Part 1 can be read here.
Airship Ambassador: When people read Silverblind, what would you like for them to take away from the story and the characters that they could apply to their own lives?
Tina Connolly: Well, I like writing books about women who do things. And I like representing the positive change as people realize they’re capable of things—little things, great things, all kinds of things.
AA: What kind of research, and then balance, went into creating the Silverblind world?
TC: I finally got my hands on a book last year called Edible Wild Plants, by John Kallas. I say finally because even though this book hasn’t been out very long, this is exactly the book that everyone would come into the bookstore looking for when I used to work there. It’s exactly what it says on the tin, and Kallas is based in Portland, so it’s pretty local as well. It’s a fascinating book, and reading that helped inform Dorie’s foraging.
AA: What elements did you specifically include so readers could feel the Silverblind history?
TC: So Tam has written a book that collects fey lore (fairy tales, basically), and the characters refer to that when researching. And he’s continually on the lookout for more information on certain topics, so he refers to paintings and books and historians in their world.
AA: What are some memorable fan reactions to Silverblind and the other books which you’ve heard about?
TC: I’ve been lucky to have a lot of positive reaction to Silverblind so far. It was written to be a standalone, and so you can jump right in even if you haven’t read the first two. Let’s see, I got some fan art for Ironskin—that was fun.
AA: How are new readers finding you – conventions, website, word of mouth, etc?
TC: I try to get to World Fantasy, Norwescon, and Orycon, as often as I can. I have an almost 4-year-old and an almost 1-year-old, so I haven’t been able to make it to everything the last few years, but I’m looking forward to getting out more again as the kids get older. I love getting to conventions to talk to readers. I’ve also been a workshop leader at places like Norwescon and the Cascade Writers Workshop, and those have been lovely for paying it forward and being connected with the writing community.
AA: What kind of attention has this series generated?
TC: I was really thrilled to have Ironskin be a Nebula finalist! Rachel Swirsky called me with the news and I basically ran around the living room whooping.
AA: Every author I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What was your publishing experience like?
TC: I didn’t start writing until after college. I worked on it in between doing theatre and the day job, but I didn’t start making real progress till I went to Clarion West. After that I started publishing more short stories, but then it took me another long time to figure out how to write novels.
AA: How long did it take to write, and rewrite, Silverblind? What were the deadlines and publishing schedule like for you? How did it differ from the first two books?
TC: Oh, goodness. I sold Silverblind the same week I found out we were having baby #2. So there was a pretty hard stop deadline coming up. Thankfully after writing the first two, I had confidence that I could do it in about exactly that timeframe, and I did. My typical schedule is: 6 months to the first (very messy) draft, take a month off while my beloved beta readers read it, then another month to clean it up thoroughly and send draft 2 to my editor. Later when she comes back with edits, I spend another 3 weeks getting draft 3, which I send to my dad (he’s a good plothole finder), and then a final week doing final touch-ups for a draft 4.
AA: For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an agent and editor, their feedback, and your writing?
TC: I’m fond of getting good constructive feedback on things. Both my agent and editor are great in this department. My agent has helped me both times that we’ve shopped an entirely new project, by giving me broad notes like “make the ending clearer,” and so on. And I’ve been pretty well in step with my editor’s vision on all 4 books, so I’ve never had that problem where my editor (or agent) envisions a completely different book than the one I’m writing. (Of course, as I always tell people, I come from theatre, where the director stops you right in the middle of the creative process, and tells you what you did wrong in front of everyone, so writing critique has never been scary for me.)
AA: Have you been on book tours and to conventions? What has that been like, and the fan reaction?
TC: Yes! I got to go on a mini book tour for Ironskin (Baby #2 was born the same week Copperhead came out last year, so I didn’t even get to go to my own bookstore! But I’ll be there this year.) For Ironskin I was in Portland, Seattle, LA, and a couple places in my home state of Kansas. I also went to the local booksellers conference, PNBA. PNBA was particularly thrilling because I used to work in a local bookstore, and had been once before as a bookseller. So now I was there on the other side of things—and I got to see some of my old friends, too. AND I signed tons of books. So it was quite exciting.
We’ll pause here in our chat with Tina Connolly,
Keep up to date with Tina Connolly’s latest news on her website.