author, interview

Interview with David Rae

It’s a blog takeover! I’m so excited for all things David Rae this week, as tomorrow sees the release of Crowtower, the stunning second book in The Sun Thief fantasy trilogy.

I have never read books like Crowman and Crowtower before. Beautiful, layered, unique, lyrical. They defy definition and need to be experienced to be appreciated.

It seems fitting to start the blog takeover with an interview with the man himself.

Iseult: Hi David, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I’m a huge fan of your writing, as you know.

David: Thanks Iseult, I’m a huge fan of your writing too. I love the way you link so much of your work into Ireland and make the familiar magical. It is so clever and so special. It makes me feel as if something wonderful is happening just outside my doorway.

I: Thank you, David. That’s such a lovely thing to say.

Crowtower is fantastic, and I can’t wait for the final book, Crowbait, to be published. When you wrote Crowman, did you plan for it to be a trilogy?

D: I suppose everyone has ‘Trilogy;’ in the back of their minds when they write, and yes I did, but it is interesting to see how the story has evolved. After finishing Crowman, there were many questions not answered. Principally who are Utas and Erroi? So the obvious thing to do is to tell their story. That is what I have done in Crowtower . And when finishing that, I still had a story I felt needed telling.

I: In Crowman, most of the action takes place with the everyday people, while Crowtower mainly concerns the priests of Vatu. Did following the character or showing the world from another point of view lead to this decision?

D: That’s a very interesting observation. I do think there are lots of ordinary people in Crowtower, Nina, Huneko and even Irid, but I can see your point.

In terms of POV there are only two in Crowtower and they are both from followers of Vatu, so that does limit the spread of the book. I’m not sure this was a conscious decision. I wanted to tell the story of the high priest and this change was as a consequence to that.

I: You said that Crowman was inspired by Native American and Japanese folklore. Crowtower comes across as much more based in western mythology to me. Was this a conscious decision?

D: I think there are several mythologies included in the book, but yes it does include more western mythology than Crowman.

However, it is based firmly on the idea of reincarnation, and Vatu remains very much an eastern style of deity and the darklands an eastern style hell.

But yes there also parallels with western myth. It was a conscious decision to widen the stories hinterland. And of course coming from a western tradition it’s almost impossible not to have some cultural baggage. I’d love to talk more about how you feel this relates to western myth. I am guessing you are thinking of the Author of All things as being a western construct. I suppose that’s fair.

I: Crowtower strikes me as the perfect lockdown experience. The characters spend most of their time in one place, thinking. How has the last year influenced your writing?

D: The book was written just before lockdown but I see your point. The book does feel claustrophobic. I wanted that sense of restriction and captivity to be part of the book. I wanted to show the paranoia at the centre of all the High Priest’s decisions. It is a horror story after all. I also have to say I felt that action is at the centre of the book, but being written in first person, the thinking behind these acts plays a big part in the story.

How has lockdown influenced my writing? I think lockdown helped focus my mind on what is important in life and how trivial things can cloud our vision.

I: Crowtower is full of philosophical questions, and I loved the themes of free will, purpose and belief that are discussed in the novel. Did you set out to tackle those themes or did they arise from the characters as you wrote the story?

D: Yes, I think so. And if I never then they very quickly became central to the story. How can you write about reincarnation without addressing free will? Identity is also a big theme in the book. I have to say, I don’t believe in any sort of determinism. In a sense any story is about exactly that, the struggle to avoid our “fate,” and Crowtower is no different. This is about a man trapped in a cycle of violence, hate and fear, and how he escapes from it.

I: I’m so glad to see moths making an appearance in Crowtower! Have you any news on more moth centric books (hint hint The Lepidopterist’s Daughter)?

D: I’d love to be able to give you news on this, but with lockdown and with the focus on completing The Sun Thief Trilogy, I’ve not been able to move that project forward as fast as I’d like and I still have some decisions to make about it. Wither to publish independently or traditionally? What form should it take, a single novel or linked novellas? As you know this is quite a different book and I’m wondering if I should use a pen name? How does Phoenix Ferns sound?

The good news is that I’m working on a sequel to that project and looking for beta readers (hint hint) So I definitely will be publishing this in some form in the near future.

I: That’s so exciting! Oh yes, please send the sequel my way (excited giggling and clapping of hands).

Thank you so much for chatting with me today, David. Congratulations on your new book.

D: A delight to speak with you and hopefully we’ll catch up again soon. Thanks you for your support and inviting me to do this. As ever it has been a blast.

Crowtower is released by Brain Lag publishing tomorrow, but you can still grab a copy at the preorder price on Amazon.

Want to learn more about David and his writing? Click here to read his Mythology & Me post from last year, where we chatted about his inspiration, Crowman, and moths.

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