I had the pleasure of meeting Gillian at a writers conference in 2013. We clicked because we both adore fantasy. Imagine my delight when I found out her debut novel was being released from Enclave Books this Fall! I had already purchased it through their Kickstarter campaign, so I gobbled it up as soon as it hit my kindle. It is worth reading, and I think ya’ll will love it. (Yes, both Gillian and I live in Texas.)
Every generation has a Songkeeper—one chosen to keep the memory of the Song alive. And in every generation, there are those who seek to destroy the chosen one.
When Birdie’s song draws the attention of a dangerous Khelari soldier, she is kidnapped and thrust into a world of ancient secrets and betrayals. Rescued by her old friend, traveling peddler Amos McElhenny, Birdie flees the clutches of her enemies in pursuit of the truth behind the Song’s power.
Ky is a street-wise thief and a member of the Underground—a group of orphans banded together to survive … and to fight the Khelari. Haunted by a tragic raid, Ky joins Birdie and Amos in hopes of a new life beyond the reach of the soldiers. But the enemy is closing in, and when Amos’ shadowed past threatens to undo them all, Birdie is forced to face the destiny that awaits her as the Songkeeper of Leira.
Hi, Gillian! I’m super excited to get to talk to you about your book. 😀
The first question I always ask is this: do you consider yourself a Christian author or author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is?
I would consider myself both, to be honest. I’m not necessarily a fan of incredibly “preachy” books where each character has to be converted by the last chapter or it’s not considered Christian. Some of the most beautiful and moving books I’ve read didn’t spell the Gospel out in so many words as much as show it. And that’s what makes a great story, right? Showing rather than telling?
I am a Christian first and foremost. My faith affects everything I do and is a part of all that I am. And I am an author. So naturally, my faith seeps into my writing and helps shape the storyworlds, characters, plotlines, and themes. But I don’t believe that it is necessary to preach a sermon in every story—and to many people, I feel like that has become stereotypical of Christian fiction.
I suppose it all comes down to mindset. When I sit down to write, I don’t set out determined to make my book a Christian book. I set out determined to make it the best book I can, where themes of sacrifice and unconditional love and courage flow naturally from the plot and characters, and my Christian beliefs grow organically in the story.
🙂 One of the things I liked best about Orphan’s Song is the incorporation of music. Are you a musician? And can you give us an idea of what the five notes sound like? I kept hearing the notes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Not a musician, per se. I took piano lessons for years growing up, but slackened off once I hit my junior year of high school. I can still sit down and pick up the last pieces I learned and play through them, but it would probably take me a while to really get back into it. For me, playing music was always incredibly cathartic, sort of like writing. I was always drawn to incredibly dramatic songs that you could play with a great deal of emotion.
That I think was what first gave me the idea for incorporating music into the world of Leira—the ability of music to both convey and produce emotion. There’s a sort of music to writing too, a lyricism and rhythm to sentence structure and word choice that I fell in love with.
I can hear the notes in the back of my head, but other than to tell you that they would be best played on a fiddle, I can’t really describe it. I’ll have to find a true musician to put it to music for me someday.
Yes, please do! Maybe for an upcoming book trailer or something. 😉
The main character in your book, Birdie, is twelve years old. Why did you select that age for your protagonist?
Twelve just fit Birdie somehow. Most of the time, characters hop into my head with certain very definite characteristics about them. It’s not always the important stuff. Sometimes I can write a character for chapters before I figure out what their face looks like. But Birdie came complete with her age, size, hair color, and an idea of what she spoke like—though that was refined overtime. The rest materialized as I wrote her. But her age never came into question.
Interesting. Can you tell us something about Orphan’s Song that you know but isn’t in the book? Perhaps share some back-story on a character or setting?
Oh this is a fun question! Of course in any fantasy, you’re bound to have a mountain of backstory that doesn’t make it into the book, but a good bit of it may come into play in some way or another in the next two books, so I can’t give away too much yet. There is one innocuous tidbit I can share with you: Dalton and Madame (the innkeeper and his wife) actually had a semi-sweet love story once upon a time. After the massacre of Drengreth, he was wounded and near death when she took him in and nursed him back to health in her father’s inn. She was determined to become his wife, dreaming that he would take her away from her life of drudgery as an innkeeper’s daughter. He did fall in love with her too, but soon after her father died, leaving her the inn, and it wasn’t long before Madame nagged and tongue-lashed Dalton into the hen-pecked innkeeper we see in Orphan’s Song.
So sad. Poor Dalton. Poor Madame (although it’s really hard to have any sympathy for her). What are you working on now?
Book Two in the Songkeeper Chronicles! I’ll be tied up with this series for a little while, but after that I have a super fun, super awesome, super secret project in the works that I can’t wait to dig into. I also just sent the edits off on a novella called Out of Darkness Rising that’s coming out in February!
That’s exciting. It’s always great to have new stories come out. And before you go, what is one thing you’d like your readers to know?
Y’all are the best! Seriously, you’ll never know how much a kind word or a simple “I enjoyed the book” means to an author who is always wading through a massive to-do list and scrambling to meet deadlines. It makes it all worth it!
Well, Gillian, then let me just say I loved your book and look forward to the rest of the series. You should know, however, my favorite character is George the cat. I’d like to see more of him, please!
SO TELL US, WHAT IS THE FIRST BOOK YOU READ THAT MADE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH FANTASY OR SCIENCE FICTION?