RA: The Seven Realms in Draykon are complex, yet they feel lived in, as though you were very familiar with them. Did you spend a lot of time discovering them for yourself before you wrote about them?
CHARLOTTE: I went through a few drafts of the book before I completed it, which made for a lot of time spent wandering about in those worlds - and quite a lot of details which didn't make it into the final draft. They did get to feel like a second home, after a while, and there is a lot more to explore in future books.
RA: There are numerous imaginary creatures in your book. Which of them was the most interesting to develop?
CHARLOTTE: They all were! It was one of the things I enjoyed the most about writing the series; animals can be so weird and wonderful in reality, and I found it hugely entertaining to construct bizarre and colourful beasts for my world, too. My favourites, I suppose, were the orting and the gwaystrel, which is why I gave them major roles. I loved the irilapter as well, though, and quite a few others, which I hope to revisit in due course (and of course, I want to invent a lot more!).
RA: One of your main characters, Llandry, has a crippling social phobia. What made you decide to give her that trait?
CHARLOTTE: I think that mental health disorders, from the mild to the major, are a big issue in the real world but are rarely explored in fiction - especially fantasy - and it's important to talk about them. On the surface, afflictions like that can seem like weakness and fragility and failure, and people feel guilty for suffering from them. I wanted to show that the person who struggles through an affliction like that and succeeds in changing their own life and the world around them is actually extra brave and strong.
RA: What do you think is the greatest challenge to writing good fantasy?
CHARLOTTE: There are lots of challenges, so it's hard to pick just one. For now I'll say, thinking beyond the borders of fantasy alone is a constant challenge. Fantasy has its settled parameters and it's easy to slide into writing the obvious fantasy thing and forget that the genre can include influences from all sorts of other places. I read a lot of other genres in order to keep my ideas expanding, and I try to bear in mind that the scope of fantasy is limited only by the imagination of the author (and the reader).
RA: On your blog, you mention that you have numerous ideas for books, but not enough time to write them all. How do you chose what to work on next?
CHARLOTTE: I make a sensible, rational decision about what would be best to write next (based, for example, on what's selling best or what readers seem to want most). Sometimes I go ahead and write that thing, and sometimes it proves to be exactly what I'm not in the mood or the frame of mind for and I end up drifting into something else. I'm learning to just go with it and see what happens.
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R.A. White is the author of the Kergulen Series. Find her books, her blog, and other fun stuff at rawhitebooksandmore.weebly.com.