Interview with Caitlin Lynagh!

An interview with Hidden Variables author, CAITLIN LYNAGH. 

Caitlin Lynagh releases the second book in her Soul Prophecies series, Hidden Variables, this month The book is the prequel to Anomaly, exploring Sophia Leto’s story as she battles with intuitive gifts to solve a murder and put herself on course to make a scientific discovery to guide the future of mankind.

We were lucky enough to chat with Caitlin about her inspiration and work!

  1. For those who haven’t read the Soul Prophecies Series, what is Hidden Variables about?

Hidden Variables is the prequel to my book Anomaly. It follows the family and the younger years of a character from Anomaly named Sophia Leto. The Leto family have unique gifts, they can see visions of the future and the souls of the living and the dead. Sometimes they choose to alter the future if they see a terrible event, but the decision is not made lightly. The Letos understand that by altering one event it often alters other future events and it can have disastrous consequences. Sophia Leto finds herself in a predicament when she discovers that a murderer is still on the loose and she has a vision depicting the death of one of her classmates. Sophia has to decide how she is going to help her classmate and how she can put the real killer behind bars. However, what she doesn’t realise is that her family have seen a terrible future which involves Sophia, and they are keeping their own secrets.

  1. Hidden Variables crosses many genres, as much as it feels like a Young Adult fantasy there are elements of sci-fi, supernatural and mystery without the stereotypical tropes of other books in these genres. Was this deliberate?

No, I can’t say it was deliberate it’s just how the book and the series turned out. When I began writing Anomaly, it was a very different book from the one that was finally released.

  1. There are some interesting science ideas behind both books. How do you find inspiration? Is it a passion or are you exceptionally curious?

A bit of both. I’m not a scientist, but I do love science and studied for a science degree at University, although not physics. The rest was just a lot of reading, research and creative thinking.

  1. Would you consider yourself an intuitive person?

Not particularly, though I think I am pretty good at reading other people.

  1. The Soul Prophecies will have four books in the series. You hint that one character, Ahrl, is from a different planet and a different time. Will we explore his story too?

Yes, this will be my third book but it will technically be the first book if you were to read the series in chronological order. Its current working title is ‘Lost Frequencies’ and I just sent off the final draft last week, so it should be ready by the end of the year.

  1. Of all the characters you’ve created so far do you have a favourite? If so why?

I do, but I can’t really tell you much about him so far because I’m still writing that book. What I can say is that he will turn up in book four, the final book in The Soul Prophecies Series.

7. What’s the best thing about writing a book?

Letting my imagination run wild.

  1. Do you have a writing routine?

No, I wish I did though. Pulling all-nighters is hard work.

  1. You also run two popular blogs, The Book Igloo and Diary of a Young Writer, could you explain more about them?

I started The Book Igloo for fun. I was reading a lot of books because reading is one of the best ways to learn as a writer so I thought, why not review them too? Thus The Book Igloo was born. I also post up reviews on Amazon and Goodreads as I know how important these platforms are to authors. The Diary of a Young Writer blog is hosted by Outlet Publishing, a fantastic organisation who encourage young writers to pursue writing careers here in the UK. They kindly asked me to write blogs giving advice and information to anyone who may be interested in becoming a writer/author. We also have another blogger, Jen, who is a young poet and she gives advice and tips on what it is like to write poetry and be a poet.

  1. Would you be interested in collaborating with other authors? If so, who would be your ideal collaborator?

I would love to collaborate with another author. I don’t have anyone specific in mind, maybe Isaac Marion, if he would be willing. I would collaborate with anyone, though I would like to see their work first and talk to them about ideas so I could judge whether or not we are likely to be a good match.

  1. What do you do other than writing?

I work part-time at Westwood Books in Sedbergh, Cumbria. It’s a large second hand bookshop with over 70,000 books across two floors.

  1. What books do you like reading? Are you specific to one genre of do you read many?

My favourite genre is fantasy, but I do read books from all genres as I want to learn from as many authors as possible across all genres.

  1. If you could be teleported to any place or time where and when would you go?

My house in 2006, there’s a lot of stuff I need to tell my younger self.

  1. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Read and keep reading.

  1. What advice would you give to other aspiring young authors?

Read and don’t give up on your writing.

  1. What are your thoughts on the state of the world right now?

It’s pretty bad and it’s a miracle that we’re not all dead yet. There’s much that needs fixing, I don’t think many of the traditional ways work in the modern age – whether that be party-politics or education.

Thank you for your time, I wish you every success.

Hidden Variables is available now in paperback and Ebook from all good shops and online stores.

You can find Caitlin on Twitter: @CatlinLynagh, Facebook: /Caitlinlynaghauthor

And at caitlinlynagh.com.

 

Disclaimer: this review is not my own and was published with permission from Caitlin and the interview team.

