So excited about this post! Today I have the fantastic author lady Holly Martin to welcome to the blog. I read Holly’s fantastic YA Fantasy novel The Sentinel, first in The Sentinel series, at the end of last year and I had a whole bunch of questions that I was desperate to ask Holly about the characters, the story and her freakin’ awesome imagination! Here is the interview!!
Q1 – Tell us about your novel The Sentinel
It's a fast paced, action packed, fantasy adventure with great twists and superpowered beings. It's a story about Eve and her destiny to save the world, a story of friendship, loyalty and love.
Q2 – Why fantasy, what inspired you to write in this genre?
I love writing fantasy because anything and everything can happen. The only limits are your imagination. The Sentinel is filled with super powered and super strength beings, amazing stunts and shape shifters and I love that when writing fantasy the impossible becomes possible.
Q3 – Eve is the main character from The Sentinel. Was it natural that your hero would be a female character, did you ever contemplate having a male lead?
Great question. When I wanted to write a book like this, I looked around at the other teenage fiction books in this genre and realised that most of the leads were men or boys. Alex Rider, Young James Bond, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, there seemed to be a distinct lack of strong female characters. The girls I taught all loved these books, the action, stunts, the fantasy as much as the boys did and I wanted to write a book that had a good role model for girls. I started writing this book about five years ago. Thankfully there are a lot more books with female leads now and I think this is a great thing. Also, as far as I was concerned, there had to be a love story, one of those love lasts for eternity type loves and I felt this could only really be portrayed properly from the girl's point of view.
Q4 – Eve has super strengths that she wasn’t even fully aware of. How did you come up with all of her powers, did anything inspire them?
I used to watch Charmed when I was younger; I loved that show, so I was inspired by that. I did some research into super powers and super heroes and found out there was a huge range out there to choose from. I wanted Eve to have them all.
Q5 – The thing that marks Eve out as different is that she has little bits of every other character’s powers. Did you decide that you would create her character like this at the start of the process, or did she get more powers as the writing process progressed?
She was always going to be really powerful, that was important. She had been created to be more powerful than any other living thing. The Oraculum, the council of nine that created her, had foreseen the end of the world and they knew that they themselves, the nine most powerful beings on this planet, would not be enough to stop it so they created Eve. So she had to have some incredible strength and powers. She does get more powerful as the books progress and she becomes more adept at using them
Q6 – Eve has the weight of the world, almost literally, on her shoulders. That’s a lot for someone of 17 years of age to deal with! How did you make sure she was strong enough to cope with that?
I just ensured she was surrounded by people that loved and cared about her. Her relationship with Seth is very important here, she knows she has to fight for a world with him in. Having Quinn and Persia and her Guardians around her to support her and cheer her on helps with the huge transition that she goes through.
Q7 – Which character do you identify most with?
I'd like to say Eve as I always thought that I was destined for great things when I was a child, saving the world type things, not just winning the 100m relay or getting ten out of ten on a spelling test. I always thought that there was some big secret and that one day my destiny would be revealed to me. I'm still waiting.
Q8 – If you could chose a favourite part of the story, what would it be?
The end of book 1 between Seth and Eve made me cry, I love the part with Edward and the part with the cat. Can't say more than that, it would spoil it for those that haven't read it yet.
Q9 – Do you have a favourite character?
Seth, definitely Seth, I just love him so much. I want my own Seth. The love he has for her, that 'I would die for you' type of love, I love that.
Q10 – We’ve already discussed a dream cast for Eli (Chris Hemsworth), Seth (Liam Hemsworth) and Quinn (Jesse Spencer). What about the girls? You have some kick ass characters to cast there, is there anyone that comes to mind?
Oh that's so hard, Eve would be very hard to cast. I like Saoirse Ronan, but the actress that plays Eve would have to have some serious balls, the tricky part is Eve being so young too, she's 17. Persia could be played by the same actress who played Ginny Weasley; she's sweet but fiery too.
Q11 – At the end of the story you let us have a look at what’s next for the characters – talk about a tease! Can you tell us anything about the second in the series?
Eve becomes stronger in her power and can achieve some amazing things but her new gifts draws the attention of The Oraculum, the council that created her and they're not particularly happy about the way she uses her powers. When she is summoned to their castle to answer for her actions she becomes aware of a rift between them that could not only endanger her life but the whole planet too. Her love for Seth grows too and we see their relationship blossom. But the book is also full of darkness. Not everyone Eve loves will survive.
Q12 – Did you always know that this was going to be a series or did it start to take form when you were writing The Sentinel?
Initially when I started writing it, it was going to be a trilogy, but there was so much going on that I couldn't possibly finish it in three books, so it is now a four book series.
Q13 – When can we expect the second book to be released?
April I hope.
Q14 - You already know I absolutely loved this story, what would you say to other readers thinking about reading this story?
I’d say what are you waiting for!
So many people have said to me that fantasy or Young Adult books are not their sort of thing at all but how much they loved The Sentinel anyway. People are put off by the Teen label but if you enjoyed Harry Potter then I think you will love this. Read the first few chapters which is free on Amazon, if you like what you see, then read the rest.
Q16 – You have a chick-lit novel coming out, The Guestbook – can you tell us a little about that?
I love The Guestbook because it’s a very different way of telling a story. The story unfolds solely through the messages left in the guestbook of a holiday cottage. Annie Butterworth owns the cottage and lives next door, it is her story told through her interactions with the guests, plus we get a snapshot into the unique and unusual lives of the guests too.
Q17 – How has the writing process differed, if at all, between The Sentinel and The Guestbook?
The Sentinel is fantasy so anything can happen, people can fly or shoot flames from their hands. The Guestbook is set in the real world, so no super powers unfortunately. The writing process was very different in The Guestbook, because its not a traditional story, so I had to think carefully about the type of information that could be portrayed in the book. It was quite liberating because all the stuff that normally makes up a book like the setting or the descriptions of people or what they were wearing didn't really appear in this story.
Now for some Holly questions!
Q18 – What do you get up to when you’re not busy writing?
I work long hours, sometimes I'm out the house 14 hours a day so anytime I have, that's not taken up with work is normally dedicated to writing. I'm on Twitter way too much. Seeing friends at the weekends. I love going to the cinema, that's probably my favourite thing to do, meals out with friends. I used to scuba dive a lot but unfortunately a terrible seasickness put a stop to that.
Q19 – Do you have a favourite book?
That's way too hard, one book, just one. I loved The Host and Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, loved Shadow Forest by Matt Haig, love Winter Wonderland by Belinda Jones, Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella and On the Edge , Richard Hammond's autobiography after his car accident was so honest and raw.
Q20 – What authors/genres do you typically enjoy?
Chicklit, but the Happy Ever After type, the light hearted, rose tinted type, not the miserable sort that makes you cry buckets. I love fantasy, dystopian YA too.
Q21 – What are you most excited for in 2014?
Sherlock Holmes, can't wait for that. Oh and the publication of The Guestbook that's very exciting eeek!!!
Thanks again to the wonderful Holly. You can read my review of The Sentinel here.