Interview with Sophie Tallis   1 comment

Sophie TallisToday’s interview is with Sophe E. Tallis, author of White Mountain, an absolutely delightful fantasy and Book 1 in the Darkling Chronicles. Tell us something about yourself, Sophie. (What do you do for a living, where’d you grow up, significant relationships, as little or as much as you want).
As well as being a writer and illustrator, I’m a librarian too, an absolutely dream job being surrounded by books all day. The only problem is trying to focus when you have such great literature around! I used to be a full-time teacher for many years, a really tough job with very long hours but great working with children, although I don’t miss the paperwork! I grew up in the countryside, in a small village in Gloucestershire, UK, where I spent most of my childhood climbing trees, making dens, playing in the woods and dreaming of dragons and wild adventures.
How old were you when you wrote your first story and what was it?
I was four years when I wrote my first story about a girl (me) finding a baby dragon in the woods at the bottom of our road.
You write fantasy. What is your favorite genre — to read and/or to write.
I love reading fantasy, science-fiction, ‘magic realism’, and literary fiction. Actually, I like most genres though I’m not that interested in romance and ‘chick lit’. I tend to write fantasy primarily, although the first full-length novel I ever wrote, when I was 18, was a science-fiction epic called Beyond Cassini’s Division, a project I will return to one day!
Sophie Tallis VarkulTell me about the white wolves and the Alaskan Malamutes.
Lol, well I love animals, especially dogs and especially BIG dogs. Five years ago I was in a position where I wanted some doggies and at the time, security was also an issue, so I got two huge white German Shepherds, my glorious white wolves, Korrun and Tollam (Tolly). I love my boys to bits. Then in 2013, our beloved cat of 19 years suddenly died. Tolly was bereft as he loved her so much and he started to pine for her, so badly in fact that he had an epileptic fit. It terrified me. So, we had the bright idea of getting another puppy as a means of distracting him from his grief. It worked, except that when the time came we couldn’t decide on which puppy to get…so we got two instead, two enormous white Alaskan Malamutes, Fenn and Bere! They all love each other and are just beautiful, though they are a handful at times. Lol, so now, I have my own wolf pack!!!!
You’re an illustrator as well as a writer. Talk about that.
Well, I’m a very visual person. I’ve always written and drawn since I was a very young child. In fact, in many ways I could draw and write before I could even walk properly, so the two have always gone hand in hand for me. I used to write short stories as a kid and then illustrate them. When I wrote White Mountain, it was very much like writing a film and seeing the whole movie play out before me, so it seemed the natural thing to illustrate it too, as I could see all those landscapes so clearly in my mind. Then after my book, I found myself doing illustration commissions for other authors. It’s been great fun. I’ve illustrated five books now and have another three commissions I’m currently working on, all fantasy maps, and it’s been great fun delving in these other worlds too.
Sophie Tallis White MountainTell me about White Mountain and the Darkling Chronicles.
White Mountain really was a labour of love. It took ten years to write and research, lol, so yes, it was definitely a labour of love. Back in 1997, I found myself at a crossroads in my life, in a bad place. I’d just finished my art degree and was somewhat lost and plagued by a lot of emotional stuff. So, in a bid to leave my demons behind, I decided to escape to the furthest place I could think of, New Zealand. What started off as a bid for freedom and escape, turned into a four month odyssey that changed my life forever. It was the adventure of a life-time and it ended up being the inspiration behind White Mountain and the whole Darkling Chronicles universe. The landscapes and locations were truly awe-inspiring and the book just poured out of me. The funny thing was that back in 1997/1998 when I was backpacking around NZ having my adventures, there was no talk about any Lord of the Rings films, they were filmed several years later, but when I watched those films, it was like watching my own personal home movie. Peter Jackson had been inspired by and had used the EXACT same locations that I had been to and used in my story! His Fangorn was my Kallorm, my Fendellin was his Rohan! It was amazing! Although White Mountain itself is located in the Swiss Alps, in reality, it will always be Mount Cook (Aoraki), which I circled and landed just below in this tiny ski plane the size of a car!
You hint that the world of Fendellin is a world within our world. Explain that.
