Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Author Interview with Guy Donovan, author of The Forgotten Princess of Mona

1. This book must of taken a long time to piece together! How much research went into it?
Lots!  Once I settled on North Wales for the location, I really delved into the geography and history of the area and its people.  I knew I wanted it to be set only a few years after the Roman withdrawal from Britannia in order to take advantage of the general lack of solid facts concerning specific rulers and kingdoms in that time period.  Doing so provided me the most wiggle room in terms of recreating that time to suit my purposes.  There is really quite a bit of information available historically speaking but much of it is contradictory, allowing me to pick and choose which source (or rather sources, since I mixed and matched a good bit!) to follow.
As a result of that research, all the locations in the book are real ones.  The Welsh island of Anglesey is still referred to by the Welsh as Ynys Mon and Roman maps of the period refer to it as 'Mona.'  There was once a Roman fort on the smaller island of Ynys Gybi that served as a watchpost to provide security for their copper mining facilities on the larger island of Ynys Mon.  The Roman wall around the fort is still there, including the remains of the northeast tower in which I put Domelch near the end of the book, and the foundation of the fort now has a church on top of it.  That fort, somewhat larger in my telling than in actuality, became my royal manor of Caergybi.  Amlwch and its copper mines at Mynedd Parys (Parys Mountain), as well as Owena's hometown of Pen-y-Sarn are similarly real locations as well.  As for the larger issues of High King Vortigern of Britannia, he too is a historical figure and often referenced as a precursor to Uther Pendragon of King Arthur fame.  Much of that becomes a larger issue in books two and three of my larger trilogy.

2. How does your writing process work? Do you make an outline and go chapter by chapter? 
I don't really use a general outline but early on, I wrote pages and pages of notes detailing characters, their relationships, and sometimes backstories for each of them as well as historical notes that I wanted to connect the story to.  But I also wanted to let the story tell itself to some extent, as I feel that that's often where the real act of creation comes into play.  What I did with this book, and the rest of the trilogy as well, was to come up with an arc that I wanted my protagonist to follow.  I knew where Cerys was starting...I knew about the middle of the overall story...and I absolutely knew the ending (for her, at least, if not all the other characters).  I then set about writing and discovering other ideas and even whole characters as I went.  My pre-established arc sometimes turned into a convoluted spaghetti plate of plots and subplots wrapped up in multiple agendas of multiple characters but I kept in mind (or at least tried to) that it all had to center, eventually even if not immediately, on Cerys and her life's story.

3. Where did you get the idea for this story?
Probably about six years ago, my wife wrote a spec script for a Barbie direct-to-video feature entitled 'The Dragon's Treasure,' hoping that a friend of ours at Mattel might be able to get it picked up.  Well, that didn't happen.  Years later, while wallowing in a severe case of the creative doldrums due to my mindlessly uncreative job (which will remain anonymous for the present), she recommended I try taking the concept and "adulting it up."  I resisted at first.  It was her idea, after all...not mine.  Finally though, I thought more about it and how a simple story such as that one could be adapted as if happening in real-world locations (hers centered on a young girl named Isabel and was set in a mythological sort of France-ish kingdom) set during a real period of history in which a dragon could be believed.  The first thought that came to mind was that the Welsh flag is of a red dragon set against a field of green and white.  TA-DAH!  Her 90 page original eventually became my trilogy that is now (including books two and three, of course) totalling upwards of 1,500+ pages.

4. When should we expect book two?
Book two is currently going by the title of 'A Cold, White Home' and is in its second draft as we speak, or rather 'write.'  I am hoping to be ready to self-publish it by sometime this summer, hopefully no later than August of 2014.  I am also currently a little more than halfway through draft one of book three and hope to have that completed by April of this year at the latest so I can tie the editorial of books two and three together and keep everything that happens in total agreement.  With luck, I plan to release book three the following spring or summer of 2015.

About the Author:

Guy Donovan was born in Georgia in 1966, the son of an Air Force officer and a stay-at-home mother.  After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantryman, he attended college in Philadelphia, PA where he met his wife.  Today, they are the proud parents of a 9-year-old daughter who graciously allowed herself to be photographed as the royal backside of Princess Cerys for Guy’s novel, ‘The Forgotten Princess of Môna.’

Guy holds a BFA in animation and has worked on both television and feature films for Marvel Films, Hanna-Barbera, DiC, Saban Entertainment, Sony Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, and Warner Bros Feature Animation.  Like any good animator, Guy preceded his career with a variety of other jobs, including: machine cleaner at a machine shop, dish washer, grocery bagger/shelf stocker, security guard, and even as a dynamite loader at virtually every rock quarry in New England.  

Guy is currently employed by the U.S. Government in North Dakota and hopes very much that his trilogy ‘The Dragon’s Treasure’, of which ‘The Forgotten Princess of 
Môna’ is book one, changes that.