Sunday, September 1, 2013


Gillian O'Rourke, author of The Reluctant Prophet, talks about her background and inspirations.
Book Description:
There’s none so blind as she who can see . . .

Esther is blessed, and cursed, with a rare gift: the ability to see the fates of those around her. But when she escapes her peasant upbringing to become a priestess of the Order, she begins to realise how valuable her ability is among the power-hungry nobility, and what they are willing to do to possess it.

Haunted by the dark man of her father's warnings, and unable to see her own destiny, Esther is betrayed by those sworn to protect her. With eyes newly open to the harsh realities of her world, she embarks on a path that diverges from the plan the Gods have laid out. Now she must choose between sacrificing her own heart’s blood, and risking a future that will turn the lands against each other in bloody war.

The Reluctant Prophet is the story of one woman who holds the fate of the world in her hands, when all she wishes for is a glimpse of her own happiness.

Hi Gillian! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
Thanks for having me here today! My background as a writer isn’t a very long one, but I have been writing solidly since my teens. I used to write really bad horror and mystery and then I fell in love with fantasy, so most of my experience would be through that genre. I spent a couple of years on and off visiting writing communities trying to hone my skills, but mostly, writing is something I have done on my own and in my spare time. I’ve always dreamed of being a writer and I can’t imagine myself not doing it.
What was the first idea you had for "The Reluctant Prophet", and how did the story grow from there?

For me, I’m a writer who plots and imagines in my head for a long time, sometimes months before I write anything. I almost never have a title until I’m nearly finished, but with The Reluctant Prophet it all started with it. It popped into my head one day, about five years ago and the characters and story came to life from then on. I did not finish it for a long time because at the time, I never let anyone see my writing, but as my confidence grew and I starting sending out manuscripts, it ended up in the hands of Sammy HK Smith at Kristell Ink. And without the help and wisdom of editor, Zoe Harris those threads that were hanging loosely wouldn’t have tied up as nicely as they have.
Why did you choose to write fantasy? What is it about the genre that appeals to you?
I’ve always loved making things up, but there’s something about fantasy. The abilities and worlds you can create around your characters is only caged by the limitations of imagination. In a made up world, we can imagine we are the characters with those amazing abilities. It’s a great world to live in!

Are any of the characters in "The Reluctant Prophet" based on yourself or people you know?

The Reluctant Prophet is written in first person so I know my character intimately at this stage (almost like they are a real person). I think I have drawn traits from people I know, in an unconscious sense, but the characters aren’t specifically based on anyone. For my main character Esther, I have drawn a lot from how I imagine I might react or hope I act in certain situations.
Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing "The Reluctant Prophet"? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?
I’m not someone who sits down and writes a firm plot and even if I write a short plan, it deviates all the time. Characters do take on a life of their own, and characters I thought would have a minor role, have then become integral in some way to the story. It can be frustrating at times, especially when you go over the story and realise you need to give a certain plot or character more page time!
Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?
Apart from Esther, I do love one of the main male characters, Hadrian. He was one I thought would have a minor role, but his story and character came to life in a big way and I’m really delighted with him. He’s a determined and steadfast character, so it was inevitable he took on a larger role.
What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?
It’s hard, because there’s a couple I really like, but for different reasons. There is one scene where Esther is sitting in the temple, contemplating her life and beliefs, when Hadrian speaks to her about faith. It’s one of the gentler scenes, but I like it because of the deeper meaning it has for the both of them.
What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue? What do you find the most challenging?
The two things I like best are the imagining and then the descriptions. I can go a bit overboard sometimes, but I’ve learned to reign it in a little. When we were editing the book, Zoe encouraged me at one scene to let loose. I was like a child in a sweet shop. The hardest part was tidying up the beginning and ending – I don’t know if it was the stress of wanting to start well and end well, but it was challenging. Of course, thanks to Zoe I think the challenge paid off!
Much is written online about how to find a publisher, but not much is said once a person gets the coveted contract. Could you give us a glimpse behind the curtain? What’s it been like working with an independent publisher?
I was really, very lucky. Over the course of 2012 I had decided to send a different manuscript out to agents and publishers – it was a paranormal mystery – but I wasn’t getting anywhere with it. Then I sent it to Robert Peett at Holland House Books, and although he didn’t think it was right for the imprint, he liked my style of writing and asked what else I wrote. I said fantasy and he knew Sammy HK Smith at Kristell Ink. I sent her The Reluctant Prophet and the rest is history. So I feel very blessed and lucky that she liked my story so much. And it’s been brilliant working with both Sammy and Zoe, they are passionate about what they do and so encouraging and easy to work with. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.
In your opinion, what’s the difference between fantasy and paranormal? What do you think of the current trends in the genres?
I think of fantasy as being set in a made up/alternate/historical world or earth. It doesn’t necessarily need to have magic, but it usually has something mystical about it. Paranormal, I think more in terms of ghouls and vampires/werewolves, set in something more modern. I don’t think them the rules per se, but they are the parameters I follow for myself. And current trends . . . I think it’s like any trend and it’s cyclical. Vampire and zombie books have been here a long time, and it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere for a while. And post-apocalyptic books seem really popular at the moment – I’ve read some great ones, but like anything, there are some doozy’s out there too.
I guess it depends on what you like to read. I just go with what I think sounds like a good read, because sometimes what’s fashionable, doesn’t necessarily mean a great book.

The Reluctant Prophet is available at Smashwords and Amazon


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