Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Marissa Doyle

Marissa Doyle was raised in a family of readers, which just might be a prerequisite for becoming a writer, I haven't looked into that. Growing up in Massachusetts, where she still lives, she has an affinity for the ocean and is happiest near or on the water, sailing Cape Cod. Being raised in Massachusetts means being steeped in this countries history, I mean, have you been to Boston? This might have a lot to do with her love of the past. In fact it was history, not writing, that she majored in in college, getting a degree in history and archaeology at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Somehow she got distracted after graduation and the history she studied and the non-fiction she stills reads is now to inform her own writing of historical YA and fantasy for all ages. One piece of advice she's learned in her varied career is that "quite often, real life is far stranger and more wondrous than any fiction." It's these little oddities combined with real people and places that makes Marissa's writing stand out among typical Regency Genre fare.

While she's known for her writing, writing isn't all she does, being a wife and mother to children both human and fluffy bunny shaped. Marissa is also into collecting 19th century fashion prints. And if you love fashion, there's a pretty good chance you're into sewing of some kind. Marissa has "a strong drive to create, so when I'm not writing I'm quilting or knitting or needle-pointing or reupholstering furniture or sewing." I've always wanted to learn quilting, do you think Marissa might have time to teach me? Then again, I don't want to take her away from her writing... or her bunnies... As for the more clothing side of sewing, she's a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which helps lend her books a veracity that sometimes is sadly lacking when the author doesn't even know what a Regency silhouette looks like. As for her "surprising fact" about the comfort of corsets (see below) I do agree they can be comfortable... thus again adding to the historical truth that her books hold. But enough from me, let's hear from Marissa.

Question: When did you first discover Jane Austen?

Answer: I read my first Austen in my mid-teens...and it wasn’t Pride and Prejudice. I loved (still do!) old books, and found a very small leatherbound volume of Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion in a used bookstore. Persuasion is still tied with Pride and Prejudice as my favorite Austen. Oh, I did try P and P as a much younger girl, and couldn’t get past the beginning because I found Mrs. Bennett way too irritating. In my defense, I'll say that twelve-year-olds don’t always have the best-developed sense of irony.

Question: What do you think Jane Austen would think of her impact with so many literary offshoots, from parody to pastiche?

Answer: I expect she would be both bemused and amused, and would lampoon herself quite mercilessly to Cassandra and Fanny.

Question: Where do you get your inspiration from?

Answer: A better question might be where don’t I get inspiration from. Everything is grist for the mill: historical factoids, random snippets of conversation, artwork, dreams, music, casual never know where the kernel of a plot or character might come from. It's why I always have a notebook and pen everywhere--my purse, my car, my bedside table. The bedside table pen lights up, in case I need to write something down in the middle of the night.

Question: What makes the early 19th century mesh so well with magic?

Answer: I’m not sure it’s just the early 19th century—I think almost anything before 1945 (and the first nuclear bomb) meshes well with magic. Maybe because science didn’t have all the answers yet (not that it does now, but it’s trying hard) so there seemed to be more room for magic in the world. And because in the 19th century, there were still so many physical remains of earlier centuries that hadn’t fallen to the wrecking ball of “progress” and development—remains that might have contained more than just historical presence.

Question: The world building and system of magic varies greatly in the regency fantasy genre, how did you go about creating yours?

Answer: The magic in my books very much runs in families, and in the female line (with a few notable exceptions.) I like being able to give girls power in an era during which girls and women didn’t have many rights and privileges. And because I love starting out with history and then layering magic in underneath it, I tend to prefer real-world historical settings where magic is secret and known only to a few, rather than alternate history where magic is an accepted part of the world.

Question: If you had to choose between writing only period literature or only fantasy literature, which would win?

Answer: Oh, that is a cruel, cruel choice! I think I’m going to have to say fantasy literature, just because while I’ve got ideas for two or three straight historical novels, I’ve got ideas for many fantasy stories, with settings from completely made up worlds to the here and now (and a few historical periods other than the 19th century...would those count?)

Question: Be honest, have you ever dressed up in Regency clothes just to pretend for a moment you are in the past?

Answer: You know what? I have been in entire ROOMS full of people dressed in Regency clothes doing that very thing. Not to mention Victorian clothes and medieval clothes. I met my husband in the Society for Creative Anachronism, for goodness’ sake. This totally doesn’t faze me. Surprising fact: Regency and even Victorian corsets can actually be very comfortable, because they offer excellent back support. All those old photographs you see of alarmingly straight-backed women? Don’t feel too sorry for them—underneath all those layers of clothing they were slouching against their corsets, which were doing the actual work of holding them up.


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