Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Robin Rivers Interview - Woman On The Wall

Photo Content from Robin Rivers

Robin Rivers is an award-winning writer who guides young authors as CEO of Quill Academy of Creative Writing. She has always been fascinated with stories of lost times and nerds out in the realm of all things historical, fantastical, female, and mythological. As a result, she spends her days in a literary universe best described as slipstream — a mix of historical, magical realism, and haunting romance. Robin lives with her husband, daughters, and their sphynx cat Hypatia on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations in Vancouver, Canada. Woman On The Wall is her debut novel.


Greatest thing you learned at school.
School, for me, wasn’t a priority in my life. I worked at the local newspaper full-time and went to school at night. My goal was to get through it and get on with my life because, at that point, I was already working in my chosen profession (journalism). What not prioritizing school taught me was all of the exploration of thought and human experience that I missed being so busy getting everything done. Since then, I’ve prioritized that sort of learning and exploration in every aspect of my life (even though I am still just as busy because I am an all-in sort of person).

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I was six. My mother bought me an orange record player and the LP of the Aristocats. I knew right there I was meant for something other than a normal life. She was dutifully disappointed, but let me keep the record player. :) Years later, I read the novella Aura by Carlos Fuentes and that was it for me. Between the Aristocats and metaphorical cats from Fuentes, the felines somehow convinced me that storytelling was my calling.

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?
My all-time favourite book is The Kin of Ata Are Waiting For You by Dorothy Bryant. That novel came to me at a critical juncture in my life and changed its direction. Outside my genre, I absolutely love Purge by Sofi Oksanen and The Break by Katherena Vermette.

If you could have written one book in history, what book would that be?
Frankenstein. Mary Shelley is an absolute master of structure and prose.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Time. I own and run a writing school, have two kids, and only 24 hours in a day. I tried for a long time to work 20 of those 24 hours. It had diminishing returns.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
The Kin of Ata Is Waiting For You by Dorothy Bryant appeared in my life at a time that I desperately needed to understand my place in the world. That story gave me permission to see beyond everyday society and imagine the possibilities of other universes. It took a long time before I felt comfortable with my imagination, but it was the trigger for getting to the point where I felt like historical fantasy was my primary genre.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Stories are the way humans sort out who we are and what brings meaning to our lives. Without them, we’d hit the wall of abstract concepts and difficult topics with nothing to help us relate it all to our own lives. I always think of stories of Zagavory - a Polish folk sort of word magic. Once you release words in a certain order and with a certain intention into the world, they gain power and change us.

Can you tell us when you started Woman on the Wall, how that came about?
About ten years ago, a friend gave me the book Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan and I fell in love with his notion of Hypatia of Alexandria as a Sibyl. I went digging and discovered that the stories of these ancient prophetesses, who are immortalized everywhere from the Sistine Chapel to the floor of the Cathedral in Sienna, Italy, don’t exist. I found that impossible to believe, so I set out to create a world in which the Sibylline bring with them great power. This novel took me about three years to complete. I travelled to France in 2019 in order to get all of the local research completed and the discoveries that I made there transformed the novel.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
That the secondary characters are often the ones who impact the story most deeply. They are the catalyst for the arc of the protagonist and drive our emotions. I adore both my protagonist and antagonist, but it is the secondary characters that bring the story of them off the page.

  • 1. I LOVE the phrase that the Sibylline use to greet one another: Me-kädmen anina il-ati - In the name of the Great Mother (I combined several ancient languages to create the phrase. It doesn’t come from any one language)
  • 2. To set this quote up, Marie and Iné have just met up with a pair of nuns who have taken the vows of silence - Avoir Voix Au Chapitre. They are silent, Iné tells Marie, so they might all hear the Great Mother speak. It’s meant to find peace.
    “Peace, right,” Marie said. “In my experience, the most severe punishment is always what it takes to silence a woman.”
  • 3. “Look . . . see.” Iné pressed a hand against Marie’s chest.
    A jolt shot through Marie. For a moment, the tunnels seemed to lighten and warm. The walls danced with intricate murals. Stacks of colorful woven blankets, tall amphorae filled with water, and bins of onions lined the corridor. The olive-skinned, youthful face of a woman not much older than Serah appeared. Then, more women, all with the tattoo that Iné had on her arm, rushed past. “What is this?”
    “The only proof I can give you. Please, trust me.” Iné crouched next to her. She removed her hand and the corridor darkened again. She stamped out the burning pages and stuffed everything back in the duffle. “There are things at play, things you deserve to understand. However, they will get us both killed if we don’t get out of here.”
  • 4. “If I’d just done what I was supposed to, none of this would have happened,” Marie said.
    “Or all of it would have happened anyway.” Noam took her in his arms.
    They both laughed uncomfortably. Marie regretted her emotions bubbling up and settled against his neck. Their breathing eased in unison.
    “One last adventure.” Noam kissed her forehead. “For Serah.”
    Marie sobbed. She let her eyes close. “For Serah.”
  • 5. “A broken heart is infinitely more powerful than I could ever have imagined.” —Lady Maurine.
What is the first job you have had?
I was the bird at Red Robin Restaurant.

Best date you've ever had?
The second date with my husband. He asked me to spend my life with him at 3 a.m. over flaming bananas.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?

What is your most memorable travel experience?
France, 2019. It was an absolutely magical two weeks in the Loire Valley by myself. I had nothing but my smarts, my planning, and my willingness to see what I could see. My life was transformed by it.

What's your most missed memory?
My brother and I playing music in the basement as kids.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
Immigrating to Canada.

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
Often, it kills me to see other people taken advantage of and I’d rather I took the heat than stood by and watched someone else get hurt.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
True love. Hands down.

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
How did I get this old when I still think I am 16?

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
How did I get this tired even though I still think I am 16?

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I would go back to university and become an archeologist.

First Love?
National Geographic.

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?
Hypatia of Alexandria. She is an absolutely tremendous, powerful, underrated woman.

Most horrifying dream you have ever had?
Being smothered.

First Heartbreak?
My parents divorcing

What event in your life would make a good movie?
My trip to France

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
I know it’s weird, but I value my alone time so much that I will find myself panicked when I think I won’t have any for extended periods of time.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
A replica of Han Solo frozen in carbonate. (full-size)

For 500 years, the once powerful Order of the Sibylline has kept the identity of its future prophetess hidden in the most famous painting in the world. Amid the chaos of post-World War II France, one woman discovers their ancient secret and its ability to transform a fragmented world.

PARIS 1945
After 480 days as a Nazi political prisoner, Dr. Marie Guerrant returns to Paris to repatriate the Mona Lisa and find her daughter. When a British Colonel arrives claiming he needs her French Resistance connections to find the lost painting, which she helped hide seven years earlier, distrust is high. Tipped off about her daughter's involvement and the Colonel's obsessive belief that the Mona Lisa contains the identity of a modern-day Sibyl prophetess, Marie must risk her life to save her daughter and the masterpiece from men consumed by controlling destiny.

On the eve of rising as the Sibyl of Amboise, Aesmeh de la Rose must rely on her visions to find Leonardo da Vinci after he and the Mona Lisa disappear from his workshop at Clos Lucé. The precious painting and its creator cannot be lost or the ancient Sibylline Order faces extermination after more than 1000 years of rebuilding their powerful matriarchy. Torn between duty and love, Aesmeh must tap into an ancient alchemy in a race to keep the Order safe. But, an unspeakable betrayal forces her to make an unfathomable choice to secure the future of the Sibylline.

This rich alternate history binds two women beyond time, each fighting to restore sight to a world blinded by the power and control of men. The fate of the world rests on their courage to reclaim the ancient feminine powers of the Sibylline. Woman on the Wall is a sweeping fantastical tale of intrigue and hope for humanity that fuels imagination and curiosity.

You can purchase Woman On The Wall at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ROBIN RIVERS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Woman On The Wall by Robin Rivers.


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