 

 

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Hand of Silver, Hand of Gold by Christopher Grey

We begin with a graveyard at midnight. The stars are out and yew trees sway ominously in the autumn breeze. Hand of Silver, Hand of Gold has been billed as a historical fantasy thriller, and I am curious to see how award-winning author Christopher Grey will navigate a genre so pitted with clichés, especially with an opening that situates it so firmly in this genre.

hand of silver cover picWe soon learn that our first-person narrator is in fact drunk, and my concerns about a tired genre melt away. It is clear that Grey can, and will, do something new with his inherited material, and he does this through brilliant characterisation, a flair for description and artful handling of some complex themes. I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and that it was an exciting ride from start to finish!

Our protagonist Orlando Novi is immediately gripping. I love his short and pointed questions to the reader, his conversational, sarcastic tone. His dry comments drive the plot forward, adding light touches of occasional banter to offset some of the darkness: it soon becomes clear that black humour is his forte.

One thing that did strike me was how his dialogue had the tendency to verge on being slightly over-dramatic and forced – is this a hint of Hamlet, “no spirit, no spectre, no father?”, or a glimpse of a stereotypically patriarchal ‘Renaissance’ society, “Lord, do not let me weep, it is unmanly”? But even as it teeters, Grey on the most part manages to pull it back. The prose is engaging, the characters gripping, and one can see how the slight theatrical tendency of Orlando’s narration perhaps feeds into an element of his character, rather than being over enthusiasm on the part of the author.

This aside, it cannot be denied that Grey presents us with an image of a bustling world, of guilds and domestic arguments and poverty juxtaposed with aristocrats, dark magic and lots of trips to the tavern. The background is that of a society on the brink of turning from Latin to the vernacular, and the image of Orlando caught up in this change as he struggles to read books by candlelight, perfectly places the novel in the historical moment it is trying to capture.

As well as the fast-paced prose and the impressive characterisation, I would say that Grey’s choice of setting is one of the highlights of the novel. Through depictions of frescoes, dusty churches and ornamental carvings of angels, Grey makes full use of his Italian Renaissance backdrop by drawing on its richness in his descriptions. At the same time, the novel has pockets of darkness which mirror that of its setting in 1493, where new learning flourishes alongside superstition and violence is never far from the surface. This is seen in the magic, very much real, which jostles with Christianity, itself put under strain by a strand of discussion that deals with sadistic priests, corruption and some quite unsettling scenes.

The Renaissance was a time of new knowledge, rebirth and discovery. I would say that Grey successfully applies this to his novel. Working in a genre that has lots of clichés, Grey manages to keep things fresh with witty dialogue, a web of secrets that is truly mesmerising, a taut plot and a focus on family relationships (their issues and solutions) that resonates throughout the book. Grey’s world building is a wonder to behold.

Hidden Variables by Caitlin Lyangh

Hidden Variables is the second book in the Soul Prophecy series, and is the prequel to Anomaly, which I read and reviewed a few years ago. I loved Anomaly, and am happy to say that I also loved Hidden Variables. It had all of the same charm, warmth and sheer humanity as the novel it predates. At the same time, it is clear that this is a more mature work, one with some slightly darker undertones. I like how this novel is, among many other things, a murder mystery, recuperating some of the adventure elements of Anomaly.

hidden variables coverThe first chapter opens with an image of the world on fire. Just a vision – presented to a boy in a mysterious place – but this opening scene prefigures some of the beautiful dichotomies that give shape to the book. There is the contrast between violence and calm, the juxtaposition of teenage bullying and a world of souls and energy, characterised by swirling light and colour, and the tension between Positive and Negative. That this book can flicker between the semi-serious world of netball on the playground to visions of deceased souls in a single scene, is testament to Lynagh’s masterful handling of some complex material. Everything is held in perfect balance.

One of the things that struck a chord with me in this book is the way Lynagh analyses emotions. The book presents an intuitive and thoughtful exploration of emotions: they are variously seen as layers, with an emptiness spanning beneath them, as a whiplash of pain and, in a way similar to synaesthesia, as colours. This multi-faceted portrayal of emotion is helped by the use of multiple narrators, each presented by a quietly detached third-person narrator, who through focalisation bestows each character with a unique perspective.

There are some mature themes in this novel, from murder to suicide, which Lynagh handles with gravity and sensitivity. At the same time, the book thrills with warmth – the sudden bursts of energy as the young Sophia bursts into the kitchen late for school, or is enveloped by her Grandma and handed a cup of coffee, or slowly grows attached to a couple she has only met in her dreams. This is a very human book, and it made me feel warm inside.

Hidden Variables has a linear narrative that is disrupted by visions, dreams and memories, aided by a language of fragmentation. Like the pathways Arhl watches, and the potential futures that branch off in different directions, this book strains with a gently supernatural energy – and it is a joy to watch it unfurl.