Last week, I reviewed the wonderful novel The Warlock and the Wolf by Delfy Hall. If you haven’t read the review yet, you can do so HERE. Because of all the positive attention the post has been getting on social media, I thought it would be really cool if Delfy would agree to do an international giveaway for her book. So all of you would have a chance to discover this awesome story. Well, as you have seen in the title of this post, Delfy agreed to it (*does happy dance #5 or so because of it*) and so, as of today, I’m hosting a giveaway for an autographed copy of The Warlock and the Wolf, which you can win no matter where you live!
In the spirit of Indie Month, I’ve also done an interview with Delfy. You can read all of her wonderful answers to my questions below!
~About the author~
Delfy Hall received her master’s degree in writing
from UT Austin, where she was awarded the Michener
Scholarship. She lives in her home state of Kentucky
with several geriatric dogs, who help her write
fantasy fiction. You can find more about her on her
website @ http://www.delfyhall.com
The Warlock and the Wolf is your first published book. How long did it take you to write it?
It took me about a year. I’ve been writing fiction for several years, and this was the first novel of mine that I thought was worth publishing.
How did you become interested in writing about historical fiction involving the Netherlands? Has Dutch history always been a topic of interest to you?
I’ve always loved history, especially biography, but I didn’t know anything about Dutch history. I wanted to write a fantasy set in a real time and place because I loved the idea of historical figures as characters in a story with magic. I don’t think it’s been done very often.
When I started researching witch hunts, I learned that the Netherlands was the first country to stop persecuting witches, and to start punishing people for making accusations of witchcraft. That got my attention because I liked the contradiction of witches doing magic in a society that didn’t believe in them. The Netherlands was also at the forefront of natural science discoveries at that time (which is important for Mina, the protagonist), as well as in the middle of a cultural and economic boom, called the Dutch Golden Age—an extraordinary time for the arts, sciences, and trade, and a rich setting for a novel.
My dad, a mathematician, was pretty excited when I told him about this project, because he loves history too, and he used to teach about Christiaan Huygens (one of the book’s characters) in his History of Math course. He and I are both information junkies, consuming it like the Cookie Monster eats cookies.
But because this was my first historical novel, I felt a little daunted by the prospect of getting the historical details right. Luckily I got help from an expert who works at the Municipal Archives of The Hague. He made a lot of corrections and suggestions, which I’m really grateful for. There were also a lot of good print and visual sources to learn from and be inspired by, including Joan Blaeu’s map of The Hague in 1650 (www.pinterest.com/pin/303500462367685733/), which I used while writing the book. The city has preserved so many of its old buildings that modern-day photographs of them still convey the character of the seventeenth century. Plus there are tons of painted portraits of the book’s real people, many of which are on my Pinterest board.
Incidentally, I’m looking for an expert on Dutch Brazil, where my next book is set. If your readers know of anyone, I would love to hear from them on my website.
Have you ever been to the Netherlands yourself? If not, are you planning to do so in the near future?
I have been there a couple of times, once as a child and again in my twenties, to Amsterdam and Utrecht. I have fond memories of going out for drinks with friends in Utrecht and riding a public bike to and from the bar. I would love to visit The Hague and see all the locations that appear in the book, as well as the many art museums. I’m a little afraid I wouldn’t want to come home!
I loved how you substituted some English words for their Dutch translation. Do you happen to speak the language as well?
I don’t speak Dutch, unfortunately. But I love foreign languages (I speak a little Spanish, French, Greek, and Italian), and I thought the Dutch words added to the flavor of the story. I tried to use them wherever it would be easiest for the reader to understand their meaning.
I can only imagine the amount of research you did for this book. We already discussed Dutch history, but there is also a decent amount of naturalism and zoology involved in the story. Did you have to do a lot of research for this or were you already well acquainted with these topics yourself?
I have an amateur’s interest in those topics, so I knew a little more about them than the average person, but this book was the excuse I needed to go down the rabbit hole, so to speak. Fortunately, in addition to the internet, I have two veterinarian friends, and one of them gave me information about Chediak-Higashi syndrome, which afflicts both foxes and people, though of course, it wasn’t called that (or even discovered yet) in 1647. I spent many hours on Wikipedia, learning about plants and animals (which is why I’m now a monthly donor), as well as NASA’s fact sheets about eclipses because I wanted the story’s eclipse to have actually happened at that exact time. I also read about the era’s naturalists, their books of herbology and zoology, and the artists who illustrated them, such as Joris Hoefnagel. I find the history of science as interesting as the science itself—probably more so, because it’s really the story of curious people, and people are endlessly enthralling.
