Today I’d like to welcome LG Surgeson, fantasy author of the Black River Chronicles.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a book called The Girl That Wasn’t Min. The book is the story of a con-man with a plan to live the high-life and the four street kids he recruits to help him. In the beginning things go really well, and everything’s looking rosie, then greed and suspicion start coming home to roost and slowly it begins to unravel.
Sounds like an interesting project. Where did this idea for a story come from?
I don’t actually know where the idea came from. I have used two of the main characters before. Clara Cropper is a recurring character in my Black River Chronicles – she first appears in Summer of Fire, then she plays a major role in In Shadows, Waiting. Mulligan also appears, albeit briefly, in Summer of Fire. As for the plot and the other characters, they just arrived of their own accord.
What is your favorite scene you’ve written? Can you give us a peek?
It’s quite difficult to choose, but I suppose this one is my favourite. In this scene the girls have been giving Min possibly the first bath she’s ever had:
“She had been rubbed down from her to foot with the bar of soap and was almost clean, apart from three or four of the more stubborn patches of dirt and her hair, which was still nest like even though it was soaking wet.
Mulligan unpacked his goodies onto the hearth rug.
“Hurry up,” groaned Min from behind her modesty screen, folding herself even tighter, “this water’s getting cold.”
“S’also turned brown,” said Luce, “and there fings floatin’ in it,”
“Yeah,” whined Min, “but that doesn’t make it warmer,”
“Look,” he said as he plonked the stoneware bottle of Mrs Doherty’s patent disinfected and grime remover down on the floor, “I’ll get some more water up if one of you sorts out the fire.” No sooner had he said it than Luce had dived towards the bellows.”
Where is this story set? There’s a lot of flavor in the dialogue.
This is a fantasy tale, set in the same world as the other Black River Chronicles. Aberddu (pronounced Aber-thee) is the wall city in a small independent free-state on the west coast of a vast continent. A thriving port town, not long free of the yoke of imperial Albion, it has splendor and squalor in equal proportion. The girls are from the grimy underbelly of the city, where everybody is cold grubby and hungry. Their world is populated by dodgy characters, small-time crooks and hookers. The story takes them to the more prosperity side of the city, and a view of how the other half live.
In a perfect world where you could cast your book for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?
This is a tricky one because 4 of the main characters are children. Mulligan – the con-man with the plan – is easier. I think Richard E Grant would be perfect, or maybe Paul Bettany. As for the girls themselves:
A young Kiera Knightly would make a good Angel – a fierce, bitter former-slave girl.
A young version of Sam Barks (Eponine in Les Miserable) for Luce – a quiet, stoic girl who’s the physically largest of the group
A young Ellen Page would be good as Clara – a live-wire upstart, who does most of the donkey work.
Kirsten Dunst as a child actor for Min – the youngest looking girl, who ends up posing as Mulligan’s seven year old daughter.
That’s a nice range of “types” of girls. Who is your target audience for this story?
I hadn’t really thought about that until recently, but as I see it it’s probably a young adult fantasy that will appeal to adult readers as well.
When you get stuck in your writing, how do you make yourself keep going?
I have a few tricks for sorting out blocks. I usually have most of the outline of a book planned before I even put metaphorical pen to paper, so I usually have a clue where I’m supposed to be going even if I don’t know how. This means that I can do things to nudge myself forward. I found taking a shower helps me think, as does gardening. If I’m really struggling I’ll do something daft like eat a lot of marshmallows. And if all else fails I have been known to go out for a walk and not let myself come home until I know what I’m going to write. That works surprisingly well, especially if it starts raining.
Haha. Marshmallows as cure for writer’s block – nice. When you do get stuck, do you find you more often have problems with knowing what to do with characters or with plot points?
When I write I try to tell myself the story in my head. When I’m stuck it’s because the characters don’t know what to do next. It tends to be how to get from one point to the next in an entertaining and engaging manner.
Is there anything you’ve read that made you jealous you didn’t think of it first?
So many things, I can barely pick one. The Discworld by Terry Pratchett (pretty much all of it), The Rivers of London books by Ben Aaronvitch, The Thursday Next novels by Jasper Forde, and the Runelight stuff by Joanna Harris. And Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman…. I’m going to stop there, because there pretty much isn’t an author I like I’m not jealous of in some way.
That’s a good list. Are you an author who can manage to turn jealousy into inspiration? Like, do some of their ideas prompt new ideas of your own?
I like to look at the way they put things across, and that leads me to different methods of storytelling and narrative. It’s not genuine jealousy, it’s more the hope that one day someone will read something I’ve written and feel about that the way I feel about the books I’ve listed.
Thank you, LG, for sharing!