Interview With Author R.N. Merle!

Today on the blog, we have an interview with R.N. Merle, author of In Fallen Woods! So without further ado, let's get into it!

About the Author

R.N. Merle fell in love with books at an early age, and went on to study English at university. When not scribbling words into notebooks, she is scribbling lines into sketchbooks, reading and listening to music, though never at the same time, and wandering through woods.

Author Interview

What gave you the idea for In Fallen Woods?
I was trying to invent a fairy-tale for children which I could illustrate, and I was on the lookout for an idea that would be fresh and interesting. I was listening to the radio, and I heard the song lyric, "the daughter of the devil" and I started to think about who she might be, and whether she could ever be anything but evil. My ideas gradually evolved, the daughter of the devil became the daughter of an evil witch. I thought it would be interesting to turn the fairy-tale tradition of having a maiden in need of rescuing on its head, by having my maiden causing the trouble instead. As I began to write the book, it became apparent to me that it would work better as a YA novel, rather than a book for children, and everything else seemed to fall in place. 

Speaking of the book, the cover is gorgeous! Did you envision that design yourself?
Thank you so much for saying so! I actually did the artwork for the cover myself. I have always been very keen on art and drawing, so I just thought I would give it a go as an experiment. It took a lot of time and tweaking, but I eventually got it more or less how I wanted it. In creating the design myself, I was able to incorporate the themes and emblems of novel. For instance, a large theme of the novel is the balance between the forces of darkness and light, which I represented by drawing the tangled and twisted branches of the dark wood, and the crow, belonging to darkness, contrasted with the wild roses, blackbird, and butterfly, belonging to light.

What drew you in to magic and encouraged you to write about it?
I have always loved fables, fairy- tales and folklore, and of course magic is entwined with all of these. I think there is something uniquely thrilling about magic. It creates these moments in books, and films too, which become unforgettable, that can make you gasp with wonder, or shudder with fear. I think it is such a powerful tool for authors, especially when they are able to use it inventively. But I think it is also necessary to make magic seem as real possible to the reader. 
How does it feel to be a writer, especially since you classify yourself as a "brand new author"? 
 It’s strange; you are a writer as you scribble down and hone your ideas, play with your words. Then you became an editor, making the best of what you have written. Now after it has been published, I have had to become a marketer and promoter. So the actual writing part feels a long way away at the moment. However, I know that marketing is such a crucial element if I want to find my readers, and when someone tells you they have enjoyed reading your novel, it is the best feeling. I think being able to earn a living by writing novels, is having the cake with the cherry on top, with brownies and ice cream on the side. It would be everything I could wish for. 

In your opinion, what is the hardest part of writing? What's the easiest?
The hardest part for me was definitely the editing. I didn’t know before I started writing the novel that publishers generally want YA books to be a maximum of 80 thousand words. By the time I thought my book was nearly finished, it was 147 thousand. Oops. It was quite a shock, and something that I had never even considered. With a bit of restructuring and a lot of cutting, I wrangled it down to 111,500. When I approached agents, I was told to cut it down further, someone even told me to cut it in half. I thought long and hard but I couldn’t think of a way to make it fit, so I decided to self publish, rather than just giving up on it entirely. It is incredibly hard to cut paragraphs and pages that you have spent hours constructing -- "killing all your darlings" as William Faulkner puts it. I did not enjoy it. On the other hand, the part I enjoyed most was, I found as I was writing, as one idea led to another idea, inspiration seemed to come out of nowhere, a rush of creative energy lit me up. I could understand what people were talking about when they spoke of muses. It is exciting to be in charge of a world you have created, to plot twists and turns to enthrall your reader. 

What's one book that you've read recently that you loved?
I really enjoyed the The Dark Days Club, and the sequel, by Alison Goodman. I’ve seen it described as Pride and Prejudice meets The Shadowhunters. I loved the idea of the setting being Regency England, where there are very strict codes of behaviour, paired with the chaotic world of demon slaying. The main character, Lady Helen, is forced to break the rules of propriety, and tries everything she can to hold on to her decency and respectability, which in that age, was everything to a woman. It heightens the tension, not only has she got to fight the forces of evil, she must also appear to the world as a young lady of spotless character.  I was so impressed by the historical details and observations  Goodman relates, it creates authenticity, a world you can really believe in, which I think is so important in any book, especially those with a fantasy element, and something I tried to create in my own novel.

Do you have any stories that you plan on writing in the future?
Yes, lots! I have the bare bones of many ideas for novels in my head. I am just trying to work out which one to write next. I think if In Fallen Woods gets a decent following, and if my readers were interested, my next novel would link in with In Fallen Woods, with more about the evil coven of witches that play a major part in the novel, the Witches of Vardyn. Other than that, I don’t really like to talk about the novels I have planned, even with those closest to me. I like to plot it all out, and get my first draft done, then I am open to discussion. 

About the Book

Title: In Fallen Woods
Author: R.N. Merle
Paperback, 381 Pages
Published April 2018

Summary: In the dark heart of Fallen Woods, Darklin, a sixteen year old witch and her mother Gressyl, live hidden among the tangled trees. They are bound to a secret coven practicing dark and cruel magic. Darklin is taught to be merciless and to despise humanity, to believe that beauty is treacherous, and that love and kindness do not truly exist. But when Darklin has a fateful encounter with a beautiful and kind hearted young man, powerful feelings are unleashed. As urges of attraction and destruction war inside Darklin’s heart, which urge will she give way to, and where will it lead her?

We'd like to thank R.N. Merle for being awesome enough to stop by the blog and let us host this interview! If In Fallen Woods sounds like something you're interested in, then don't forget to add it to your Goodreads TBR, which you can do by clicking here.

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