Chats with Suzannah Rowntree // author interview and giveaway

Authorly Interviews! Aren’t they delightful? 

Suzannah Rowntree is a skilled writer and lovely woman, and I’ve been hoping to host her on Curious Wren for awhile now. Her most recent novel, Pendragon’s Heir, is an absolute favorite of mine, and so in addition to the interview we have a special treat for you all, my precious gingersnaps! 

Which is, A GIVEAWAY. Woot! Majorly excited over here. It’s opened internationally with a winner from Australia or the US receiving a tangible copy. If the winner is from any other country, they’ll receive a Kindle edition. Right ho?
On to the interview!


Hello, Suzannah! I’m delighted to be interviewing you here on Curious Wren! To start off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? Hobbies? Tea or coffee? Favorite cozy reads? Ideal writing day? Elves or Knights of the Round Table?

Hello, Annie! It’s such a pleasure to be here!

I don’t hobby much because WRITING IS THE AIR I BREATHE, but occasionally I tear myself away to do something else. I play the French Horn. I knit. I sew. I design covers for my books and fliers or invitations for friends and family. In the past I’ve also done fencing and swing dancing. I love making beautiful things.

Definitely tea: chai, oolong, rooibos or Russian caravan for preference. Mary Stewart is my guilty-pleasure cozy read, but I also love Wodehouse, Trollope, and the odd sentimental vintage romance like Florence L Barclay or Grace S Richmond. Ideal writing day is a quiet house and a long-awaited melodramatic scene. I’m going to pick the Knights, but that’s probably only because they’re my babies and I haven’t read Tolkien for a few years (the Epic LOTR re-read is scheduled for LATER THIS YEAR OH MY OH MYYYYYY).

When did you realize your love for Story? Who or what prompted you to pursue writing seriously?

I began writing my first story as a birthday present for my best friend when I was 12, and when it was done I looked at it, found it unsatisfactory, and began to write it again. I’ve never been able to shake the habit since; but I think the decisive moment came when I finally finished the third draft. I told myself, “That was exhausting, I’m never doing that again” – but ten minutes later I had opened a new Word document and was already typing. That was when I realised I had a serious problem!

My elder brother had already realised several years previously. “You should publish this!” he said after discovering and reading my battered exercise book first draft. I laughed him to scorn. Thankfully, he didn’t take no for an answer. (Although, no, that first story will never see the light).

What was the inspiration behind Pendragon’s Heir? Can you share with us a bit about your journey with this particular tale?

Pendragon’s Heir came to me about eleven years ago. I read Josephine Tey’s wonderful book The Daughter of Time and was suddenly seized with the desire to rehabilitate some other much-maligned character. The tragic love of Guinevere and Lancelot in the King Arthur legends had always frustrated me, and so I wrote the first draft of what would later become Pendragon’s Heir in just six days with the aim of doing for the character of Guinevere what Tey had done for Richard III. Over the following ten years, I worked on second and third drafts intermittently until just three years ago I came to the realisation that I was a good enough writer to finish and publish it. So I went all the way back to the beginning, started again, and you have read the final result.

The thing I learned writing and rewriting the same story almost exclusively for ten years was that stories, like fruitcake, get richer and richer with time. While good characterisation and plotting can help shorten the time you spend working on a story, it’s still a shame to rush a story. You have to let it marinate. You have to spend months or years thinking about it. Lasting art generally isn’t made in five odd minutes of the day.

Are you currently working on a book that you can share about spoiler-free? What genre(s) do you prefer? And do you have a favorite “mode” of writing, e.g. first person, past tense?

For the last twelve months or so since publishing Pendragon’s Heir I’ve been working almost fulltime on another novel, this one a sprawling epic based around the 200-year history of the Crusader States. It’s working–titled Outremer, and it looks at the Crusades from the perspective of the indigenous Syrian Christians and the native-born Frankish nobility. I grew up on western-centric tales like Ivanhoe and Winning His Spurs where everyone was always coming home from the Crusades, but in this story, home means right there in the East. That’s a perspective that has almost never been told, and it’s the one that fired up my imagination.


Genre is a question that evaded me for years, since I love all sorts of genres and have tried everything from thrillers to space operas. OUTREMER was going to be straight historical fiction until I realised that a few fantasy elements would help me emphasise the themes that I wanted to bring out most. That was the moment I realised that I write historical fantasy.

Most of my stories are written in limited third-person, past tense, sometimes spanning several points of view, since I find it the most natural way to write the stories I want to tell. But I have this fairytale novella series where I get to mess around in a whoooole lot of different genres, and the one I’m working on now is in first-person.

