Interview with Kristen Britain
Kristen Britain has been contributing to the fantasy genre for over twenty years with her writing. Green Rider, the first of her series, was one of the first fantasy novels I ever picked up after reading through The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I was not disappointed. In fact, it has become one of my favorite fantasy series to read and revisit. With the release of her newest book, Firebrand, I reached out to Kristen Britain for a potential interview and was thoroughly ecstatic to receive a positive response.
Before jumping into our interview though, I would like to give a brief introduction of the series to those of you who are not familiar with Ms. Britain’s work. The Green Rider series centers around a young Karigan G’ladheon, a girl running away from school after having been expelled for engaging and winning a little sword fight with a bratty aristocrat.
In the course of running away, Karigan comes across a dying king’s messenger, or green rider, as they are known in the land of Sacoridia. Upon his death, he makes Karigan swear that she will deliver his message to the king. She agrees and is immediately swept up in an adventure full of danger, magic, and the unknown.
This is only the beginning to many adventures surrounding Karigan, as can be attested by the number of books in Kristen Britain’s series. Her latest book, Firebrand, is only a continuation of this great series. That being said, I will jump right into the interview with Ms. Britain.
THC-As a writer, what are some things that you do every day to ensure success in your writing? Do you try to meet a daily word quota or brainstorm for a set amount of time?
KB-Now that I'm not as young as I used to be, and writing is sedentary (and I come by being sedentary naturally), I am more conscious of getting some regular exercise. I don't think you can write as well if you are in a state of deterioration. I otherwise don't really have any rituals, nor do I keep a word quota.
THC-Where did the initial spark of inspiration come from for your Green Rider series?
KB-I was writing another version of this world in which a messenger character caught my attention, and I thought about that old saying about killing the messenger. I thought a messenger must have a dangerous job, and that would create all kinds of interesting fodder for writing.
THC-What is some of the best advice you’ve received from a fellow writer? What advice would you in turn give to new writers?
KB-The best advice I got actually came from my editor, Betsy Wollheim. When you are writing a novel, especially one that is epic in length, it can be overwhelming to think that you must somehow manage hundreds of thousands of words, over a thousand pages of manuscript, and hundreds of characters. Her advice was to take it one page at a time. Don't worry about the rest, just one page at a time. That helps take the anxiety out of it for me. What I would tell new writers is nothing new, that they should write because they love to and keep at it. Persistence pays off. If you don't love it, it will be a lot of torture for little reward.
THC-You have some truly amazing characters in your series. When it comes to creating your characters, what process do you take in order to make them well-rounded and real? Are there any new characters that we’ll be introduced to in Firebrand that you’re especially pleased with?
KB-Thanks. I don't know if there is a "process". The characters seem to develop on their own, take on lives of their own (which may be why they seem well-rounded)and I've never really analyzed it. There will be some new characters in Firebrand. For one, we finally get to meet Merdigen's cat.
THC-Has the editing/revising process become easier as you’ve published more books? What would you say was the most difficult part in revising and editing your most recent book, Firebrand?
KB-Some aspects are easier, but it is still a lot of work. You can't escape the work. The work mostly happens during the writing process. My chapters go through my writing group so they are thoroughly critiqued. By the time they reach my editor, her editorial suggestions are pretty minimal.
THC-The world you’ve created within your book has such rich history and spans a great amount of land, from the realm of Sacoridia, to Eletia, and even to the mysterious land of Arcosia. Have you ever considered writing a spin-off to the Green Rider series? Is there another series you see yourself writing in the near future?
KB-Do I think there could be spin-offs? Sure. Do I want to write them...? I have to focus on the current series until it is complete. Then we'll see where my head is. And, considering how long it takes for me to write a single book, it could be a while....
THC-Since the initial success of Green Rider, published in 1998, would you say that readers and reviews have influenced the direction that your series has taken?
KB-To be honest, I don't really look at reviews as a self-preservation strategy. I have to write the story that satisfies me first. I am cognizant of when I hear readers speak their minds after the fact. I am quite amazed by the passion readers have for the characters and so forth. I don't think I was expecting that when I was starting out.
THC-The two Berry sisters, known as Bunchberry and Bayberry, are some of my favorite secondary characters in your novels. They are so sophisticated, yet odd and lovable. So, this is random question, that I’m asking selfishly: Is there any chance we’ll get to see the Berry sisters in Firebrand? Will they have a bigger part to play in the stories to come?
KB-I expect the Berry sisters will show up at some point. I am curious myself to see how their house is after the events of The High King's Tomb.
THC-What can you tell us of your newest book, Firebrand?
KB-Savvy readers will recall that the Eletians use the name "Firebrand" for King Zachary, and it occurred to me this could very much be his book, or that he would at least get far more page time. He has only had very tiny point-of-view scenes in two of the previous books and so it seemed a good time to hear more from him. I enjoyed writing the book--it zoomed right along and plagued me enough that I had to take the manuscript into the bathroom with me.
THC-The endings to your books always leave your readers wanting more, such as when Karigan “travels” after breaking the mirrormask at the end of Blackveil. What is your process in writing endings? Can we expect a similar ending in Firebrand?
KB-Endings can be complicated because there can be so much to tie up. While much of the action was tied up in Blackveil, I introduced a new action at the end that left readers hanging, for which many will not forgive me. (Sorry!) But, it helped me lead into the next book. As far as Firebrand goes, I am told that it is "satisfying on many levels." Each book is different, accomplishes different things, and the process of writing one is never the same twice.
I want to thank you, Ms. Britain, for giving me the opportunity to interview you about your books, your life as a writer, and especially the quick peek into Firebrand. Since asking these questions, I have read about half of Firebrand, and am as engrossed in your writing and the adventures of your wonderful characters as I ever have been. I can hardly wait to finish, and look forward to many more great novels from you.
For those reading, I highly recommend this series. You will be drawn in from the very beginning. For those familiar with her work, be sure to look out for Kristen Britain’s newest installment to the Green Rider series, Firebrand, now available!
Kristen Britain's website: