Magic, Myth, and Minnesota…An Author Interview by Ripley Proserpina

I like to write about my writing, and my books, but one of the best things this blog allows me to do is talk to other writers.

Generally, we’re an introverted group. Yet each time I’ve reached out to an author I love, they’ve willingly, and excitedly, agreed to share their thoughts about how they write.

For the month of October, I’ve got a line-up of wonderful authors who write within the paranormal genre. Consider me gearing up for Halloween.

The first author I wanted to highlight is Heather R. Blair. I’ve featured her here before, but she’s about to release (October 12th), the final book in her complex and rich Toil and Trouble series.

You’re from Minnesota. I feel an affinity with the state because I think it’s almost as cold as Vermont, and you have an appreciation for snow. From what I understand, Minnesota’s early settlers were often from Scandinavian countries like Norway and Sweden. Did this figure into your latest book, Magpies and Moonshine? And how important is setting to your series? 

Yes, I adore my adopted state and city! Having been raised all over, but mostly in Arizona, enjoying four seasons is my idea of heaven. I rarely get sick of our weather, except maybe in February. And lol, if we are comparing harsh winters, I have a feeling we’d win in the temperature department, though you all in Vermont might bury us in actual snowfall. 🙂

Setting is definitely huge to me. Duluth is like a character in and of itself in the books. I include a lot of local color, including fabulous bars, eateries and even local bands I enjoy. I really do love this town and I think it has a lot of stories to tell. It’s quirky and weird and a bit fantastic. A perfect backdrop for all those fairytale characters (FTC) hiding in plain sight. 😉

The landscape here is also important to the T&T series. Duluth is a beautiful city, and the North Shore takes my breath away every time I stop to look around. We have a lake masquerading as an ocean in the middle of a continent, gorgeous cliffs, parks and waterfalls. Some of the best swimming holes in the world and even a beach to rival those on the coast. (Park Point is actually the longest freshwater sand bar in the world).

As you know, my books also dash off to a few other exotic locales. Norway was featured heavily in Magpies & Moonshine. I became intrigued by a mountain there called Trolltunga (literally, Troll’s Tongue.) Of course, I had to add a dash of magic, turning it into a bridge to the realm of the gods. While I’ve never actually been to Norway, it’s on the list, and I have been to Ireland and the Isle of Man to research some of my other series. Most recently I went to Amsterdam this spring to do a little art research on some upcoming romantic suspense books. I LOVE to travel. Writing is a great excuse to do more.

You’re not afraid to combine myths and legends. Can you tell us about the different stories you wove into your series?

One thing I adore about the Great Lakes region is the melting pot of cultures and ideas. This area was occupied by the Ojibwe people long before Europeans ever saw North America and their legend of Mishipeshu, a local lake monster, is one I turned into a long tall drink of water named Styx.

Duluth was first settled by the French, though we have a large Greek, and of course, Scandinavian population as well, including people with Finnish, Norwegian and, like me, Swedish ancestry. Norse mythology figures heavily in the Toil & Trouble books, but you’re right, I totally borrow from multiple sources. Like Grimm’s fairytales, which is largely Germanic in nature. I also used several aspects of Russian culture and folklore. (The Firebird Ballet and a legend of a fairy made of snow). I simply adore taking the all the bits I like, putting my own spin on it, blending it into something new and hopefully tasty!

You have all sorts of creatures in your series. We’re talking dead giants, werewolves, gods, goblins. Do you have a special place in your heart for any one of these creatures?

As for favorite creatures, argh, that would be hard! Probably the witches or the bruins. I also love vampires, but decided not to figure them heavily in this series. Gnomes also proved extremely fun to write. Loved those cheeky little buggers! But character-wise, Jack Frost would be tops for me, icy-cold and smoking HOT.

What sort of research did you do for your series? Did you plot it out, or are you ore of a fly-by-the-seat of your pants sort of girl?

I do a LOT of research. Mostly for me that is reading, like the legends and myths above, though I also travel as much as I can to gain inspiration. Thankfully, as you can tell, there is a lot of that inspiration to be found right in my backyard. 🙂

I know it surprises people since my books are heavily layered, but I do NOT do much plotting. I know some things, of course, certain plot points I must hit, etc., and I do have notes, but I find plotting too much slows down the narrative. The characters are telling me their story, and sometimes I am just as shocked as you all are.

Finally, Halloween is coming. Your four sisters, Seph, Jett, Ana, and Carly, are all witches. What do they think of the holiday? What would we find them doing on All Hallow’s Eve?

Halloween is actually a quiet day in the FTC world. Seph probably wouldn’t even be at the bar. You’d most likely find her and Carly at home catching up on Doctor Who or Game of Thrones while Ana bakes something tasty in the kitchen and Jett polishes her sword. Of course, there’d be plenty of alcohol to go around, courtesy of gnome moonshine and Seph’s overstock from the bar. And the guys would probably drop in to pester their women, or take them upstairs for some good old-fashioned fun. 😉

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