Friday, 12 April 2013

Exclusive Interview with Miriam Forster, author of City of a Thousand Dolls

Me : Describe City of a Thousand Dolls in three lines.

Miriam : Murder and mayhem
Beauty and danger
Talking cats and kissing

Me : What inspired you in writing City of a Thousand Dolls?

Miriam : The initial inspiration was a combination of different things. One was line in another book about being "groomed" for someone. Another was a book about gehisa that I was reading at the time. And then my boyfriend--now my husband--went to India for a few weeks. I ended up wanting to write about a place where girls were groomed and trained for different tasks and set it in a South Asian-type of world.

Me : What is your favourite scene from City of a Thousand Dolls?

Miriam : So hard to choose! Without spoiling anything, I think it's after Nisha returns to the City and talks to Devon. There's a part at the end of that scene that makes me cheer every time. *grin*

Me : I’m very tempted to ask about your research on Indian Culture while you were writing City of a Thousand Dolls. You can imagine why.

Miriam : The research was kind of an ongoing thing with the writing. I wrote most of the first draft of the book in the cafe of our local Barnes and Noble bookstore. So when I'd get stuck, I'd go to the travel section or the history section and grab a few books to look things up in. I was still researching details right up through the editing process. For example, originally, the toy that Nisha brings with her to the City is a carved spotted cat. But originally it was a stuffed animal. I realized at the very last minute that stuffed animals would probably not have been invented yet and changed it. We were in first pass pages by then, the ones that come formatted like the book. The only thing you're supposed to do with them is check for typos and misspellings. But they let me tweak it anyway.

I ended up basing a lot of the Empire on the early Indus River Valley civilizations. Basically my question was, what if you took these people and isolated them for five hundred years? What would happen? The Empire was my answer to that.

Me : Tell us about your journey to the way of being published.

Miriam : City of a Thousand Dolls is the second book I ever wrote. It took me a year and a half to write and edit. Then I queried it off and on for two years, in between writing several other books. At one point I tore it apart and rewrote it. But I was still getting no as an answer. So I sent it to one more agent, just to keep my spirits up. Imagine my surprise when she loved it. And then she found an editor who loved it too. I was about to move on and work on other books, but I'm really glad this was the one that made it.

Me : If City of Thousand Dolls was a movie, who would you like to see play the characters? Any particular actors and actresses in mind?

Miriam : I've been thinking about this, and I don't know! If anyone has any suggestions, I'd LOVE them

Me : How different is City of Thousand Dolls than its first draft?

Miriam : The original draft was 30,000 words shorter, had twelve Houses instead of six, and had five extra characters and an extra murder. It was really fast paced and messy. Akash wasn't in it at all, and neither was the masquerade Originally, Nisha only enters the story at the third murder (the extra one that I cut) and is told about the others. When I rewrote the story completely, that was one of the things I changed. Other than that, most of the major changes were things my editor and I came up with to streamline and strengthen the story.

Me : When the sequel is coming out?

Miriam : It's actually a companion novel! And we're shooting for Fall of 2014. This one is taking me longer to edit because it's a much more complicated book. But there will be LOTS of Sune goodness and lots of Black Lotus and you'll get to see the capitol city. There will also be a few crossover characters for the first book.

Me : Books you are looking forward to read at this moment?

Miriam : I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of Clockwork Princess when Cassandra Claire came through my town. I'm excited to read it, but I want to read the other two again first. :)

Me : Thank you Miriam for your time and consideration for this interview. And best wishes for the success of CoTD.

Miriam : Thank you for having me!

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