Interview with T. L. Greylock (SHADOWS OF IVORY)
T L Greylock is the author of THE GODFORGED CHRONICLES series and THE SONG OF THE ASH TREE trilogy, consisting of THE BLOOD-TAINTED WINTER, THE HILLS OF HOME, and ALREADY COMES DARKNESS.
She can only wink her left eye, jumped out of an airplane at 13,000 feet while strapped to a Navy SEAL, had a dog named Agamemnon and a cat named Odysseus, and has been swimming with stingrays in the Caribbean.
P.S. One of the above statements is false. Can you guess which?
Hi Taya, welcome back to the Hive!
We’re very excited about your upcoming release of Shadows of Ivory – can you sell the novel to us in 5 words?
For once in my life, I actually have an answer for this question: Indiana Jones meets Renaissance Italy.
After completing The Song of the Ash Tree trilogy were you sad to let the world and it’s characters go? How different was writing Shadows of Ivory – was it easier or harder?
Leaving behind Midgard and those characters was not a sad event for me—partially because I’m not overly sentimental, but mostly because I actually felt that I had done them justice. I’m honestly very happy with how the trilogy ended.
Transitioning to the world of Shadows was difficult, though. It took me a long time to figure out what I was going to write next, and when I did finally figure that out (as much as an author whose notes over the course of a trilogy amounted to about two pages of notebook paper can be said to figure out anything), I had my doubts because the narrative voice, style, and feel of Shadows as I was writing it were all very different from my previous work. It took me a while to accept that these differences worked.
With the re-release of Shadows of Ivory, your new cover (SO GORGEOUS) is starkly different from the original, how much input did you have into the new design? What was your reaction when you saw the finished copy?
I had no input on the overall concept of the new design, but I was able to provide a few suggestions on some details that I felt were important—for instance, making our smiling friend’s jewelry more prominent.
I think this new cover is stunning and, while it is very different from the original, I’m pretty sure my reaction upon seeing it was a very unbecoming smirk—because it’s just that good. I remember when my publishing partner tried to explain his idea of the white lines to frame the image, I was well and truly perplexed and skeptical, but it just works.
The protagonists in Shadows of Ivory are both archaeologists – but they are both very different in their practices and how they approach the field! What inspired you to them?
Well, it just so happens I’m an archaeologist!
…who has never been on a dig and never will be.
I have a MA in Classical Archaeology. It was heavy on the theory and the research and not so heavy on the digging. But I realized that I knew enough to pretend like I knew what I was talking about—and could therefore write a character who sounded like she knew what she was talking about. Thus was Eska born.
While Eska is an academic, Manon was born into a family far more interested in the monetary value of things that could be dug out of the earth than in the stories they could tell about the people who made them. This extreme difference in styles has made them—the families and Manon and Eska—rivals. I wanted to evoke the feuds and rivalries that fueled politics in the Italian city-states over the course of generations.
Tell us a little something about you – what are your favourite things to do when you are not writing?
Part of my day job is coaching hockey and lacrosse at the high school level. This is by far my favorite part of my day job, not just because I can dunk on my athletes any time I want. I love watching hockey and tennis on television, too. Sometimes I play video games—but pretty much only Assassin’s Creed games because I am scared of new games. If you wanted to torture me, just sit me down and force me to play Skyrim. [Taya WHAT?]
Normally I would say reading—and I do genuinely love to read—but work-from-home and the pandemic have affected my book consumption. [sad face]
Ooo, also, I really like driving. Like, just send me on a road trip.
What’s your favourite class for DnD? Do you have a favourite character to play?
I don’t know if I have a favorite class because I’ve only played three and only started playing D&D last fall. But my first character was a privateer (NOT pirate) cleric and I got to invent a harpoon gun for her, which was pretty awesome. I’ve learned, via my sorcerer, that magic-wielders are very fun, but it’s my third character, an artificer, who has probably required the most creativity on my part while playing. Artificers have some magic, but, especially in the earlier levels, I had to run around desperately trying to use snares and tools and that was HARD. However, it turns out that being able to mend things is pretty helpful when you’re in a small boat that is sinking, and then there was the infamous grease incident….
[Can’t believe you haven’t mentioned Mr Stiff the Steelpaw]
What are your favourite mythological creatures? What would you ride gloriously into battle upon?
Do the gods count? Honestly, I find I’m more drawn to the deities and their humanity, or lack thereof, than creatures. But I wouldn’t say no to a griffin.
Since this is our Women in SFF month, who were the women in SFF (or beyond) that influenced or inspired you? (Authors and/or characters!)
Two women whose books have definitely driven me to where I am today are Colleen McCullough and Margaret George. McCullough’s Masters of Rome series and George’s Autobiography of Henry VIII were tremendously influential in terms of developing me as a reader. I have a hard time drawing connections with specific authors or characters in terms of inspiring my writing (this sounds extremely arrogant, I know, but it’s not meant to be), but I think it’s clear that reading so predominantly within the historical fiction genre during my most formative years does connect to the fact that my books are not overwhelmingly heavy on the magic or supernatural side of things. I think most importantly, the way McCullough and George got into the heads of historical figures pretty much blew my socks off. And now that I think about it, the project I have in mind for once I’ve finished The Godforged Chronicles, while it will be fantasy, will be striving to do exactly that—albeit with a pseudo-historical/mythological figure.
…does that puddle of word vomit answer the question?
Your hair is a force of nature! How do you get it looking so badass? Sacrifice or demon summoning? How long does it take you?
The boring answer is that I pay a pretty penny at the salon every eight weeks. The more interesting answer is that I wrestle it into submission with my hot wind dragon (read: blow dryer) every morning and then use an elixir of holding (read: elastic texturizing paste). It actually only takes about five minutes but humidity is my mortal enemy.
How do you feel about interacting with your readers? Do you enjoy hearing their response to your book?
Uh, the good responses, yes.
insert nervous laughter here
I do like to hear from readers, especially when they have a take on a character or an element of the book that I didn’t intend while writing. It’s always fun to see how readers make a story their own.
Who are some of your favourite fictional female characters, and is there one you’d love to crossover into your own books?
Well now you’ve done it. I’m currently picturing Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Valkyrie (as played by Gal Gadot, Brie Larson, and Tessa Thompson, obvi) dropping into one of my books and absolutely owning everyone. Also, Andromache from the new Netflix movie Old Guard, because I always need some Charlize in my life. Can we make this happen, please?
Ok, but that aside…no, you know what? I want this. Give me all the badassery and Eska can, like, do research for them.
Thank you so much for joining us today, Taya and best of luck with the re-release of Shadows of Ivory on August 4th!
You can pre-order on Kindle now, and the paperback will be available from the 4th.
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk