Thursday, September 14, 2023

Q&A with Hannah Kaner




Hannah Kaner is the author of the new novel Godkiller, the first in a trilogy. She lives in Scotland.


Q: What inspired you to write Godkiller, and how did you create your character Kissen?


A: I wanted to write a book with an angry, irreverent and witty woman at its center. Someone who’s never learned how to make herself small. And what is more irreverent, than a woman who kills gods?


Kissen has no desire or need to be liked, has no intention of changing who she is, which is both a strength and a frailty.


Q: The Booklist review of the novel said, in part, “The setting of Godkiller feels epic and lived in, suggesting much more story to be revealed in future installments of the planned trilogy.” What do you think of that description, and how did you come up with the world depicted in Godkiller?


A: That is one of the loveliest things that can be said about a fantasy world, and to me. I’ve got such an interest in socioeconomic history and I wanted to fold so much of it between the pages, but had to polish it away so the story wasn’t weighed down. But this means there is absolutely more I want to unveil, explore and question as the books progress.


The premise of the world helps it feel lived in, I think. It’s set in lands where gods are very real. They exist both in small local shrines and villages, as well as across nations. They can be asked for gifts and curses, which brings out opportunity for manipulation conflict, weakness.


And a world where gods can be brought to life in different places is one where myths and stories travel, like in our own world; our tales have journeyed down the silk roads and spice roads, across trading seas and with the movement of people and power.

With many gods must also come many foods, peoples, spices, inventions, and pilgrims. Little histories are everywhere in this world; chipped-away carvings, types of bread and food, industry in every corner, secret shrines and symbols.


I also wanted the gods to feel real, and grounded, but not just picked up and dropped from other pantheons, so we have a mixture of gods people might recognize, of sea, river and war, and others that are not so recognizable, or more similar to the medieval cult of the saints: white lies, broken sandals, weavers, and roses.


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


A: I did, the book follows some of the traditions of the hero’s journey, some of a coming of age, and some of a vengeance narrative. I knew where they were going – the fallen city, like the ruins of Troy - and the story was why, how, and when.


The biggest changes, I think, were less about the overall structure and more about the richness of it and the characters. As I went through each draft, I brought out, and then removed, backstory, little asides and flashbacks, and focused the book mainly on the core narrative.


But now there are so many untold stories in this world! I hope I get to write them.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I hope readers find in the story a world where they are welcome to explore and add to. And what I want them to take away from it is a sense of profound love, found family, and adventure.


Q: This is the first in a series--can you tell us what's coming next?


A: The next in the trilogy, Sunbringer, is out in March 2024, and is available to preorder. When people ask, I’ve said that if Godkiller is A New Hope, then Sunbringer has to be The Empire Strikes Back.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: There are a few Easter eggs to gods in our own world or from other books, nothing major, just a few nods, but I love it when people pick up on them.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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