Tell us a bit about your current favorite movies/TV shows/books. Why are they favorites?

The Lord of the Rings is my favourite book–or was the first eight times I read it, ten years ago. It is a work of unusual and incredible beauty, with titanic emotional power and sensitivity. Unlike most secondary-world fantasy, its worldbuilding is meticulous and entirely convincing–in fact, if you want the gold standard of speculative-fiction worldbuilding, this is it. It also draws heavily upon Tolkien’s firm Christian faith. It is the book equivalent of a medieval cathedral: immense, detailed, and absolutely gut-wrenchingly beautiful. Otherwise I have about a squillion other favourite books, but notable authors include Lewis, Buchan, Chesterton, Wodehouse, Spenser, Shakespeare, Austen, and Trollope.

Film seems to me a much lesser medium, and my favourites tend to come and go. I enjoy almost everything Christopher Nolan has ever done, especially the mental challenge and sheer actiony fun of Inception. Another favourite film is The Empire Strikes Back. I can take or leave pretty much all the other Star Wars movies, but this one is a masterpiece of brooding and ominous power culminating in a truly anguished ending. Who doesn’t love it when characters suffer?

If you could have luncheon with several authors of your choice (dead or alive), who would you choose?

GK Chesterton, because he’d be a hilarious conversationalist, and Jane Austen, because she’d be so incredibly down-to-earth. And Tolkien, so I could get his autograph.

What books have made you cry? If none, are there any that almost brought the tears to your eyes?

Pardon the fangirling, but The Lord of the Rings almost never fails to tear me up. I don’t usually cry in a book, but years ago Paul Gallico’s Jennie reduced me to a quivering, blubbering mess, and not in a good way.

What are four books you think everyone should read? Why?

Well, obviously, The Lord of the Rings, because you need to experience the splendour and nobility of great Christian art. Douglas Wilson and Douglas Jones’s Angels in the Architecture, so you can begin to appreciate the medieval vision that inspired it. Paradise Restored by David Chilton because the things I learned in that book still wake me up every morning with a smile on my face. Um, and Francis Nigel Lee’s Central Significance of Culture, because it presents a staggering vision for Christian art.

You will notice that three of these are non-fiction books that help set a tremendous cultural vision. This is not because I think fiction is unimportant. After all, I’ve dedicated my life to it. But after reading these books you ought to be able both to get more out of both the art you consume and to put more into the art you make.

What kinds of stories and characters delight you the most?

I love characters that are flawed in their goodness, or sympathetic in their villainy; the former because they can inspire you to overcome those sins, and the latter because they can cause you to see the villainy in your own heart. I love the quality of nobility that comes with the patient endurance of great suffering. And I cannot do without hope for the future. If a book has all these things, I’m sure to like it.

Share with us a few beautiful words/quotes that give you a happy, glowy feeling.

In no particular order:

The pallid cuckoo

Sent up in frail


His tiny scale


On the cold air.

What joy I found

Mounting that tiny

Stair of sound.

– James McAuley, “Late Winter”


Salvation changes not, nor yet destroys

garden nor gardener, children nor their toys.


In Paradise they look no more awry;

and though they make anew, they make no lie.

Be sure they still will make, not being dead,

and poets shall have flames upon their head,

and harps whereon their faultless fingers fall:

there each shall choose forever from the All.

– JRR Tolkien, “Mythopoeia”

Remember that all worlds draw to an end, and that noble death is a treasure which no one is too poor to buy.

– CS Lewis, “The Last Battle”

How does your Christian faith affect your purpose as a writer?

In so many ways that I do not know how I would be a writer without it. I make art to glorify God and tell anew His mighty works in history and salvation (Psalm 145:10-12). I make art reverently, begging the Holy Spirit for inspiration (Exodus 32:2-3) and submitting it to the counsel of those older and wiser than myself (Proverbs 15:22). I make art because I believe God gave us the raw materials in creation and that both the dominion mandate and the Great Commission means using those raw materials to construct a glorious Christian culture that will one day cover the earth (Daniel 2:44). I make art seriously, with every fibre of my being awake and straining for perfection, because I believe that the work of my hands will pass through a testing (1 Corinthians 3:11-15), and will, if found worthy, be brought into the New Jerusalem with the glory and honour of the nations (Revelation 21:24).

What would you say characterizes your writing style?

