Q: Once the All Souls Trilogy ended with THE BOOK OF LIFE, did you immediately have the idea to do a spinoff? How did that idea come about?
A: I knew I had many more stories to tell about the characters, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to tackle them. Marcus’s story was far more complicated than I imagined it to be, as it turned out. I had originally set out to write about Matthew’s time in Tudor England before 1590, but that also turned out to be more complicated than I imagined. So I worked on both of them at more or less the same time. TIME’S CONVERT just reached the finish line first.
Q: TIME’S CONVERT centers on Marcus and Phoebe, and Marcus’s life before he became a vampire. Did you think about Marcus’s origin story when you were writing the trilogy, or did everything come to you when you started writing this book?
A: I thought about Marcus’s origins all the time. It was impossible to think about Matthew as a character without delving into what kind of father he was, and considering what kind of son Marcus was. Even though in the trilogy Marcus and Phoebe tend to be characterized as “minor characters,” in my opinion there is no such thing. Every character I write has the same amount of backstory, the same amount of detailed thinking required, the same application of imagination to their individual problems as Matthew and Diana do.
Q: As a scholar and professor of history, your life has been about research. What kind of research did you do for TIME’S CONVERT? Was it different than the research you did for the trilogy?
A. The research for Time’s Convert was different in the sense that I couldn’t draw as much on research I’d already conducted for teaching and my scholarly books. I usually end my courses around 1750. Marcus wasn’t born until 1757. So I while I definitely knew something about the period I write about (roughly 1750 to 1810), I had a great deal to learn. Once I realized how much work I needed to do, I tackled it like any other scholarly research project: I read historical monographs written by experts; looked at lots of images and material objects; and steeped myself in the primary sources of the period. The title of the book, for example, comes from a line in Thomas Paine’s Common Sense—Marcus’s favorite book.
Q: What was the most fun part of writing TIME’S CONVERT? The most surprising?
A: The most fun part was being a student again and learning a lot more about eighteenth-century history than I did previously. The most surprising thing for me is how complicated the eighteenth century is. It’s very difficult to get an overall grasp of a particular moment because there are so many distinct voices that offer up different perspectives.
Q: Your first book, A Discovery of Witches, has been adapted into a TV series airing in the UK this fall. What has it been like seeing your book come to life on screen?
A: It’s been fascinating. The process of making television is very like the process of writing a book. You have to imagine all sorts of possibilities, go through multiple versions of the final version before you discover the one that works, and survive months of editing and revising. In the end you just have to cross your fingers and hope that you got more of it right than wrong.
Q: Are you able to tell us what you’re working on next?
A: Right now I’m working on recharging my creative batteries. This involves reading widely, listening to lots of music, and doing very normal, everyday activities like walking the dog, spending time with horses, cooking, and decluttering my house of the piles of stuff that grow to mammoth proportions when I am busy writing. I have a lot more ideas for stories from the All Souls universe, but I also have a number of other projects that I’d like to tackle, too. As always, whichever characters shout loudest get the bulk of my attention. I’ll be as eager as you are to see what develops next.
Get your copy here: