20 Minutes with Anne Lyle

Anne Lyle
Anne Lyle

Anne Lyle has crafted a lush and intricate historical fantasy thriller – “The Alchemist of Souls” – which is (thankfully) only the first in a trilogy published by Angry Robot Books. As much as we hated to take her away from her writing, she graciously agreed to join myself and the inestimable Doc Coleman (filling in for Brion) in a marvelous discussion of crafting other races, the practical use of deleted scenes, theatrical influences, and the nature of Speculative Fiction. Join us… there’s plenty of chairs. (and DO check out Anne’s Workshop Episode!)

PROMO: “Haywire” by Justin Macumber (on Amazon)

Showcase Episode: 20 Minutes with Anne Lyle

[caution: mature language – listener discretion is advised]

Listen to this episode on iTunes

Episode Breakdown

01:00 – Anne’s Amazing Tale


04:00 – How did you go about creating and evolving the Skrayling race for Alchemist of Souls?

  • 05:00 – Always been a SciFi fan and contact with aliens is a favorite trope
  • 05:20 – Also interested in Medeival History
  • 05:30 – Established the Age of Discovery as the setting for the discovery another terrestrial intelligence


06:00 – How did you weave that concept of the Skraylings into the storyline?

  • 06:30 – Blog post on John Scalzi’s “Big Idea”… Inspired by “Guns, Germs, and Steel”
  • 06:50 – What if – at the discovery of the America’s – the natives weren’t so easily overwhelmed


07:40 – Can you walk us through your process for creating your “alien” race?

  • 08:10 – A degree in Zoology with an interest in animal behavior
  • 08:20 – Cherry picked animal and bird behavior patterns and smooshed them together
  • 08:40 – Culture evolves from Biology
  • 09:25 – Non-fiction is a great inspiration


09:55 – You have deleted scenes on your website!

  • 10:20 – It helped that the book had gone through so many revisions
  • 10:55 – I’m a big movie fan and love DVD special features
  • 11:05 – Special features for “A Knight’s Tale” in particular was facinating
  • 12:30 – Had so many great scenes that no longer fit, so polished them up and posted them for the readers
  • 13:15 – I’m a horder of files, Scrivener really helps


13:30 – PROMO: “Haywire” by Justin Macumber


15:25 – Is your old writing still useful to you?

  • 15:45 – Very much so
  • 16:10 – First draft came back with the note “Needs more magic”
  • 16:30 – I went to my old stories under the bed and drew on that to enhance the book


17:00 – Do you have a theater background?

  • 17:05 – Parents met through an amateur dramatic society
  • 17:20 – Pantomine is a British tradition, comic plays based on fairytales
  • 17:35 – Women are played by men in drag… that was my dad
  • 17:50 – Danced at the age of 8 in “Babes in the Woods”


18:15 – Do you feel your theater background has infused your writing at all?

  • 18:50 – Well, the whole cross-dressing thing, of course…
  • 19:20 – Mostly just applied to knowledge of theater to the book


19:30 – Theater plays a prominant role in your book… why?

  • 19:50 – Hadn’t considered putting theater in a story until read “The Reckoning” about the murder of Christopher Marlowe
  • 20:30 – Postulated Marlowe was a spy… acting and spies just made a great combination


21:25 – What are you working on in terms of refining your skills as a writer?

  • 22:00 – Basic process is outline and then brain dump it
  • 22:20 – Trying to refine the overall process of getting it down and revising it
  • 23:25 – Also working on plot pacing and progress
  • 24:15 – Applying methods learned through Holly Lisle’s course
  • 24:25 – Write the story, then put it on index cards and analyze them


25:00 – What is it about the story you want to tell that makes you a Spec Fic author?

  • 25:25 – It’s what I always read
  • 25:35 – Started with SciFi, then Tolkien
  • 25:45 – Liked going to other worlds
  • 26:00 – It gives you a broader canvas to play on
  • 26:15 – If you’re going to be true to a factual or historical setting, you’re stuck with the attitudes of the time
  • 26:35 – Spec Fic allows you to alter the parameters (like a scientific experiment)

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Comments (3)

That was a very nice episode, and I look forward to investigating Ms. Lyle’s work. I wanted to comment, though, on the idea of making deleted parts of books available. This was something I’d considered back several years ago when I was putting my short stories out and podcasting them, but the idea didn’t linger in my head after I put more effort into my novel writing. Hearing you folks talk about Ms. Lyle making deleted scenes from her book available reminded me, and I want to thank you for that. I talked with the publisher of HAYWIRE, and he was a-okay with me posting a few old chapters and deleted bits of early drafts on my site, so look for those in the very near future.

Anyway, thanks to Dave and Doc for a great episode, and to Ms. Lyle for coming on your show and sharing her wisdom with us all.

Danny Terry Jr.

Another great episode. I would love a “Behind the Scene” episode of the Roundtable Podcast to give tips and insight to other wanna be podcasters.

Thanks, Danny!

The “Behind the Scenes” concept is intriguing… though there are people out there with a LOT more experience, then Brion and I at podcasting. You might check out Tee Morris’s podcasting text (http://www.amazon.com/Podcasting-Dummies-Kreg-Steppe/dp/047027557X) and their accompanying podcasts (http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/podcasting-for-dummies/id129278483); they continue to be spot on and relevant and certainly helped us feel a little more confident when we launched.

That’s not to say we won’t have a BLOOPER EPISODE sometime in the future. 😉

Comments are closed.