Stylistically, I like adapting myself to the needs of the story. Imitation comes naturally to me, and I use it to give the setting a more authentic flavour: so that in Pendragon’s Heir I mimicked the rhythm and diction of Thomas Malory, and in The Bells of Paradise that of Shakespeare. I have an unhealthy dependence upon semicolons, and a sly love of alliteration. I delight in distilling striking images into striking words. And I’m grateful to have learned the importance of being painfully sharp and specific with my words, which is the only way to paint a very vivid and unfamiliar setting, so clearly you can almost see and smell it.


If you could have a good, long face-to-face talk with one of your characters, whom would you choose and why?

LOL, none of them! Why would I do that? I have enough trouble coming up with things for them to say to each other. XP

Do you have any unique writer quirks or strange habits?

Perhaps the most scandalous thing I can say is that I don’t! I am a very boring kind of writer. I don’t struggle with writer’s block, I don’t look at Pinterest for inspiration, I don’t find that my characters have a will of their own, and I don’t listen to music while I write. Maybe that’s because I’m also a musician, but I find it too distracting, and it uses up parts of my mind I need for hearing the rhythms and cadences of my words.

Sometimes I compose poetry in the shower?

As a writer, in those moments of discouragement when you feel like your writing deserves to be burned (and the ashes buried six feet under), how do you keep going forward?

Ohhh yep. I do feel this way from time to time. Usually, I remember that Pendragon’s Heir turned out OK, and that gives me a lot of confidence. I have to admit that sometimes I read someone else’s turkey and come away with the serene assurance that I can do way better. Most powerful of all, I go back to what inspired me to write the story, and get excited all over again by the wonderful potential it has to be great–if I’ll only keep going through the hard bits.

Few of us who’ve read Pendragon’s Heir have been able to resist the charm of the knight Perceval, and I know he’s special to you also. Might we be gifted a glimpse into your thought process and method–as it were–for coaxing his character into what you wanted it to be?

Haha! Good old Perceval. I’m actually really pleased everyone loves him as much as I do. The most important thing to say about him is that I based him off the original knight from the legends, who is already a terrific character–I think of him as the unsocialised homeschooler par excellence: someone with very few inhibitions and an utterly unashamed zest for life.

At the same time, I knew he was the love interest and I didn’t want to produce a character that had been voodoo-dolled all out of resemblance to actual real men, so while writing him I always tried to ask myself how my brothers would act in his circumstances. As I went on, I mixed in some other aspects of other young men I knew in real life: which actually gave me the courage to make him as chivalrous and romantic as he is (as well as the sense to make him arrogant and overconfident).

What have been a few of your most special moments and experiences as a published writer, and as a writer in general? I’d love to hear about them!

By far the thing I love the most is getting to spend all day, every day, doing a job I love better than anything else in the world. My writing doesn’t bring in much more than pocket money at the moment, true, so my parents supply my day-to-day needs. As a “stay-at-home” (ha!) daughter, I’m so very, very blessed to have like-minded parents who have as much of a vision for my writing as I do. In fact, my parents deserve so much of the credit for everything I have done: I owe them my education, my vision for Christian culture, and the time and tools I need to produce all these stories.

Other neat things. Getting to send a copy of Pendragon’s Heir to CS Lewis’s stepson Douglas Gresham. Being told by a well-known Inklings scholar that I had written “a masterpiece.” And reading people’s reviews of my book, with a singing heart because I am finally getting to share my stories with other people–and they are coming away refreshed, encouraged, and moved.

Why don’t we end with a fun question? What fictional worlds do you most wish to visit and why?

Hee, that is a fun question. Narnia, Perelandra, and Middle Earth are absolutely the top of my list. Narnia because I would have so much fun dancing with the dryads at the feasts or swashbuckling around in chainmail armour. And Perelandra because it sounds absolutely heavenly – an unfallen planet? Fruits that give you an transcendant experience of innocent pleasure? Yes please! And Middle Earth, because it would be wonderful to explore the Elvish cities.

(Aww, wasn’t that delightful, y’all? Suzannah is such a sweetheart and I will never recover from the gloriousness that is her books. *happy sigh* Don’t forget to enter the giveaway, humans! This is a book you don’t want to miss, I promise. ^_^)

giveaway 3



When Suzannah Rowntree isn’t travelling the world to help out friends in need, she lives in a big house in rural Australia with her awesome parents and siblings, trying to beat her previous number-of-books-read-in-a-year record. She blogs the results at Vintage Novels and is the author of fiction and non-fiction including Pendragon’s Heir, a retelling of Arthurian legend, and the Fairy Tales Retold novella series.


