Monday, August 29, 2022

Tanya Huff Interview - Into the Broken Lands

Photo Content from Tanya Huff 

Tanya Huff may have left Nova Scotia at three, and has lived most of her life since in Ontario, but she still considers herself a Maritimer. On the way to the idyllic rural existence she shares with her partner, Fiona Patton, six cats, and a Chihuahua, she acquired a degree in radio and television arts from Ryerson Polytechnic University—an education she was happy to finally use while writing her recent Smoke novels. Of her previous twenty-three books, the five featuring Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of Henry VIII, romance writer, and vampire—Blood Price, Blood Trail, Blood Lines, Blood Pact, Blood Debt—are among the most popular.

Greatest thing you learned at school?
Just before I left grade six, my teacher, Mr. Percell took me aside and said, "Tanya, you'll go far in this world if you can remember one thing: brain first, mouth second."

It's still a struggle...

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
When packing up my grandmother's things, (father's mother) I found a letter my Nanny (mother's mother) wrote to my father when he was deployed. In it, she transcribed a story I told her about a spider who lived at the bottom of the garden. This spider had a very active life; it went on for about two pages. I illustrated it.

I was three.

And it was obvious even then that I was a storyteller, not an artist.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why?
If you were sending me to a desert island and forcing me to choose only one book to take with me, I'd have to say BRIDGE OF BIRDS by Barry Hugart (St. Martin's Press, 1984) because it's clever and kind and funny and I cry every time I read it. (The last time was about two months ago)

Anything by Diana Wynne Jones is a close second.

And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
It's solid tie between Georgette Heyer's THE TOLLGATE and L. M. Montgomery's RILLA OF INGLESIDE.

Can you tell us when you started INTO THE BROKEN LANDS, how that came about?
INTO THE BROKEN LANDS was a long percolating book, like THE SILVERED. It started with Nonee/Uvili, internally human, externally not. She's not like the people around her. How does she find a place to belong while still being herself. I let that rumble around in the background for a while.

And if you have someone like Nonee/Uvili you have to have a story dense enough to support the weight. So, over the years, I build the world.

Then you need a story, with danger equal to your hero. (There's a reason Gotham city attracts so many psychos in costume.) Why is this character a part of THIS story. Turned out, she was a part of two stories woven around each other.

When all this coalesced, I wrote it down. Although, to be accurate, I rewrote the first thirty pages two billion, seven hundred and forty-three million, two thousand and seven times. (I exaggerate.)(A little.)

  • 1. Geographically, Gateway (the more northern city) is where Milan, Italy is.
  • 2. I drew up a family tree for the Lord Protectors, from the first Captain Marsan, to Ryan, Heir of Marsan. It had birthdates and ages and the years between generations carefully worked out – just so I could be sure it worked if Ryan was twenty. Once I was sure, I never looked at it again. I don't currently know where it is or if I even kept it.
  • 3. It's not a squid.
  • 4. Many years ago, at a convention in San Francisco, I went out to dinner with a couple of other authors and we cracked ourselves up making jokes about ducks. Believing ourselves to be extraordinarily clever, we agreed to keep throwing ducks randomly into things. That's why there's ducks.
  • 5. If nine people who like each other spend a month travelling on a single road at the speed of a wagon pulled by the world's equivalent of Shire horses, someone is going to have sex. Possibly several someones. Although they have it off screen before the book begins...
  • 6. The scene under and around the tallest tree was a lot longer but I eventually decided there was no point in Lyelee actually doing the math to work out the height of the tree since it didn't actually matter how high the tree was. But her explanation to Harris? That's actually how you do it.
  • 7. We were watching Avatar when I named Boe Mah Sing, the mage's name inspired by the Earth city but different enough you'd probably have never noticed had I not told you.
  • 8. The argument about whether it's safer to pee in the wood wearing trousers or a robe/skirt kept coming up over and over in the first draft. I thought it contained some funny lines and some good information but unfortunately, it wasn't necessary information so distilled it down to one conversation.

