Author Spotlight – Quenby Olson
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is Quenby Olson!
Quenby Olson lives in Central Pennsylvania where she spends most of her time writing, glaring at baskets of unfolded laundry, and chasing the cat off the kitchen counters. She lives with her husband and five children, who do nothing to dampen her love of classical ballet, geeky crochet, and staying up late to watch old episodes of Doctor Who.
Quenby is the author of numerous romance stories, as well as the historical fantasy-horror Sundered Veil series, beginning with The Half Killed.
Welcome to the Hive, Quen. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
Oh, boy. You’re going to make me answer in the singular here? I’m going to cheat anyway.
Foundryside, by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Little Riders by Margaretha Shemin (I read it to my kids)
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
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?
So here’s the thing. You can all yell at me about it later:
I’ve never played D&D.
I grew up in one of those households that thought it would lead me to making blood sacrifices to Satan, and by the time I was old enough to seek it out on my own, it just didn’t happen. So let’s just be confident with the fact that whatever character I am, I will most likely die early and carelessly.
Got it! How do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? 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 a little bit about your writing method!
My writing method has undergone a complete one-eighty since I had kids. I used to be a night owl to write. I used to hand write my first drafts. I used to always listen to music. Now I tend to write in the morning or the middle of the afternoon. Silence is preferable (there’s enough noise in my house that I’m rather eager to find a break from it.) And I’m a typer now. It’s faster and I have to be able to work fast when the opportunity arises.
I also outline more than I used to, I think mostly because there are so many more things in my life to think about that I can’t trust my brain to hold onto some great idea I had at two in the morning while cleaning up cat barf. Outline it. Get it down. Because I will forget.
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
It’s cliche to say Tolkien and Lewis, because that’s what so many say. Though honestly, I think they were less of an influence and more just The First Fantasy Authors I Read. Ones that really stuck with me are more along the lines of Le Guin, with her worlds that were so much more accessible, and Diana Wynne Jones, who simply charms you into the story she creates with incredible skill. Oh, and Mary Shelley. Definitely Mary Shelley.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
Mr. Bean and Are You Being Served. Because my kids adore them (though all their friends don’t understand why they like such ‘boring’ shows.)
If we’re talking things not watched when my kids are in control of the television… Good Omens.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
With my husband and family. He works long hours, so I don’t see him as much as I’d like. There really isn’t any other answer I can think to give.
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
There are so many. I’ll try to pick the most important ones.
Dust and Silver is the most in-progress project. It’s Victorian London, there are the usual werewolves and such roaming around the world, but… there’s something a bit more going on when people start turning up dead with their heads nearly chewed off. (After typing that, I realize that saying both “dead” and “heads nearly chewed off” is a bit redundant.)
My main character is a middle-aged woman, member of the aristocracy, married to a jerk, yet something in her past means the government locks her into service for them whenever something more supernatural occurs in England. And that’s pretty much all the details I can spill on that one.
It sounds brilliant!
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
The most helpful piece? Don’t compare your journey to that of another writer. Just don’t. You’re on your own road, and that’s the best place to be.
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 remind myself that I have five kids and most – if not all – of them will need braces. And college tuition. And they have this nagging tendency to eat up all the food in the house. So that’s a good kick in the pants to write and get the next book out.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
Jeez, this is as bad as those “if you could have one dinner guest, living or dead…” questions.
Alexandria, Egypt. When the great library there is at its peak (so years before it is burned down.) And I smuggle out as much as I can and rocket back to the modern day.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O’Nan. It’s short, maybe only novella length, but I’m fairly certain I did not breathe or blink through most of it. So give it a read if you also like books by Cormac McCarthy and others along those lines.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
Um, I can’t just go back to the “I have kids who keep eating everything” line? No?
So. If you like books with rich prose, that attempt to drag you into the pages whether you want to be there or not… Also, if you like horror and dead bodies and creepy stuff, my books are there for you.
Except the romance books. A significant lack of dead bodies in those and a greater quantity of kissing. So pick your poison.
Perfect. Thanks again for joining us, Quen, and good luck with the nearly-headless Victorians!
Quenby Olson is the author of numerous romance stories, as well as the historical fantasy-horror Sundered Veil series, beginning with The Half Killed.