Introducing Of Bleeding Pens and Pages // interview with Zac Tyson

Tyson interview 2

I have a special treat for you, cyberspacelings! Today fellow writer and bookworm Zac is launching his blog and I am honored to be hosting him here on Curious Wren with a jolly interview in which we discuss dragons, favorite books, Halo fanfiction, epic characters and more! Read on, my friends.


(my comments will be in italics)

1. Welcome, Zac! I’m thrilled to be interviewing you here on Curious Wren — and extra thrilled about your blog launch! To start off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? Hobbies? Tea or coffee or neither? Favorite cozy reads? Ideal writing day? Dragons or superheroes? TELL US ALLL.

I’m thrilled to be here (and thanks)! 🙂 Well, I’m a follower of Christ first and foremost, a writer next, a book hoarder, music junkie, spastic extrovert, general smart-aleck, and traveler of worlds. I’m 18 (adulthood! WOOHOO! *bites nails*), homeschooled, obsessed with YA, and future child psychologist!
As for hobbies, I enjoy photography, archery, some swordplay, and playing with kids.
 Coffee all the way! What is life without coffee? I have yet to find the answer.
When I need a cozy read, I usually turn to MG! I love whimsy, simple stories that please my inner child. 🙂
Ideal writing day? That’s a thing? Oh. *shifty eyes* I suppose I’d just lock myself in my room, surrounded by all my books, and write from sunrise to sunset without interruption. Just me and my precious characters to torture. Err–what? Hey, what’s that over there! *runs away from concerned glares*
DRAGONS. DRAGONS ANY DAY. (You and me both, Zac!)
 I’ve had a strange obsession with the fantastic creatures since I was just a hatchling. But hey, superheroes are pretty rad too. (Though let’s face it, superhero or not, you’re gonna melt if blasted by fire breath. Just sayin’.)
2. When did you realize your love for Story? Who or what prompted you to pursue writing seriously? 

I sadly can’t place the moment of realization of my love for story. *cringes* One day I was just playing Halo: Reach (HALO, ANNIE, HALO!!!) and decided I wanted to write a fan-fic of the Spartans–my own spin on them. The 9ish page story will never, ever, EVER see the light of day, hopefully (as long as I have a say about it), but after that, I just always loved writing. I never stopped, and I’m thankful no one tried to stop me–though I would’ve loved to see someone try! 😉 I was about 11 or 12 at that time, so I’ve been writing, crafting stories, and playing with words for about 6 years now!
(Excuse me while I take a moment to fangirl because HALO.)

3. Are you currently working on a book that you can share about spoiler-free? What genre(s) do you prefer? And do you have a favorite “mode” of writing, e.g. first person, past tense?

I am currently jumping between three projects right now (a YA epic fantasy, a YA alternate reality/time travel romance, and a MG space adventure) but I can’t say I have anything shareable from any of them currently! Sorry. >.<
I write strictly speculative fiction–fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural, steampunk, though I have so many different settings and worlds for each story! (all those genres are favorites of mine so I am pleased beyond measure about this. ^_^)
I’ve written in many “modes” but I usually prefer first-person past tense, and third-person past tense.
4. Share with us about your current favorite movies, TV shows, and books. (Clearly, I am digging for recommendations. *grin*)

Wow. You are in for quite the answer! 😉
My favorite movies, without a doubt and ALL OF FOREVER, are the LOTR movies. *meaningful sigh* Oh, my heart. I marathon them two or three times every year! They are the only movies that truly make me hurt, rejoice, cheer, cry, and belt out my war howl every time I watch them. I feel like every time I start a marathon, I’m watching them for the first time again. That’s how obsessed I am with this series. I also enjoy the Hobbit trilogy, Star Wars, anything and all things Marvel, The Princess Bride, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hunger Games series, and lots more!
As for TV shows, Lost (!!) ranks as my favorite, then, in no particular order, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Revolution, Arrow, The 100, The Flash, Once Upon a Time, NCIS: LA, Leverage, Hawaii Five-O (the new one!), Person of Interest, and Psych. I’m wanting to get into Doctor Who! I also enjoyed the premiers of The Shannara Chronicles and Legends of Tomorrow. (Oh, you want to get into Doctor Who, do you? *rubs hands together gleefully* 
As for books…don’t even get me started. I won’t ever stop. My two favorite reads last year were Storm Siren by Mary Weber and A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes! Start with those, then you can make your way back to me. *grin*
5. If you could go on a road trip with several charries of your choice (dead or alive) whom would you choose?

