Can you tell us a little bit about your book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?
My latest book, The Subtle Fiend, is the second volume of The Green Woman series and had its official launch on February 1st. The series was written with my teenage children in mind and counts as YA, though I have to say that I don’t write for children; my target readership is older teenagers with an adult outlook on life. It is set in a grim dystopia of religious fascism and explores the nature of evil, moral responsibility, love, friendship, heroism, and what it means to be a good human being.
The Subtle Fiend is available on Amazon in Kindle format and in paperback.
The Green Woman was originally a single story with the kind of cast of characters that you find in family sagas or nineteenth century Russian classics. It was far too long and convoluted for anybody’s definition of YA, so I broke it down into three books and developed some on the secondary characters as I felt they deserved.
The Green Woman and her daughter Deborah bring back the memories of all that was good in the old world so that we can start again. But there are always people and regimes who refuse to let go of power and ally themselves with all that is rotten and evil to keep it. In The Subtle Fiend, I went back to the city state of Providence to follow the stories of the people who are waiting for the Green Woman to free them, and those whose aim is to destroy all she stands for, including her allies. The Subtle Fiend is darker than the first volume, The Dark Citadel, but I promise that the final volume will be more hopeful.
Most writers will tell you that they have always written, and I’m not going to break the mould. Like most closet writers though, life and the need to earn a living got in the way of indulging what I always felt I was best at. It was only on my third maternity leave, when my husband presented me with a Mac Powerbook, that I really decided to launch myself seriously into writing.
I do, but they are all classics. Ursula Le Guin is probably the most contemporary of my English language favourites.
I share a bureau with my husband. He has the big desk because he’s doing serious stuff. I perch on a little computer table with my laptop for as many hours of the day as I can.
If you mean how to be a success, then the answer is I have no idea. If you want to be a good writer, you have to write exactly what comes from the heart, not what the Amazon rankings tell you is this month’s big hit. When you’ve done that, you have to show what you’ve written to a bunch of people who you can trust to tell you the truth about it, and listen to what they say. If you can’t act upon good criticism, you’ll never be any good.
When reality becomes a nightmare, only dreams can save the world.
Deborah, daughter of the fabled Green Woman, has disappeared, and Hera, another grey-robed schoolgirl, has become the hostage in her place. Hera fears she will be left to languish, unnoticed and forgotten, in her prison cell. But the honesty in her eyes touches a young Black Boy, her prison guard—Amon.
Amon is destined for a military career, but convinced of the innocence of his prisoner, he begins to question the laws and values of his city. In befriending Hera, he risks his life by standing between her and the most powerful man in Providence—the Protector.
The Protector’s new hostage will serve her purpose. After all, one veiled girl looks much like another. But if Deborah has joined her mother and her host of myths and stories, the sham will be revealed. To hang onto power the Protector determines to destroy the Green Woman's allies within Providence by lighting the sacrificial fires of Moloch. When the flames have burned out none will be left, not even the child at its mother's breast.
As the flames of evil leap and dance in Providence, Hera and Amon resolve to defy the Protector, with courage as their only weapon.
There was the sound of a key turning in the lock, and the door of the apartment opened and closed again quickly.
“David? Is that you? What’s happened now?” Grania hurried out of the kitchen, her face pale with worry. “It’s not your father, is it? He hasn’t done anything stupid, has he?”
David groaned. “We just forgot the lunch pack, Ma. Don’t fuss! Anyway, the men are stuck in the holding station for the moment, must be something wrong with the winch.”
“That won’t stop him going through with that hare-brained scheme though,” Grania muttered.
“You’ve never seen the guards at the mine, Ma. They are so stupid. They’re lazy and they drink like fish. They’re sloppy about their weapons too.”
“Now isn’t it just astonishing the Dananns haven’t already armed themselves to the teeth?” Grania said with heavy irony.
