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Author Interview: T. L. Greylock

T. L. Greylock (Taya) lives in the Boston area, owns too many shoes, coaches ice hockey, and works full-time as an editor.

She is also the author of The Song of the Ash Tree trilogy and Shadows of Ivory, a 2021 SOFBO finalist, which unfortunately isn’t yet available through our supplier.

Interview

Use three to five words to describe yourself.

Generous, independent, determined, loyal, considerate

…alternatively, and cheekily: the one with the hair!

Can you give us a little background on your debut?

My current series is The Godforged Chronicles, and I’m overly proud of the fact that I have a catchy tagline for it (for once in my life): Indiana Jones meets Renaissance Italy. It’s a mash (mmm, mashed potatoes) of archaeology, adventure, revenge, rivals, tyrants, history, and politics featuring two women as the primary protagonists. The first book, Shadows of Ivory, is an SPFBO 7 finalist (woohoo!), and the second, Legacy of Bronze, will be out early next year.

Can you give us any insight into your planning and writing process?

I’m 100% a discovery writer. Mostly my books/ideas begin as tiny moments–a snippet of dialog, a character name. I love this, and I wouldn’t trade it, but building from such a tiny spark can be complicated. No outlines, no charts. I barely make notes. The only adjustment to this comes when I’m two books in, as I am now. I’ll begin drafting book three of Godforged soon (supposedly), and I actually have a one-page Word doc of notes waiting. Yes. One page. After two books totaling 360,000 words.

In terms of the actual writing process, I’m a big believer in writing every day when I’m drafting, though I have also learned how to function otherwise when necessary. I just know that the habit is very important for me, so I try to sustain it as best I can.

Silence or music or other when writing/editing?

Music. AirPods go in, writing playlist goes on. It’s all soundtrack and trailer music. Very limited vocals. I tend to tune it out once I’m in a typing rhythm, but it helps my mind focus early on.

Based on your experience, can you offer a piece of advice to budding authors?

Seek out other authors and use your cumulative knowledge. Also for moral support.

You can erase one book or series from your mind entirely so that you can read it again for a first time, which do you erase?

Easy. The Lions of Al-Rassan. It was my first Guy Gavriel Kay, and it took my breath away. Discovering his books finally helped me identify what I strive to achieve. I like to dream/hope that there’s a little bit of GGK in my writing.

Who are some of your favourite authors/books?

Beyond GGK, I really enjoy Josiah Bancroft, Erik Larson, Katherine Arden, and Madeline Miller. In terms of individual books, if I could subsist on the Iliad, I would.

Who are your favourite book characters?

I don’t generally tend to have favorites, but I’ll go ahead and choose Vasya & Morozko (Winternight), Byron (The Books of Babel), and Rodrigo Belmonte (The Lions of Al-Rassan).

Do you have any favourite magic systems?

I prefer low magic settings where magic maintains an element of mystery and unpredictability. I love mythology (see: my Norse series, The Song of the Ash Tree), so I’m into magic connected to deities, mythical creatures, legendary objects, and that sort of thing, rather than systems with known rules.

You can bring one world from a book or series to life and live there, which world do you choose

I think I’d have to pick the pseudo-European continent that most of GGK’s books are set in. There’s such a beautiful mix of cultures and civilizations. I’d love to go travel around his cities.

What book or series would you love to see on the big screen?

Give me a proper Iliad and Odyssey series, please. No movies thwarted by two-hour run times.

You can collaborate with one other author, who do you choose?

I’m pretty sure everyone will hate this answer, but… Homer. He probably wasn’t a single, real person, but I love what he represents: poetic, oral storytelling passed down through centuries.

Have any cultures/civilisations inspired your writing?

Nah.

Kidding.

My first series is deeply-infused with Norse mythology, and my current series is primarily set within an alliance of cities reminiscent of the Italian city-states. The larger world is inspired by the ancient Mediterranean–cities of immense power striving for dominance through both politics and violence.

What is your favourite mythical creature?

Griffins? I’d probably give a different answer if you asked me next week.

What is your favourite mythical race?

The Furies are pretty badass. Let’s say they qualify as a race.

You can have one superpower, what is it?

I think it’d be nice to be able to grant wishes for other people. We’re talking small ones, nothing world-breaking.

You have the ability to morph into any real—not mythical—creature. Which creature do you choose?

I’d say orca except I hate being underwater. And the thought of not having hands and thumbs is off-putting. So, you know, maybe not orca.

You can go back in time and live a different period of history, when do you choose?

Ancient Rome, end of the Republic. Sure, a dangerous place to be, but fascinating to witness. But I’d need to live for about 200 years so I can catch Scipio Africanus in action and meet Julias Caesar–not to mention the Gracchi brothers and Cicero.

You can meet any five people in the world, who would you choose?

Alive? Greta Thunberg and all the young activists who are going to save the world.

Dead? Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Erik the Red, Catherine the Great, Cleopatra

Would you rather…

  • ride a dragon or fly a spaceship?
  • have the ability to fly or be indestructible?
    • Fly.
  • be an elf or an orc?
    • Elf.
  • have the ability to travel to mythical worlds, from your favourite books, or the ability to travel faster than light and visit planets and solar systems in this world?
    • How about mythical places from our world?
  • face one orc or three goblins in battle?
    • one orc – battle of the champions, babyyy
  • be an expert swordsman or archer?
    • Archer
  • be able to wield elemental magic or raise and control the dead?
    • Elementa magic
  • live in a city under the ocean or one floating in the clouds?
    • floating in the clouds (see, DO NOT CARE FOR BEING UNDERWATER)
  • be able to see the past or see the future?
    • Past 

Thank you for taking the time Taya, we really appreciate it.