Those who go over to Jane Dougherty’s blog will find something very interesting. This factoid is that The Dark Citadel is her FIRST published book. This will explain why her answer to questions 5 and 6 are left with the N/R tag. It’s hard to comment on those questions when this is your first book. Another factor is that her book was only published on 10/4/2013 and the review and the interview are within a week of that publishing. So without further comment on this woman lets get on to the questions. Please be sure to go to the bottom as there is the book trailer for The Dark Citadel.
What inspired you to write The Dark Citadel?
I had been writing for a couple of years, novels and short stories, and decided I would like to write something for my children, the oldest being teenagers with very definite ideas about what they did and didn’t appreciate in a story. A scene came to me of a classroom full of girls all dressed in grey and having a miserable time. Not a very auspicious opening for a teen drama maybe, but one of the girls raised her head to stare out of the window, and I decided I wanted to write about that particular girl and how she got out of that awful grey world.
Is there any significance to the name/names of your main characters?
None whatsoever! The world of The Green Woman requires that everyone has a name drawn from religious or mythological texts so none of the names are inventions. The characters seemed to appear with names already attached! I didn’t have to agonize over any of them. I have tried not to let my personal likes and dislikes get in the way of the names that ‘appeared’. I don’t much like the characters in Greek myth, for example, but I’ve tried to sprinkle them fairly among the good and the bad characters.
During the writing process did you find yourself thinking about any of your own memories?
Only one memory, I think. I didn’t start school in September with all the other five-year-olds, but the following January. My mother had her fourth baby in September and with three under fours in the house and my dad working strange hours, there was nobody to take me to school and pick me up again in the afternoon. Needless to say we lived in a semi-rural area miles from the school and we didn’t have a car. The other kids had already settled in by the time I arrived and I remember deciding that what they were doing didn’t interest me and I was going to do my own thing in a corner. I remember repeated incidents where the teacher would come over to where I had pushed a table and a chair against the wall to get on with my own drawings and scribbling quietly on my own, eat my biscuits, talk to myself, or whatever, and ask me to turn around and join in with everybody else. Deborah in embryo maybe.
What were some of your favorite books growing up?
I was very slow learning to read. My mother was an artist and we were all encouraged to draw, so I drew. When I did decide I could read, I started on real books without going through the readers. The first book that I read over and over was a Patricia Lynch, The Bookshop on the Quay. I went on to read many more of her books and when I tried to get hold of them for my own children was shocked to find they are all now out of print. John Masefield’s The Box of Delights is a book I still read now and again. All of the Moomin stories enchanted me when I was young and still do. T.H. White’s Once and Future King stories about King Arthur, and Henry Treece’s stories set among the Vikings were also constant companions.
Do you hear from fans of the book, and if you do what do they say?
What was the feeling like when you saw the very first printed version of your book?
Do you continue to write?
I write all the time, from novels, through short stories to flash fiction and poetry. The Green Woman trilogy is finished with the second and third volumes waiting to be edited. I have a collection of in-world stories which I hope to release in the next couple of months, as well as stories based on Irish and Norse mythologies. My next full length novel project is a historical fantasy drawn from Celtic and Norse sources.
What is the message you want people to take away from the book?
I’m not sure I like the idea of a there being a message behind the story. However, one of the things that irks me in many fantasy novels is the total lack of moral values. The kind of behaviour associated with the armies of totalitarian regimes often appears to be condoned by the author because none of the characters takes a stand against it. I don’t want to come over as preachy, but if something is wrong, like murder, even if your protagonists are under twenty, they should still react against it, otherwise it should be made clear that their behaviour is reprehensible. My opinion only. I like real heroes, not just hulks with magic swords.
If you could envision a future for your main character, what would it be?
I already have. In fact I’ve already written it, so you’ll have to wait for the books to come out to find out! I want Deborah to be happy. She isn’t a perfect character, but life didn’t deal her many aces. Love and affection were in short supply when she was a child and her own emotions except for anger are underdeveloped. She grows in the course of the series, learns to give as well as take, and she deserves to find what she’s looking for.
Who are those in the dedication of the book, and their importance to you?
The book is dedicated to my husband, enough said. There are several people who have been important to the writing of the book, however. I have had the good fortune to get to know a really tremendous writer, Harriet McWatters who first encouraged me to think The Dark Citadel had merit, then proceeded to show me how it could be improved. Once Harriet had knocked it into shape, my editor, Susan Sipal, who instantly empathized with the story and the writing style, rounded off the last edges and straightened out the last inconsistencies. Last, I have to send a posthumous thank you to my father, John William Dougherty and my grandfather, James Brennan, both writers and poets, from whom I inherited a love of words, and the ability to fit them together in an intelligible way.
The + 1 Question:
If you had any one place in the world you could travel to for a book tour, where would that place be, and why?
If ever I had the opportunity to go on a book tour with real paper copies of a book to set up like battlements in front of me on a bookshop table, it would probably be to Inishowen where my father’s people came from. As a place for a book tour it would be hardly more profitable than the Gobi Desert in terms of population, but there is a debt of gratitude to be repaid, and even if it is a lonely, wild corner of the world, I would love to be able to say this is where the story started.