My October guest, Crispina Kemp, is a writer whose work is mind-bendingly imaginative, with Norse gods, love-sick dragons and prehistoric-style peoples with complex cultures. She is also prolific with a six book series published, a recent release, and a three book series to be launched next year. Welcome, Crispina.
Tell us where you live and what a typical day might look like for you
A typical day might begin with a short walk to the beach with my camera to photograph the sunrise; it might close with a short walk to the estuary for the sunset. [Ed note: Crispina shares her gorgeous images on Twitter each day as @ineebrown51 – they are lovely to see.] For a passionate nature photographer, I live in an enviable position on a spit of land betwixt sea and river (Great Yarmouth). And when not writing and clicking, I’m gardening.
What kind of writing do you do and what led you to that?
Mythic fantasy is my passion. What led me there? The Space Programme. Failing to find a place “to boldly go” I turned my vision inwards to a study of psychology and exploration of spirituality. This encouraged an outward journey to explore this wonderful world, its past, its peoples and their beliefs. From that exploration I returned with the core of my writing.
In the early days of writing, were there authors whom you consciously modelled yourself on?
I’m not sure I’d say consciously modelled but certainly Julian May and Orson Scott Card between them were a liberating factor in that both used telepathic characters. Also, both are fantasy writers with series that stretch across vast chasms of time and space. Oh, snap, ditto.
How does writing begin for you? Is it an idea, a conversation, a title or an image?
Often it’s a song sets me off. Riders On The Storm (The Doors) became The Spinner’s Game. Kula Shaker’s music helped to form the ideas and settings in Roots of Rookeri. Coincidence the lead singer shares my name. Also, I listen to Pagan Rock; those drums influence me and take me back to tribal days!
Are some characters more fun or more challenging for you to write?
In Learning To Fly, Raesan was so much fun to write, though I’m told he’s least liked by the readers. The same is true in Roots of Rookeri. I delighted in writing the drug-addicted psychopathic Kalamite. More difficult are the protagonists, maybe because, with exception of Neve in Learning To Fly, they are the most unlike me.
What is your most recent book about? What inspired this particular story?
I’ve already mentioned Kula Shaker’s music as an influence for my most recently published book, Roots of Rookeri. I’ll add Shakespeare’s comedies to that, especially the early ones. And to complete it my long years as an anti-materialistic aging hippy and interest in the history of astrology.
A Key, A Tree, A prophecy
A violation of the mysterious Wood Tower at the heart of Citadel Lecheni has Kalamite, head of the quasi-religious Runman Order, in a panic, for that’s where he has hidden his mother, his queen – for her protection. Planetary alignments foretell an invasion from the south, so when Eshe arrives in Lecheni from southern Raselstad, Kalamite moves into action. He insists a spy is sent to Eshe’s hometown. The heiress Sifadis jumps at the opportunity to be that spy, to pursue a project of her own and to delay further marriage arrangements.
In Raselstad, Sifadis meets her antithesis, Boody with his abhorrence of everything northern. Yet they share a love for ancient books and Daabian plants. They also share an ancient connection, which on meeting neither expects.
All in all, it’s a tangle of mistaken identities in true Shakespearean form.
Click on cover for purchase link
What do you want your readers to feel when they have closed the last page of your book?
I have to say I’d like them to feel satisfied. And with this book I hope also to raise a little chuckle. With the Spinner’s books, I hope I might stir sufficient curiosity that the reader will explore some the concepts woven into these stories. For example, the lesser-known mythologies, concepts of altered reality as found in shamanism, the Otherworld Web which connects all of life, quantum-wise.
What do you like to read yourself?
I used to read fantasy and sci-fi, almost exclusively. But these days I’m as inclined to read historical fiction, cosy whodunits, and (occasionally) contemporary women’s fiction. A sign of my age, perhaps. I also consume piles of non-fiction.
If you could tell your younger writer (no matter how recently that might be) anything, what would it be?
Talent might be innate, but craft is not. It is important to learn the rules, particularly of structure. It’s useful too to understand why people listen to or read stories. Are stories merely entertainment? Or is there a deeper hunger and need? Knowing the answer can make a difference to how and what we write.
What are your future writing plans and especially, when can we expect a new book from you?
I am currently working on The Alsaldic Lands Trilogy. Book 1 has been to betas etc, and now awaits a final tidy. Book 2 is about to go to betas. Book 3 I am in process of converting from multiple first person POV to third person POV. I expect to publish books 1 and 2 next summer (2023). Fingers crossed I might manage book 3 at the same time.
The three books cover the rise and fall of the Alsaldic Trading Granaries, beginning with Late Neolithic, progressing to Bronze Age and ending with the first whisper of iron. Several of the semi-immortal characters first seen in The Spinner’s Game make an appearance as they battle out ancient grudges, negligent of humans manipulated and caught in the conflicts.
Born on the rural side of Norwich a few years ahead of the Space Programme, as far as jobs were concerned Crispina meandered through her younger years until in her 40s she found a job that required her to write – by way of marketing as an integral part of events and theatre management. She retired early due to ill-health and has written full-time ever since.