Author interview with Sarah Monette // Katherine Addison

Author interview with  Sarah Monette // Katherine Addison

Author bio:
Katherine Addison is the pseudonym of Sarah Monette. She grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the three secret cities of the Manhattan Project, and now lives in a 108-year-old house in the Upper Midwest with a great many books, two cats, one grand piano, and one husband. Her Ph.D. diploma (English Literature, 2004) hangs in the kitchen. She has published more than fifty short stories, two novels (A Companion to Wolves, Tor Books, 2007, The Tempering of Men, Tor Books, 2011) and four short stories with Elizabeth Bear, and hopes to write more. Her first four novels make up the Mélusine fantasy quartet,  published by Ace. Her latest novel, The Goblin Emperor, published under the pen name Katherine Addison, came out from Tor in April 2014. Visit her online at or


Hi Sarah, welcome over to The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions for us!

BP: First off, could you give us a short introduction as to who Sarah Monette is? What are you hobbies, likes and dislikes?
SM: Like most writers, my principal hobby is reading. I'm a geek about literature and history, particularly Victorian England, Nazi Germany, and the American "Old West." I also read true crime from just about any era. I like computer games like Civilization and Diablo (sorry about the mental whiplash). I ride dressage, which is the world's most awesome sport, except for the part where it's very boring to watch unless you're a dressage rider.

BP: The Goblin Emperor is your latest fantasy book published by Tor. What gave you the idea to write this story?
SM: I wanted to write a story with elves and airships.

BP: The Goblin Emperor has received some amazing reviews, had you thought that The Goblin Emperor would be such a success?
SM: Well, (knock on wood) I *hope* it's a success. I'm certainly very grateful that it's getting such positive reviews. And, no, I wasn't expecting people to react to it as strongly as they have done.

BP: You have been involved in writing genre fiction under you real name Sarah Monette, had you been able to use any experience that you gained in short fiction when you were writing The Goblin Emperor?
SM: Not really. There's this idea floating around that short fiction is practice for long fiction, but it's not true. They're completely different forms. I also wrote four novels under my own name, but none of them was anything like The Goblin Emperor. So except for in the most general sense that every story a person writes teaches them more about how to put words together, this book was a brave new world.

BP: If you would have to sell The Goblin Emperor with a single sentence how would it go?
SM: *The youngest, despised, half-goblin son of the Elvish Emperor succeeds to the throne after an airship accident kills his father and half-brothers.*
I've found that's a very effective pitch.

BP: Writing a full length book is quite a task. What was the hardest part in writing The Goblin Emperor?
SM: I was stuck on Chapter 26 for *months*. First I didn't know what was in it, because I didn't know the book had a subplot about bridging the empire's principal river. Then I didn't know how to write it, because I am not an engineer. Once I *did* figure it out, though, it was a piece of cake.

BP: Besides the hardest part, which chapter, scene or character did you enjoy writing about the most?
SM: I think my favorite character is Maia's goblin grandfather, the Great Avar of Barizhan.

BP: Did you encounter any specific problems when you were writing The Goblin Emperor?
SM: I had to remember to abide by the societal rules I'd set up, which was surprisingly hard. The extremely formal language of the elvish court was occaisonally frustrating, and I had to watch myself like a hawk to be sure nothing counter to that tone slipped through.

BP: The Goblin Emperor was published on the 1st of April, if you would be given the chance to rewind time and make one final adjustment before the book had hit the shelves, would you do so? If yes, why and which part?
SM: There's one piece of worldbuilding that I did wrong and I just didn't catch it in time. And, no, I'm not going to tell you what it is.

BP: Maia is an amazing character, it’s impossible not to connect to him as you see all the good and sadly more bad times of him. How did you went about and created his character?
SM: I don't actually know. He was very much himself from the first sentence of the book. There wasn't ever a point at which he could have been somebody else. So my best answer is that I did it the way I always create characters: by throwing them in new situations and seeing how they react.

BP: Now that The Goblin Emperor has been published, do you have any other projects that you wish to pursue in the near future? Will The Goblin Emperor see a sequel?
SM: Right now, I'm working on the third Iskryne book, An Apprentice to Elves, with my marvelous co-author Elizabeth Bear. After that, I don't know. There won't be any *direct* sequels to The Goblin Emperor--the novel was always intended as a standalone--but it's possible I might write more stories set in that world.

BP: Everyone enjoys fantasy and science fiction in their own way. What do you like most about these genres?
SM: I love the way that fantasy and science fiction allow both readers and writers to stretch their imaginations.

BP: And just lastly, if you would have to give your top 5 favourite books, which would they be?
SM: Watership Down (Richard Adams), The Last Unicorn (Peter Beagle), Swordspoint (Ellen Kushner), Venetia (Georgette Heyer), The Dead Zone (Stephen King)

BP: Thank you for your time Sarrah and good luck with your future writing!


Popular Posts