor Celtic mythology.
For the banshee, I wanted “Boo” to be her nickname, so I researched Celtic names that might make sense to abbreviate in that way.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I loved the worldbuilding. I really did escape to inbetween while I was writing The Fergus. I also loved learning more about the characters, as I thought deeper about them, and got feedback from others.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Here are actual novel-writing notes from my notebook:
Rork wants to be reconnected to his gran
Rork wants to be accepted by his father
The banshee wants to graduate
Deirdre wants to be part of a family
Rork’s father is a "worker bee"... he does not know how to guide a son who is not like him...Rork: You do not have to guide me... you just have to love me...
Hamish wants the pain of loss to stop
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
“Fergus” is the actual given name of my son, but in the context of the novel, I intend it for its Celtic meaning, which is “the chosen.” I wanted to investigate this idea of being chosen by the universe, or something like the universe, for a purpose.
Who designed your book covers?
My younger brother, Mick Koller, designed the book cover based on a pivotal scene in the novel. He is a talented designer and illustrator, and it was fun to work together. We also meant to work together on books.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Over the course of ten years, I rewrote the book many times, with insight from fellow writers, my editor, family, and friends. I believe it got richer each time, so I cannot even fathom how I would go about changing it. The final book fulfilled the initial idea I had for it, so I am happy about that. There might be a few inconsistencies I would fix, but these are minor.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
The biggest thing I learned in writing the novel was I cannot assume readers will *know* what a character is thinking unless I am very deliberate and intentional with conveying it with narrative and inner monologue. The logic of a novel is also considerable work to maintain. It feels like spinning plates if you have ever seen a magician do that. I kept a broad stroke outline and character sketches to help.
If your book were made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Finding a teenaged version of Ewan MacGregor, James McAvoy or Sam Heughan would be fun. Of current teen actors, I would love for Asa Butterfield or Logan Lerman to play the lead role.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
The words the banshee speaks came to me in a dream. “I shuttle between this life and the next.”
How did you come up with name of this book?
For a while, the tentative title of the book was, “Herald the Fergus.” I meant “herald” in the sense of “bring forth.” In the end, we elected to simplify it.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
I really let my imagination roam in coming up with the citations. Obviously Rork’s gran had to be the last one. But how would they re-meet? The others were based on village lore, historical characters the local Scots speak about proudly.
If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I would love to spend a day in the kitchen with gran, learning the recipe of her nettle tonic and other long-forgotten secrets.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
The ghosts are based on good and bad bosses I have had throughout my career. The character of the “pall” was my revenge on a particularly negative one, who could suck the air out of a room immediately upon entering.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
The characters certainly suggested twists and turns, which I followed, but ultimate I decided what made story sense and what did not.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
The book works on a few levels. It appeals as a coming of age story for Rork, as he searches for approval and a sense of belonging. I feel this seeking is at the core of being human. At heart, we all remain 17-year-olds searching to belong. The book is also an imaginative romp into a make-believe world, filled with ghosts and strange phenomena. And it is about first love, that impossible miracle. Lastly, I hope, it proposes another system of death, not that I am expecting readers to embrace the system verbatim, more that I want them to be open the to the possibilities.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
No, only half-finished attempts.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
The floral and herb-like fragrance of Highland heather mixed with the earthy scent of moss from the River of Forgetting and a sweet note of vanilla birthday cake from the banshee.
What did you edit out of this book?
In the first draft of the book, I alternated chapters from Rork’s point of view and Deirdre’s point of view. At a writer’s conference, the mentor and members of the critique group suggested I should write the story from only Rork’s point of view and go deeper with it.
Is there a writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I would love to hear the advice and stories of Scottish novelist and activist Naomi Mitchison. She was an irrepressible feminist and force, completely ahead of her time.
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.
I eloped to Scotland with my first husband. His mother and the court photographer were our only witnesses. My husband wanted to avoid a “blackening,” a traditional custom where his friends would “capture” him, cover him in treacle and parade him around town in a trailer or wagon.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Fiction writers, in no order:
What book do you think everyone should read?
Angela Carter is largely unknown to the American reader. She was a revelation to me as a writer and woman. https://www.angelacarter.co.uk/
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing poetry and fiction since my teens, so over 40 years.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Some are clear and immediate. Some come to me after writing in accordance with what the story requests.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I am an etymology geek, so I will spend time on words and their meanings. I also feel I am something of a writer of place, so I will Google map places important to the story and immerse myself in detail, which I may or may not use.
Lastly, I will work through many of the exercises from The Weekend Novelist, by Robert J. Ray and Bret Norris.