Ooh, this sounds fun! Are we doing my own characters? (I hope we are, because that’s who I’m picking…) I’d take Kaelan, the protagonist from my YA epic fantasy These the Restorers, for her passionate soul, free spirit and loose tongue, Top and Lissy from my MG sci-fi Evernight because they’re just crazy, gutsy kids, and Nellie from my YA time-travel romance, because she’s quiet and whimsical and sees the world differently but in a beautiful way. 🙂 I’d also take Nym from Storm Siren, R2-D2 and BB-8, and Jack Sparrow (cuz Sparrow).
6. What books have made you cry? If none, are there any that almost brought the tears to your eyes? 

No books have ever made me cry, which is strange because I’m an emotional and expressive creature, but hardly anything will bring me to tears. But books that have brought me close to tears would have to be Storm Siren by Mary Weber (mention #3), A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes, the River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren, the Angel Eyes trilogy by Shannon Dittemore, and the Hidden Masterpiece series by Kristy Cambron.
7. What are four books you think everyone should read? 

Storm Siren (that’d be #4…), A Time to Die, Angel Eyes, Demon: A Memoir.
8. What kinds of stories and characters delight you the most? 

Anything speculative fiction! I devour anything fantasy, sci-fi, or supernatural.
9. Share with us a few gorgeous words that give you a happy, shivery feeling when you see them.

 One of my all-time favorite quotes is “I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.” -Gandalf. Yeah. That one always gets me. The Wizard has some knockers! Anything Tolkien said was magic, and I like some of C.S. Lewis’ stuff too.
 10. How does your Christian faith affect your purpose as a writer? 

 My faith affects everything I do in my life. It influences every move I make. It floods from my soul. That said, my stories aren’t strictly religious. They’re more mainstream just by glance. But anyone that shares my faith can easily pick up on the influences, the subtleties, and the hints in my stories.
11. What characterizes your writing style? 

 My writing style is unique to me in a way I can’t quite describe. A lot of times in life, we don’t share our voice enough–this is true of me–so my style is characterized by that, I think. It’s when I get to speak freely, to share my voice. And it enthralls me!
12. If you could own any mythical creature as a pet, what would you choose? 

 13. Do you have any strange pet peeves or personal quirks?

 Umm…I’m slightly claustrophobic. I hate disciplining children (when I’m babysitting). I just hate that look they give me. *shivers* I have an irrational obsession with peanut butter. I flail a lot. I’m usually quiet, but always crazy. I prefer to be with my writer friends more than regular humans (yes, I said that). I hate polka music and mariachi bands with a burning passion. I sniff my books a lot.
14. And lastly, what is your hope and aspiration for Of Bleeding Pens and Pages?

 For readers and writers alike to come together, away from the outside world, and be as bookish and nerdy as they like. To dive into living pages of story. To bleed worlds from their hearts through their pens. To encourage, to love, to inspire, to be encouraged, to be loved, to be inspired. To gather as one and be one through books and story. 🙂
(I love the sound of that, and I look forward to seeing what you have to share with us!)

And there you have it, friends! Now head on over to Of Bleeding Pens and Pages  and make sure to tell Zac how much you love his fantastic new site, and enter the giveaway!

I am interviewed by a Fellow Scribbler

(via pinterest.)

Recently the lovely Heidi asked me if I would like to do an author interview with her on her writing website. Of course, I was highly honored and delighted to do so. She sent me her thoughtful, in-depth questions, and the rest is history! 

1. (Heidi) Some differences and similarities you see between the three major forms of storytelling—literature, music, and film? 

(Annie) Oh, goodness, this question is fascinating and surprisingly difficult to answer. Some obvious similarities between film vrs. literature would be they both involve characters, emotion, and some semblance of a plot. But simultaneously they tell their stories in very different ways. A book drops you inside the minds and thoughts of its characters. Reading requires imagination and…. read more.

Curious Wren launch party Day Three: Interview at Wishful Thinking.

On our third day of the Curious Wren blog launch party, I hang out with my new-ish friend: the wise, and utterly awesome Mirriam. Come join us for coffee and cupcakes while she asks me what books make me an emotional puddle of tears, who my Top Five Favorite bloggers are (you might be on the list!), what music I pour into my brain whilst I write, about my favorite quotes, and more! 

I first made Annie’s acquaintance when she left a touching comment on my blog about a month ago, and I’m delighted to announce she’s finally venturing into the blogging world with her own slice of the internet!… read more.