Author interview with Philippa Ballantine

Author interview with Philippa Ballantine

Over the last years I have been reading quite a few books of Phillipa Ballantine, starting with the series; Books of the Order and later the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. The Books of the Order is an take on Epic Fantasy taking a bit of ghostbusters in the mix, opposite to this is the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences which is an electrifying steampunk series. Philippa Ballantine's latest series: Shifter Worlds takes readers back to the trusted Epic/High Fantasy setting. Each of these three series are solid reading material. What I have come to learn from Philippa Ballantine's works is that her writing style is the key to everything, I am not saying that the stories are boring, more on the cotnrary they are interesting and keep you glued to the pages. But her writing style, the prose that she uses somehow transforms these magical stories into a completely new ones and makes them easy to get lost into. I really have to recommend her books. And with three great series there must be something for you to like!

Author bio:
New Zealand born fantasy writer and podcaster Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order and the Shifted World series. She is also the co-author with her husband Tee Morris of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels. Her awards include an Airship, a Parsec, the Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice, and a Sir Julius Vogel. She currently resides in Manassas, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and a furry clowder of cats.


Hi Philippa, Welcome to The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions.

BP: First off could you give us an introduction as to who Philippa Ballantine is? What are your hobbies, likes and dislikes?

PB: I am a writer and podcaster, born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand. About three years ago I moved to Virginia to marry, my husband, author Tee Morris. As you can imagine I am a big fan of travel, which I get to indulge now and then. I like cats and dislike rain…that could also be related.

BP: If you would have to sell the Shifted World series with a single sentence how would it go?
PB: A woman must chose between her heart-felt revenge and the fate of the world.

BP: Shifted Worlds in your latest series, prior to this you have written or are still busy with two other series in different genres, what gave you the idea to write the Shifted Worlds?

PB:  Shifted World originally came from living in New Zealand. Growing up  right on the Ring of Fire, and learning to live with earthquakes makes you aware that the so-called solid earth beneath your feet, isn’t. So the concept of a world that was constantly moving, enough for the people to be aware of it, was born. After that thinking  about the people that would populate that world, and the problems they would encounter made for interesting musings.

BP: A lot of the current books all steer into a few genres and you don’t often see Epic/high Fantasy books anymore, why did you wanted to write in this genre?

PB: The delight of epic fantasy is that you totally get to indulge all your wildest dreams of creation. You get to construct the society, the weather, everything. That kind of scope is exhilarating to an author.

BP: Were you able you use any tips or tricks that you learned from your other books when you were writing the Shifted World books?

PB: A lot of the character building, and thinking about character motivations were related to what I had learned in the Books of the Order.

BP: Even though Hunter and Fox wasn’t your debut, it was the first in your new series, did you still encounter any problems when you were starting up?

PB: I had to prune back some of my larger worldbuilding ideas. Conhaero has a much wider history, populated with many unusual cultures. I had to restrain myself from going off on a tangent with them, and stick with the story of Talyn and Finn, which is the central story.

BP: What was the hardest part in writing the Shifted World series so far?

PB: Building a character like Talyn, who is both hero and anti-hero some of the time. I wanted to make her dark, but have redeeming features. I hope people find her worth getting to know, and even if she doesn’t make the best decisions all the time, why she does them is still understandable.

BP: Besides the hardest part, which part of the series did you enjoy writing the most?

PB: I was glad to be able to tackle writing dragons. As a fantasy author they are a trope that can be rather frightening to take on, since so many have before. I didn’t want to try writing them until I had worked out a new and interesting angle for them. I wanted to convey the awe and majesty of a dragon, but give them my own twist. The connection between the chaotic creatures the Kindred, and the dragon was one that became central to how the dragons work.

BP: Ok a bit of an evil question: looking at your other works, which series so far do you like the most?

PB: I always enjoy the one I am currently working on the most, otherwise there is really no point in doing it. So on my computer right now I am working on a book called Immortal Progeny, which is most definitely epic fantasy, and peopled with gods and monsters. At the moment it is still percolating, but it is nearly ready to release into the world.

BP: Kindred and Wings is the second book in the Shifted World series and leaves the story open for continuation, will you be wrapping the series up with a trilogy or have you gotten more stories mapped out?

PB: I absolutely have more adventures for Talyn and Finn mapped out. We’ll see how that pans out as far as novels or short stories.

BP: Besides the Shifted World series you still have two other series open for continuation, do you have any more new ideas that you wish to pursue in the future?

PB: The Books of the Order have been completed, though I am still dabbling in producing short fiction set in that world. The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences has two more novels to come out, but again I can’t keep away from the short fiction. I think that is the best way to scratch that itch without committing to a whole new novel!
I have a series set in New Zealand, that is historical fantasy that will be my first project of the new year.

BP: Everyone enjoys science fiction and fantasy in their own way, what do you like most about reading and writing it?

PB: I love the freedom of imagination. As a kid I started reading my Dad’s books, and I was immediately sucked into the genre. It took me away from my little New Zealand world, to places where all kinds of issues and possibilities could be explored. That feeling hasn’t really changed since I started writing in it at thirteen, and continues today. I don’t believe there is another genre that offers so much to writers and readers.

BP: And just lastly, if you would have to recommend you top 5 favourite books, which would they be?

PB:Wild Seed by Octavia Butler, opened my eyes to the other, and the writing is just beautiful.
Sheepfarmer’s Daughter by Elizabeth Moon. This was a game changer for me. When I read this I knew how I wanted to write female characters; real, making mistakes, but with an inner core of steel.
Red Shirts by John Scalzi, just a great fun book. I love how it flirts with fandom but somehow still manages not to tip over into total fan service.
The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers Anything with my favourite romantic poets in it has a lead in my eyes, but the feel of this book is just delicious.
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. A book that manages to be both gritty and fun.

BP: Thank you for your time Philippa and good luck with your future books, I will be looking forward to them!

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