Book Tour Q&A: Children of Gods and Fighting Men by Shauna Lawless
Today we're taking part in the book tour for Children of Gods and Fighting Men by Shauna Lawless, out now from Head of Zeus! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
The first in a gripping new historical fantasy series that intertwines Irish mythology with real-life history, The Children of Gods and Fighting Men is the thrilling debut novel by Shauna Lawless.
They think they've killed the last of us...
981 AD. The Viking King of Dublin is dead. His young widow, Gormflaith, has ambitions for her son – and herself – but Ireland is a dangerous place and kings tend not to stay kings for long. Gormflaith also has a secret. She is one of the Fomorians, an immortal race who can do fire-magic. She has kept her powers hidden at all costs, for there are other immortals in this world – like the Tuatha Dé Danann, a race of warriors who are sworn to kill Fomorians.
Fódla is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann with the gift of healing. Her kind dwell hidden in a fortress, forbidden to live amongst the mortals. Fódla agrees to help her kin by going to spy on Brian Boru, a powerful man who aims to be High King of Ireland. She finds a land on the brink of war – a war she is desperate to stop. However, preventing the loss of mortal lives is not easy with Ireland in turmoil and the Fomorians now on the rise...
On to the interview...!
Thank you so much for joining us for this Q&A! We’ll start off with one of our standard podcast opening questions–tell us something great that’s happened recently.
My book launch is on the 1st September (which is in three days as I write this) and that’s just absolutely crazy. I still can’t believe all this is happening! The general build up over the last few weeks has been lots of fun and I’ve really enjoyed writing posts and doing interviews with bloggers/YouTubers that I have been reading/watching for years. Aside from that, I’ve been loving the summer holidays with my family. Lots of days at the beach and walks in the forests have made for a memorable summer.
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
I have lots of books on my TBR. So many. I am currently reading The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence, which is the final book in the Red Queen’s War series. This is a much funnier series than Broken Empire and Jalan and Snorri make an excellent duo. I am currently reading/re reading all of Mark Lawrences books as it’s thought now that they are all linked – even though they appear to happen in different secondary worlds. The theories are growing around how the five series he has completed are interwoven and I’m very intrigued.
The next series on my radar is The Winnowing Flame series by Jen Williams.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start writing?
Well, I live in County Down in Northern Ireland. I moved here when I was nine, though my family are from Ireland, and we had visited many times before our move. My grandmother wrote lots of stories, some of which were about Irish mythology and I loved reading them. When I moved to Ireland, I started reading more about mythology and Irish history. There are quite a few writers in my family, and I’ve always enjoyed it too. My favourite series as a girl was Animals of Farthing Wood – so there was lots of fan fiction stories about animals escaping new housing developments and fox hunts.
Writing ever since has been a constant. I love it. Creating stories gives me such joy and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.
Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?
My favourite current writers are Mark Lawrence, Anthony Ryan, Anna Smith Spark, G.R.R Martin, Haruki Murakami, John Gwynne, Khaled Hosseini, Joseph O’Connor, and Hilary Mantel.
In terms of influences, I’d say Tolkien, Enid Blyton, Alexandre Dumas, Jane Austen, Bernard Cornwell, and Leo Tolstoy. I love books that transport me to another place, be that fantasy, historical fiction or classical.
What are your favorite types of stories? Of characters?
I like stories that delve into our history. The further we go back in time, usually the better for me. I do like fantasy too, as I find the worldbuilding and different ways society can be imagined to be so compelling. In terms of characters, I like them flawed. There is a time and a place for perfect characters of course. It’s nice to read about a battle of good versus evil every so often, but I usually find morally grey/complex characters are more interesting. Essentially, I really need to feel that characters are ‘real’ otherwise the plot usually doesn’t land for me.
How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?
For this series (because it’s historical fantasy) I do plan a bit, because I have a timeline that needs to be followed. I also have key scenes in my head, so I know where I want the story to move towards, but I don’t over-plan either. Characters need room to breathe, and scenes need space to evolve naturally. The trial scene in The Children of Gods and Fighting Men was not planned at all, it just poured out as I was writing – and I think it’s important to let that happen.
Can you give us an elevator pitch for The Children of Gods and Fighting Men?
The Children of Gods and Fighting Men is a historical fantasy set in 10th century Ireland. The Vikings have taken over the port of Dublin and the Irish kings watch them carefully, whilst fighting amongst themselves for supremacy. Two women, from opposing mythological Irish tribes, must navigate their way through this land. One seeks power, the other seeks peace, but is either possible in a land controlled by mortal men who are on the brink of war?
The Children of Gods and Fighting Men expertly blends historical figures with Irish mythology. How much research did you need to write this book?
I’ve been interested in Irish history and mythology since I was very young. I read a lot of non-fiction about Irish history and the 10th and 11th centuries have been an area of focus for years now. There aren’t a huge number of source documents written at the time, but there is a wealth of information coming out - from archeologic digs to translations of the ancient Irish legal system (called the Brehon Laws) that help build up a picture of life in that era.
So, yes, a lot of research went into this book. While it’s historical fantasy – and therefore a work of fiction, I do think if you set a story in a real world with historical characters there should be some effort to make sure you do follow the history. Otherwise, why not set the story in a secondary world.
Gormflaith and Fódla, the two main characters in the novel, belong to two different races from Irish mythology (the Fomorians and the Tuatha Dé Danann, respectively). If you could be either a Fomorian or a Tuatha Dé, which would you be and why? Also, completely unrelated to the question but thank you for including a pronunciation guide for all of the names at the beginning of the book!
I would be Tuatha Dé Danann. And I’d be a healer like Fódla. Then none of my friends or family would ever be sick. And I’m so glad you liked the pronunciation guide… those Irish names are tricky!
Do you have a particular favorite Irish myth?
My favourite myth is The Second Battle of Moytura. It’s the primary myth that I’ve used as the basis for my magical system. For those who have never read this myth, it’s about a huge battle between the Fomorians (led by King Balor of the Evil Eye) and the Tuatha Dé Danann and mortals of Ireland.
What would you like readers to take away from The Children of Gods and Fighting Men?
Oooh, that’s a hard one. I suppose I would like people to read it and enjoy it as a story first of all, but there are themes there too. Freedom. Equality. Peace. Why they are important to us and what life can be like for those who don’t have them. I don’t want to say too much, because I enjoy reading what people think of the book and what they think the themes are. I don’t want to forewarn them or plant ideas in their head before they’ve thought on it themselves.
Do you have a favorite quote from the book that you can share with us? What about this quote in particular makes it your favorite?
“The Right?” My voice rose. “The air we breathe gives me the right, the soil beneath my feet. I am born of this land, just as you are.”
This is something that Fódla says – and I really like it because it is the start of her finding her voice after being quiet and reclusive for so many years.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?
Just thanks for the interest and thanks for reading my book. It’s been amazing to see it doing so well and for readers to be enjoying it. If you have a spare couple of minutes, rating the book on goodreads/amazon or telling people about it would be lovely. I’m on twitter most days, so if you want to ask me any questions, feel free to interact with me there – and I’ll answer.
And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
At my website – www.shaunalawless.com. I post all my blog posts there. I’ve also set up a newsletter which is more specific to my writing. You can also find the link to that on my website or twitter bio – which is @shaunaLwrites
Where to buy the book: