Having an interview with us today is newly published Fiona Rawsontile, author of ‘The Starlight Fortress’. I enjoyed this interview so much and I’m really grateful to Fiona for giving her time to give us a little glimpse into her story and world. Her views and writing process really intrigued me and not only did my imagination expand with her answers, but my inner writer was inspired as well.
What caused you to want to write this particular story?
I had vivid dreams about war even as a little kid. It’s a topic that always horrifies and fascinates me. When my father was in the navy, he sometimes took me to those veteran retirement parties. I remember watching those big men hugging one another and weeping. The smell of wet metal and the sea. I knew one day I’d write something about war. That was inevitable.
Was there a specific thing or occasion that inspired you to begin?
Nursing, hehe. I began writing the book after I gave birth to my son. He nursed a lot, and I spent hours lying in bed every day, my mind filled with all those characters and voices. In fact, the story was initially about Geneva and Charlie, the perfect gentleman. Then Geneva hired her military assistant, Sterling, a smart but otherwise ordinary guy, and I said to Charlie, “Sorry, you are not my hero anymore.”
How long have you been writing, from childhood or recently?
I wrote segments of stories as a teenager whenever I had the time. Just like many writers, I felt guilty for writing. It’s a selfish thing to do in some sense. But eventually, if one is born as a writer, there is no way to resist.
Could you tell us a little more about your book?
Having been too used to “Show, not tell,” I sometimes find it hard to describe my book. So far I’ve received two editorial reviews. The San Francisco Review considered my book as “a fast, entertaining read that feels a bit like a roller coaster”, but “isn’t a book that’s likely to inspire … extended musings on life”, whereas the Midwest Review called it “not just a multi-faceted novel of cat-and-mouse war games, but an examination of the roots of war in the personalities of its participants”. What I can say is, I was trying to explore some heavy themes, such as the roots of aggression, social injustice, the sadness of modern intelligent women, while keeping the readers from being bored. Exactly what the readers get from the story really depends on their own experiences and personalities.
Is your main character based on yourself, someone you know, or purely from imagination?
All of my main characters, including the villains, are parts of me. Fictional writing can be a dangerous activity in which every now and then you have to unleash your inner monster; otherwise your villains won’t read like realistic persons. Whether you write about what you have or what you lack, you define and confront yourself through imaginary people and events. While it takes courage to expose, it’s not easy to hide either.
What do you admire most of your character?
I used to be a nice person, sometimes too nice that I often gave up my own interest too soon when there was a conflict with others. As I wrote the book, I tried to envision all the nasty situations a young queen has to deal with in wartime, what she should do when being forced to make a choice between the bad and the worse. I realized that one couldn’t always avoid conflicts. When there is one, you should face it, talk about it, and work on it. It’ll make some people unhappy, but hopefully you’ll eventually reach a solution that’s not only beneficial to others, but also to yourself and those who you stand for. As she grew, I grew.
If you could sit down with her, what do you think you would talk about?
“What do you fear the most?” I’d ask her. Then I’d make it happen in the sequel.
What is your writing process like? Explain a normal writing day for you.
I would love to have the luxury of a single “writing day”. I’m a full-time scientist and a mother of two young kids. I have one to two hours of uninterrupted time before bed. Bathroom time is reserved for reading. Most of the scenes in the book were planned in my head while I was watching the kids, washing dishes, or talking to people (oops!).
Do you have any ‘writing rituals’ that you follow such as coffee in a specific mug or wearing a special hat?
My only requirement is no interruptions. That’s for the sake of the interrupters. As I said before, I can be momentarily transformed into the POV character. I might be rude to others if the character happens to be a rude person.
Does writing run in the family?
Yes, my father is a great storyteller. I’m more of an actor than a writer, actually. My son imitates people all the time. We pretty much know what happens at kindergarten every day based on his involuntary multi-character performance each night.
What writer has been an inspiration for you?
The Chinese writer, Jin Yong. If you are ever experiencing writer’s block, I suggest that you do two things. First, learn Chinese. Second, read Jin Yong’s books. You’ll be constantly marvelling about the endless surprises. The possibilities. I’ll be satisfied with myself if I’m ever half the writer he is.
What is the main theme or moral of your book that you are trying to get across to audiences?
We are all human, including people in the countries we are currently fighting against. People may do bad things, but if we trace down the root of a modern war, it almost always has something to do with economy. With profits. A quote from the book: “We think war has been imposed on us, but in fact, it’s rooted in our human nature and will never be extinguished unless we change ourselves.”
Where is your book available and are you currently working on another project?
It’s on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’m busy writing papers and grant proposals for my day job, but I’m planning on the sequel and hopefully I can start it early next year.
Thank you for your time Fiona, I am looking forward to reading your book and eagerly looking out for more! All the best.