Interview: Morgan Smith

What if you weren’t what heroes are made of? What if your life was an open book? What if you were just an ordinary soldier, with ordinary skills and ordinary goals? What if you weren’t “The Chosen One” but still had to try to save the world?

Lured into treason and only narrowly escaping the gallows, Keridwen was desperate to build some kind of life for herself. But between demons bent on death and mayhem, treachery at the very heart of the kingdom, and a prince who had every right to nurse a grudge against her, what were the odds that she could stay out of trouble for long?

“A Spell in the Country” is the story of that soldier – a young woman driven not by prophesy, but by circumstances and coincidence, and by the strengths and weaknesses that anyone might possess.

About the Author

Morgan Smith has been a goatherd, a landscaper, a weaver, a bookstore owner, a travel writer, and an archaeologist, and she will drop everything to travel anywhere, on the flimsiest of pretexts. Writing is something she has been doing all her life, though, one way or another, and now she thinks she might actually have something to say.

I’m sure you have figured out Smith is a fantasy author, but perhaps with a different style from others.

Here’s an excerpt from A Spell in the Country: A Novel of the Averraine Cycle.

I knew, of course, that there was no justification for what I was doing. Oh, I could tell my protesting conscience that I hadn’t ever, in fact, sworn myself to Tirais or to the Queen, for that matter, but I knew that was mere quibbling. I was enough my father’s daughter to know that the oath itself wasn’t the important part.

I could say, with perfect truth, that there wasn’t the time to waste trying to get someone to believe me, that Connor’s safety lay in my ability to get to him in time, that a host of warriors would only slow me down, or that I owed Elowyn this service far more, but it was all nonsense.

I wasn’t doing it for Connor, at least not completely. I did like him. I did want to save him. I thought with horror of what he must be going through, and prayed to the Goddess he would be safe.

I wasn’t doing it for Keraine, though I could see how disastrous this night’s work would be if Angharad succeeded. Nothing in my life conditioned me to accept a Camrhyssi victory while I still breathed, and I couldn’t have let it go without a fight, but that was away in some misty future, and I wouldn’t have claimed it as motivation had I been tortured and racked to do so.

I wasn’t doing it for Elowyn either: she might already be dead, for all I knew, and revenge does nothing for a corpse.

I was doing this for completely selfish and petty reasons. I thought of Angharad’s words, standing in the gallery the night before. She had cost me some bad moments with her lies and her witchery, had made me doubt any number of values that I held dear, and had very probably turned the Queen’s mind against me so that I had been sent away.

And for that, I intended to kill her.

Keep reading, we’ve reached my favourite part – Q&A.

Question: Who is your favourite character in your book and why?

Smith: Keridwen is the main character of “A Spell in the Country” and I love her because she is the antithesis of “the Chosen One” trope. She just gets caught up in this terrible thing, but because she was raised to be a soldier and to take charge to some extent, and because she is both cynical and idealistic in the way only an 18-year-old can be, she confronts everything with determination and stubbornness.

Also, she’s a smartass.

Question: Please describe him/her/they a) physically b) their personality.

Smith: Keri has brown hair and gray eyes, and she probably is fairly average looking. But she’s in really good shape, physically, and she has a lot of attitude and a strong set of principles that make her both exasperating and likeable.

Question: Could I have a couple of quotes from your book of dialogue that shows that personality?

Smith: “Uln’s gone? Do you mean to tell me that the bastard got us here and left us to face the music? And you let him? Oh, Goddess’ tits, do you think you can hang us and let him run off free and clear?”

I was lucky, I suppose, that Gervase was there. He caught at the prince’s arm as he rose, and Tirais did not shake him off, but stood glaring at me.

“You’ll address His Grace with respect, in future,” said Gervase.

“I haven’t got a future,” I said nastily. “If he hasn’t got the jam to take Lord Uln, he’s no business judging us. What good is it to hang the hens for not noticing the fox?”

“I suppose you think you’d have done better? Seeing as how you sleepwalked through Uln’s treason, you feel you’re an authority on this?” Tirais was breathing hard, probably with the effort of not throttling me here and now.

I was aghast. I knew Angharad. Well, all right, “know‟ was a little strong. I had seen her, a number of times. Very lovely, the lady Angharad. And very proud and remote, with lowly troop captains.

I tried to choose my words carefully.

My lady, it’s just that she is Ullin‟s daughter. And we don’t yet know why he was-“

But here Gallerain stood up and loomed over me, his face now purple with rage.

How dare you? You little guttersnipe, how dare you suggest that a sweet and innocent child had even the barest inkling of the treason her parent intended?”

Why not?” I snapped. “You seem to think he confided in me.”

There was one of those tense silences, where everything seems to stop. From the window, I could hear the echoing sound of casual conversation and laughter, and of birds singing. Gallerain sat slowly, heavily, back into his chair, his mouth agape at my audacity, his face a mask of fury.

Question: What genre would you say the book falls into?

Smith: Fantasy. It’s closest to epic fantasy, although Keridwen herself is a bit low-rent.

Question: Are there any trigger warnings and/or explicit content readers should know about?

Smith: Not really. There is no actual sex – although sex is treated somewhat casually in this culture – and there isn’t really a lot of gore or anything.

Question: Do you have any upcoming events?

Smith: Edmonton Comic Con, September 22-24, 2017

Question: What is next for you? Do you have anything in the works?

Smith: I’m over halfway through a new work taking place in the same world, but from a very different POV.

Question: Do you have any special mentions? (Editor, cover art etc…)

Smith: Julie Nicholls did the cover and I love it!

Question: If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? Please describe the place rather than just a name. (The weather, the time of day, the ground, the surroundings, foliage, etc.)

Smith: Mam Tor, a hillfort in Yorkshire, around 50BC, before the Romans came.

On a spring day, in the early dawn, when the mist is just rising from the hills below, and the grass is beginning to take on the green…

Question: If the character from above were in that place what would they be doing?

Smith: Making barley porridge and complaining about the stench from the latrines.

Question: If your character was allowed one chance to say anything to your readers, what would he/she say?

Smith: “Don’t tell Tirais – he’ll be furious!”

Question: If your character could donate to any charity, which one would he/she choose?

Smith: I’m guessing Planned Parenthood – she’d be appalled that any woman should be forced to bear a child she didn’t want.

I’ve added A Spell in the Country: A Novel of the Averraine Cycle to my TBR pile and I hope a few of you have too! If you’re interested you can follow the universal link:

Thank you, Morgan Smith and all my readers for your time!