Aisling, a goddess in human form, and her twin Anya, unite the Celts and the powerful faeries of the Middle Kingdom. But medieval Ireland is deeply divided. Jordan, the Vatican commander, is tasked with vanquishing otherworldly creatures from a disenchanted Europe. But increasingly he finds himself torn between duty and a desire to learn about this magic. As Kings and armies gather, Aisling and Jordan must come together to try and save the deeply divided county. Loyalties are tested, betrays sown; the coming war will have repercussions even into today’s world.
My Q&A with Mark Tompkins
Describe yourself using three words?
Obsessed with magic.
What inspired you to write your first novel?
Faerie is in my blood, or Ireland is, which is the same thing. My ancestors are from the counties of Clare and Meath, so when I resolved to write a novel about magic it had to be set on the Emerald Isle. I discovered a character, inspired by the Celtic legend of Red Mary, who insisted that I write about her. This led me to base the book on the premise that all the old legends, myths, and faerie tales were true, as were the magical beings in them that co-existed with humans during medieval times. In those fables, faeries were depicted as powerful, dangerous, and tall – they could not procreate with humans if they were the size of dragonflies!
What time of day do you like to write?
I prefer to write in the morning but anytime is better than no time.
What is your favourite book and why?
Without question, it is Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. It is an exquisite blend of old and new mythology. Each sentence is so well crafted that I frequently take out my battered copy and study a few pages to inspire my day’s writing.
How did you pick the title of your book?
It was either going to be The Last Days of Magic or The Goddess, the Exorcist, and the King. Upon reflection, that second one was just a bit too close to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wordrobe.
Are the characters in your book based on real people?
Many are, which is always fun. There are famous characters like Geoffrey Chaucer and England’s King Richard II, as well as lesser known ones like the English mercenary John Hawkwood, the Vatican’s legate Cosimo de’ Migliorati, and the Celtic high king, Art MacMurrough. All but one of the French witches in the novel are based on accounts of real women tried or accused of witchcraft (including the Queen of France), some of whom were burned at the stake.
In addition, many of the other characters come from mythological or the biblical sources. For example, whenever a demon was called for, I plucked one out of the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, my favorite thousand-page reference book.
What’s your favourite word?
Whatever word the sentence needs to spark emotion in the reader.
If you were a colour what would it be?
Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?
Both! The first thing I did was create an outline, which made it feel safe for me to write; however, I was careful not to become too attached to it. When my characters charged off in unexpected directions, I let them and updated the synopsis, which happened every few chapters. That first outline was diagramed on a giant piece of white paper, but the final story does not resemble it – much to the novel’s benefit.
Who is your favourite Author?
I could never limit myself to just one and I love discovering new favourites, so that is a difficult question. There is a shelf in my study on which I only place books that are good enough to reread. Looking over there now, I see novels by Lev Grossman, Geraldine Brooks, Karen Joy Fowler, Hannah Tinti, Diana Gabaldon, and Neil Gaiman.
You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?
Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), Mr. Wednesday (Neil Gaiman), Screwtape (C.S. Lewis), and Professor Albus Dumbledore (J. K. Rowling). What would Sherlock deduce about Screwtape? What advice would Dumbledore offer Wednesday? Who would drink the others under the table?
What book are you reading at the moment?
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti. I have been waiting for a new novel from her ever since her magnificent The Good Thief.
Where in the world is your happy place?
At the end of a great book.
If you had one superpower what would it be?
If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?
Screwtape from The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. I have a soft spot for demons.
Are you working on a new project?
As I prefer novels not to leave me hanging, I resolved all of the major plot lines of The Last Days of Magic. That said, I am busy expanding the magical/historical hybrid world into additional countries, each with their own mythos. When I learned that European witch hunters were paid per witch, it was a discipline I had to investigate. A witch hunter villain has emerged and she is determined to go up against some of the survivors of the first book so I will have to let her out to play.
Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?
I will be at Worldcon in Helsinki, Finland, August 9-13. Also, they can catch two podcasts on Writer’s Bone:
If you want to find out more from Mark Tompkins here’s how:~
Giveaway ~ Signed Copy & Tarot Deck ~ Last Days Of Magic
Huge thanks to Mr. Mark Tompkins for being on my blog today and for the lovely prizes, my review of The Last Days of Magic will be on the blog very soon. Also thanks to @penguinusa