“We only need a few, Ma. Then we can get those flying things and find a way across the rockfall. It’s a brilliant idea of Da’s. Now, if you could give me our lunch, I’d best be off before I’m missed—”
“Shhh!” Grania turned her head to listen. Heavy footsteps echoed up the stairwell. Heavy fists hammered on apartment doors of the lower floors. “Oh, Holy Mother, not this!” Grania was already running to the children’s bedroom. She scooped up Daniel. “David, get Dem, and both of you hide in the space under the bath. Quick now!” She hurried back into the kitchen and made a space among the saucepans under the sink. “Here, Danny. You get in there and see how quiet you can be.” She smiled and put a finger to her lips. She closed the door and the smile disappeared.
Seconds later the hammering was on her own door. She stood, undecided. Should she pretend there was no one there and hope they went away? Of course they wouldn’t go away, she knew that. Casting a furtive look over her shoulder to the bathroom door, she put her hand on the lock.
“I’m coming! No need to break the door down.”
She turned the key and the door was shoved open. A Black Boy pushed her out of the way. Two more followed him in, faces hidden behind smoked Perspex visors, anonymous.
“Where are they?” the first guard asked.
“If you’re looking for the People’s Revolutionary Committee, they’ve just left.”
The Black Boy slapped her in the face. “The rest of the family. I want you all out of here.”
Grania held her head up defiantly. “Why? What have we done now?”
“I believe it says treason, or insurrection, or something in the orders,” the guard drawled. “What’s it matter anyhow? Just get your brats together and get outside.”
“There’s just me—the children are at work.”
“Funny—they all say that.” The guard turned to his men. “Search the place.”
The three Black Boys went through the two bedrooms, overturning the beds, smashing the wardrobe, scattering the family’s few belongings, breaking and tearing. One went into the kitchen and began opening the cupboard doors. Grania’s jaw tightened. He was in front of the sink, his leg pulled back to kick in the doors.
“Stop! It’s just the baby! Let me get him out.” Without waiting for permission, Grania bent and pulled open the doors. Daniel fell into her arms looking bewildered and afraid.
“Now call the others, and quick.”
One guard was in the bathroom while another watched from the doorway. The cabinet was smashed; broken glass lay everywhere. Towels and bed linen were strewn on the floor and in the bath. The guard pulled back his rifle and slammed the butt into the panels around the bathtub. Grania winced but the panels held. He beat a few more times then gave up.
“Leave it,” the officer said, bored. “We haven’t got all day—it’s quicker to let them have the gas.”
“What do you mean? What gas?” Grania asked, almost screaming.
The patrol leader grinned at her. “Fumigation. Those who don’t come quietly get gassed out. Simple. Hear that noise?” Grania listened. Above the shouts and protests, the hammering and pounding in the surrounding apartments, Grania could just distinguish an unusual whirring noise. “That’s the air purification system. It’s working flat out to get rid of all the gas. We’re only to use it as a last resort if we suspect there’s still vermin lurking.” He pulled on a gas mask; the other two followed his example. “Now, get out!”
The patrol leader pushed Grania towards the door and placed a canister on the kitchen table. He pulled the tab and with a hiss, the room began to fill up with a grey-green gas.
“Go on, move it!” he ordered.
Grania’s resolve broke. Clutching Daniel to her she ran back into the wrecked apartment, kicking aside the debris of cheap furniture and trampled clothes. “David, come out! I’m sorry,” she sobbed. She covered Daniel’s face with a corner of her shawl and waited for the two children to climb out of their hiding place.
Jane Dougherty is a product of the Irish diaspora. When she was a baby, her family moved to Yorkshire where she was brought up. She was educated in Manchester and London before moving to France to work in the wine trade. She has lived in Paris, Picardy, and now lives in the warmer climes of Bordeaux with her family of five children, a Spanish greyhound and a posse of cats.
Her first book, The Dark Citadel, a dark, epic, dystopian fantasy was released on October 4 2013 by Musa Publishing. The second volume, The Subtle Fiend was released on January 29, 2014. In the Beginning, released in November 2013 is a collection of three short stories set in the world of The Green Woman.