Have you had a chance to read THE SCRIBE by Elizabeth Hunter yet? It is the first book in her new series, the Irin Chronicles, and she takes us to Istanbul for this paranormal adventure.
Elizabeth Hunter is one of my favorite authors and it is no coincidence that she wrote my ALL-TIME FAVORITE series, The Elemental Mysteries. Her writing is top notch and she has a way of making you feel every emotion the characters are feeling, no matter the scene. I’ve said this time and time again, no one writes like her.
I read THE SCRIBE back in October and absolutely loved it. It is the first book in a brand new series that she is writing and it deals with magic, voices and a forbidden touch. Elizabeth was nice enough to answer a few questions about the book and give a little extra glimpse into a favorite secondary character! This is a SPOILER-FREE INTERVIEW!
Scroll down below to enter to win an eBook copy of The Scribe
★ ★ ★
Where did the idea for The Scribe and the Irin Chronicles come from?
It was a very sensory kind of inspiration. I was almost sleeping one afternoon when the first spark of an idea came to me. There was a scent in the air that reminded me of the Old City in Jerusalem, and I was listening to Loreena McKennit’s album, An Ancient Muse. I could see the image of a man walking through the souk. He was there, but not really part of the crowd. I knew he was magic, and I knew he was watching someone. It was my first glimpse of Malachi and Ava.
What made you decide to set the story in Istanbul? I know you traveled there this summer – how did your trip affect your writing?
I had initially intended to set the first book of the series in Jerusalem, but after more research, I knew it needed to be Istanbul. It wasn’t one thing, it was six or seven. A Turkish reader emailing me. A news story about Istanbul. A few mentions in the research I was already doing. Istanbul is the crossroads of the ancient world, so I knew it would be perfect. It’s a very layered city.
Going to visit was essential. The city itself became almost another character in the book. There are so many themes in the Irin Chronicles that Istanbul illustrates: ancient and modern, male and female, oral and written language, art and commerce. I can’t think of another city that would have made a better setting.
What draws you to writing paranormal series? How do you come up with the little nuances about each world (i.e. the history, characters’ backstory, the powers, etc)?
I love magic. I love playing with the imagination. There are no limits in fantasy. What if there’s more to a scene that what we can see with our eyes? What if that shadow really did move? I also think my love of history has a lot to do with it. I love the idea of characters from different time periods all having to play together.
You’ve spent a lot of time in the Elemental Mysteries world, with a detour into Cambio Springs, before jumping into the Irin Chronicles. How challenging is it for you to leave one paranormal world and move into another? Is it hard to “let go” of the characters in those worlds to write in a completely different one?
It can be difficult, but I try very hard to remain balanced. I don’t want to spend so much time in one fictional universe that it becomes stale or tired. I’d hate that for myself and for readers. Bouncing around keeps me fresh. And I use a lot of sensory cues to switch between worlds. Music is the biggest one. The music I use to write each series is very different. Playlists for different books keep me focused.
How many books are there going to be in The Irin Chronicles? Are they going to be all about Ava and Malachi or will there be spin-off stories? Do you have the entire series planned out?
I have a trilogy planned for Ava and Malachi’s story. I think the Irin Chronicles will be similar in structure to the Elemental World. I do see other books featuring other characters after I’m done with Ava and Malachi’s story, but I think—like the Elemental World books—those will probably be self-contained. Probably. Maybe. (Really, who knows? I’m just going to go with what strikes me.)
In my opinion, I felt like in this book, the main characters, Ava and Malachi, have a love so deep and a connection so strong, more so than any other characters in your other series. What was the purpose or intention behind giving them this all-consuming, soul mate type of love?
A lot of the themes I’m playing around with in the Irin Chronicles deal with duality. Two halves of the same whole that are incomplete without the other. Light and dark. Male and female. The two sides of language, oral and written. I wanted to create the sense that these characters—the scribes and the singers—are truly incomplete without each other. Which is not to say that they’re not whole characters on their own—they definitely are—but yes, that soulmate concept (reshon in the books) is deliberate.
The dreaded “C” word. What made you decide to end this book on what some may call a cliffhanger? Were you nervous about readers’ reactions?
I was and I wasn’t. I knew some readers wouldn’t like it—in fact, I’ve been impressed that there aren’t more angry reviews!—but at the same time, having planned the series out before I started writing, I knew the first book needed to end there. It wasn’t a choice to write “End of Book One” to keep readers frustrated or on the edge of their seat. The second book, THE SINGER, introduces an entirely different chapter in both Ava and Malachi’s lives. So ending it at any different point wouldn’t have been true to the narrative of their relationship or the story as a whole.
I also have a lot of confidence in my readers, who are pretty darn smart. I feel like I have an audience that has put a lot of faith in me as a writer, and I have no intention of ignoring them or giving my readers anything but my absolute best work.
What can readers expect from the second book in the series, The Singer?
Like I said, it’s a new chapter for both characters. They’re going to be apart for much of the book, but they’re still going to be very intimately connected. (I’m not going to tell you how. Sorry.) We got a very small glimpse of the Irin world in THE SCRIBE. In THE SINGER, that world is going to open up. A lot.
There’s going to be a lot of travel. Readers are going to meet the Irina, who are a force to be reckoned with, and they’re finally going to hear the other side of that story.
And the Fallen are still around! The Fallen and the Grigori are still working their own agenda. You’ll have to wait and see what that means for our two main characters.
You posted your quasi-writing schedule on your blog recently. But without considering a timeline, in an ideal world, what books are you planning on writing/focusing within the next year?
I’m about halfway through with THE SINGER right now, and I’m also working on an Elemental World novella that details some of Tenzin’s history. (That’s actually a free serial, THE BRONZE BLADE, over on my fan site right now. I’m posting weekly.) After those two projects are finished, I’m FINALLY going back to Cambio Springs! Ted (Teodora) and Alex’s story has been brewing for a while, so I’m anxious to start writing it. After that, I’ll probably be working on the last of Ava and Malachi’s books, then I plan to head back to the Elemental World, but I’m not going to specify whose story will be next. Between those five projects (yikes!) that should keep me busy for a while.
This is my big sweep under the rug question. Is there anything that I did not ask, that you’d want to tell your readers/fans about The Irin Chronicles or your other work? You know I like getting the juicy info 😉
I think there are a few readers who would like to know more about Damien (who is one of my absolute favorite male characters ever) and his mate, Sari, who is only mentioned in THE SCRIBE. Both are important secondary characters in THE SINGER, so you’ll be seeing them there, but I also have a novella planned to tell more of their story. They’re a fascinating couple. In fact, I’ll give you a little snippet of Damien talking about his mate right now. Because I love you all.
“Why did you fight with her?” Ava asked from her chair in the small sitting room that connected the two bedrooms she and Damien shared. They’d been put into a cottage away from the main house with two rooms, a small kitchen, and a bathroom they’d have to share. She’d slept in worse.
“Because she needed a fight.” He stepped out of the bathroom, holding a towel to his hair. “And I give my mate what she needs.”
He was dressed in jeans and a short sleeved t-shirt, despite the cold. Ava had noticed in the car that Damien seemed to run hot. Walking around in long sleeves to cover his extensive talesm must have been irritating, especially in warmer climates. The tattoos reached from his collar to his wrists, with some spells even crawling down onto the backs of his hands. She knew he had them on his legs, too, though she’d never seen.
The scribe was very powerful, yet Sari had beaten him to his knees. And even though Ava knew he’d been holding back, it hadn’t been by much.
“Is this your first time here?”
“No. I came here before. When we were first mated.” He looked out the window at the lake in the base of the valley. “We spent time here together. I’m one of the few Irin scribes who even knows this place exists. We’re safe here; I’m sure of it.”
“When was the last time you saw her?” Ava asked as Damien bent his head, holding his shoulder-length hair near the fire.
“It’s been years. We used to try to meet in other places.” He frowned. “But it was too… It’s complicated, Ava.”
She nodded, still not really understanding. She could sense how painful the topic was, despite his natural stoicism.
“Does she really hate you so much?”
He looked up, his elbows propped on his knees, and his eyes burned with pride. “She hates me as she loves me. Wholly and completely. Sari never does anything by halves.”
★ ★ ★