Today I am really excited to have Emma Raveling here to talk about her novel Whirl. I loved this wonderful fantasy novel (review coming soon) and I really enjoyed coming up with things to quiz Emma on. :)
Hello! It is wonderful to have you visiting Songs and Stories, I absolutely loved Whirl! I read it in just a couple hours without stopping. J
Hi, Natalie! Thank you so much for having me here today. And I’m so glad you enjoyed Whirl!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a thirty-something year old fantasy writer and frequent traveler. My husband and charming German Shepherd are the great loves of my life. I’m hopelessly addicted to coffee and diet coke, and am a dedicated practitioner of vipassana meditation. Whirl is my debut novel.
What made you choose ondines to write about?
The first movement is entitled Ondine and is based upon the poem of the same name by Bertrand. I included this poem as the epigraph for Whirl because it is the inspiration behind the entire Ondine Quartet series. Based upon an old French myth, the poem tells the story of Ondine, a water nymph who sings to a mortal man, attempting to lure him to her. In love with a mortal woman, he rejects her love and pleas to join her in ruling the water world. Heartbroken, Ondine fades away and disappears beneath the waves.
(I listened to Gaspard de la Nuit while putting this post together and it truly is a lovely piece of music. :)
If you lived inside your novel, what would you want to be? Ondine? Selkie? Dessondine?
Although dessondines are powerful magical beings, I would not want to be one because I wouldn’t want to live an immortal life as an underwater creature. Plus, they’re kind of creepy looking. : )
It would be impossible to choose between ondine and selkie. I’d love to be an ondine with a Virtue (a special magic power), probably the Virtue of Healing. But then again, it’d also be really cool to be a shapeshifting selkie warrior with superhuman physical abilities.
How did you come up with the names of your characters?
Character names are very important to me as a writer. They can work to reinforce the world and structure you’ve created within your story. Before I started writing Whirl, I spent a great deal of time studying French etymology. Most of the names used in the Ondine Quartet world (such as race names, location names, special terms, etc) were constructed out of specific meanings, and the combination of various word roots.
Most of the character names for ondines, dessondines, and demillirs come from the French. For example, my protagonist is Kendra Irisavie. Kendra is a name of French origin and has the meaning “water baby” or “child of the water”. Her last name, Irisavie, comes from the French phrase, iris de la vie, or Iris of Life. Her name itself is a reflection of several deeper themes that are woven throughout the story.
The selkies in the series have a combination of Welsh first names with French last names. (an example is the main male character, Tristan Belicoux). The name Tristan means “tumult”, which defines his journey throughout the series. I created selkie names in this way because of the Anglo-Norman historical connection. The language the selkies speak is actually Old Norman, which is an archaic form of French.
What are your favorite kinds of scenes to write?
It depends on my mood. There are times when I love to write intimate scenes and dialogues between characters. It gives me a sense of space and allows me to really explore who each of my characters are as people. Sometimes, I’m amazed or surprised at the stuff they end up saying because I don’t always know where it comes from. When I write these scenes, it feels as though my characters truly exist and I’m just a conduit through which they transmit their thoughts or emotions.
But there are also times when I need a good kickass fight scene, and I must admit that I do enjoy writing them! There’s a different tempo and feel to it that’s quite thrilling. Just as it’s important to mix things up to achieve balance in life, I enjoy mixing up and balancing my stories with a combination of both introspective scenes and extroverted energy.
What are some of your favorite stories?
I love stories where there is some type of powerful internal journey involved for the main character. Change is very important to me - how a character grows and transforms over the arc of a story.
Some of my favorite books of all time, including Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, have this type of strong character themes.
If you could go to dinner with three authors, living or dead, which three would they be?
Thank you so much for coming! I am looking forward to reading Billow, sequel to Whirl. :)
Thanks to the Bookish Snob and Emma Raveling, I have an e-copy of Whirl to share with you! To enter, leave a comment saying if you would rather be a selkie, ondine or dessondine along with your e-mail address. For an extra entry, you can spread the word and leave a link. Following is not required but greatly appreciated. Good Luck!
Follow the tour to read more interviews, reviews and guest posts, not to mention more giveaways and the chance to win a copy of Whirl, a poster and a mug at the end of the tour. Tomorrow's stop is being hosted by Good Choice Reading.