Well, once I had written the first draft of the book, I then started to do the research for it. Although it is a fantasy epic, I always like fantasy to have its roots in reality to make it more relatable and more interesting for the reader. I always loved that mixture of fact and fiction. Part of my research included learning about many different cultures, their legends, myths, language, every aspect of them. For me, my Fendellin is a secret, vast and wondrous land surrounded by mountains and hidden from humanity deep within the Himalayas. For Tibetans and many Indian people, that myth is actually real. Tibetans and many Hindu’s believe that there really is a vast hidden land within the Himalayas, they call it Shambhala. The legend of Shambhala inspired my Fendellin and was also the inspiration behind James Hilton’s ‘Lost Horizon’ and his legend of Shrangri-La!
Sophie Tallis White Mountain full book jacket
I always loved that myth!  What are your future literary plans? When will Book 2 come out, for example?
Ah, that’s the 64 million dollar question! Lol, I admit I am a notoriously slow writer, I always have been. For me, crafting a quality book, doing detailed research and getting the story right will always be the most important thing. I’m busy writing and researching it now, I’d love it to be finished and published by the end of this year, but my gut tells me it will probably be a 2016 release. As for other literary works, I have three short stories being published in an awesome anthology this year, a picture book I’m working on and several other book projects in the works, but Book 2 & 3 of The Darkling Chronicles must take precedence!
This book was published previously, but has been republished by Grimbold Books and Kristell Ink. What happened to change your plans.
I’ll be careful what I say here, not because the people involved tried to slap me with an illegal non-disclosure clause but just because I’ve moved on and had such unhappy experiences with them that I don’t want to dwell on it. What I will say to all you lovely authors out there, is DO YOUR HOMEWORK! It’s ridiculous of me that I signed an awful contract with a so called publishing house that I knew nothing about. That was entirely my fault. Had I done any research I would have found out that in the short time they’d been trading, they had already had an author leave them, they were featured on Absolute Write, and that they had terrible contract terms for authors and truly dreadful covers! The sad truth is, that for every wonderful publisher out there, there are also unscrupulous people who will take advantage of gullible, naïve authors and will ruin their books and dreams in the process. Some are deliberate sharks and crooks, others are merely unprofessional and incompetent, but the result is the same – a LOT of heart ache! If any of you are unfortunate enough to be with a bad publisher, there IS life after, I promise! Just get yourself out, brush yourself off and start again, you’ll be stronger and wiser. I’m also a full member of The Society of Authors, a highly respected organisation that protects authors rights, almost like a union for writers, so I’d recommend joining something like that and get people to check your contract thoroughly BEFORE you sign it!
But I do admit, I was incredibly lucky to find my lovely new publishers, Grimbold Books and Kristell Ink Publishing, who couldn’t be more different. They are professional, friendly, supportive, have excellent contract terms for their authors and are all just thoroughly lovely people and their covers are AWESOME!
I’m going to drop you off in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer, so you won’t freeze to death, you have plenty of food and bug spray. Do you spend the time hiking and hoping to see wildlife or reading and if you spend the time reading, what three books would you bring along?
Gosh, well, I’d kind of like to do both, lots of reading and exploring, I love wildlife. For me, I’d have to have Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (though I hope I don’t share the same fate with Christopher McCandless!), Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and something a lot lengthier for those long drawn out nights, so either JRR Tokien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Frank Herbert’s The Great Dune trilogy or perhaps Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy!
I suspect you are much smarter than Christopher McCandless and would come better prepared for your Alaskan adventure. Anything else you would like to add?
Only a HUGE thank you to my lovely hostess with the most-ess, Lela! Thank you sweetie! Emoji xxx
You’re always welcome, Sophie. Links, cover art, author pic, web sites, etc.


Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/White-Mountain-The-Darkling-Chronicles/dp/1909845973/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/White-Mountain-The-Darkling-Chronicles/dp/1909845973/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1424290130&sr=1-1
Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/white-mountain/sophie-e-tallis/9781909845978

Author Blog: https://sophieetallis.wordpress.com/
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/FantasyEpic
Book website: http://thedarklingchronicles.weebly.com/
Illustration website: http://sophieetallisillustrations.weebly.com/

One response to “Interview with Sophie Tallis

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  1. Reblogged this on Daermad Cycle.

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