Interview with Toni Behm, Author of The Spell of the Rose | NewInBooks
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write The Spell of the Rose?
I remember it was fall in Michigan when I started writing the story. That’s how I created the world first: a small village where it is always fall. It took me some time to understand it myself what kind of place that was, why it is always fall there, why these characters don’t remember anything of their lives before they got there, and what should happen for them to leave.
It became apparent that they had to travel through different parallel worlds, gather clues in order to accomplish their goal. These worlds are not exactly like the usual places you see in most fantasy novels. They are more of spiritual worlds with physical dimensions, like Fogland is a metaphor personal hell; it’s a place you go in your mind when you feel guilty; Noisy land is the world of music at a state when the music is taken away from it; or The Word, a world of knowledge and wisdom, etc.
My sister Boryana and her drawings were the main inspiration that kept me going. There were times when I didn’t know where these characters were going and what their main goal was and I would abandon the project. But Bo was quite persistent. She kept asking “What happens next? I wanna know!”, so I would go back and figure it out. Also, I wanted to use creatures you don’t usually see in mainstream fantasy. No dragons, no trolls, no princesses and kingdoms, no epic battles. I believe battles can be won in a different way, other than violence.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of The Spell of the Rose, what would they be?
For my main character Fleex maybe Kiss From a Rose by Seal; The Forest by The Cure for Fog (as the illustration of him was inspired by Rober Smith).
What’s your favorite genre to read?
Sci-fi, Fantasy, Mysteries, Detective Novels, and some Horror (especially written by Stephen King).
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
Stephen King’s The Institute and Billy Summers and The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris.
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
The first scene in the world of Word. The Reader is definitely my favorite character. He is a funny little man; his physical description, clumsiness, and his manner of speaking in rhymes were a lot of fun to write.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
It’s more of a habit of our male cat Richie. If I sit on the sofa with a laptop on my lap, he would take place on my stretched legs and stay there for hours. This keeps me writing, as I don’t have the heart to disturb him.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
You don’t need to be perfect. You just strive to be better than you were yesterday.
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
If we lose our love, hope, knowledge, and arts, we lose all that makes us human. These are worth fighting for.
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