Saturday, April 6, 2013

Juliet Marillier Interview - Shadowfell

Photo Content from Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, a town with strong Scottish roots. She graduated from the University of Otago with degrees in languages and music, and has had a varied career that includes teaching and performing music as well as working in government agencies. Juliet now lives in a hundred-year-old cottage near the river in Perth, Western Australia, where she writes full-time. She is a member of the druid order OBOD. Juliet is active in the field of animal rescue and shares her home with a small pack of waifs and strays. She is the author of the Blackthorn & Grim novels and the Sevenwaters series. Her historical fantasy novels and short stories are published internationally and have won a number of awards.


Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Traditional storytelling was a way of giving the tribe wisdom, maps for life’s journey, solutions to puzzles, strength to meet challenges. Stories still do that, whether they are fairy tales and folklore or contemporary writing. Stories can teach us, heal us, entertain us, divert us, comfort us. We’d be lost without them.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I have a special language for talking to my dogs. Nobody else ever gets to hear it, and that’s the way things are going to stay!

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
I’d never list one of my own works as my all-time favourite book! It is impossible to choose one all-time favourite as I have many, so I tend to give a different answer every time I’m asked this question. Most of my favourites are outside my genre. Today I’ll choose The Business by Scottish novelist Iain Banks. Why? It’s brilliantly written, with humour and pathos, a fantastic (female) central character and a magnificent surprise ending. And since the question sort of allows me two picks, I’ll add Women Who Run With The Wolves by Jungian therapist and traditional storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estes. This is non-fiction, an examination of women’s roles in fairy tales, and it was a life-changing read for me.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
A fascination with language, thanks partly to a wonderful English teacher in high school, and partly to studying languages other than English (French, Latin and later German.).

Can you tell us when you started Shadowfell, how that came about?
Shadowfell (first novel in a three book series) is a story about a group of young rebels standing up against a tyrannical ruler. I started writing it at the time of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ and I was certainly influenced by political events when developing the story. It’s a much darker book than my earlier novels for young adults, as Neryn and her comrades live in a place where nobody trusts anyone and the populace lives in fear. I presented her with enormous difficulties to overcome. On the lighter side, I had a wonderful time creating an alternative Scotland, called Alban, and making the cast of uncanny characters as Scottish as I liked. My ancestors are from that part of the world, and I grew up in the most Scottish city outside Scotland itself, Dunedin, New Zealand.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d introduce Shadowfell’s charismatic rebel leader, Regan, to Stoyan, the brawny but sensitive Bulgarian bodyguard from my novel Cybele’s Secret, which is completely unrelated to Shadowfell. Regan would most certainly want to sign Stoyan up to fight for the rebels!

For those who are unfamiliar with Neryn, how would you introduce her?
Neryn is a slight girl of fifteen with honey-coloured hair. When we first meet her she’s alone, without resources, and on the run. Neryn is extremely wary of strangers – the terrible events of her past have scarred her - and if you meet her she will probably lie to you. Certainly, she won’t tell you anything about herself. She has one remarkable ability, what the people of Alban call a ‘canny gift’. Neryn hardly understands this gift, only that it must be kept secret from the king’s men who are pursuing her. In time she will discover that it has a potential beyond anything she has believed possible.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Never lose the joy of reading!

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
I don’t believe there’s any question I always answer with a lie, but if there was, it would be an instance where telling the truth might hurt someone badly. I don’t just mean ‘Do I look fat in this?’ but something more serious. Generally I believe in telling the truth. Being both truthful and tactful can often just be a case of choosing the right words.

Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
It depends a lot on how you define ‘best’. I’ll go for ‘favourite and most powerful in natural magic.’ On the beach at Prevelly Park in the southwest of Western Australia there’s a big rock formation right by the waters of the Indian Ocean. For me it’s a very special spot where the elements meet, and being there, especially at sunset, always fills me with peace and calm.

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
At the age of 16, I looked after three tiny children on an isolated farm, when I had no qualifications for the job and almost no experience. I look back on that in absolute horror. (The children did survive.)

When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
My children and I generally say this every time we speak on the phone, so it would have been within the last few days.

What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you do not love them back?
Definitely that I do not love them back. It is hard to be honest when we know we’ll hurt someone, but in that situation stringing a person along is far more cruel than telling the truth. No matter how kindly and sensitively you say something like this, it is still devastating for someone to hear that they are not loved.

When was the last time you cried?
Very recently, while revising a short story for my upcoming collection, Prickle Moon (to be published by Ticonderoga in March this year.) Not because the story was bad, but because it was sad.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I was a teenager in the 1960s, which was OK, but I would have preferred the 1970s, a freer, more relaxed age.

What's the loveliest thing you have ever seen?
My firstborn child on the day of her birth. Nothing can beat that feeling of joy, wonder and tenderness.

Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill--a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk--Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec.

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death--but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban's release from Keldec's rule. Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.

Juliet Marillier’s Shadowfell tells a story of Neryn, who is unable to return to her home because of a domineering king who brought so much death and pain to her home village. The king has ordered all the people of Alban with magical abilities to come forward. Neryn, who has the uncanny ability to communicate with the Good Folk, decides to escape to Shadowfell, a sanctuary for people like herself to find security from the heartless hunting of the King’s men.

During her trek to this place that is only talked in whispers, Neryn meets several people, most are too scared to stand up to King Keldec. However, she obtains assistance from the Good Folk. Even when the handsome Flint saves her from a certain death, she remains to tussle her trust with her allies. Although Flint’s motives are cloudy, they realize that Neryn may be the savior of Alban.

The one thing that stands out in this book is the characters. Author Juliet manages to create very engaging characters that readers can relate to. The sympathetic heroine, Neryn, unsuspectingly completes more of the tests that have been placed on her to define her true calling. She is a good girl that strives to have a heart made of gold. She is the perfect protagonist for this kind of fantasy world adventure.

The fantasy world that these characters live in is somewhat familiar to what we have come to expect. However, it is Juliet’s clever writing style that makes this world seem completely new. The wordings she uses paints a beautiful picture as Neryn continues on her quest to Shadowfell. The detail she puts in her enthralling story-telling is very captivating. The first book in the Shadowfell series is amazing and I am certain that the sequels will continue to be just as wonderful.
You can purchase Shadowfell at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JULIET MARILLIER for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier.


  1. Sounds like a fantastic tale! I especially loved learning about the author's background in music and languages.

  2. Thank you for the donation and for the giveaway!

  3. Thanks fir the giveaway. I cannot wait to read this book.