Friday, May 9, 2014

Author Interview + Giveaway: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

My readers know I'm not exactly a fan of faerie books, so it's a good thing I didn't realize THE FALCONER was a faerie book going in (I really thought she was a warrior who had a falcon. Nope.) or I might never have picked it up. And that would have been a shame. Because THE FALCONER was kick-ass.

Aileana kills faeries (yay!) for practice in order to toughen up to defeat her real target - the fae who murdered her mother. But she also teams up with a MLDF (mysterious loner dude faerie) and a pixie sidekick (Derrick, who I actually liked. I know. Stop the presses.) to thwart a whole army of fairies from destroying Edinburgh. In between all that, Aileana banters with her best friend and attends high society balls. It's all quite FUN, and an intriguing start to a new must-read series.

The official summary:

Edinburgh, 1844. Beautiful Aileana Kameron only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. In fact, she’s spent the year since her mother died developing her ability to sense the presence of Sithichean, a faery race bent on slaughtering humans. She has a secret mission: to destroy the faery who murdered her mother. But when she learns she’s a Falconer, the last in a line of female warriors and the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity, her quest for revenge gets a whole lot more complicated. The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller blends romance and action with steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.
Find out more about The Falconer and read an excerpt! See the trailer. Download the discussion guide.

The interview:

Which one of the inventions in THE FALCONER would you most like to be real?

Definitely Aileana’s ornithopter. The 1800s is full of different inventions and attempts at sustained flight. For a small blip in time, we had large passenger dirigibles circling New York and the pictures seem like something from a completely different world. Then the modern airplane became a staple in our skies, and new aircraft ideas are primarily based on that design. So it makes me sad that the single or double passenger ornithopter, which is such a lovely design, will probably not exist on the open market as it does in my book.

I might choose the stitcher spiders! Did you have any "darlings" that you had to kill in the editing process?

Surprisingly, a lot of scenes from the manuscript I went on submission with remained intact. I mean, they are completely different and I rewrote a great deal of them, but the scenes themselves are still there. I added a great deal of other snippets as well, but didn’t remove whole scenes (except the original ending, which is now the beginning of the second book). There were certain lines and turns of phrase that I loved and was asked to remove for pacing, so I did. But there wasn’t much I feel terribly heartbroken over removing.

If I were to come to Edinburgh as a tourist for one day, where would you take me?

Holyrood Park and St Margaret’s Loch – which has a lot of swans, and the picturesque ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel in the background – are absolutely beautiful. I think a lot of people come visit and miss seeing them, which is a shame because they’re so close to the Old Town. If you were feeling particularly sprightly, Arthur’s Seat is worth climbing for the views of the city and the Firth in the distance. I also highly recommend Calton Hill for views of the New Town, and Princes Street Gardens for a lovely cliff angle of Edinburgh Castle. And, of course, pubs! Edinburgh has excellent pubs.

6 Charlotte Square, where Aileana lives

Why did you decide to end THE FALCONER the way you did (on a very evil cliffhanger!)?

I know, it is evil – sorry! I’ll confess: The draft of The Falconer that I went on submission with was about 30 pages longer. It also ended on a cliffhanger, because I arced the books in such a way that it’s three parts of a single story.

But my editor looked at the original ending of the book and suggested I make it the beginning of the second book instead. Her reasoning (which I agreed with) was that it felt too much like the start of a new leg of Aileana’s story. The scenes I took out involved more faery world building – and a new character – that both my editor and I felt weren’t as fleshed out they could be because I was wrapping up the book.

So I had two choices: keep my original ending and risk throwing in too much new information at the end (which also runs the risk of those scenes, and that new character, losing their impact), or end it on the cliffhanger I did and spend the extra time fleshing that stuff out for the second book. It was an incredibly hard decision because I know how frustrating cliffie endings can be, but I chose the latter. I wanted to spend the extra time on those scenes for book 2.

What other YA faerie books do you recommend, if any, for readers who can't get enough?

I really adore the Modern Faerie Tales series by Holly Black, starting with the book Tithe (though Ironside is my favourite and I reread it often!). They’re an incredible example of just how vicious and manipulative faeries can be.

Lisa Mantchev’s Théâtre Illuminata books is a unique look at faeries with a mix of theatre, and it’s a criminally underrated series that I highly recommend.

I also love Charles de Lint’s books, which have a lot of faery lore in them. They were a great influence to me as a young writer and he is one of the pioneers of urban fantasy. His work is tremendously influential and beautiful.

In addition to being a writer, you're also a photographer. What would be your dream location to photograph?

Honestly, my dream location has always been Scotland. I love travelling the countryside and taking pictures of the Highlands and Isles. They look so different at various points in the year that it’s never tiring and it never feels the same. I have a goal to travel to all of the Scottish isles and photograph each one, and I haven’t even been to the northernmost tip of the mainland, so . . . still so much to see! :)

But if I were to choose anywhere outside the country, I’d say Iceland. I have an obsession with landscape formed from glacial erosion and volcanic activity; together, they create some incredible features that are unique to this part of the world. I really, really want to see Jökulsárlón, which is a glacial lake in Iceland. It’s notable for the icebergs settled on its beaches. The pictures of it are just breathtaking!

I love Iceland! Thank you Elizabeth.

About Elizabeth May

Elizabeth May hails from California and is a PhD student in social anthropology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. An accomplished commercial photographer who counts many book publishers among her clients, she has also spent time in front of the camera as a model for book jackets, including those for young adults. The Falconer is her first novel.


I have one hardcover of THE FALCONER to give away to a reader in the US and Canada. Simply fill out this form by Friday May 16 at 11:59 pm CST for your chance to win! Prize provided and shipped by the publisher. 

Check out the rest of the tour:

Tuesday            5/6/2014            Chronicle    
Wednesday       5/7/2014            Girls in the Stacks         
Thursday           5/8/2014            The Book Cellar             
Saturday           5/10/2014          Mundie Moms               
Sunday             5/11/2014          Literary Rambles           
Monday            5/12/2014          Page Tuners                  
Tuesday            5/13/2014          Forever Young Adult     


molly wetta said...

What a fun interview! I'm definitely looking forward to reading this one.

Kim Aippersbach said...

That's a clever cover image, with the shining sword. :)

I don't much like fairies either, but I might have to make an exception for this one. It has ornithopters!

Melanie said...

I'm not much of a fairy fan either, but this one certainly does catch my attention. I think part of the reason I'm not overly fond of fairies is the huge diversity in lore. I never quite know if I'm going to get something akin to Tinkerbell or cold blooded murderers.