Interview with Bryony Pearce, Author of The Weight of Souls and Excerpt

Please welcome Bryony Pearce to the virtual offices this morning!  Bryony is here to chat about her latest release, The Weight of Souls.  The Weight of Souls is published by one of my favorite publishers Strange Chemistry.

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

[Bryony Pearce] Slightly harassed, book-obsessed dieter with two small children seeks moments of sanity by disappearing into worlds of her own making. Likes chocolate and wine.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Weight of Souls?

[Bryony Pearce] Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…

She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.

But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.

Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?

And what happens if she starts to fall for him?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Bryony Pearce] When I was a teenager I was fascinated by the mythologies of different cultures. I read books telling the stories (particularly tales from Egyptian, Aztec, Norse, Greek and Roman beliefs), books from the cultures themselves (Beowulf, Homer’s Iliad) and fact-based books (Humphries’ Miracles of Exodus, Accounts of the Tutankhamum expedition and other non-fiction). I also adored historical fiction based on these mythologies.

As a result my writing tends to involve significant ‘mythic’ elements. My first book, Angel’s Fury, is a blend of Hindu mythology and Christianity (reincarnation and fallen angels) and Cassie’s story is told against that backdrop. For the follow up to my debut I also wanted an epic mythic element, but I didn’t want to replicate Angel’s Fury, so I had to look elsewhere.

Recalling my obsession with Egypt and Egyptian mythology in particular I revisited my old reference books, did some more research and came up with a back-story based on the rivalry between Anubis and Horus.

In the history of my novel, Anubis, the original Lord of the Dead Lands and judge of the dead, was trapped by the priests of his rival, Horus, within the tomb of Nefertiti (which, to this day, has not been found). In the 1800s a group of tomb robbers discover the tomb, and within it, the trapped, and much diminished, jackal-headed Egyptian god.

The sole survivor of the slaughter is a Chinese worker named Fa. Anubis allows him to live only if Fa agrees to a deal. He and his descendants will work for Anubis (who still cannot leave the tomb), seeking out murderers and sending them to him for justice via ‘The Darkness’.

And how do they find these murderers? Anubis ‘gifts’ Fa and his descendents with the power to see their victims: the dead.

My story is about a modern teenager named Taylor, who suffers from Anubis’ curse. She sees dead people and is compelled to find their murderers and send them into the Darkness. If she does not, the Darkness will come for her. As with all of my characters, Taylor appeared in my head fully formed one day. I lived with her for a while, got to know her and then populated the rest of the book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Taylor?

[Bryony Pearce] Hardened

Lonely

Indomitable

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Justin had a theme song, what would it be?

[Bryony Pearce] Coldplay’s Viva la Vida

I am a fan of the poetry in Coldplay’s lyrics and their belting tunes to which I sing along (tunelessly). The lyrics to Viva la Vida feel truly appropriate for what happens to Justin in the novel.

He starts off as king of the school; the most popular boy, ruler of the clique … then he gets murdered. He can’t be seen by anyone except a girl he made miserable for years, he doesn’t know who killed him and is powerless to affect the living. Finally he is terrified that when his killer is found and he moves on, he won’t be going ‘anywhere good’. He cannot see a light: ‘Saint Peter won’t call my name’.

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own
I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"
One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

For some reason I can’t explain
I know Saint Peter won’t call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world
I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Taylor is never without.

[Bryony Pearce] Her memory of her mother and her mother’s white glove, which she uses to cover up her hand if a ghost has Marked her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Justin’s pocket?

[Bryony Pearce] A One Direction CD (as if)

Rubbish (chewing gum, sweet wrappers etc.) it always goes in the bin

A make up bag (he’s willing to take a lipstick, but if Tamsin can carry an entire make up bag she can carry a handbag to put it in)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Taylor’s greatest regret?

[Bryony Pearce] That she was not honest with her friends earlier on and did not have the chance to be with Justin before he died.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Bryony Pearce] Anne Macaffrey, David Gemmell, Stephen King, Maggie Steifvater. I like to think that my work is dark, character driven, exciting but also lyrical and descriptive. (at least, that’s what I aim for), and, to me, the aforementioned writers embody those attributes. If I’m feeling a bit stuck, I’ll often go back and read some King or Macaffrey and the ideas will start to flow again.

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

[Bryony Pearce] Peace and quiet

My laptop

A comfortable chair

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Bryony Pearce] City’s Son by Tom Pollock. His writing absolutely embodies what I try to do with my own, but I think he does it much better. He is lyrical, exciting, dark and his characters stayed with me long after the end of the book. I kind of hate him J

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

[Bryony Pearce] I’ve loved reading since the moment I could read and that was SO long ago that I have no idea what books were the most important to me. I know my mum used to read me the newspaper from cover-to-cover when I was a baby (no television in our house until I was eight), I know that I have a lovely battered copy of The Wind in the Willows and I know Mum once told me that I made her read a book called Aristide over and over solidly for almost three hours. This says a lot about my mum’s awesomeness (my kids would have been told to go and play with their LEGO after three renditions) and also suggests that I loved the book.

I do, however, remember the books that made me want to write: Anne Macaffrey’s Brain and Brawn Ship series. In particular The Ship Who Sang: I read it and adored it when I was quite young and never looked back.

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

[Bryony Pearce] I’m a mum to two small children (a girl and a boy who isn’t at school yet), so most of my time is spent feeding and entertaining the kids, chauffeuring them around and cleaning up their messes!

I read all the time. If I don’t have a child in my arms, I’ll have a book.

When I can, I like to go to the cinema and theatre and I recently began karate lessons with my children. It is a great family activity and I love it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Bryony Pearce] Facebook Page BryonyPearceAuthor

Twitter @BryonyPearce

Email: admin@bryonypearce.co.uk

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Bryony is hosting a giveaway on her blog.  Please hop over to enter

Purchase links:

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-weight-of-souls-bryony-pearce/1113784409?ean=9781908844644

About the book:

Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…
She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.
But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.
Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?
And what happens if she starts to fall for him?

About the author:

Bryony Pearce completed an English Literature degree at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 1998 and afterwards worked in the research industry. After a while she moved to a village at the edge of the Peak District and went freelance so she could devote more time to writing.

She is now a full time mother to two children, writes as much as possible and enjoys doing school visits and events when she can fit them in.

Her first book, the award-winning Angel’s Fury, was published by Egmont in 2011.

Excerpt: