Now, you know I love a bit of history with my reading but I don’t often venture into the fantasy genre. When Steve Hutton told me about his book I had to ask him onto Linda’s Book Bag to explain a bit more. He may just have come up with the perfect solution!
Staying in with Steve Hutton
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Steve.Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
The pleasure’s all mine – a book without a reader is only half a book (-:
(And to my mind every book is a different one for every reader!)
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
Tonight’s offering Linda is my first novel, Raven’s Wand. It will always be special to me because after nine months of solid work, when I typed the last line I felt something I’d never felt before. That last line was like completing a circuit and watching the story become a free-living entity of its own.
(That must have felt amazing, Steve.)
Raven’s Wand is both a book for readers and for myself the writer. I’d long grown tired of fantasy novels that felt made up, and so I set my book against a backdrop of Victorian Britain, where the old ways of the Wildwood clash with ever-increasing industrialisation. I populated the pages with characters as real as I could craft, and imbued them with feelings we all have. I strove to avoid pantomime villains and saintly heroes, and instead make fantasy believable; in Raven’s Wand the villains are redeemable and scared, and the heroes are reluctant and flawed, and characters comes first and make-believe is the supporting act.
(Now you’re talking! This sounds so much more my kind of fantasy genre. I’m intrigued.)
What can we expect from an evening in with Raven’s Wand?
Readers can expect surprises and the unconventional – Raven’s Wand is a fantasy without the usual ‘hero quest’. I pushed my imagination to the limits to create creatures, characters and situations that broke as many moulds as possible, then glued them back together and broke them again. My ethos was to make the reader really care about the characters, and then when they’re in peril it feels real too. Hopefully the reader won’t just want to ‘stay in’ with Raven’s Wand, but to stay in the story for good. Many readers say they feel sad at the end because they have to say ‘farewell’ to characters that have become like close friends, while others say they’d gladly swap their hectic modern lives for the witches’ simpler (but precarious!) coven lifestyle. As an extra to the book, the publishers have created an Augmented Reality experience, which brings a third dimension to the story making it the first UK fantasy novel to do so.
(Wow. That sounds brilliant. I see readers can find out more about the Augmented Reality experience here.)
What else have you brought along and why?
I also have the Loch Ness monster with me. Well, I did – she seems to have slipped her lead. . . but her home is still an indelible part of my writing. When I began plotting Raven’s Wand some years ago, I was living in Fort Augustus, near Loch Ness. The house was a wooden lodge, named ‘Wildwood’, and I took the name and used it as the name for the witches’ coven central to the story. I also took the surrounding forest as inspiration, and I’d walk or cycle it daily and as I did I’d daydream and see my characters living out their lives (and thus my story) amongst those towering trunks and sunlit glades. As an illustrator also I put as much time into drawing my characters as I did in writing them. It was very important to me to get the hero on the cover just right – I drew her many times before she clicked with the written character in the book.
I had no idea you’d created the cover image too Steve. You’re obviously a man of many talents! You really have persuaded me that fantasy can be a genre I’ll enjoy and I have decided to add Raven’s Wand to my TBR. Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about it.
Raven’s Wand is about two opposing secret societies waging a war of belief behind the skin of Victorian Britain. One uses magic to heal the world, while the other twists it into abominations and war machines. Young Kolfinnia has a great task set before her and, with the aid of the Raven wand, she dares more than she ever dreamed possible.
About Steve Hutton
Steve Hutton attained first a BA then later an MA in illustration and has illustrated for educational publishing, as well as running illustration workshops in schools across the country. As a freelance illustrator he has worked for the National Trust and created character concepts for film and TV, most notably The Golden Compass.
After years of illustrating for established writers, Steve decided it was time to tell his own stories. Taking his love of rugged northern lands, their legends and folklore, and combining them with interests as diverse as cosmology, magic and Earth sciences, the resulting narrative is The Dark Raven Chronicles. This ever-expanding fantasy series blends historical facts with wild fiction to create a unique world, enhanced and enriched by Steve’s own illustrations.
Steve owes as much to modern classics like Watership Down, and Mary Stewart’s Hollow Hills trilogy for their inspiration, as he does to the Icelandic Sagas and Beowulf. Over the years, his illustrative eye has been inspired by a host of talented artists, from Rodney Matthews to the team of illustrators who crafted the Dr Who novels he cherished as a boy. All of this feeds into his writing.