The Subconscious Interview of A.M. Dellamonica

The Sub­con­scious Inter­view: where your faith­ful inter­view­er left the dig­i­tal recorder going while he went to check on his muffins, only to dis­cov­er the inter­vie­wee had kept on talk­ing and talk­ing and talk­ing.

Today, Cana­di­an fan­ta­sy author A.M. Del­la­m­on­i­ca (Child of a Hid­den Sea, Indi­go Springs) talks writ­ing, apples, kit­tens, and writ­ing about applekit­tens.

Read the Con­scious Inter­view of A.M. Del­la­m­on­i­ca here.

You’re some­thing of an apple geek, aren’t you? What is your favourite apple?

I have a crush on a New Zealand apple called the Envy, which is a non-GMO cross between Brae­burns and Roy­al Gala. They’re avail­able for a good long stretch of the year in Van­cou­ver, but here in Toron­to they only pop up in the gro­cery a few times a year, so you have to stalk them, patient­ly, like some kind of apple-eat­ing jaguar. The rest of the year I’m eat­ing Ambrosia, Hon­ey Crisp when they aren’t $5 a pound, Smit­tens, and whatever’s look­ing best at the local farmer’s mar­ket.

The best way to get me off the sub­ject of apples, gen­er­al­ly, is to change the top­ic to cof­fee.

If you could improve any­thing about your writ­ing, what would it be?

Oh! In recent years I’ve worked real­ly hard on char­ac­ter and dia­log, and I think if any­thing I’ve got­ten a bit loos­er where plot’s con­cerned. I get praised some­times for writ­ing char­ac­ters who remind crit­ics of peo­ple they know, but the real­er they are, the less they want to be con­fined by stan­dard nar­ra­tive struc­tures. There’s a break­through wait­ing there I’d like to make.

My books are also talky, in the same way mys­ter­ies tend to be. There are things that need fig­ur­ing out, and the char­ac­ters have to go out, gath­er infor­ma­tion, and chew on it awhile. It’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly a prob­lem, but I’d like to exper­i­ment with dialling that down a notch.

What’s with the Stormwrack pre­quels on

After I put a pro­pos­al and three chap­ters for this tril­o­gy on my editor’s desk, I vowed not to write the first book until I knew Tor want­ed it. But by then I had done so much think­ing about the ter­rain of Stormwrack, the peo­ple and mag­ic, and I want­ed to play in this enor­mous amuse­ment park I’d built myself.

Doc­tor Who and pirates? Add in a dalek and I’m there!

There’s a fair­ly impor­tant event part­way through Child of a Hid­den Sea, and I got to think­ing: what if it was fore­told? I could write some sto­ries about Gale Feli­achild and a teenaged Gar­land Par­rish, and they could know about this thing is sup­posed to hap­pen, but in the mean­time they could be explor­ing the island nations and essen­tial­ly hav­ing small adven­tures. There’s a great degree to which I con­ceived Gale as a sort of sea­far­ing Doc­tor Who, with Par­rish as her pret­ty young com­pan­ion. So “Among the Sil­ver­ing Herd” cov­ers their first out­ing togeth­er, and “The Ugly Woman of Castel­lo di Put­ti” is where he real­ly decides he’s going to stay on the Night­jar crew. (It’s also where they meet Tonio.) There are about four more sto­ries in var­i­ous stages–I real­ly enjoyed writ­ing them.

You adopt­ed fer­al kit­tens this spring, didn’t you?

Kit­tens! Kit­tens! KITTENS!

Yes! They were born in a back­yard in Eto­bi­coke; the house belongs to an elder­ly woman who’d been feed­ing the kit­tens’ moth­er, but she had big life stuff on her plate and real­ly need­ed them to be gone. We went and scooped up the two of them (and a sib­ling, whom we’d found a home for, too) in ear­ly May.

Our last cat had been born in 2001, so it has been a long time since the house­hold sound­track was a pit­ter pat­ter of tiny paws. What I’ve learned is that no sen­tence gets fin­ished when they’re awake. You start to voice a thought, and it seems rea­son­ably intel­li­gent, and then it inevitably ends in “… OMG, you are so cute!” And then you’re lung­ing for your phone to take a pic­ture.

We named them Loren­zo and Chin­chilla, Lozo and CinCin for short. I asked the Inter­net if their port­man­teau should be Cin­Zo or LorenCin, and Cin­Zo won hands down.

If you were stu­pid­ly wealthy, what’s the most self-indul­gent thing you’d buy your­self? Not your loved ones, not the cats, but you.

Now that we’ve been talk­ing about apples, I’m think­ing some kind of per­son­al Envy-fetch­er who would fly to New Zealand, get me fruit, swing by Van­cou­ver for cof­fee beans from Elysian on Cam­bie Street, and then deliv­er them here. Hav­ing said that, my con­science as an envi­ron­men­tal­ist could nev­er hack the car­bon cost on that, not unless the plane was car­ry­ing hordes of green activists or maybe engi­neers engaged in invent­ing tech­nolo­gies to reduce our col­lec­tive impact on the plan­et. And then pos­si­bly a guard, whose task would be keep­ing all those free­load­ing left­ie activist types from eat­ing my damned apples.

If you could answer one piece of the feed­back you’ve got­ten about Child of a Hid­den Sea, what would it be?

I would say to all the peo­ple who’ve said they adore Sophie’s broth­er Bram–I hear you! I love him too! If all my dreams come true, there could be a Bram nov­el (or three) after the three books about Sophie are done. So buy six copies each and give them to your near­est and dear­est. Or, you know, just con­tin­ue with what you are doing, which is being a great bunch of book-lov­ing read­ers who talk up the stuff they love, whether it’s mine or no.

Thanks, A.M.!