Satima, I'd like to ask what was the starting impulse for The Dagger, and the rest of the series. Was it a particular character, a scene, the world itself, or something else?
I came to write this trilogy in a very roundabout way, Joanna! In 2003 I attended a convention where I did a workshop with Lee Battersby, in which he asked us to picture a building we knew well and then to set it to a new use. And then we had to imagine a person arriving at the building ...
I immediately thought of an old hotel in North Devon where I'd worked for a while when I was backpacking. One of the approaches to this castle-like building was up a steep, cobblestoned street, and I imagined a man with a horse in stormy weather. He had to dismount because the horse kept slipping. He was coming to the castle to warn a recently widowed princess that a would-be usurper was seeking to kill her baby, who was the new king of the country.
The next day, Lee asked us to read our work out loud in front of the guests of honour, Lynn Flewelling and Fiona McIntosh. Both these ladies were kind enough to commend my story and they told me I should write the whole story. It took a while - over the following few years I wrote that book, which I quickly realised wasn't the beginning of the story, so I had to write a prequel. These are now books one and two of The Talismans trilogy. That scene I wrote back in 2003 will turn up in book two, which is coming up for release in 2015.