Songs of Seraphina
Jude Houghton
Publication date: June 30th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Some battles bleed so much, and for so long, that the earth never truly forgets their dead. Some battles are born of oppression, and some of greed, and some simply because it was written in the stars.
Three sisters—Charlemagne, Cairo and Pendragon Agonistes—are sent from America to England to live with their eccentric grandparents after their mother disappears and their father falls to pieces. But before the girls have time to find their feet, Charlemagne is married off to a dead man, Penny takes a nap and wakes up as a boy, and Cairo is swept into a dangerous romance with a man who wants her for more than her considerable charm. With the girls wrapped up in a conflict they barely understand, they don’t notice that their grandmother is transforming, or that the two demigod assassins who took their mother are now coming for them—if one of them can get over his crisis of conscience.
In this richly painted tale, at whose heart is the unbreakable bond of family and blood, the world of Seraphina collides with our own as three unique girls are dragged into twilight lives past, fighting for vengeance, retribution, and the survival of their exiled people.

Author Bio:
Jude developed a love of fantasy from a relatively early age after realising an innate talent for making stuff up could result in something other than detention. Working across the globe in fields as diverse as journalism, data entry, sales, management consultancy and babysitting, Jude has partially succeeded in putting an English and History degree from Oxford University to good use. A somnambulist, insomniac, lover of letters, Jude writes late into the night, most nights, tumbling down the rabbit hole to dream of other lives. Jude currently lives in Pennsylvania with an over-enthusiastic family and absurdly entitled dog.

For anyone who has not read Songs of Seraphina, can you describe it in one sentence?
Three sisters lose their mother and are sent to live with their eccentric grandparents, only to discover that they are refugees from another world.

I have to ask the most cliché question of them all, but how did you come up with the idea for Songs of Seraphina?
I had a vague idea that I wanted to write a story about three sisters and their relationship to one another and to the world around them. However, the actual  spark which began the book came from an unlikely source of inspiration. I remember it was a freezing November. My family were away. I was at home, drinking a glass of wine, sitting by the fire and reading a description of a Viking burial that was an eyewitness account, written in 922 by Ibn Fadlan. For some reason I found it very moving. The words, that someone had put down over a thousand years ago, describe what was essentially a local custom where a young girl is selected to be burned alive on a flaming boat with her Lord. “When one of their chiefs dies, his family asks his girls and pages, ‘Which one of you will dies with him?’ Then one of them answers, “I”. From that time that she utters the word, she is no longer free.” I stared into the flames, and began to wonder what if that ritual were to happen today? What would possibly be the circumstances, and how would it relate to these three sisters. Then I began to write.

What was your favorite part of writing Songs of Seraphina?
That is a difficult question, because I enjoyed writing all of it. I loved the interactions between Hamquist and Crakes, the two demigod assassins, and how their characters changed during the course of the novel. I also really liked the way the last chapter flowed. It was probably the quickest and easiest to write. However, if I had to choose a favorite part, it is probably the wake near the beginning where the three sisters first begin realize that not everything is at it seems. I also just like the way they talk to each other and react, trying to figure things out socially and between themselves.

Is the finished version of Songs of Seraphina how you always imagined the book?
Yes and no. Yes, because I set out to write a fantasy novel that is focused on the relationship of three sisters, and it is that. No, because many the characters took the novel in unexpected directions.

Do you have a favorite of your own characters?
I felt very close to all of the main characters, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be a two-way tie between Charlemagne, the eldest daughter, and Crakes, the demigod assassin. In the case of the former, I just like her integrity, and the way she accepts responsibility and tries to do the right thing. In the case of Crakes, I just love the way he tries to figure out his place in the world, even though his role in it, is supposed to be pre-determined. He’s certainly not your typical anti-hero.

Does any of your personality ever go into any of your characters?
Yes, I’m sure it must do, but more than that, I think it is the personality of others that goes into the characters of the story. I think a writer’s work is the sum of who they have met, and what they have read and experienced and thought about, and the characters reflect that.

Do you outline your novels before you write them, or do you simply see what comes to mind?
I am incapable of outlining. When I do an outline, I lose all interest in the story and the outline becomes a series of clichéd events: “and then this happened, and this happened, and then this happened” and it’s one big yawn after the next. So at least for me, I have to start with a premise and a person, and not an outline, otherwise it never gets off the ground.

Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what bands or genres?
Yes, sometimes. I usually listen to music when I’m finding it difficult to concentrate. The music gives me something to change my mood and concentrate past, if that makes sense. I listen to a lot of genres, from classical to pop to rock to very experimental music.
For this particular novel, my playlist included two soundtracks to computer games, which is not something I have listened to before. They just seemed to capture the atmosphere of the book.

1. The soundtrack to: Guild Wars
2. The soundtrack to: Diablo II
3. Vic Chestnutt: West of Rome
4. Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights
5. Debussy: La Mer & Nocturnes
6. Clinic: Internal Wrangler
7. Ariana Delawari: Lion of Panjshir

What is your favorite part of being an author?
That moment when the novel writes itself, when the characters speak for themselves, and you can sit back, and watch the action unfold.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Read across genres, and as widely as you can. Write about only what interests you, it is impossible to keep the passion and intensity otherwise. Try to create something original, not something that has already been done. And write for yourself, not for anyone else. And don’t worry about beginning sentences with “And” – it’s okay.



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