Do you see writing as a career?
I agree with Elizabeth Gilbert that you should not make your writing carry the burden of being your *work.* I strive for writing to be a big part of my life, but my day job is something else. I hope as time goes on, I can write more and day job less, especially as I look toward retirement.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
The power to self-publish and be successful feels like it adds democracy to the process. An author can choose to try the traditional publishing route or self-publish. Regarding traditional publishing specifically, I feel we are at a watershed moment. It is great to see more people reading and more diverse voices emerging.
Do you read yourself and if so, what is your favorite genre?
I am an eclectic reader and engage with fiction, nonfiction and poetry. I also belong to a book club of diverse readers. For fiction, I love to read fantasy and magical realism — both adult and young adult. I also enjoy historical fiction. For nonfiction, I enjoy learning about creativity, turning points in history, language, art and psychology. I also read autobiography, especially “group biographies” about a movement of writers or artists. For poetry, I read both modern and emerging poets and the formative poets.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Mostly silence or instrumental music, Celtic or new age. (My husband calls it my “spa music.”)
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I can only focus on one fiction book at a time, but I do write fiction and poetry simultaneously. I published a new book of poetry this year, too, called Vaginas Need Air, in memory of my mother who passed in 2017.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
I feel like I should pick a classic like Wuthering Heights, which I do admire, but I would pick Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer. It is a book I return to, often in the dog days of summer. I love how she deftly weaves the three women’s stories together while teaching us about the natural world.
Pen or typewriter or computer?
Computer. I can type fast, over 100 words a minute, and a computer allows me to keep up with my thoughts. Longhand feels slow to me.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
I love Jane Austen’s Emma, a character she envisioned that only her author would love. I also Love Gail Godwin’s Odd Woman, both eponymous characters.
What made you want to become an author, and do you feel it was the right decision?
For me, it is less about being an author and more about writing. Writing helps me figure out the world and how I feel about it. (I also like hanging out with other writers. I like how they think.)
A day in the life of the author?
The best kind of writing day begins with coffee and the sun coming up over the pond. Hopefully, I have left myself a starter line from a previous day of writing, so I have a place to begin. Even better if I have outline notes. I reread what I last wrote to plug myself back into the story, and then I will set met myself a word count goal, which helps to motivate me. I will listen to instrumental music on headphones if my husband is watching TV. Ideally, I will write for 5 or 6 hours, and then I will need to step away from my desk and walk for an hour or more in the woods. I enjoy cooking, so I will return home to make dinner. (I like to try new recipes.) After dinner in the summer I like to read on the patio for a few hours with a glass of wine. When the bugs come out, I will join my husband for a movie of a binge series. That is a good day.
Advice you would give new authors.
I guess the biggest ones are write the story you would like to read and do not worry so much about originality. You are original by nature. The other platitudes also apply. Keep a journal. Write *something* every day or almost every day.
Describe your writing style.
I am a poet and a fiction writer, so I hope my writing style has an elegant sense of language. I also approach scenes from the viewpoint of a cinematographer. I *see* it first.
What makes a good story?
I like character-driven stories with a flawed protagonist I can empathize with, ideally in a farfetched or reimagined situation.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Uprooted by Naomi Novik and Why Poetry? by Matthew Zapruder.
What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I like to think through how a book begins and how it ends, and then I do a rough outline of scenes to connect them. The outline is not always complete, and I do not always stick with it, but the attempt serves as a series of steppingstones.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Self-doubt is the worst. Feeling that you do not have anything to say. I waited for maturity to overturn this thinking in my mind, deluded by the idea that I must live life before I can write about it. I am over 50. I mean, I must have learned a thing or two, right? I do not think this kind of gestation is necessary. You can write a coming of age story when you are coming of age (or soon thereafter). Or any other kind of story, for that matter. Every perspective counts.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
The internet. I get distracted easily and can find myself down a rabbit hole of pointless inquiry. Colleagues joke with me when I do this at work, calling out “squirrel,” a reference from the movie Up.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write what I would like to read and believe I will find a community of readers who like to read the things I like to read.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Do not worry so much about originality. It has taken years to realize that I can not help but be original — I am a one-of-a-kind mix of background, experiences and influences.
What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I think our thoughts are more similar than dissimilar but capturing how a man moves in the world felt tricky to me. That body awareness.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
The first draft of The Fergus took me three years, and then another seven in revision. The drafting in three years feels right to me. For my next book, I would like to expedite the revision process, but we will see.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I do not believe in writer’s block per se, but I do believe in dormancy. There are times when a writer might be fallow, and that is okay. Everything is cyclical.
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