  • "At least I'd have a weapon in my hand..."
  • 9. The Citadel is called the Citadel because I was born in Halifax.
  • 10. I felt really sorry for the last of the "monsters" because he'd obviously been pieces together by one of the mages, probably Tanika Fleshrender. I can't help wondering what happened to the pieces leftover...
“Tanika,” Lyelee corrected. “Tanika Fleshrender.”
“Seriously, Fleshrender? That’s a little on the nose, isn’t it?”
“Yes. She named herself. She was proud of what she could do.”
“That’s a little creepy,” Keetin muttered.

What is the first job you had?
Either babysitting or mucking out the stalls at the harness racing stables. I was about twelve and they happened around the same time.

Early bird or night owl? What time of day do you do most of your writing?
So very much not an early bird! If I'm up by 8:30AM I'm excited that I'm up so early. I tend to write from one to six in the afternoon but there's been times I've gone back around ten and worked until two.

What is your favorite writing snack and/or drink?
I drink gallons of tea. Milk, no sugar. (Because I'm already sweet enough.) This is one of the reasons they drink so much tea in INTO THE BROKEN LANDS.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
Before I start, it's important to remember that I'd cracked my left ankle a week earlier. Because I was flying, the doctor put me an ankle corset instead of an air boot because there's no room for an air boot if you're flying economy.

Okay, so I'm on my way back to Toronto from a convention in Spokane WA where I was a GOH. I'm supposed to leave at 11 AM Monday morning, fly to Minneapolis, change planes and fly to Toronto, and be there in time to catch the 7:30 train home. When we get to the airport around nine, there's a loooooong line at the Delta counter. The flight has been cancelled. I go back, spend some time at the conchair's house, and we get me booked on a 4pm flight to Seattle and an overnight flight to Detroit and an early commuter flight to Toronto, getting me there in time to catch the 11:30 AM train home.

I catch the 4pm flight. I get to Seattle. There's a loooooong line at the Delta counter. The flight to Detroit has been cancelled. I call the Delta helpline and they get me on a midnight flight to Georgia, specifically Atlanta, where I'll catch a flight to Toronto at 9 and be able to catch the 1:30 train home. It's the last seat on the flight, and it's first class. There's more room to sleep but on a red eye, that's all first class means.

Now, a lot of people don't like the Atlanta airport but I do (my guitar likes it so much it once spent an extra four days there). I'm the first person to arrive at the departure gate but it soon starts to fill. At nine, a voice comes over the PA and says, "Attention passengers, the 9Am flight to Toronto will be delayed because we don't have a plane." As one, everybody waiting turns and looks out the window. At the plane. "Sorry, " says the voice, not sounding sorry at all, "we don't have a crew."

But eventually, I get to Toronto, onto the airport bus, and to the train station. If traffic is in our favour, I can catch the 3:30 train home. I enter the station and there's a looooong line at the counters. "This looks familiar," I say. VIA rail's entire computer system is down and they're having to do everything by hand.

I get the last seat on the 5:30 train.

I usually write while on the train, there's something about it that I find inspiring. I did not write while on this train.

Nor did I whack anyone with my cane. Although at this point, I was tempted...

From sci-fi and fantasy master Tanya Huff comes a new epic fantasy saga set in a land of dangers and mysteries

Shattered by mage wars, the Broken Lands will test the bonds of family and friendship, strength and sanity. To save their people, the Heirs of Marsan have no choice but to enter, trusting their lives and the lives of everyone they Protect, to someone who shouldn't exist, who can't be controlled, and who will challenge everything they believe about themselves.
You can purchase Into the Broken Lands at the following Retailers:

1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card


  1. Really nice cover and excerpt, looking forward to reading this!

  2. It was actually a week ago today, and I'm sorry, but it didn't go very well.

  3. I didn't do anything, I was 9 months pregnant and just wanted to relax at home