Author Spotlight: Margaret Rogerson talks An Enchantment of Ravens
Today I'm so happy to host author Margaret Rogerson on the blog! Her debut novel, An Enchantment of Ravens, was released yesterday. In addition to its ravishing cover, this hot fantasy has been racking up tons of praise, including this quote from the School Library Journal: "Rogerson ably builds this fantasy world through canny details and contemporary dialogue, allowing for an enjoyable read by fantasy and non-fantasy readers alike."
Enchantment of Ravens has been called an ideal pick for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, Laini Taylor, and Neil Gaiman.
Hi, Margaret! Welcome and congrats on your debut. Can you tell us a little about An Enchantment of Ravens and what inspired it?
Hi, Megan! Thank you for having me on your blog. An Enchantment of Ravens is about a prodigy portrait artist named Isobel who has dangerous patrons: the fair folk. She trades her work for enchantments, the conditions of which must be carefully worded, or else they’ll turn sour. When she commits the offense of painting mortal sorrow in a fairy prince’s eyes, she’s whisked away on an adventure that threatens both her life and her craft.
The book was inspired by my own background with portrait art and my fondness for traditional folklore. I love portrayals of fair folk that incorporate the darker aspects of folklore, and I wanted to write a story in which the fair folk aren’t just beautiful and immortal creatures, but have eerie, inhuman qualities as well. For example, the fair folk in Enchantment use a glamour to disguise their unsettling true forms, can’t abide the touch of iron, and will crumble to dust if they attempt any kind of human craft (painting, cooking, making clothes, and so on).
The world you’ve created for Isobel and Rook sounds so rich and layered. What are your tips for writers attempting to craft an imaginative, yet authentic fantasy setting?
Thank you! Personally, I’ve had success writing down particularly fun ideas whenever they come to me, and spending some time fleshing them out into settings or magic systems as a kind of mental exercise—even if I don’t have plans to develop them into a book right then and there. A lot of my “new” ideas aren’t really new, but have been re-purposed from those worlds I created in the past just for my own entertainment. Visiting them again months or years later gives you a new perspective on them and, in my experience, makes them even richer.
What part of the writing process do you find most challenging and how do you tackle it?
I find that each story offers its own unique challenges, but in general, I think pushing through the latter half of a book’s first draft can be an effort for me (I tackle that by pretending I’m chained to my desk), and so can settling on a character voice that really resonates with me and feels emotionally authentic. I’ve set aside a few projects in the past because the perspective character just wasn’t coming to life, or they lacked chemistry with other characters. Usually, that’s a problem I can sense by the end of the first chapter, and unfortunately in those cases I’ve found that the best solution is to shelve the manuscript and move on to a new one. I don’t necessarily recommend that strategy, though—I know other writers who have had a great deal of success revising for character voice. It’s just a particular hangup for me!
Creative expression and the power of the artist play significant roles in An Enchantment of Ravens. What’s the message you hope readers will come away with?
Enchantment is a love story between Isobel and Rook, but it’s also a love story about humanity and art, and the importance of not sacrificing one’s identity for the sake of romantic love. I hope readers come away with their own messages.
Did music inspire you while writing An Enchantment of Ravens? If so, what might we find on the novel’s soundtrack?
I listen to a lot of music while writing! I love movie soundtracks and, oddly enough, video game soundtracks—I actually read an article a while back about how video game soundtracks are specifically designed to maintain focus, which explains a lot! I don’t play many video games, but I know so many of them by their music.
For Enchantment, I listened to the soundtrack of a game called Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, which uses Scandinavian sheep-herding call/music form known as kulning. It’s really haunting and beautiful, and listening to the first few minutes of it always brings me back to the book’s setting. Also on the novel’s soundtrack would be The Gravel Road and End Titles (The Village) by James Newton Howard; to me, those tracks are the sound of autumn itself.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an author so far?
Definitely connecting with readers and other writers. Some readers have already made incredible fan works: art, playlists, makeup looks, candles, prints, and even a recent cosplay! I’m completely in awe—there’s so much talent in the YA community.
What are you reading, or otherwise currently obsessed with?
I’m about to read Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho and I’m super excited. I’ve heard it’s amazing and it sounds right up my alley.
And finally, what’s your best piece of writing advice?
Write fearlessly from the heart. Treat first drafts like you’re scribbling them down in your personal diary, as if no one will ever see them. It took me a long time to hit my stride as a writer because I always wrote as if someone was peering over my shoulder.
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Margaret as much as I did! I want to thank her for taking the time to craft such thoughtful answers, as well as sharing tips for crafting an an original and authentic fantasy setting. Be sure to add Margaret's story of forbidden love to your Goodreads list, or order your copy RIGHT NOW from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local indie.
If you want to connect with Margaret and follow her publishing journey, please hop on over to Twitter and follow her at @MarRogerson. And for more information, check out her stunning author website at margaretrogerson.com.
And, as always,