Author Spotlight – Isobel Starling
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is Isobel Starling!
Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland. She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write fantasy and found she loved writing more than making art. Isobel writes fantasy, thrillers, and comedy and to date has written twenty books, has 12 audiobooks and translations in French, German and Italian. Isobel is currently working The Dark Harvest, book #2 in her “Quiet Work” fantasy series.
Thanks for joining us, Isobel. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
Because I spend my days in front of a laptop, writing, my poor old eyes can’t cope with reading to relax and so audiobooks have become a huge part of my life in the past few years. One fantasy audiobook I listened to recently was called “Under the Rushes” by Amy Lane. It was quite a surprise find. The story was great and it had wonderful steampunk elements, with transport shaped like bugs and fascinating world building. The narrator Nick J.Russo was also fantastic.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
I would be a wizard and my weapon would be a magical whip that would turn monsters to dust on contact.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
My desk is covered in post-it notes with scrawls and flashes of inspiration. I usually completely ignore them all and write on my laptop. I prefer the laptop because it’s quicker. The notes do come in handy sometimes if I ever get blocked though!
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
I work in complete silence with foam earplugs in, phone off, and beware ye who dare to knock on my office door for tharr be dragons!
Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!
I have writing pyjamas. I am both plotter and pantser. I follow a story thread for as far as it will take me and then I start to plot. I won’t let a manuscript out of my sight until its ‘right’. My stories remain secret until they are ready for editing.
What are your most significant non-book fantasy influences?
I’m a bit of a history buff, so I love archaeology and historical books, documentaries and visiting old buildings/museums.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
Killing Eve. I watched it because the other books I’m juggling at the same time as my Quiet Work series is a contemporary thriller series, so it was research of a sort. The writing and acting in Killing Eve are so sharp I was blown away.
The world shifts and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?
I would go shopping and make a gorgeous meal to share with my loved ones.
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
The exclamation mark, for obvious reasons!!!!!!
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
- An LGBT epic fantasy series titled “The Quiet Work”
- Book #1 features a lost lordling, a farm boy, and a tale of magic, mystery and murder
- Book #2 features Assassins, shape-shifters, and more magic, oh my!
If you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?
I’m a control freak when it comes to my writing, so the idea of co-writing makes me really uncomfortable. BUT, If I HAD to co-create a series I would work with J.K Rowling and encourage her to write LGBT characters and not just decide characters are gay after a book has been out for years!
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
The most helpful advice is “Keep writing, no matter if you think the words are awful. You can’t edit a blank page.”
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
Medieval Germany. Because of the Castles, architecture, clothes, men in tights with beards and long hair, oh, and big sausages.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I listen to audiobooks. I stay away from my laptop. I find that taking a break and listening to a book in another genre helps me get perspective on where my fantasy book is heading.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
Counterpoint (Song of the Fallen #1) by Rachel Haemowitz. Here we have an elf and a human prince who are at war. They have a curious connection which deepens throughout the book. The world-building is fantastic.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.)
Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!
My audiobook narrator Gary Furlong said of my new release “Apple Boy”: “There’s loads of mystery, magic and great characters, perfect pacing and an un-annoying cliffhanger-ish ending that left me wanting the next book right now.” Believe him!
Brilliant! Thanks again for joining us today, Isobel, and good luck with your new series!
Isobel Starling is the author of more than twenty novels, including thrillers, romance and comedy. Her new fantasy series is called THE QUIET WORK; the first book, APPLE BOY, is available now.