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Karen Miller : Enchantress’ return

Born in Vancouver, Canada, Karen Miller grew in Sydney, Australia. After graduating in child literature, she took on several jobs before starting up her own bookshop specialized in whodunit, fantasy and science-fiction. When she’s not actually writing, she manages a theatre company, stages the play and plays a part in it. She also writes for many horse-riding magazines.
Fantasy.fr took advantage of the “Innocence Lost” (Le Retour du Sorcier) , second book in the “Kingmaker, Kingbreaker” (Prophétie du Royaume de Lur) series, arrival on the shelves to interview her.

Par Emmanuel Tollé
24 mars 2009 | Mis à jour 25 mars 2009
Karen Miller : Enchantress’ return
Karen Miller : Enchantress’ return
Karen Miller : Enchantress’ return

The hero from your two-part literary work “Kingmaker/Kingbreaker”, Asher works as a fisherman, a discrepancy with its administrative and prestigious surroundings. Why not picking a farmer or a lumberjack instead?

Karen Miller: The only place in the kingdom of Lur that has any experience of what it's like to deal with unmagical weather is the coast. The people of the fishing communities are a bit tougher than other people in the kingdom, and more independent because they have less to do with the Doranen. It's that kind of society that the hero needed to come from.

Speaking of the Doranen’s magic gives a true meaning to a french saying for people with great powers or influence, it’s “to create rainy or sunny day”. Why choosing a climate-oriented magic rather than the usual fireball and associated tricks?

Karen Miller: It's just the way the story worked out. Without a perfectly controlled climate you don't have a reliable food supply and you can't avoid natural calamities. This is a society in stasis, one that hasn't had to deal with any kind of crisis for a long time.  I needed them to be peaceful and happy and soft, so that trouble would affect them badly.

The “Innocent Mage” ends up with one of the rarest cliffhanger (more of a clifffaller in fact) I ever saw, even in the G.R.R. Martin books. Was it a calculated choice?

Karen Miller: Absolutely. Originally the story was a single volume. But when I was asked to make it into two parts, I needed to find a natural breaking point - and that seemed the perfect place.

There’s a lot of humor in Kingmaker/Kingbreaker. Is “Godspeaker” written in the same trend?

Karen Miller: Not entirely. The first book of the trilogy is quite grim and dark, with a certain amount of violence. The society of the first book doesn't   experience  much lightness and humour. There is more humour in the other two books, but overall -- it's a darker, more serious tone.

You did some licence work as with Stargate and Star Wars for instance. Do you have a special way of writing that kind of book? Does your customary style differ?

Karen Miller: Not really. For me it's all about trying to tell an entertaining story. Whether I'm working in worlds that I've created, or that someone else has created, I still need to know the characters and the background and find ways of exploring themes that are relevant to those worlds.

Your also started to write under the name of “K.E. Mills”. Why choose a pen name?

Karen Miller: “The Rogue Agent” series is different to may mainstream fantasy work. Instead of being self-contained 2 and 3 book stories, each book is a standalone adventure featuring a continuing cast. More like a mystery series. Also, the social backdrop I'm drawing on is slightly more modern, and there is a lot more humour in the style. So we thought it was important to show that it's a different kind of storytelling.

What are you currently working on ?

Karen Miller: I've just finished the first draft of my next Star Wars novel, and I'm about to start the final rewrite of my next mainstream fantasy novel,“The Prodigal Mage”, which is the first part of a two-part sequel to the “Kingmaker, Kingbreaker” books.

Why go for writing fantasy novel ? Or even writing as a matter of fact?

Karen Miller: I enjoy fantasy because it allows me to use my love of history as a starting place for storytelling. And I write because I love telling stories.

Would you care to name novels which had  an influence on you or simply impressed you ?

Karen Miller: I enjoy an enormous range of writers and books, but probably the most influential was the “Lymond Chronicles” by Dorothy Dunnett. It's a 6 book historical fiction series set in Renaissance Europe. Dunnett taught me a lot about writing character and using research in fiction.

Based on your australian perspective, do you think your fellow writers set themselves apart from other English-speaking ones? (If affirmative: Would you care to explain it?)

Karen Miller: I honestly don't know. I think there must be a cultural component to Australian story telling because we can't escape the way our society has shaped us ... but it's hard for me to know what that is because I'm inside the experience. I think Australians are quite big and bold and adventurous, we travel a lot, we like to see the world, and I think that might show up in the stories we tell.

Last november, your readers were delighted to meet you during the Utopiales of Nantes.  Are you planning another French trip in the future?

Karen Miller: Yes, indeed. I thought it might be this year, but I've had to postpone. Probably I'll return to France next year. The little I got to see I liked very much and I would certainly like to spend more time in the countryside, especially looking at the historical areas and castles.

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