Interview with Crispina Kemp, author of Learning to Fly

I am really excited to be able to share this fabulous interview with my talented blogging friend and author, Crispina Kemp. Her next book, Learning to Fly, is being released 1st April 2021. I was lucky enough to beta read this story, and I loved it as much as the five book series, The Spinner’s Game, which she released last year. Read on to learn more about her latest book…

* * * * *

1: How does Learning to Fly fit into the world you created with the five-book series The Spinner’s Game, which you released in its entirety last year? And do you need to read The Spinner’s Game to be able to follow Learning to Fly?

To answer the second part of that question first, despite characters appear in this book who were met in The Spinner’s Game, you don’t need to read that series first. For those earlier characters this is a continuation and conclusion of the “Game” – which answers the rest of that question. Learning to Fly moves their story into a contemporary setting. The original characters in The Spinner’s Game have descendants, unto the seventh generation. The main thrust of the story follows one such descendant. Neve.

2: Learning to Fly follows the story of Neve.  How did her character come to you and what inspired her personality and background?

It was necessary to the plot to have a loner as the MC, someone not streetwise, an “innocent” in today’s world. But what woman in C21st Britain can be described as that? Perhaps someone who has spent the years since leaving school nursing her grandma, in a rural Norfolk village. But now with her grandma’s death, she’s released from that. Now she can find the mother who deserted her as a child.

Her personality is Piscean. I refer to astrology sun-types for all my main characters. It’s an excellent shorthand. Say Piscean and I know at once what she’s like. I know how she’ll react, what she’ll tolerate and what she won’t.

3: A question of favourites next.  Who’s your favourite character from Learning to Fly, which is your favourite location, and what is your favourite quote from this book?

My favourite character is Rat (Razimer), a former Viking, now a biker. He has such a charming personality, is an “air-drummer”, a frustrated Rockstar, and into all the same music as Neve. Who could not love him?

My favourite location? Some might think that would be Regin-jarl’s mead hall, so often do we visit there. But no. My favourite location is split between the offshore island of Yalesham Sands, aka Haggleland where Neve’s mastery of her nature is put to the test, and Ceza’s Well where she learns the truth. Ceza’s Well is a real location, scene of my adolescent idling dreams.

As to quote:

Neve yawned, her head mussy, her eyelids heavy. The old church was airless, thick with the smell of decay. She yawned again… and startled awake when Halftroll leapt onto the altar, straining to reach through the bars, exhibiting his lethal nails. Ten little razors upon his two little hands.

4: Who’s your least favourite character and why?

My least favourite character is Skrauti, traitorous, self-serving, obnoxious jerk with not a thought for other people.

About Learning to Fly: Medievalist Neve is delighted to find herself surrounded by swirling colours and foot-stomping music in Regin-jarl’s mead hall… even if her presence is dependent on the memories of a banished angel. Prompted by the angel to find the truth of her grandfather, locked in a cage to be food for vampiric grimmen, trapped beneath a dragon… life isn’t fun for Neve… though she does like the music!

5: Who was the hardest character to write and why?

Huat was the hardest to write. One of the characters from The Spinner’s Game, he has a small but vital part to play. As one expects, over the intervening millennia he has matured, and to show him as the same character despite those changes… that was difficult.

6: Music plays an important role in this book.  Was that intentional or did it come about by itself? Is music important to you and does it play a significant role in your life or in your writing process?

I would love to be able to include a music track to this book. It is crucial as in it provides much of the initial conflict between Raesan and Neve. More than that is the subtext included in those tracks. They are not chosen at random.
As an early teen I would create stories from the records in our collection; mostly love stories, because pop music is mostly about love. But music can say more than words ever can. It sets emotional tone and cultural background. It also provides rhythm, pace, colour, flavour, all things important in my writing. And yes, it does play a significant role in my life which has often involved musicians and the music scene.

7: Another important theme of the book is that of textiles. We are given lavish descriptions of clothing, wall-hangings and embroidery as we join Neve on her journey of discovery. What is it about textiles that you find interesting?

Attention to fabrics has become a hallmark of my writing, but what is it that I find interesting? First, and the way I use it in writing, is that clothing provides clues to social and cultural status. Yet I tend to go into more depth than the average person and so have given this as an interest to both Kerrid and Neve, the one being a spinner and weaver, the other an embroideress. This calls on my own interests: a dressmaker/designer in my 20s, an embroideress until my wrist refused me more, I love playing with colours and textures, and the finer details provided by needlework and jewellery. There is a sensuousness about the feel of fabric. Mmm, music and fabrics, my life is complete!

8: What do you think is the most important theme in the story? Why? What do you hope readers will take away from the book when they’ve finished reading it?

In the opening image Neve is alone, isolated and, although confident to deal with the world, she doesn’t trust people; she’s been let down in the past, suffered racial abuse at school, and now prefers to be the hermit. Her lesson is to trust… in herself, in others, and in the unknown. Weaving through this is the theme that we do need other people in our lives, that we’re not better off alone. Even if alone is easier.

* * * * *

About Crispina Kemp

Failing to find a place on the space programme – to boldly go – I turned my vision inwards to a study of psychology and exploration of spirituality. This encouraged an outward journey to explore this wonderful world, its peoples, its beliefs, but mostly its pasts. From the exploration I returned with the core of my writing.

But, for the more mundane-minded: For a shy child with a speech problem, the written word came as a release, enabling me to express myself without being asked, ‘Eh? What did you say? Say again?’ I wrote my first ‘proper’ story when I was nine. A gothic offering to scare my friends. Since then, there’s been scarcely a day when I haven’t been busy writing. Novels. The short story form doesn’t appeal to me, although over recent months I have posted micro-
fiction on my blog.

In my early teens, I visited Grimes Graves, the Neolithic flint mines in Norfolk. The following summer, I visited Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Thence began a lifelong interest in the archaeology of prehistory. The study of myths and legends seemed a natural progression, and from there to linguistics (despite my inability to pronounce the words).

Resident in Norfolk (UK) where my roots dig deep, my regular rambles into the surrounding countryside provide balance to the cerebral… and ample subjects for my camera.

Twitter: @crispinakemp1 and @ineebrown51

9 thoughts on “Interview with Crispina Kemp, author of Learning to Fly

  1. Pingback: Interview with Crispina Kemp, author of Learning to Fly — Sammi Cox | crispina kemp

  2. Pingback: Afternoon Tea (II) with Crispina Kemp | Sammi Loves Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.