Monday, January 5, 2009

Enchanting Interview: Michael P. Spradlin

1. What made you want to become a writer? Growing up I loved to read. I read all the time and just about anything I could get my hands on. I think at some point, I just naturally progressed to the realization that if reading books was so much fun, then writing them must be the best job in the world. Turns out I was right about that.

2. Why historical? I don't necessarily stick to historical. My first novels in the Spy Goddess series were contemporary tales. In the case of The Youngest Templar, I grew up loving this
period of history and reading Robin Hood and Ivanhoe and all the stories about knights and castles and sieges. I just knew that someday I would have to write a book set during that period.

3. What inspired THE YOUNGEST TEMPLAR: KEEPER OF THE GRAIL? The actual inspiration for this story came from reading a magazine article about the Rosslyn Cathedral in Scotland. Legend says it is the hiding place of the Holy Grail. When I read this, I said to myself, assuming the Grail is real and is hidden there somewhere, how did it get there? What journey did it take from the Holy Land to this place? So I worked backward and came up with a character, Tristan, who must keep the Grail safe and see it all the way to Roslin.

4. How much research did you have to do before starting the book? For historical novels quite a bit. I strive very hard for accuracy, while keeping in mind that I am writing fiction. I try to focus on the characters and the story and not overwhelm the book with historical minutiae. I would say that of all the research I do, only about 20% makes it into the book.

5. What's your writing process like? I have to have a character first. I have tons of plots in my head, but until I find the character to tell each partiuclar story, there is no story. So when a character reveals himself to me, I set him down in the world I want to create and see how he does in it. If he or she likes it, I keep going.

6. What is your favorite quality of Tristan's? I think I admire him mostly for his compassion. He strives to live by the Templar code of duty and honor. And he's also incredibly loyal. He would make a good friend I think.

7. Which character would you say is most like you? I think I'm probably more like Robard than any of the others, only hopefully not as rough around the edges as he is. I can be stubborn, but like Robard, I hope that most of the time my heart is in the right place.

8. What was your favorite scene to write in KEEPER OF THE GRAIL? My favorite scene was when Tristan and Robard meet for the first time. Originally I hadn't intended for Robard to remain in the entire book. It would be a brief meeting and then they would meet up again later. However, Robard's personality just took over and he sort of demanded to remain in the story as Tristan's sidekick. Since he had the bow and arrows I agreed to let him have his way.

9. What's next for you? I have just finished the next book in the trilogy. It's called THE YOUNGEST TEMPLAR: TRAIL OF FATE and will be out in September 2009. I'm well underway with book three and I've finished another novel that my agent is shopping around right now. It's a historical paranormal adventure and a lot of fun, we're getting a great response to it, so I hope to have a deal in place soon. My unfulfilled writing goal is to some day write a comic book series. I hope to follow in the footsteps of Brad Meltzer, Jodi Picoult and other novelists who have written for comics. I loved reading them as a kid, still read them as an adult, and I have a ton of ideas for story arcs. So I'll keep my fingers crossed! But I'll always be a novelist first.

Interview by Lisa
December 2008

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