|Author Tina Connolly|
How would you describe Ironskin to someone that has heard nothing about it?
Well, the pitch for it was "Steampunk Jane Eyre with fairies." That's really more of a jumping-off point, as it's been a tricky book to neatly categorize. I've seen it described as steampunk, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, and historical fantasy (not to mention as both adult and YA!) It is under the regular Tor imprint, and I think I might call it secondary-world fantasy.
What do you need to get the creative juices flowing?
Long walks are excellent. A month after I sold Ironskin plus its (unwritten) sequel, I had a baby. So I had to learn how to write while crazytown happened all around me. Luckily the baby was happy to go on long walks (though now that he's a toddler, he wants to get out and walk himself, which is slightly less conducive to brainstorming.
How did you come up with the story of Ironskin? Are you a fan of Jane Eyre?
I love Charlotte Bronte – Villette is actually my absolute favorite of hers, but I love Jane Eyre as well. Ironskin grew from a novella, which grew out of the image of a girl walking into a studio at midnight and seeing a clay mask in the moonlight—a mask that was a beautiful version of her face. At some point while I was trying to wrestle the novella plus the tons of extra material into a novel, a friend pointed out the similarities to Jane Eyre. It turned out to work very well structurally as well as thematically to what I was trying to do.
Do you have a certain playlist that you listen to or do you find that distracting?
I'm a silence person. However, when I was revising for my editor I did put the Jane Eyre soundtrack on in the car to help stay in the mood! (That would be the soundtrack for the Broadway musical, which I really adored.)
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
Mmm...bread? Could I get away with bread and cheese? And I get to have a toaster too, right? I looove fresh bread and cheese. Cheddar, brie, red leicester.... Okay, now I'm hungry.
When did you start writing?
Not till after college (although I turned in a number of fiction pieces thinly disguised as thoughtful essays for my English degree.) My first job out of college was working a at relay center for the hearing impaired—a round the clock call center, essentially. I ended up with a lot of nightshift hours and suddenly I couldn't do theatre anymore. But I had all this free time, and I'd always been such a tremendous reader, that I wanted to try writing something. It was extremely hard at first, but I got hooked by the challenge of it.
Any advice you’d give to someone wanting to become a published author?
Keep at it! The more you write, the better you get, and the more you submit, the more chances you have. I've sold some 3 dozen short stories, but I have about 500 rejections for them. And there are some great writing workshops out there—some, like Clarion & Clarion West, that are 6 weeks—but some that are 2 (CSSF in Lawrence, KS), and some that are just 1 or even just a weekend. I was a workshop leader for the Cascade Writers Workshop here in the Portland area this summer—that was a Thursday to Sunday conference and it was great.
You are trapped on a desert island… what 4 things/people are with you?
My husband, certainly, because he could either get us off the island, or build a civilized society for us in very short order. If we're stuck there forever, then the toddler too, but if it's just a week, say, he might rather wait it out at the grandparents. Lessee...an e-reader that magically has all the books on my unread shelf on it, the internet, and sunscreen.
What is the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked and what is the answer to it?
I work as a face painter during the summer, so I get a lot of delightfully weird requests from kids for painting. A couple girls last spring asked if I could paint them "pickle unicorns" on their cheeks. (These, apparently, are unicorns with pickle horns.) (The answer, BTW, was YES.
Who dead or alive would you want to meet most?
Oh, there are so many writers from the past I'd love to meet. Charlotte Bronte of course, Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Dorothy Parker....
Do you have more books/projects that you are working on for us to look forward to?
I've mostly been working on the sequel to Ironskin this year! We're doing revisions on that, and then I've been revising a couple YA novels I wrote around the same time as Ironskin to show my editor. One has witches and the other mermaids, and they're completely different than Ironskin.
Thank you so much for joining us at My Home Away From Home and doing this interview. I loved Ironskin!!
Interview by Sabrina Beilharz