Author Highlight: Angeline Trevena
Angeline is a British dystopian urban fantasy and post-apocalyptic author. I've been following her on Instagram for over a year now, and I can't wait to pick her brain when I start worldbuilding a future series I have planned.
In addition to her own post-apocalyptic and dystopian books, she has published two workbooks on worldbuilding -- both creating and destroying a world. I can't wait to dive into them when I'm ready to focus on that series!
How did you come up with the story concept for The Memory Trader series?
One thing I really love is mash-ups of fantasy and science-fiction. I love futuristic worlds as much as I love magic and fantastical elements. The Memory Trader series mixes both of those things together, and I really enjoyed bashing technology up against magic to create some sparks!. Basically, the series is set in a futuristic fantasy world in which memory traders are able to extract unwanted memories from people, and then sell them on to other people, implanting them directly into their brains. I started asking myself about this concept, and how it might play out if a really important memory got lost somewhere. Passed on so many times that no one knew who it belonged to anymore. And then, what would happen if someone accidentally stumbled across it, and it turned their whole world upside-down in an instant?
What do you love about writing urban fantasy? What do you hate or maybe just dislike about it?
My big thing is worldbuilding. I'm one of those authors who could happily spend so long drawing maps, and working out government hierarchies, and deciding what would be on the menu at the local cafe that, if I didn't stop myself, I'd never get round to actually writing the book! I love urban fantasy because those worlds are dark and mysterious, and often kind of sexy just because of that. I love putting magic into a contemporary setting, and causing friction with it. What do I dislike? Probably the tropes that have given it a reputation for being about nothing more than vampires and werewolves. There are so many authors out there doing new and unique things with the genre, and it really has so much more to give.
When it comes to world-building do you have any particular tricks or techniques?
One thing that, I actually learnt the hard way, was the importance of keeping a series bible. I keep a notebook with notes on every character and every aspect of that world. As I write, I keep updating the notebook, and it is always next to me. They have proved so vital, because it's surprisingly easy to get lost in your world and to forget the details. I found myself searching through my previous books for someone's wife's name, and I've kept series bibles ever since. They're the things I'd save from a fire!
What was the most difficult part of the publishing process for you?
Formatting can be a real drag, it's laborious and boring, but, honestly, the hardest part is all the marketing. Everything from writing the dreaded blurb (writing the actual book is so much easier!), and especially pinning down the genre. I write genre mash-ups, I can't help it; it's just what comes out of me! But you can't tell someone that your book is part urban fantasy, part cyberpunk, part dystopian! Marketing is definitely where the really hard work starts!
What does your writing space look like?
Years ago, I worked in an antique auction house, and I totally fell in love with all the twin pedestal leather-topped writing desks. It became a dream of mine to own one, and, fourteen years later, I finally got one! I bought it with severance money from my last job. It's reproduction, second-hand, and a bit battered, but it really is a dream come true, and I love it. It sits in the corner of my bedroom, and is crowded in with shelves and walls absolutely covered in things that inspire me. Artwork, postcards, toys, ornaments. Everything! It's my perfect place to write!
What are your tricks for juggling writing while maintaining a personal life?
Besides being an author, I'm also a full-time mum to two boys. They're aged 4 and 7, so it's an absolute handful, especially with the COVID-19 lockdowns closing their school and nursery! Honestly, the way I get through is by keeping very low expectations. It's very rare that I get anything more than ten minutes peace and quiet, so I have trained myself to write in ten minute snippets. I can't wait for the perfect writing conditions, because, at the moment, they never come. I write in noise, and chaos, and I just have to get on with it. Lots of patience and perseverence!
What's the best piece of advice you've received about writing?
I love the Stephen King quote: "Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open." The first draft is only ever for you, and no other person on the planet need ever see it. So, write freely, without your inner editor shouting at you, without paranoia or expectations. Just write for you. When you edit, that's when you think of your readers, and what they want to read. The rewrites are for them.
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
I'm a big fan of M.R. Carey, and recently finished Someone Like Me, a paranormal thriller. It was fantastic, and I've actually gone straight on to reading his latest book The Book of Koli. He's one of those authors that I'll read everything he writes. He's also an amazingly nice chap! I chaired an author panel at an event, and he was one of the panellists. Amazingly modest and humble. I highly recommend his books; any of them!