Thursday, March 16, 2023

Q&A with Dale Griffin




Dale Griffin is the author of the new novel The Last Lion of Karkov


Q: What inspired you to write The Last Lion of Karkov?


A: Writing has always been a stress reliever for me. To begin with, that’s all I was doing. But unlike other times, I never moved on from this story.


After a while I started thinking that I needed to share it with someone. I sheepishly asked a former classmate, now a writing teacher, to read the first draft.


There was one specific part of her response that inspired me to keep going. When she said that the story stayed in her thoughts between readings as she went about her day, I was jolted into a state of determination. When a book stays with me in that manner, that’s how I know I love reading it.


Q: How did you create your twin characters Jillian and Natalia, and how would you describe their relationship?


A: I wanted their childhoods to be unimaginable. The beginning of the Spartan movie 300 was a source of inspiration. As a child, Leonidas was subjected to unthinkable circumstances including having to survive in the wilderness, fighting and killing a ferocious beast, before returning worthy of becoming a Spartan warrior-king.


I thought, how awesome would it be if twin sisters survived something similar? In doing so, they would form a bond well beyond what is typical of twinship.


I earnestly tried to have the reader consider the profoundness of their relationship with reminders throughout the story of what they endured together. Not only did they share the same womb, but they are mutual survivors of trauma, bound in the strongest love that I could create.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: Because I was only writing for my own enjoyment, I was highly unorganized, leading to many inefficiencies. The ending, along with many other parts, were rewritten multiple times. From now on, I plan to outline the entire plot before I spend too much time writing in any specific direction.


Q: How did you come up with the world in which the novel is set, and how important is setting to you in your writing?


A: I am fascinated with Europe—its people, its history, its setting. It’s where I want to escape to when I’m traveling, reading, and especially when I am writing. The setting of my stories is important to me because it’s a reflection of my favorite adventures.


I also feel that this method of using “recognizable” fictitious places helps with pace because it takes less worldbuilding for the reader to be immersed in the setting.


For Verseine, I just had to give a few prompts, and they’re hopefully picturing a scene similar to 1860s Paris without me having to spend pages away from the plot with detailed descriptions.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Recent travels to Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales have inspired me to write about a Celtic druidess who was taken from her homeland to help fend off an invasion from a conquering neighbor. I’m enjoying the exploration of the Gaelic roots of these lands and what they can bring to a fantasy novel.


Exactly like what happened to me with The Last Lion of Karkov, I have a new story that I can’t move on from.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: This would not have been possible without at least 15 people helping me along the way.


I particularly want to thank editors Sarah LaPolla and Aja Pollock. Each of them spent several months working on the manuscript. If not for Sarah, I would have skipped over some of my favorite parts. And Aja tirelessly worked sentence by sentence, putting the story in its finest form.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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