UFR: I love to start every interview with, if you had to pick a theme song for Ancient Canada, what would it be?
CF: The Bare Necessities.
UFR: As a review site, everyone here are all readers, so if Lavender was in a book club what book would she be reading? Would Marigold be reading the same book?
CF: Lavender actually teases Marigold about her reading habits in chapter six. Here’s Marigold’s response:
“I happen to enjoy romance in literature,” admitted Marigold. “Particularly young,
So anything and everything in that category. As for Lavender, it would be something pretty different. She’d read a Donald Spoto book called Reluctant Saint: the Life of Francis of Assisi. She’d think, ‘Hey, this guy reminds me a lot of the Lichen.’
UFR: Do any of your characters in this book share personality traits with you, if so who and how?
CF: I knew I would have to understand my main characters really well, so I took the hemispheres of my brain and split them in half – figuratively – when developing Lavender and Marigold. Lavender is left-brain dominant, so she’s more technical and scientific. Marigold is right-brained, so she’s more creative and expressive. Some of my animal science background comes out in Lavender and some of my Lunatic background comes out in Marigold. I was on the campus humor magazine in college, the Cornell Lunatic.
UFR: Your book is really interesting because it presents an alternative view/history. How and why did you choose Canada to be the background of this tale?
CF: Thank you! I gotta be careful I don’t give away too much here… The short answer is I needed the geography of the Arctic. Ancient Canada takes place in an alternate Canada in an alternate Arctic Circle. It also takes place in a vague time period. What you read in Ancient Canada is the book Marigold puts together for the people within her world. So it can’t come out and explain certain things directly to us (things that would answer your question better), but there are definitely hints along the way. For example, the Seed Bank on Svalbard. It’s real in our world; you can check it out online. Within the book, the King of Svalbard talks about it and reveals more to the reader. Sorry if that answer is confusing. It’ll make more sense after reading what King Ulffr has to say, and even more will be revealed early on in the second book.
UFR: What was the hardest scene for you to write and why?
CF: The whole first chapter. You have to do so much: grab the reader’s attention, lay the foundation for the rest of the book, and make the reader want to read the rest of your story. This is a difficult situation when writing an epic. They usually start off slowly, not with huge explosions or car chases. The first chapter of Ancient Canada is Heather’s journey to her husband’s fort just before she gives birth to Lavender. So my solution was to make the first chapter its own quick, mini-epic, which lays the outline for the larger one. Just to make things more interesting, my wife gave birth to both of our children during the writing of Ancient Canada. I re-wrote Heather’s chapter each time.
UFR: It's pretty clear from your book that history is one of your interests, if you could pick any time in history you would like to visit for same a week long time traveling vacation, where/when would you go and why?
CF: Last Tuesday so I could pay my credit card bill on time.
UFR: Do you have any advice for the many aspiring writers out there?
CF: I once heard a coworker say, “Find something nobody else can do or something nobody else will do.” I think that’s true of writing. And when I worked on a dairy farm one summer, too. I couldn’t make milk like some of my coworkers, so I was stuck shoveling up their manure. But we both had job security. Thankfully my boss never turned any of us into hamburgers.
UFR: I love to read, and so do my readers. When you have time to curl up with a book, who are some of the authors you like to read?
CF: Tolstoy and Brett Sills. Both good friends of mine.
UFR: Do you have any more books in the works?
CF: I’ve got pages and pages of notes for a sequel to Ancient Canada. Writing is the best part of the writing process, but writing only makes up about a third of writing. The rest is editing and marketing. Right now I’m focused on marketing, but occasionally I add a fable to ancientcanada.com. They’re about a page each and posted free on the site. I figure every good ancient world should have its fables.
UFR: Finally, is there anything you would like potential readers to know about Ancient Canada?
CF: Yes, just remember you can email Marigold any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. Okay, so we all know it’s really me replying in character. But I’ve always wanted to read a book where you can actually speak with one of the main characters. And it’s no sillier than posing with a six-foot mouse or duck at America’s favorite theme part. You can ask Marigold anything you want, like, ‘Why is there no snow in Ancient Canada?’
Thanks again to Clinton Festa for joining us, we love having authors here on the site. Stay tuned later today for the review of his book Ancient Canada.