Recently, I shared my review
of #loveozya author Bonnie Wynne’s debut novel, THE NINTH SORCERESS
. Bonnie was kind enough to answer some questions I asked about her writing process and book baby for me to share here.
In the blackest dungeon of the Clockwork City, a prisoner lies bound in silver shackles. Who is she? And why are the wizards so afraid of her?
Seventeen-year-old Gwyn has no family and no past. Apprenticed to a half-mad herbalist, she travels the snow-blasted High Country, hawking potions in a peddler’s wagon. Her guardian hides her from the world like a dark secret, and she knows better than to push for answers.
But when she discovers she is hunted by the goddess Beheret, Gwyn is drawn into a deep and ancient tale: of chained gods and lost magic, of truths long buried and the rising of a war she never could have imagined.
Wizards and their magic-sniffing hounds pursue her – as does a stranger in a smiling mask, who calls her by an unfamiliar name…
But what really terrify her are the dangerous gifts she’s spent her life suppressing. Now, Gwyn must step out of the shadows and take charge of her destiny – even if the price is her own soul.
Do you remember when the idea for The Ninth Sorceress first came to you, or what first inspired you to write it?
The idea for The Ninth Sorceress
kind of emerged gradually over time. There was no single ‘aha!’ moment.
Travel is a big one for me. The places I visit always fire my imagination. For instance, the location of the Pale Valley was inspired by Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands. And when I was designing the culture and architecture of Nederlund, I drew on my visits to the area around Boston and New England – that cool witchy, Puritan vibe you don’t really get anywhere else.
And of course, like most authors, I’m inspired by the books and TV shows and movies I consume! The Wheel of Time is my absolute favourite series, and I was interested in exploring some of the same questions and themes. How would it feel to go from being a nobody to suddenly being globally hated and feared? Can you oppress people ‘for their own good?’ How do you resolve the tension between duty and self-interest? I’ll be examining those ideas more as the series continues.
You have created a new fantasy world as the setting for The Ninth Sorceress, including societal structure, mythology, and magic system, as well as the physical geography. When you are creating a fictional world how do you keep track of what you’ve created, and what is possible for your characters?
Spreadsheets! I have spreadsheets for the days of the year, so I can keep track of whether the moons were full or waxing or waning during any given scene (not much point having characters running through the forest in the moonlight if neither moon was out that night!). I have spreadsheets for magic, so I know exactly where each sign sits on the chart. I have spreadsheets for cultural naming conventions, imports and exports, how to play Tact (my version of chess). You name it, I’ve got a spreadsheet. And I also have maps
, which I love. I’m a very dedicated amateur cartographer when it comes to places that aren’t real.
Gwyn comes into contact with a few different types of magic/powers, including white magic, black magic, red magic, and the power to shape shift. Which of these magics would you most like to have, and do you think all of these magics can be used for both good and evil?
Absolutely – that’s a big theme of the series. White magic is the most openly ‘good,’ and is generally used for healing, but especially in Book 2 we’ll start to see some of the darker ways it can be used. On the other hand, red magic is the most feared and dangerous, but I’ll be exploring whether it’s ever okay to use it, even to help others. Can the ends justify the means?
Personally, I’d like to have black magic, because despite the name I think it’s pretty balanced and versatile. And also, it would just be cool to cast fireballs! But I think white magic would be more useful in modern life. Who wouldn’t want to heal the sick?
The Ninth Sorceress is the first book in The Price of Magic series. Do you already have an idea of what will happen to your characters in the next book/s, and how you would like the series to play out? Or are you tackling one book at a time and seeing where they take you next?
I have a pretty good idea of where it’s going and what’s going to happen along the way, but I don’t plan every detail in advance. I’ve seen someone – I think it was Samantha Shannon? – refer to it as the ‘flesh and bones’ approach. So you start each book with a basic outline (the bones), and then flesh out the details as you write. Works for me!
That being said, I still have some decisions to make about the final book – like who I’m going to kill off, muahaha!
Lastly, I’d love to know what you are currently reading, or whether this is anything you have read recently and loved that you would like to recommend to us?
I just read The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith and am starting to dig into my ARC of the second book, The Glamourist. Witches and wine are a great combo, and I love how tactile the magic system is. Definitely worth a peep.
Thanks so much for your time!
You’re very welcome!
About the author
Bonnie Wynne studied Writing and Cultural Studies at UTS, and completed her law degree at the University of Sydney. After a brief stint in legal publishing, she now works for the Australian government, deciphering ancient law tomes.
She lives in Sydney with her cocker spaniel, Percival Hector (Canine Inspector). When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found playing video games, booking her next holiday, or elbow-deep in flour.
THE NINTH SORCERESS is her debut novel and the first book in her series, THE PRICE OF MAGIC.
The Ninth Sorceress by Bonnie Wynne
Release Date: February 13th, 2020
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