You seem to have a strong connection with nature. Does this influence your optimal writing conditions? For example, do you thrive best when writing outside (depending on the weather of course)? Or do you lock yourself up in a writing cave like so many other authors seem to do?
Animals have fascinated me since I was a tiny person. As a toddler, I wanted a cow for Christmas—for a pet, not for milk. I could identify almost any animal and would correct adults when they got it wrong—surely an endearing quality for a child. 🙂 Animals have a magical quality about them, maybe because we can’t know what they’re thinking (except for primates who sign), or because they’re so different from us physically yet share the same basic needs. In any case, because I have several dogs, my house is always filled with magic (and a lot of pet hair). I usually write in my living room, which has a few jade plants and gets lots of natural light. Being outside while writing is a little too distracting—I end up watching the cardinals or squirrels or staring at the clouds.
Tell us more about your dogs and how they inspire you to write? For instance, did you base Basa’s character on any of their personalities?
I live with four adopted shelter dogs who are getting on in years—a black Lab, a husky mix, and two beagle mixes. I used to foster homeless animals, and two of my dogs are former foster dogs who I ended up keeping. I tell people that I run a canine nursing home, although they are all in great health. It’s more like a canine senior living facility that has lots of parties and jazzercise classes.
I usually write while surrounded by my dogs, and they have a calming effect on me. They keep me from being lonely while I write, but they don’t intrude on my mental space like a person would—except during the daily arrival of the postal carrier, who they find highly offensive and must warn me about.
They did inspire me for this book, simply because I wanted to give a voice to animals and see what that would sound like. For me, animals are persons, in the philosophical and ethical sense of that word. They are individuals who exist for their own reasons, as the writer Alice Walker famously said. People are sometimes amused to hear me say “please” and “thank you” to my dogs, perhaps wondering if I think my dogs can understand the words. Of course, I know they can’t. But it’s a way of acknowledging them—that they exist for their own reasons, that we are in relationship to each other, and that they are not objects. Plus I was raised to be very polite, and it’s a hard habit to break.
I did somewhat base Basa on my black lab, named Bubba, who is protective of me but also very tender. He is my soul dog. He must have had a hard life before coming to the shelter–an x-ray showed that he has a lot of birdshot lodged throughout his body. He and I have a special connection, much like Mina and Basa. I’m certain that he has seen the worst side of human nature, but still he chooses to be gentle with people. These lines from Barbara Ras’s poem You Can’t Have It All epitomize Bubba for me: “…the soulful look of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite every sorrow until it fled…”
Of course, Basa is more independent than Bubba, because he is a wild creature. But they share the fierce devotion and generous nature that are valuable in any friend, human or animal.
This last question is a question for you readers as well. You can write your answer in the comment section below and by doing so, gain 4 entries in winning a copy of Delfy’s book (use Rafflecopter to verify the entry option).
Imagine living in the Dutch Republic in 1647 yourself. Would you rather be a witch or a scientist?
Probably a scientist, because there was so much to discover back then. You could explore many different fields, as Christiaan Huygens did, instead of specializing in a subfield of a subfield (e.g., the winter mating habits of the left-handed blue-spotted groblet), which is what modern-day scientists have to do.
“Mina stands up for animals.
But can she stand up to her parents’ killer?
Descended from freed slaves, orphan Mina trains as a scientist in The Hague. She studies the animals in the nearby woods and saves them from harm whenever she can—much to her mentor’s dismay.
And, of course, as a good scientist, she doesn’t believe in magic.
But when her parents’ killer, rumored to be a warlock, escapes from prison and kills again, she must question everything she knows in order to solve a mystery and save her world from destruction.
Book 1 of The Naturalist takes the reader on a magical adventure into the Dutch Golden Age.”
For a chance at winning this book, follow the instructions by clicking on the Rafflecopter link below. The giveaway ends on the 18th of March at midnight, Amsterdam time (CET).
A massive thank you to Delfy for making this all possible!