Interview with Laura Anne Gilman, Author of The Vineart War

Lauran Anne Gilman is the author of many books, including The Retrievers and The Paranormal Scene Investigators.  The third book in her Vineart War series was last month.  Laura stopped by the virtual offices to discuss her books and writing.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Laura Anne Gilman] Creative, compulsive, intensely lazy, slightly hedonistic, loves good food, always moving unless sleeping.  Possibly a cat in a person-skin.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your new book, The Shattered Vine?

[Laura Anne Gilman] This is the third book in the Vineart War trilogy, which is the story of Jerzy (yehr-zee) a young winemaker, in a world where wine is magic ("vin magica") and unknown foes are trying to destroy the balance between those who work magic, and those who hold military/political power.  In The Shattered Vine, Jerzy has accepted what must be done, to save his world – but he’s still figuring out HOW to do it, without destroying the world in the process anyway.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for your Vineart War series?

[Laura Anne Gilman] Purely my agent’s fault.  Long story slightly shorter:  I am a foodie and an oenophile (wine nerd), with a stint working at a wine store/leading tastings on my c.v.  During an otherwise work-related phone call, my agent and I were talking about a food and wine expo we both wanted to go to, but couldn’t justify the time/cost.  I may have made a comment about how this should be a tax deduction damnit.  She may have said something like "so write me a food or wine based fantasy."  We may have laughed and hung up, and half an hour later a Bunch of Thoughts[tm] may have collided in my head….

And by evening, I had a fully-fleshed proposal for (then-four) books winging her way.  It never happens like that for me.  Ever.  We called it The Project That Ate My Brain.  For four years now, it’s never been entirely out of my thoughts, either in plotting, writing or revising. 

[Manga Maniac Café] Which of your characters are you most like?

[Laura Anne Gilman] … none of them, really. Not now, at least: Jerzy and his crew are all very young, in many ways, and have no idea what they’re capable of, when pushed.  And personality-wise… there are aspects of me in each one, but the way they think and react is so foreign form anything I would have done…. that’s what makes them interesting to write!

I suppose, the character with the most "like me" aspects would be  Mil’ar Cai, the weaponsmaster.  We share a basic philosophy, which he tries to impart to Jerzy (with mixed results).

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing this series?

[Laura Anne Gilman] Geography and travel.  The distances they were covering, and the variety of conveyances they use, from walking to different sorts of ships, with and without magic, plus horses and carts and mules….  I had a lot of charts and maps out, at any given time!

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your biggest creative influences?

[Laura Anne Gilman] Music.  Which is funny, because I’m not a musician, and I don’t listen to music when I’m writing, normally.  But I there’s something about letting music play that takes my mind down roads I might not have created, otherwise.  All sorts of music – blues and jazz and classical and trance and hard rock and…. there’s always new stuff coming in.  Also, cooking.  It’s a tactile, intensely sensory (and sensual) way of combining elements, and the process of creating something physical makes me see other connections, too…

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Laura Anne Gilman] A comfortable place to settle, good lighting, and caffeine.   Everything else is negotiable.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Laura Anne Gilman] Oh.  Um…  I can’t remember when I wasn’t reading.  Literally – family history has me reading on my own by the time I was two, and I haven’t stopped since then (I was reading before I was talking.  Family history also says I’ve been making up for lost time on the latter, since then).  The books that specifically turned me on to FANTASY, tho, were Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, which are still on my shelf.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Laura Anne Gilman] Cook.  Sleep.  Read. Sleep. Travel.  Did I mention sleep?  I’m a pro-level napper.  Give me 20 minutes of shut-eye, and I can conquer the world.  Or at least my to-do list.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!

You can learn more about Laura by visiting her website and by following her on Twitter.

To purchase The Vineart War series, visit your favorite bookseller, or click the Amazon widgets below:

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