Saturday, March 16, 2013

Author Interview with Gillian Philip

Hi guys!! Today I am spotlighting Firebrand by Gillian Philip and have an awesome interview with the author!!

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository
At the end of the sixteenth century, religious upheaval brings fear, superstition, and doubt to the lives of mortals. Yet unbeknownst to them, another world lies just beyond the Veil: the realm of the Sithe, a fierce and beautiful people for whom a full-mortal life is but the blink of an eye. The Veil protects and hides their world…but it is fraying at the edges, and not all think it should be repaired.

Discarded by his mother and ignored by his father, sixteen-year-old Seth MacGregor has grown up half wild in his father’s fortress, with only his idolized older brother, Conal, for family. When Conal quarrels with the Sithe queen and is forced into exile in the full-mortal world, Seth volunteers to go with him.

But life beyond the Veil is even more dangerous than they expected, and Seth and Conal soon find themselves embroiled in a witch-hunt—in which they are the quarry. Trapped between the queen’s machinations at home and the superstitious violence of the otherworld, Seth must act before both of them are fed to the witch-hunters’ fires…


Hi Gillian thanks for answering some questions for me.

You’re very welcome, thanks for inviting me!
I see that you have written quite a few books in all different genres. Do you have a favorite genre to write?

I like being able to write in several genres... but I suppose my favourite all-round subject is fantasy. I like that you can play with the genre however you like; twist and play with old myths and legends; bring them up to date for the modern world... I’ve had a wonderful time writing faeries and kelpies for the 21st century, and now I’d like to do something with selkies.

I also see that you write under two other names besides Gillian Philip. What is the reason behind that?

I work for a few book packaging companies, like Working Partners and Hothouse Fiction, who develop series with a team of writers and editors, then publish them under a single pseudonym. My first experience of this ghosting was with Darke Academy, a series Hothouse developed under the pen name Gabriella Poole. It was very different to writing my own books - I’m not a great plotter - but I found it great fun. I ghost-wrote four books in that series. When Working Partners approached me to join their Erin Hunter team, I jumped at the chance - and now work under that name on a series about dogs called Survivors. I love it! I’ve worked under other names too, including Adam Blade (the author of Chronicles of Avantia and Beast Quest).

When did you write your first book?

Ooh, that depends what you mean by ‘first’... My VERY first was a 200-word book called ‘Black Arrow’. About a horse. I know this because embarrassingly, my mother kept all my old stories. The first full-length book I tried to write for publication was a story for Mills & Boon, called (I think) Spindrift. It got as far with the editors as the other three I tried to write for them; in other words, nowhere. It was pretty awful. The first book I wrote and got published was a crime mystery set in a dystopian Scotland, called Bad Faith.

How did you come up with the idea for Firebrand?

That was a complicated one! I’d written Bloodstone (or an early version of it), because I’d always wanted to write something based around Scottish myths and legends. But it just wasn’t right, and I soon realised I was telling the wrong story - a minor villain called Seth had taken over, so I had to go back and tell the story of his younger years. I wanted to find out how he’d become the way he was, and to understand him better.

Also, the idea of a Veil between the everyday world and the otherworld is a common notion in Gaelic mythology; I wanted to play with that, to find out what would happen if this Veil wasn’t a permanent thing. If it was rotting, or in danger, I wanted to find out who that would endanger more - us humans, or the Sithe on the other side of it.

Why did you choose the sixteenth century for the setting?

That was kind of accidental! I knew my Sithe characters were long-lived, and that Seth was around 400 years old, so I went back to investigate the relevant period in Scottish history, and found it fascinating. It was a bad time to be alive, especially for someone who was a little bit different - and Seth and his brother are a lot different to the full-mortals they encounter. It was the period after the Scottish Reformation, which was a time of upheaval, religious conflict, and best of all (for me, though not for Seth and Conal), witch-trials. In Scotland they were particularly brutal.

How would you describe Firebrand in one sentence?

A young Sithe warrior finds his home, his brother and his destiny - and is in danger of losing them all.

Firebrand is the first in a series. I see that there are three books listed in the series so far. Is it a trilogy or will there be more to the series?

There will in fact be four books - it was going to be three, till Firebrand itself came along and changed my plans! The fourth is due out in 2014 and for now the working title is Icefall. I have a tagline teaser for it :-) ‘Blood runs cold...’

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished some rewrites on Bloodstone (the second in the Rebel Angels series) for the US publication in November; soon I’m hoping to start work on Book 4, which exists only in very rough form. I have a few ghostwriting projects coming up, too - my next is the third in a series called ‘Rookery Island’, a fantasy adventure for middle graders. When I get a chance I’m also working on a contemporary thriller under my own name. The provisional title of that one is Spitting Distance. And I’m really looking forward to touring the US in May to promote the latest in the Survivors series, as Erin Hunter.

Thank you so much for doing this interview!!

And thank you again for having me! It’s been fun!


  1. I have Firebrand for review soon, and am looking forward to it. Great review, Amy!

  2. Wow what a busy author! I really love fantasy books and this one sounds amazing!

  3. I'm a big fan of Irish and Scottish mythology. I haven't looked too much into this book, but I am curious. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a good fantasy.

  4. Cover is intriguing and I'm loving the synopsis. I may just pick this book up.


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