Hello, Gillian! Thank you so much for dropping by my blog! Congratulations on the recent release of the final book in your trilogy. Tell us a bit about yourself and your books, The Songkeeper Chronicles!
I am a writer, wanderer, and wordsmith. Overly fond of reading, riding my wild thing (a high spirited sorrel quarter horse named Ariat), being in the outdoors, and coffee. Books have played a huge role in my life and have heavily influenced the person I have become, so I am so grateful that I get to write stories like The Songkeeper Chronicles!
The Songkeeper Chronicles is a YA fantasy series about a place where music is extremely powerful. Birdie, the main character, can actually hear and sing the Song that the Master Singer used to create the world. This ability draws the attention of the warlord who rules her country and puts her in the crosshairs as he sees the chance to control her and the power of the Song.
Her story blends with Ky’s—a streetwise thief who lives in an occupied city where adults are taken by the dark soldiers and the kids are forced to band together to survive—and with Amos’s—a traveling peddler who stoutly denies belief in magical songs or any other powers in the world beside his own two hands—and their journeys take them from forest to desert to the dark tunnels of the Pit and beyond.
The third and final book in the series, Song of Leira, just released on June 5th. And it’s so exciting to see the story complete at last!
What was the journey that led you to writing these books?
It’s been a long journey, so trying to sum it up is a little bit difficult. I started writing Orphan’s Song during the year after I graduated high school. It was the first full length novel I ever completed, and it went through five complete revisions before it was ready to be published. The fifth and final revision happened as I was signing with my agent, and the next year, I signed a publishing contract with Enclave Publishing.
While we were editing Orphan’s Song, I wound up getting into a serious car accident that overshadowed the next few years of my life and definitely impacted some of the writing process for Songkeeper and Song of Leira. So a fair amount of Birdie’s inner journey—her struggles with following the Song and not trying to control it, with choosing trust over fear, and with stepping into her calling—were things that I was working through personally at the time, even though Birdie and I have very different personalities in other regards.
Who is your favorite character and why?
This is such a hard question. I honestly don’t know that I could pick a favorite between Birdie, Amos, and Ky—the three main characters of the Songkeeper Chronicles. I love them all for different reasons, and typically my “favorite” would be whatever character I was writing at the time.
But Amos McElhenny does hold a special place in my heart, simply because he is so much fun. He’s bold and brash and uses funny words and phrases and thinks of himself as “the great Amos McElhenny,” and golly, how could you help but love such a fierce, sweet thing? What were some of the biggest surprises that came from being an author? Were there challenges you had to overcome?
It sounds naïve knowing what I know now, but when my first book came out, I didn’t realize how much marketing is a part of being an author. I also consider myself the world’s worst saleswoman. When I go shopping, I can talk myself out of buying almost anything, so that made it difficult for me to tell people about my book.
A simple book release announcement made me feel like I was asking people to do me a favor by buying my book, and it made me second guess every sale I made. (Maybe they’re just buying it to be nice!) Once I realized that I was instead inviting people to enjoy a story that I loved (which I do all the time with books by other authors), it became much easier. I’m still not much of a saleswoman, but I do love chatting about books with readers! How you do like to relax and recharge?
By reading a good book in a hammock, hiding my phone, and staying away from the internet. The internet can be exhausting and distracting and sometimes I just need a break from it. I also love to hop on my wild thing when I have the chance. (He’s a sorrel quarter horse, so adorably high-spirited, and unbeknownst to him, a character in my new top secret project!) What are some of your favorite things? (Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, etc.) Where do you draw inspiration?
Coffee. My wild thing, Ariat. Being outdoors—hiking, kayaking, road tripping, etc. Music (I have very eclectic tastes). And epic books or movies with characters that seem real and a storyline that leaves me with that amazing heart-is-full-of-awesomeness feeling. Reading or watching those kinds of stories always inspire me to write! And I’ll sit there afterward with a notepad and try to figure out what the writers did that made me feel the way I did, so I can learn from it!
What environment do you tend to write in? And what is your dream environment?
I would love to be a coffee shop writer. It just seems so … cool. But I have tried to write in coffee shops and I just wind up being so distracted! I end up people watching instead of typing. So typically I just try to find a quiet place to write where I can plug in my earphones, play soundtracks, and lose myself in the story.
Dream environment? I would love to figure out how to use my laptop outside so I could sit in a hammock and write. No matter what I do, the sun is always so bright that I can’t see the screen and I spend more time squinting at it then actually writing! I would also love to one day have a gorgeous wood paneled office with dark bookcases and maps everywhere. Can you imagine? It would be awesome.
Can you share some plans or hints for the future?
Song of Leira is the final book in The Songkeeper Chronicles, so I have begun working on a new top secret project. I can’t tell you guys too much about it yet since it is still in the works, but it is an epic fantasy series, and everything about it is bigger—more characters, bigger world, bigger story—so it’s been challenging to lay all the groundwork and get the first draft finished. But I am getting close! And I am loving this new story, the characters, and the world they live in. I can’t wait to introduce it to readers.
Beyond that, I have several additional projects in the works, so I hope to be writing stories for you all to read for years to come!
You can find Gillian at:
Thank you again for the interview, Gillian! Best of luck on all your writing endeavors!
Have you read any of Gillian's books, dear readers?