Happy Thursday everyone 🙂
Hope everyone’s been having a wonderful week! Today, it is my privilege and honour to host Suzanne Rogerson on Day 4 of her Visions of Zarua blog tour!
Today, I have an interview with Suzanne as well as a review of her novel to share! So sit back and enjoy!
First, let me introduce Suzanne to you all:
Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.
She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.
Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.
She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.
Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book
And now a little about her novel…
Two wizards, 350 years apart.
Together they must save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past.
An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate.
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer.
The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?
1. What first inspired you to start writing?
I remember a particular English lesson in junior school when I was about 8 years old. The teacher read the class a scene from a book and asked us to write what could happen next. That really opened up my imagination and from that moment I think I was hooked.
2. You were 12 when you wrote your first novel! What can you tell us about it?
I remember the characters of my first book vividly.
It was about a 15 year old girl who has the shock of her life when her parents tell her they’re relocating to America. She refuses to leave her best friend, her boyfriend and her beloved Alsatian behind. Events spark out of control, and feeling unloved and unwanted, she runs away with her best friend (whose parents are going through divorce).
It deals with many issues still relevant today; love and jealousy, sexual harassment at work (she worked part time at a vets), underage sex, teen pregnancy, sleeping rough, drugs, a tragic death and coming to terms with loss.
Thinking about it now makes me want to dig out those scribbled notebooks.
3. Was there a particular scene in the novel that you were afraid to write? Excited to write? Surprised by? Tell us about it/them.
I know I was afraid to write the climatic scenes at the end of Visions of Zarua. My beta readers kept pushing me to build up the tension and the drama. The scenes with Morrin, the assassin, were the ones I looked forward to writing most. I loved the complex situation Morrin was forced into and how his story progressed. And I was most surprised by Jago’s scenes; they flowed so naturally they almost wrote themselves.
4. Paddren, Leyoch and Varnia — our three heroes — are such unique characters. Who did you find the hardest to write? The easiest? The most fun? Why?
I found it hardest to write Paddren because he is a very private character and it’s sometimes difficult to get his motivations across. I had to work hardest on him to make him likeable. I love Paddren of course, but it took time for him to grow on my beta readers.
Varnia is a strong character and just runs around and does what she pleases, whereas Leyoch was the most fun to write. He goes off and has his own adventures and gets to act the hero. He always tries to be the light hearted one and make the best of things. He’s someone I’d want around in a crisis.
5. Do you plan on returning to the land of Paltria in the future?
I wanted to write Visions of Zarua as a single volume. Sometimes I think the fantasy genre needs a break from so many long, drawn out series. It felt right that my debut book would be a standalone.
6. What does your ideal writing session look like?
An ideal writing session is one when I can barely sit still at the computer. I have to keep jumping up and pacing the room because the writing is getting so intense. When I need to keep tearing myself away to gather my nerves, that’s a good days writing!
7. What is your next big aspiration?
My next big aspiration is to finish my next book and publish it ASAP. Then maybe I’ll think about approaching agents. I still want to try publishing from the other side, even if it means I lose the freedom self-publishing has given me.
8. What advice can you share with fellow writers, both new to the craft and old?
Every serious writer should consider giving self-publishing a try. It’s really not as hard as you think. Use professionals where it counts though – editing, proofreading and the front cover. Make your book the best it can be and start working on your social media presence today.
9. Is there a particular castle that you feel drawn to? Inspired by?
Picking my favourite castle is tricky. I love Warwick Castle with its re-enactments and its ability to show you what life was like back then, but I also love visiting the ruins of castles like Bodiam in East Sussex. To touch the weathered, broken stones and image the past for myself is inspiring.
One thing I hate about castles though are the steep, narrow and winding staircases, they make me very nervous.
10. If you could travel to and live in any time period, where would you go? Why?
I’m drawn to the medieval period of history. There is a romantic notion of living the simple life with heroes, love and death going hand in hand. However, I don’t think I’m cut out for that kind of life, I certainly wouldn’t last very long.
11. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which would it be? Why?
If I could only read one book for the rest of my life I’d have to cheat and pick a trilogy. I love David Gemmell’s Troy trilogy – the last books he wrote. He was a true master storyteller and created characters that came alive to the reader and stayed with you long after you’d finished reading about them. I always loved how Gemmell took history and retold it in his fantastical way. As soon as I get the time, I shall be revisiting those Troy books.
Thank you Suzanne for taking the time to answer my questions! Your answers are insightful and inspiring 🙂
Told through four unique perspectives, Visions of Zarua is an epic fantasy that follows three friends as they struggle to fight demons of the past threatening their homeland of Paltria. Moving between the past and present, the narrative unfolds at a brisk speed, never losing momentum, introducing an intricate world full of magic, intrigue and danger.
In Suzanne’s deft hands, the premise transcends the normal stereotypes of fantasy. Her characters are flawed human beings whose sense of duty does not make them infallible to error. Paddren’s visions of the past are core to the plot and, while disjointed in his scenes, are more clearly brought to the fore in those chapters that unfold in the past through Jago’s POV. These are meant to assist Paddren in his quest, marking him as the ultimate hero.
And yet, Paddren is useless without his friends. Leyoch and Varnia share a past with him and their bond is a necessity to the success of their mission. Each comes with dark baggage that threatens their sanity and morality. Their growth throughout the narrative is part of what enhances the story as they struggle not only with an outside threat, but their own inner demons as well.
One of the most interesting and memorable characters is a minor one: Morrin. I don’t want to say too much for risk of spoilers, but his role in the story was one of the highlights for me.
Another refreshing fact: this is a standalone fantasy novel. While the ending does leave the sense that there is more story, the plot of this specific novel reaches its conclusion satisfyingly.
Intriguing characters, strong structure, high stakes, memorable world. The Visions of Zarua packs a punch in delivering all of these. A superb story that fantasy readers will definitely enjoy!
Interested yet in buying your own copy of Visions of Zarua, take a look here:
Want to connect with the amazing Suzanne, what are you waiting for?
Have a question for Suzanne? Leave a comment! And thanks as ever for stopping by 🙂
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,