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I need to know, in great detail, the workings of the world in which the story is set: its history, topography, climate and the way society works. Most of this background material never gets into the story itself, but it's essential if the world is going to be a realistic place, and come to life for the reader. This is also true for the characters. I must know a great deal more about their background, motives and psychology than appears on the printed page, because they must always act in ways that are true to their own natures. It's essential, as the story progresses, to get to know them very well, because it's no use trying to force them to act in uncharacteristic ways to fit some external requirement of the plot. It's always possible to get round any conflict between the needs of the character and those of the story, and though it may take more time and trouble, the result is worthwhile in the end.
How many books will there be in The Shadowleague series?
In this particular batch there will probably be three, but the world of the Shadowleague is so vast and complex that there is endless scope for further novels. Firstly I plan to return to Aurian's world, and pick up on that set of characters, but for the future I have other Shadowleague plans. Watch this space...
What do you do in your spare time while you're not writing?
I read a lot, of course. I love to travel and see new places. I like to walk, especially along the beach, and I love spending time in the garden. I like going to the theatre and the movies - this year's favourite film so far is definitely Galaxy Quest. I'm interested in psychology and I love watching cricket and show jumping, and have plans to learn to ride, though probably not until the next book is finished. I love just spending time with my husband and our dear old lovely cat, and our friends. And yes - I admit it, my secret vice is the dreaded computer game (mainly Diablo II now, of course), which I find very relaxing after a day's writing.
How much do you use the Internet? Do you find it useful for research or a distraction from writing?
I do use it quite a lot for research. It's so wonderful to have an instant resource I can turn to when I want to know how to build a campfire in the pouring rain, or what a tinderbox actually looks like, or the horse-training methods of Xenophon. In the early days of the Shadowleague series, I was book-marking learned treatises on medieval sewerage systems - until I soon discovered that it all boiled down to throwing their effluent over the town walls, (which wasn't what I wanted at all, and resulted in much muttering and growling of "not in MY town, they don't!). Of course most of this background material never gets into the books themselves, but I need to know it, nonetheless. I rarely research in a formal or structured sense, but I find myself wanting to know more about things that come up in my work.
Do you have any favourite websites?
Yes - my favourite site is www.bibliofind.com, as my poor old credit card will attest! Any booklover needs to know about this site, which links the catalogues of second-hand book dealers all over the world. Just type a title, or an author, into their search engine and sit back. Somewhere out there, your book is waiting. Also, you have the excitement of receiving mysterious parcels from such far-flung places as Wanganui, New Zealand (to name my favourite,) and if they happen to wrap the book in a copy of their local newspaper, it's a fascinating bonus. Bibliofind is very addictive, but the results are like having Christmas all the year round.
I should also take this opportunity to mention that my own site, www.maggiefurey.com, will be up and running soon. It's actually in place now, but as we're still under construction there's nothing much there yet. [We'll let you know when it's up and running - Orbit] I have lots of plans though, and everything will be taking shape within the next few weeks.
Copyright© 2002 Orbit
. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. The interview has been provided by Orbit
and is printed with their permission.