Monday, March 11, 2013

Author Interview: Marie Brennan + Giveaway! (US/CA)

Please Welcome Marie Brennan!

Marie was nice enough to stop by and answer some of my burning questions about her oeuvre. And what a collection it is! Fairies! Historical fantasy! Dragons! Witches! Doppelgangers! I'm already on a mad hunt to track down more of her books and there isn't a plot that doesn't look right up my alley!  

Website | Blog | Publisher | Twitter | Goodreads

See below for details

Q: Which one of your characters would you most want to kiss?

A: If I’m being really honest (and my husband isn’t reading this), then Julian, from Lies and Prophecy. A much earlier draft of that book was the first novel I ever finished writing, so it’s not surprising that as love interests go, he’s the one I have the strongest attachment to.

by Todd Lockwood
Q: Which one of your characters would you want to swap BFF charms with?

A: It’s a toss-up between Isabella, the protagonist of A Natural History of Dragons, and Delphia Northwood, one of the secondary characters in A Star Shall Fall. Both of them are very bookish, which makes them near and dear to my heart.

Q: Which one of your characters do you most want to slap or give a verbal tongue lashing to?

A: One of the problems with being a writer is, you have to get into your characters’ heads, which tends to mean you end up sympathizing with them even when they’re being dumb. And then sometimes they go and develop depth on you, totally without warning. Even with a character like Carline -- a minor figure in several of the Onyx Court books -- I want to smack her for being shallow and callous (which she is), but then she comes out with a really telling observation about the way the fae of London relate to mortals, and I have to admit she has a point.

Q: If you were transported into your book, which scene would you most want to reenact?

A: The deployment of the Ephemeral Engine at the end of With Fate Conspire. It would scare the crap out of me if I didn’t know what the result would be, but since I do, that would be a mind-blowingly awesome thing to experience.

Q: Which one of your character’s brains would you want to pick the most?

by Todd Lockwood
A: Jack Ellin, from In Ashes Lie. He’s a very smart man, and also a smart-ass, which means the conversation would be fun as well as enlightening. But I’d want to invite Isabella and Delphia to the party, too, as well as Abd ar-Rashid, an educated and well-traveled genie from the later Onyx Court books.

Q: Which scene do you think will surprise readers the most?

A: Judging by the responses I’ve been getting from readers, the one that settles the fate of a particular character in A Natural History of Dragons. I can’t think how to be more specific without giving spoilers, but let’s just say that if it makes you want to send me a ranty e-mail, then you’ve probably found the right one.

Q: Which scene was the most fun to write?

A: For A Natural History of Dragons, the non-spoilery answer is the first time Isabella and Jacob meet, in the Falchester menagerie. A great deal of what I made up for that scene really laid the groundwork and tone for the novel and the series as a whole.

The spoilery answer is the cavern -- I will say no more.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give your main character?

A: I would tell Isabella to pay attention to the people around her, as well as the natural world. She isn’t the best at reading social cues, nor to anticipating and dealing with the problems they can create.

by Todd Lockwood

Readers should add A Natural History of Dragons to their To Be Read list if they like...

Books about:
     headstrong young ladies, outspoken old ladies, Victorian science, ancient ruins, world travel, and of course dragons.

Books/movies like:
     Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist series, Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate, or The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec.

Main characters like:
     Amelia Peabody, from Elizabeth Peters’ historical mysteries, or (from history) the travel writers Isabella Bird and Mary Kingsley.

About A Natural History of Dragons:
Click for larger images!

You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one’s life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. . . .

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

Marie Brennan introduces an enchanting new world in A Natural History of Dragons.

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3196-0
On Sale: February 5, 2013
Available here:
Powells, Walmart Overstock

Author bio:

Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to many short stories and novellas, she is also the author of A Star Shall Fall and With Fate Conspire (both from Tor Books), as well as Warrior, Witch, Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie, and Lies and Prophecy. You can find her online at

Thank you so much for stopping by, Marie!

It was probably around, oh, maybe page 200 or so that I put down A Natural History of Dragons last night and vowed not to read another page (that night). Not because it was bad, but because it was SO GOOD and I realized I only had about another two hours worth of reading time left with it. I had to start rationing.

So, what did I do to occupy my time instead? I went straight to Goodreads, of course, and proceeded to (desperately) check out all of Marie's other books and see which I could find in my library. Yes, it's that good!

Oh, and notice all those pictures in my post? Those are only a handful of the awesome full-page illustrations peppered throughout the book! I LOVE books with illustrations! Even better, they really bring to life the images I was already mentally picturing and don't clash at all with how *I* was already picturing the dragons.

Have you read A Natural History of Dragons?
How would you answer these questions?
(Remember, no spoilers please!) 

Want a chance to win your own copy of A Natural History of Dragons? Thanks to the publisher, I have three copies to offer!

Info for the giveaway:
  • What you can win: Three people will each win one finished hardcover copy of A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan!
  • As always, you do NOT have to be a follower
  • You must have a US/CA mailing address
  • You must be 13 years of age or older
  • One entry per person
  • Your address is not required, but including it will help with sending the book out to you sooner
  • I will contact the winner through email and the winner will have 24 hours to reply before a new winner is chosen 
  • This giveaway closes on March 20th 


  1. I know what Marie means about sympathizing with characters even when they're being dumb. I notice that as a reader - when I see the world through a character's eyes, I often sympathize with them even when they're horrible.

    1. I agree. I think it's really easy to start feeling that way toward well developed characters.

  2. This book is popping up all over my blog feed, everyone seems to be talking about it and it sounds awesome! I can't wait to check it out, I love dragon stories. Great interview!

    1. It's worth the chatter! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

  3. I always love to hear more about an author. Great post.

  4. I thought this was a very good read. The illustration, even on the kidle were totally gorgeous. Totally agree with author on the scene she speaks of - nope it didn't make me happy and yes it surprised me. What a great giveaway! Can't wait to see who wins!

    1. Oh yes, the illustrations were so engaging. I agree with that scene too! Although....I'm hoping it means something for a sequel.

  5. The book does sound really good. Thanks for sharing all this with us.

  6. This book sounds beyond awesome...but then I love dragons! And those illustrations...I am definitely off too invetigate this one further:)

    1. I hope you like it! The dragons are fascinating and I love how you get to know different breeds of dragons.


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