All righty, I am excited to share this interview with all of you! I've been exploring the world of Meg Cowley's imagination this last month through her epic Chronicles of Pelenor. These stories are full of unforgettable characters and so many twists and turns of the plot, I was eager to find out how the author went about crafting her tales. I hope you will enjoy getting to know Meg a little bit and glimpsing her writing process . . . .
Hi, Meg! I’m so glad you could make time for this interview. I’m excited to pick your brain about this epic series. I’ve not yet finished reading book 1, so I’m going to try to keep my questions away from spoiler-territory as much as possible . . . but, you know, if you let a spoiler or two drop along the way, I won’t complain! ;)
Meg: Thanks so much! It’s lovely to chat to you. :-)
First of all, I’d love to hear a little bit about YOU as an author. How did you get into writing? Has epic fantasy always been your true love, or have you dabbled in other genres?
Meg: I’ve always been creative, writing and illustrating since I could hold a pencil. The art certainly came first for me, before learning to write, but I always loved stories as a reader, and had an avid imagination, so I couldn’t help but create my own stories too, then try to write or draw them.
Epic fantasy has always been my true love – The Hobbit is one of the earliest books I remember reading, and I dove into LOTR aged 11. I read the trilogy 11 times that year, back to back, I loved it so much. I grew up devouring Harry Potter too, and was the same age as the characters when the books/films were released, which really resonated with me.
When I was a teenager, the characters that would evolve into those who feature in my first series, The Books of Caledan, sprung to life in my mind’s eye. After meeting author Christopher Paolini in person, I was inspired to write the first book. And, as they say; the rest is history.
I have dabbled a little in urban fantasy since, but am writing epic fantasy once more now and plan to stick to it. It’ such a rich genre with so many possibilities, and I think what I adore most about it is the complex scale of worlds, characters, plots, and weaving multiple viewpoints together.
This series is set in the same, intricately-developed world as your previous fantasy series, but a very different part of the world. Did you find the experience of writing this series different from the previous series since you were working from an already established creation? Were there any unexpected challenges?
Meg: It was certainly a different experience! The base of the world and some of the lore was already established, which does make it easier. However, the realms in my latest series are set in a very different geographic place with different races, so it was also a challenge to ensure that I was following already established lore whilst also creating new cultures and magic systems for those races. The two series do connect, but I have about five thousand years of history for this world already, and plenty of stories yet untold, so I would be very impressed if anyone can predict the full complexity of the world I hope I will eventually write a lot more about! :-)
So Harper is obviously the true star of the story, but . . . you’ve got actually quite a handful of fascinating characters, each with their own journeys and motivations. How do you go about balancing such a large cast and keeping all of their stories weaving together so neatly? Are you an outliner, or does this happen organically?
Meg: I am absolutely an outliner! This is my most ambitious, complex project yet. I started with Harper, then Aedon popped up, and one by one the rest of the cast appeared too, clamoring for their stories to be told. I did a lot of work arranging their backstories, themes, and driving forces before I was able to truly plot the series – so much of who they are/have been/want to be fuels what happens in the stories, that the story really couldn’t happen without these critical characters.
It’s fairly hard to remember all the things all the time, but I feel like if you create characters with very strong driving forces, it’s easy to maintain those at the forefront when writing, so that what characters say/think/do is very realistic. I also loved building a complex web of relationships between the characters – no one is really quite who you might think they are on face value. I feel like that is very true to reality!
You’ve created such an epic storyline already, I can’t imagine this is going to be a quick tale to resolve. How many books long do you expect the Chronicles of Pelenor to be? (And when can we look for the next book????) Did you map the whole series out in advance or take it one book at a time?
Meg: Thank you! The was supposed to be a trilogy, but book 3 really was two stories, and just far too much to fit into one book, so there will be four books in total. That being said, this is just one story arc of many more I hope to tell in Pelenor! I am hoping for book four to be out in early 2020.
I mapped out the trilogy (and then the quartet) but not in huge detail. I focus on the book I’m writing at the time. There are often continuity issues to be aware of, so I find plotting everything down to the finest detail for the entire series is wasteful, as some things organically evolve or change as a result of some of the unforeseen directions even heavily plotted stories can take!
Last of all—can you tell my readers the best places to find and connect with you on social media?
Meg: Sure! I mainly hang out on Facebook, in my reader’s group at Meg's Dragon Lair. Otherwise, I send a weekly email blast out, which readers can join HERE - reader’s who join at the secret link will receive a free Chronicles of Pelenor short story.
I hope you are all excited to dive into the Chronicles of Pelenor! Don't miss your chance to win the first three books of this epic series--enter my Author of the Month Giveaway today!