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Interview with Gillian Bronte Adams

Gillian Bronte Adams is an adventure-loving fantasy author who resides in Texas. Her recent release Song of Leira is the third book in the Songkeeper Chronicles.

Song of Leira is the third book in The Songkeeper Chronicles. Can you tell us a little about the world you created?
In the world of Leira, music is extremely powerful. Birdie, the main character, can actually hear and sing the Song that the Master Singer used to create the world. This ability draws the attention of the warlord who rules her country and puts her in the crosshairs as he sees the chance to control her and the power of the Song.

I’m not much of a musician myself, but I have always loved music and singing, and I’m constantly impressed with the power of songs to engage with and even stir up emotions within us. So, the concept of music as “magic” was really fun to imagine. Birdie’s ability to hear the Song also allows her to understand the language of animals, so really, it’s a world full of music and wonder and fantasy creatures (and of course battles too) which are all things that I love!

Which of your characters do you think you are most like and why?
There’s a little bit of me in both Birdie (the young Songkeeper) and Ky (a streetwise thief), though both of their personalities are very different from mine. Ky gets his sense of absolute rightness and stubbornness from me. (Unfortunately, it’s true!) And Birdie’s inner journey from Orphan’s Song through Songkeeper and all the way to Song of Leira in some ways reflects a journey I was taking through the writing process. I can relate to her growing understanding of the Song and her struggle between following the melody and wanting to steer it herself.

Overall though, I enjoy getting inside the heads of characters who are fairly different from me and trying to understand what they think and why they think that way and how they would react in different situations. It’s just plain fun!

What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
Honestly, I think the dedication of this book really says it for me.
“To all who long for restoration
For broken hearts to be mended
And weary souls to be renewed
This tale is penned for you.”

Coming into Song of Leira after the events of Songkeeper, the world of Leira is a broken and sorrowful place … and honestly, so is ours. During the time that I wrote and edited this book, I cannot begin to count the number of broken things that happened in our world. Two families I knew buried teenagers. There were fires, hurricanes, school shootings, and floods.

It is enough to break your heart. And because of the internet, we can see all of it twenty-four hours a day. Song of Leira enters into that place of brokenness and weeps with the readers, and yet it also looks beyond that brokenness toward restoration, toward the great reversal, and toward that firm anchor of hope that we have as followers of Christ.

What is the most enjoyable part of writing speculative fiction? What would you say is the trickiest part of writing speculative fiction?
I love how unexpectedly true and real speculative fiction can be! By its very nature, speculative fiction draws the reader out of their own world and the thought-patterns, biases, and ideas that saturate it. It allows them to engage with deep philosophical questions in a completely new setting.

So writing stories that have this undercurrent of truth, of symbolism, and of deep questions in a way that is woven naturally into the story, world, and characters is my absolute favorite part!
The trickiest part for me is not getting lost in all of the worldbuilding, character creation, and backstory! I could honestly spend hours dreaming up the types of plants that exist in a certain part of the world and how that fact is somehow symbolic or impacts the story. And there’s a time where that needs to stop and the actual story writing needs to happen.

Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser?
Actually, I’m a bit of both. I start by plotting out my outline with all the major plot points. And then I start writing from plot point to plot point, and as I write and think and dream and pray my way through the story, inevitably I scrap my original outline and write a new, better one that will probably also get scraped on my way to the end.

Could you describe your writing routine? Any quirky habits or must-have snacks?
Coffee is a must. Also, music—usually soundtracks from fantasy movies. Any writing day really needs to start with those two things. I do a lot of my brainstorming with a notepad and paper and sticky notes. So many sticky notes! But the actual story writing always takes place on a computer.

I guess the only other quirky thing I do is actively avoid reading new books when I’m heavily working on a new project, and that’s because it distracts me from having my story and my characters constantly on play in the back of my head. So, I’ll re-read books because they require less of my attention, but I won’t start reading any new books.

When you aren’t writing, what do you do in your free time?
Free time? What is that?

Just joking. I do think it’s important to take some free time away from writing to feed your imagination, otherwise it is easy to suffer from creative burnout. So … I love reading (obviously), but I also love to break away from storyworlds and experience some adventure in the real world. So when I have the chance, I’ll go horseback riding (I have my own darling wild thing who doesn’t know it but has actually become a character in my next series), hiking, kayaking, and the sort of things that drive me out into nature to experience the beauty of God’s creation.

Most writers enjoy reading the types of books they write. Can you tell us your favorite fantasy novels and what you enjoy about them?
I do love reading fantasy novels. Tolkien’s works were my first loves and he still holds the top of my favorites list. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain are also some of my longtime favorites.

But now Brandon Sanderson and his Stormlight Archive have risen to the top of the list, just behind Tolkien. Really, I love all of his books, but the Stormlight Archive is my favorite so far. The breadth of his worldbuilding is stunning. His characters are deep and incredible and realistic. His story is vast and complex and inspiring. So when you have all three of those things going for a book, you know it’s a good one.

What advice would you give a new author interested in writing speculative fiction?
Take the time to develop your story, characters, and your world. All three of those things are so important in speculative fiction, and while you can have great stories that get top marks for two out of the three, the stories that really stick with readers tend to the be ones that nail all three.

And sometimes, it takes a lot of storymining, a lot of digging deep and rooting out the less expected plot twists, the deeper character themes and complex journeys, and the true gems of your world, to really make your story shine.

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CJ Myerly is a graduate from Clearwater Christian College. She resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband and two children. She’s always loved reading and writing and is currently working on a contemporary romance series. She hates clutter, loves organization, and has a love/hate relationship with all electronics. CJ blogs about books, writing, motherhood, and homeschooling at http://momentsdippedinink.com.




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