Which imaginary kingdom would you most like to visit?
Teenage-me says “Rohan!” without hesitation. If I’m being honest, adult-me would probably be more at home in the Shire. Adult-me also thinks the Vale of Arryn sounds gorgeous, even though the GOT/ASOIAF world in general might not be a fun experience!
What do you write? Will CBR fantasy fans ever get to read an Aquillia original?
I hope they will be able to someday; fingers crossed! I write fairly traditional fantasy — secondary world, largely medieval-Europe-based, with multiple point-of-view characters — except it has very little magic. I’m interested in exploring fantasy-political machinations and dysfunctional family relationships more than intricate magic systems or lengthy battle scenes. I have a PhD in Roman history and can definitely see an overlap between my historical and writing interests (especially the dysfunctional families part…!)
My work-in-progress is about a long-standing feud between a king and his baron; when war threatens, their adult children are forced to choose between loyalty to their families or their kingdom, even though such loyalties demand that they give up their own dreams and desires. It’s a long road to publication and I’m not yet at a place where I feel confident in my craft to take that next step in attempting to make it happen, but I keep trying to improve and learn from my myriad of mistakes. Staying motivated can be difficult, especially during a pandemic, but lately I’ve been really inspired by Guy Gavriel Kay’s very historical, low-magic fantasy.
How long have you been a CBR Volunteer? What made you want to be one? (And anybody who wants to be a CBR Facebook volunteer, let us know! Aquillia is looking for some help!)
I started earlier this year, though I’ve been an on-and-off reviewer for CBR for a while now – I think CBR6 was my first? I love the aims of CBR and love having a push to actually review–whenever I finish a book, I go to see if someone else has reviewed it and what they thought. It is wonderful to be part of a worldwide community, especially these days.
What’s most important to you in a book: characters, prose, plot, picture on the cover, etc.?
Characters are definitely #1 for me. If you can make me care about your characters, I’m in for the long haul. I should care about them enough to cry — which I do easily while reading, so if a book doesn’t make me cry at least once then I feel a little let down. I’ve had to excuse myself from vacations with other people when I’m about to finish a book so I can cry in peace and properly enjoy the ending. My now-husband was out with a friend on the evening I finished reading A Memory of Light (last book in the Wheel of Time series) and got about a million emotional texts from me while he was just trying to enjoy a pint.
One of the reasons why I love fantasy is that it offers such a huge range of plot/subgenre: in the last month, I went from reading one about rebellions and economic warfare (The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Seth Dickinson) to what can best be described as “Pride and Prejudice, but dragons” (Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton). In recent years, I have rather gone off the grimdark subgenre, and I never got into urban fantasy, but I’m usually willing to give anything a try. (Except Malazan. Sorry, folks, but it’s just not going to happen.)
As for prose: competent prose is necessary for me to get lost in the world without getting distracted, but good prose just deepens the enjoyment of the experience, forcing me to stop and marvel and appreciate. Of course; “good” is subjective! For me, Guy Gavriel Kay is a perfect example of beautiful prose, and Circe by Madeline Miller is another recent favourite. I think covers matter least to my picking up a book, though I do appreciate a good one (S.A. Chakraborty’s City of Brass series has some gorgeous European covers.)
Which fictional character have you had the biggest crush on?
Too many! Some notables through the years have been Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables, Faramir from LOTR, Robb from ASOIAF, Perrin from WOT... I maaaay have a fantasy “type”. I haven’t had as many in recent years, but I do have a soft spot for Alizayd in the aforementioned City of Brass series.
The classic snack question: salty or sweet?
It depends on my mood, but generally I’d choose sweet. One of the few things I miss about the US is grape-flavoured candy and Welch’s Concord grape juice/soda… I ordered a “grape soda” once in Denmark and it was GRAPEFRUIT. I felt so betrayed. And don’t get me started on the travesty that is blackcurrant-flavoured skittles…