Today I’m joined by Teresa Edgerton, author of Goblin Moon (which I’ve read) and Hobgoblin Night (which I have not).
I really liked the world of Goblin Moon, it felt distinctive and intriguing, almost like an extra character. What was your inspiration? And, assuming the location changes, how similar/different is Hobgoblin Night?
Yes, I wanted it to feel like an extra character. I put a lot of effort into making it that way — although it was the kind of effort that was fun, too.
My inspirations were eighteenth century Europe, old movies, and the classic historical adventure novels I had loved reading when I was growing up. The location does change for Hobgoblin Night ... or rather I should say the locations change, because events are unfolding in different parts of that world.
Some of the characters have moved across the sea to a setting which is more reminscent of Colonial America — so not so very different. It did allow me to work with American folk magic, which I enjoyed doing. That’s the main setting, but other characters are visiting more exotic places, like the country of the Trolls in the far, frozen north, or moving south to a city that is slowly drowning in its own lagoons, like Venice. Meanwhile, there are characters busily at work constructing a powerful engine they hope will draw on the “magnetic” properties of the moon in order to raise a sunken island, where they expect to discover the secrets of ancient magicians.
The secrecy, conspiracy and subterfuge reminded me of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Was Baroness Orczy an inspiration?
Oh most definitely an influence, but one of many. Rafael Sabatini’s novels were probably a bigger influence: Scaramouche, Venetian Masque, Captain Blood. There were a couple of Georgette Heyer’s books, more adventurous than her usual fare: The Black Moth, The Masqueraders. Although I love many, many of her other books, too, and they may have had a more subtle influence. Then there was the Reverend Doctor Syn (the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh), hero of a series of novels by Russell Thorndike.
One of my characters — having read Goblin Moon you’ll know which one I mean —adopts a number of aliases as the story progresses, and most of those names reference the heroes of those books I’ve just mentioned. Rather like Easter eggs hidden in the story for readers who love classic swashbucklers. I won’t give away any of those here.
On a related note: do you read history as well, and how much research did you do for the setting (or was it based on your pre-existing knowledge)?
Yes, I read a lot of history but not so much about things like politics and battles, more about all the odd and unexpected things that set each era apart, and also the ways that magic was practiced historically. Just a lot of things that relate to writing and editing speculative fiction, not just these books. In fact, I was able to find a lot more sources on the 18th century, including some fabulous primary sources, when I was researching The Queen’s Necklace which is set in a different world but one that is similar in many ways to Goblin Moon and Hobgoblin Night. I think I searched every public library within a thirty mile radius, although now, of course, there are online bookstores, like Amazon and AbeBooks, which are great for finding the kind of out-of-print history books I would have killed for when I was writing Goblin Moon. I already knew a fair amount about the period, but what I was surprised to learn was just how much more interest there was in magic during the 17th and 18th centuries than most people imagine, certainly a lot more than I imagined, and it was all mixed up with natural sciences, philosophy, and medicine. 18th century medicine is a marvelously fertile field for digging up fantastic details about that period, and the most bizarre things in Goblin Moon are based on things that really happened.
I've read Goblin Moon, but not Hobgoblin Night. How much time passes between the two books?
It’s never said explicitly. Several months at least, maybe as much as a year.
Although not a horror, Goblin Moon does have something of a creepy undertone. Does Hobgoblin Night develop in a similar vein?
There are parts of the book where I would say that is true, but there are also places where the supernatural is treated in a more light-hearted way. There is one particular ghost, Uncle Izrael Barebones.
The three protagonists, as I recall, have overlapping plot strands but mostly plough their own furrows, each a distinct character facing very different problems. How difficult was it making these strands separate but complementary?
All the different storylines were developing organically at the same time, with each one influencing all the others as I wrote, so there no problems I can remember in that way. I always knew how they all fit together, although sometimes there were developments that surprised me very much when they suddenly turned up. There was one scene where my swashbuckling hero did something I did not expect at all, and I sat up and thought, “So that’s the kind of person he is; I had no idea.”
The two books form a duology, but do you think you'll return to the world and characters at some point?
In Hobgoblin Night there are three short stories – one originally written for a magazine and the others for anthologies — which I’ve included along with the novel in the TBP reprint. They were written at different times, and one is a folktale of that world, and another features a main character from the duology but at a time earlier in his life. I don’t think I am giving anything away by saying that, even though he’s not immediately identified and he’s using an alias, because it’s one that he’s used before. That one’s a story about highwaymen and smugglers. The third story is unrelated, except that the idea behind it — the Celestial Bed, which was a real invention — was brought to me by a friend who said, “I just read Goblin Moon. You’ll be interested in this.”
So I’ve already done it to some extent. For a while I did toy with the idea of a sequel taking place about twenty years later, involving the children of some of the main characters in a sort of steampunkish setting. And I started and abandoned a prequel telling how our hero ended up in the revenge business. Of the two, I’m more likely to go back to the prequel, because I did write a rough outline and a few chapters for that one. It begins very much like a horror story.
When you aren't writing/editing, what do you like to read? Outside of writing, how do you like to relax?
To answer those questions in reverse order: outside of writing, my favorite way of relaxing is reading. I used to be involved in a lot of different creative things — I was very crafty — but right now my life pretty much revolves around books.
For fiction: fantasy, science fiction, 19th novels (Dickens and Austen in particular), the occasional mystery novel. I’m reading a lot of romance novels on days when I am writing or editing, because I find them more relaxing. On days when I’m not writing or editing I catch up on my SFF reading.
For nonfiction: anything that catches my fancy at the time. Aside from research, my interests seem to flit from one thing to another.
What are you currently working on, and is there any ETA for release?
I’m still trying to finish The Rune of Unmaking series, but right now there is no ETA for release of the next book. I’ve realized that, with everything that still has to happen to bring all the story lines together, it’s going to be a four book series rather than a trilogy, and I’m about halfway through the third book. When I thought I was going to have to fit it all into just one more book there was a point where it was so overwhelming and daunting I found it hard to get up much enthusiasm about writing it. Once I realized that it didn’t have to be that way my enthusiasm revived amazingly. But I’ve a lot of obligations for my business as a freelance editor that will take me through the end of the year. With luck I can return to my own writing in January.