Crispina Kemp is a blogger, photographer, prehistorian and writer who has just released her fantasy series – The Spinner’s Game – for pre-order on Amazon Kindle (see links below).
Following on from my previous post where Crispina related the books’ evolution from initial ideas and blog posts to finished novels, she joins me this week to discuss mythical inspirations and future projects.
LL: Hi Crispina, thanks for dropping by.
You’ve described The Spinner’s Game as a story told across five books, as opposed to a five-book series. But what did you take as inspiration?
CC: The inspiration hides in an earlier book.
I had written a story set in the Neolithic period in southwest Britain with an antagonist named the Head of Kerrid. Keen as I am on Celtic mythology, I took the name Kerrid from the Welsh goddess Cerridwen. But I realised this antagonist needed a backstory. Why was she called the Head of…? Why was she so against my protagonist? And what were her mysterious powers? It was at this point I slid that particular story onto the backburner and focused instead on Kerrid.
LL: So Kerrid began life as a goddess?
CC: I chuckle to myself. And answer yes.
LL: A story told across five books suggests a high word count. Was that as you planned it?
CC: No, definitely not. I didn’t even want a trilogy.
For years I’d used the local library for reading fiction and know there’s nothing so annoying as to become lost in a book, only to discover it’s book six in a sixteen-book story (e.g. Wheel of Time) and there’s a three month wait for the others.
Besides, what traditional publisher invests in a trilogy from an unknown author?
On first completion, the book weighed in at 150,000 words. But even that is too high for a debut book. How to trim it? I paid for a critique. With my next version, I doubled the wordcount. Oops. And with every subsequent edit the wordcount grew. Though with the final brutal tidy-up and edit I deleted out 200,000 words! Oh yay! The wordcount across the five books is now 550,000 words, which averages at 110,000 words per book.
LL: If the story is told across the five books, must a reader read every one?
CC: I’d recommend it, but it’s not essential.
Kerrid takes the five books to complete her quest, but each book offers a complete story. I’ve been careful not to leave the reader dangling, yet with sufficient incentive to read the next book.
LL: Why ‘The Spinner’, where did that come from?
CC: I love word-play and have an affinity with textiles.
I liked that The Spinner might be a spider spinning its web or she might be the person who spins the thread from the fleece. If the latter, that spinner spins a yarn… i.e. a tale. If the former, that spider spins a web to entangle, delay, hold captive, and ultimately to devour. I liked that the Spinner might be both creator and destroyer. And as with yarn and thread, the word ‘web’ is loaded with imagery.
LL: How long has it taken to write The Spinner’s Game?
CC: From the very first draft? That was back in 2006. But I’ve not worked on it continuously.
When I arrived at a wordcount of 500,000 (in 2009) I knew no publisher would take it so I set it aside… until 2012 when I created two blogs, one as a regular blog, the other to carry the story that has now become The Spinner’s Game, posted in weekly instalments. It took three years to complete! Meanwhile, I worked on other stories.
I thought the blog’s potential for ‘world-wide’ exposure might satisfy me. It did not. In November 2017 I announced my intention to publish the story on Kindle. The story now took on its five-book structure. And since then it’s been beta read and critiqued and pulled apart and rearranged and revised, and edited, edited, edited. Until here we are. It has been a long journey.
LL: And what are your plans for the future? Any more books in the pipeline?
CC: My critique partner is critiquing my next book as we speak.
Written in 2012, it combines two novella-length historical fantasies I’d written earlier with one of a contemporary setting to create a fantastical time-slip story. As with The Spinner’s Game, I posted it on my blog in instalments. Now that’s to receive the full KDP treatment. And after that… yes, I do have more planned.
The e-books – The Spinner’s Child, Lake of Dreams, The Pole That Threads, Lady of First Making, and The Spinner’s Sin – are available on Pre-Order. But Pre-Order isn’t available on paperbacks; those become available shortly after the publication date of Saturday 21st March.
The easiest way to access the books is through Crispina’s Author’s Page on Amazon.com. From there, a click on a book will take you to whatever your usual version of Amazon. Alternatively, crispinakemp.com/books has all the book descriptions and the Amazon links.
As a gift for those who Pre-Order, Crispina is offering a full-sized, full-colour fantasy map of Lake of Skulls (see image below) as a high resolution (2048 x 1536 px) pdf. Just send proof of pre-order (a screenshot would be ideal) via her Contact Me page and a copy will wing its way to you.