Compared to the slew graphomaniacs currently populating the internets, Ginn Hale is a slow writer. She only releases a book every few years, so each time I get a manuscript from her I’m overcome with excitement. Ginn has a big imagination and a great knack for writing a nail-biter with LGBT protagonists. As I’m fascinated with the way writers think, I wanted to ask her a few questions.
1. One of the things you seem to enjoy most is breaking rules (for example, Blind Eye Books Guidelines!) and reimagining tropes. What about that do you find so pleasing?
I don’t go out of my way to break rules, really! I actually try to stick as close to guidelines as possible. But every now and then I find myself thinking about a fictional subject or situation that strikes me as absurd, annoying or cliché and wondering if there is ANY circumstance that could make it seem reasonable, clever or new. Rarely I come up with something and then I feel like, after putting in all that time and thought I really have to write about it.
In fact it was my own annoyance at fantasy books overflowing with egalitarian talking animals that led me to write the character of Ji in the Rifter books.
I think on some level I just enjoy challenging my own assumptions.
2. Your recent book, Champion of the Scarlet Wolf is a sequel to Lord of the White Hell Books One and Two, yet you’ve chosen to follow a secondary character rather than stick with the original protagonists. Why is that?
Lord of the White Hell is written from the point of view of Kiram Kir-zaki, a mathematically gifted seventeen year old, who’s a little spoiled by his wealthy parents and widely accepted by his own minority community. The first two books follow his adventures in the less open-minded society of an elite boys-school, where he builds machines, battles a curse, and wins the devotion of a duke! It was all very fun and I loved writing Kiram’s youthful insights as well as his snarky, teen-age thoughts.
But for the next two books I really wanted to show the world from a different point of view. The events of the war I planned to write about didn’t really suit Kiram’s voice or character. For that I needed some one physically stronger, more politically involved and way less likely to solve the whole conflict with a slide rule!
Fortunately I tend to massively overbuild the worlds and characters I write about. While the majority of details and backstories never make it into a manuscript, this once I realized that I’d already created the perfect character to carry the second set of books. Elezar, with his mysteriously scarred thigh, immense physical courage and internal conflict was like a small war in himself. His complex relationship with both Javier and Kiram allowed me to write about the two of them from a new perspective and perhaps most importantly, he’s the one character who’d shelter a filthy, emaciated mutt in a city of witches and wily shapeshifters.
3. Lord of the White Hell Books One and Two were picked up for Japanese release by Chuokoron Shinsha. What was it like working with a Japanese translator?
I was fortunate enough to work with a really delightful translator — Fumiyo Harashima. Not only did she know the details of my books better than I did, but she took great care in weighing what should be translated directly and what ideas, jokes and turns of phrase needed more idiomatic equivalents. Our discussions ranged from which words to write in katakana — such as the characters names — to Spanish J’s, and Arabic R’s.
She even dedicated serious thought to the many goofy puns I slipped into the manuscript. I particularly remember feeling embarrassed when she approached me about the “Goldenrod Inn”, which was the name of a brothel catering to wealthy students. When I confessed that the name was a childish play on words — Goldenrods=rich dicks — I half-expected her to roll her eyes or quit, but instead she seemed delighted, as she’d suspected something of that sort. And she set to work preserving my puerile humor.
I couldn’t have wished for a better translator!
4. What’s next for Ginn Hale?
This is a really hard question to field… I have an idea about a semi-aquatic 1920’s world rolling around in my head but I never know until I start really plotting out a story . . . There’s always a chance that I’ll see some new prohibition on a publisher’s guideline and be inspired in my usual contradictory manner!