An Interview with Susan K. Hamilton
Can you explain a little more about how Shadow King came about through the Launchpad Manuscript Competition? I entered the original manuscript because I had the chance to get feedback from the judges, something that can be hard to come by at times. I was fortunate enough to make the Top Ten Finalists list. Inkshares was offering one of the grand prizes in Launchpad, and although I didn’t win that, Shadow King had garnered enough support during the competition, that I was able to move forward with publishing through Inkshares.
Why did you decide to set a magical book in such the more traditional setting of Boston? When I was first thinking about the concept of Shadow King, I asked myself the question, “if the fairies we know from folklore lived here, with us, what would they do?” I laughed thinking about how people would feel if they had a leprechaun for a coffee barista or taxi driver… but that also made me wonder what the dark fairies would do. The logical answer to me was that they’d be criminals. From there, the character of Aohdan Collins was born.
How did you come up with the character’s names? Many of my names have a cultural basis. Many of the Fae characters have names derived from Gaelic, whereas the fairies from Middle Eastern legends were given Persian-inspired names. And in a few cases, to be honest, I just made a name up.
Where do you get your inspiration? That’s actually hard to answer — I get it from lots of different places. I’ve gotten ideas from fragments of songs, from daydreaming, from random conversations. There isn’t one process I have to think up a story. Often a character pops into my head and that in turn makes me wonder what that character’s story is.
Do any characters bear resemblance to people you know in real life? Not really. There may be a quality here or a common phrase there that someone uses, but I try not to base my characters on any one individual person.
What got you into writing fantasy? I always loved to read it, so when I started writing, I tended to write it as well. For me, it gives me the freedom to create a whole new world if I want to. In Shadow King, I went with more of an urban fantasy and really enjoyed figuring out how to get my fantasy characters and the concept of magic to work in a “real” city.
Do you have a way to deal with writer’s block? When I get stuck, sometimes it helps to write something else. A blog post, short story, even a letter to myself just ranting about what’s frustrating me. Other times I need to just walk away for a little while. I find if I give myself some space, and do something else — especially something where my mind can wander — it all gets figured out. In fact, I came up with the entire idea for Shadow King while I was raking leaves in my yard.
Will we be able to visit this world again? Hopefully! I have some ideas for a second book featuring the same characters and hope to start really making some headway on that in the near future.
*Get her latest novel, Shadow King! Available Now.