Hannah, hello and welcome to the blog and the Norsevember event! It’s great to have you here.
Your adult fantasy debut, Hall of Smoke is out in just a couple of months (19th Jan 2021). It’s been described as “Epic fantasy featuring warrior priestesses and fickle gods at war.” What sort of readers do you think your book will appeal to in particular? I’m going to take a guess at those who enjoy action!?
Yes, Hall of Smoke is definitely for readers who enjoy action! The story hits the ground running and doesn’t stop. It’s fast-paced and high-tension, great for those who love the magic and complexities of fantasy but aren’t big on dense, more long-winded reads.
Fans of series like Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Netflix’s Barbarians will love Hall of Smoke, as will readers of Tasha Suri, RJ Barker and Brian Staveley. It is an adult book, but upper YA fans of books Sky in the Deep will also appreciate it.
Tell us a little about your main character, Hessa. What type of character is she and how long did you have her floating around your head before she was committed to the page?
Hessa is a woman of deep convictions, convictions that fuel her courage and drive her forward even after her world shatters. She’s got muscles, lots of them, and a soft spot for little ones in need of protection. She’s also an Eangi – a warrior priestess of the Goddess of War – and with that comes the ability to unleash some nifty bone-shattering screams on her enemies.
I can’t say Hessa existed at all before I started writing! I’m very much a discovery writer, and I met her as I typed.
There’s a really high standard of cover art for a lot of the Norse inspired books I’m seeing recently, and Hall of Smoke is no exception. Infact, the cover is beautiful! Can you tell us any more about it and perhaps give us a little hint about that intriguing tagline, too; “To err is divine”?
I LOVE the cover. Julia Lloyd at Titan designed it. I think I speak for a lot of authors when I say that I was so worried about what the cover would be like, but Julia surpassed all my hopes and dreams!
The tagline hints at a key part of the Hall of Smoke world – all the gods, powerful and aloof as they are, are mortal and very, very fallible. I could say more, but *spoilers*.
Your website has two greyed out spaces for future books, with book two scheduled for a 2022 release. Is this going to be a trilogy and have you already written book two?
Yes, Hall of Smoke has a stand-alone sequel coming in early 2022! It is already written and will head into editing any time now, once I finish a few details. I do have more books sketched out in this world but there isn’t anything I can say about them, other than they are stand-alones and would contain certain familiar characters.
What is your mindset in the lead up to your release, are you quietly confident, nervous, excited?
I’m working hard to stay level as release approaches – be optimistic and excited while not letting myself get to far ahead. 2020 has been a wild year for us all, and my goal is to take everything one day at a time. It helps that I have a lot of other projects in the wings that need my attention right now, but it also means that release is really sneaking up on me!
Describe Hall of Smoke in 3 words!
“Are they human?”
Finally, I like the fact the gods in your book are described as very fallible. It’s something that I love about Norse mythology – the Gods are not these faultless beings, they suffer pride, lust, envy, rage. Is this a theme you look at in Hall of Smoke?
Absolutely! Tying into the tagline, the gods of the Hall of Smoke world are physical (or occasionally physical) beings who interact with their worshippers in the midst of their daily lives, and are just as driven, flawed and conflicted as any human. As you can imagine, this interaction occasionally leads to some rather interesting and problematic offspring, as well as myriad stories and legends that provide a backdrop to Hall of Smoke’s story.
Thanks very much for taking part in this interview, it’s been a real pleasure to have you!
Thanks so much, Alex! I really enjoyed chatting with you!
Hannah M Long is a Canadian writer who loves history, hiking, and exploring the world. She has fulfilled her dream of becoming a reclusive forest witch and inhabits a ramshackle cabin in the wilds of Muskoka, Ontario, where she writes books and tames squirrels. However, she can often be spotted snooping about European museums or wandering the Alps with her German husband.
You can read an excerpt of Hall of Smoke on Tor.com Here!