My latest author interview over afternoon tea is with Crispina Kemp. Crispina is a very talented author whose amazing stories I’ve had the opportunity to beta read. With her epic five-book historical fantasy series due for release next month, I was excited to be able to put my ten questions to her.
So grab a cup of tea and maybe a biscuit or slice of cake, then sit back and relax and read the interview…
Thanks so much for taking the time to join us for afternoon tea today, Crispina. To begin with, for those who don’t know you or have yet to discover your writing, please introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m Crispina (with a -p- not Christina with a -t-), a fantasy writer, blogger, sometime poet and photographer (who’s nuts about fungi!)
When did you first realise you wanted to become a writer?
I think I was nine years old. It was reinforced in my mid-teens when I filled three school-issue exercise books in writing a story inspired in style by Nell Dunn’s Up the Junction. The Head of English assured me I had a great career ahead of me as a writer… as long as I kept to what I knew. Unfortunately, this was an era when it was believed writers were born perfect with no need to learn the craft. Consequently, I mis-used many a year.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Primarily from mythology, particularly myths from the Fertile Crescent, the Indo-European peoples and those of the steppes. But also, from the writings of medieval thinkers. Inevitably, that means churchmen since only churchmen received a university education. And, oh boy, did they have some weird ideas!
Can you tell us about your writing process? What’s the first thing you do when you get a new idea?
I mull it over in my head. Think about the ways I can take it. If it holds, then I commit it to physical form. This might be in a notebook, or on my laptop. If it’s to be a novel-length story, I’ll then write perhaps a couple of chapters. That’s usually enough to know if it’s going to work. I then do the planning, i.e. the plotting and research, flesh out the characters and settings.
My first draft tends to be dialogue and stage directions, and very little else. Afterwards, I’ll analyse each scene. Is it needed? What’s its purpose? Is it in the right place? On the second draft I’ll add the details of setting and character. By now, ideas are springing up of how to improve the plot, the additional twists, the turns, a character’s backstory, how the environment impacts on the plot. So, back I go and work in extra scenes and… in such a way the wordcount grows. And grows.
In your opinion, what’s the best and worst thing about being a writer?
The best thing? Being totally immersed in the story.
And the worst? Both painters and photographers can hang their work on the wall or give them as presents. Singers and musicians can perform at any impromptu moment. But a writer? No one sees a writer’s work unless it is in some way published. For that, the internet has been a total boon.
What projects have you been working on recently? What plans do you have for the future?
For the past two and a half years I’ve been prepping the five books of The Spinner’s Game for kindle publication, each step of the way recorded in the monthly E-book Updates on crispinakemp.com
Now my intention is to repeat the process with a story I wrote and posted when I started to blog. It was then called Neve, the protagonist’s name, but I’ve re-titled it, Learning to Fly. Contemporary set, with timeslips back to 1086 and the Battle of Edington in 878, with a dragon, and vampiric grimmen, and a hidden land.
Many authors are also avid readers. Who are some of your favourite authors? Can you share with us some of your favourite books?
Oh gosh, so many.
KJ Parker is currently hitting the mark. His Scavenger trilogy is fantastic keeps you guessing, and The Devil You Know, so clever and witty. I think there’s only the Fencer trilogy that I haven’t read.
Orson Scott Card, though I’ve not read him for a while. He’s best known for his Ender’s Game series which, yes, I have read, but I most loved his Homecoming Saga.
Jim Butcher. Less so for his better known Dresden Files, as for the six books of Codex Alera.
And Scott Lynch, for his Gentleman Bastard series. Breathless waiting for the next book, Thorn of Emberlain, to be released this summer.
If you were only allowed to own three books, which three would you choose?
The Domesday Book as commissioned by William the Conqueror. It’s not just an account of who owned what in the England of his day. It’s packed with personal stories… if you know how to read them. Busting with plots waiting for someone to rediscover them.
A bound compilation of all the academic papers of recent theories of the Proto-Indo-European origins based on accumulated modern archaeology, and ancient DNA and linguistics. Many of these exist as pdfs in my Download folder!
A good translation of the Rigveda.
We love quotes at Sammi Loves Books. Please share with us one of your favourite quotes from one of your own stories or poems, and explain why you chose it.
Gone were the ice-laden voices that so long had woofed and thrummed around her. Instead, silence and stillness. Kerrid grinned hard and wide. She turned. And turned. Nothing but the deepest luminescent blue sky around her, and the mountain beneath her. (Chapter 9 The Spinner’s Child)
It takes me back to Glastonbury Tor in Somerset. Not exactly a mountain, yet the way it stands out above the surrounding Somerset Levels, it channels the wind that then roars up the steep-sided hill and steals away your everyday thoughts and allows you to commune with the wide blue sky. I use the image often in meditation.
Another thing we love at Sammi Loves Books is afternoon tea. If you could have afternoon tea with any author or fictional character, who would you choose and why? Just so you know, the table can seat four, so feel free to fill all available seats, but don’t forget to leave one for yourself! 😉 Also, where might you have this afternoon tea and what is being served? You know, so we can all enjoy it…
- Harry Dresden, protagonist of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files… I’ll risk that he might attract who knows what from who knows where that could lend a less than nice flavour to the tea.
- Fantasy and comedic writer KJ Parker (aka Tom Holt). I imagine there a lively conversation.
- Marcus Didius Falco, the investigator in Lindsey Davis’ Falco series set in Ancient Rome.
As to the where and what…? What will be coffee, cos coffee loosens my tongue, so at least I can contribute and not be overawed. I’m not sure the where is relevant, somewhere not crowded, and despite we’re drinking coffee, perhaps a pub since that’s a setting designed to set the customer at ease.
I thank you so much, Sammi, for inviting me to this interview.
Thank you so much for the interview, Crispina. I so thoroughly enjoyed your answers. I think you made a very good point in terms of what is the worst thing about being a writer; so much of the hard work is seen only by the writer. Also, a very interesting line-up of afternoon tea guests. I love that Marcus Didius Falco was on your list – he would be on mine too!
All five books of Crispina Kemp’s series, The Spinner’s Game, are available for pre-order now, with a release date of 21st March 2020. Follow the link below to her Amazon author page or website for more information. As a bonus, she says:
“And I’m now able to offer a full-sized, full-colour map of Lake of Skulls – a high resolution (2048 x 1536 px) full-colour fantasy map on pdf – if the reader sends me proof of pre-order. They should contact me via my Contact Me page on crispinakemp.com“
There is a review forthcoming for the first book in The Spinner’s Game, The Spinner’s Child, here on Sammi Loves Books in a few weeks time, so readers, keep your eyes peeled for that, and thank you Crispina, for the ARC. Wishing you every success with this series and all future projects!
Connect with the Author
Failing to find a place on the space programme – 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 peoples, its beliefs, but mostly its pasts. From the exploration I returned with the core of my writing.
But, for the more mundane-minded: For a shy child with a speech problem, the written word came as a release, enabling me to express myself without being asked, ‘Eh? What did you say? Say again?’ I wrote my first ‘proper’ story when I was nine. A gothic offering to scare my friends. Since then, there’s been scarcely a day when I haven’t been busy writing. Novels. The short story form doesn’t appeal to me, although over recent months I have posted micro-fiction on my blog.
In my early teens, I visited Grimes Graves, the Neolithic flint mines in Norfolk. The following summer, I visited Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Thence began a lifelong interest in the archaeology of prehistory. The study of myths and legends seemed a natural progression, and from there to linguistics (despite my inability to pronounce the words).
Resident in Norfolk where my roots dig deep, my regular rambles into the surrounding countryside provide balance to the cerebral… and ample subjects for my camera.
If you would like to be interviewed as part of Afternoon Tea at Sammi Loves Books, check out this post.