What inspired you to write your most recent novel?
Well, I think it’s safe to say that no female magician in any era has ever risen to distinction comparable to the bevy of male magicians who are household names. I’m you’ve heard of Harry Houdini, Penn and Teller, David Copperfield, David Blaine, and Siegfried and Roy. But can you name one female magician? If I gave names to you, would they resound with matching familiarity? What about Dorothy Dietrich, Misty Lee, Kristen Johnson, Ning Cai, Debbie Leifer, Eusapia Palladino, Frances Willard, Ariann Black, Mariko Itakura, Faye Presto, or Lisa Menna?
So in Mórlough we find an alternative world and history where I imagined a war was won for women – and for anyone who is different or little understood – like those wars we are still fighting now; a war that might have led to a different world than ours, where talented, untamed, mystical women can be respected and remembered with equal distinction.
What is your writing routine?
For the past 2 years, my family has been constantly on the move, so my routine consists of a scramble for space and time wherever we are while my kids are happily engaged, and in between animal chores (we currently house-sit full-time). I’ve written in libraries, on hallway floors, in beds, at desks, on decks, and standing at kitchen benches. A lot changes about what writing looks like, for me, but my constants are these: 1) sometimes social media is as good a treat as any; 2) power through blocks; and 3) the earlier in the day, the better.
What are your top 3 favorite books?
This is so hard, but these are definitely three OF my favourites;
Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor
All the Crooked Saints, Maggie Stiefvater
A Darker Shade of Magic, V. E. Schwab
Which authors inspire you?
So many. I gobble up Laini Taylor's wordsmithery, applaud Marissa Meyer's innovation, and sigh through Gary D. Schmidt's authenticity. I marvel at Jane Austen's timelessness and adore V. E. Schwab's tastefulness. I really respect Orson Scott Card as a master of the craft and Hugh Howey for redefining it. I'm really taken with Patricia Briggs' characters and Caragh O'Brian's romance. I get lost in Trudi Canavan, Maggie Stiefvater, Rachael Craw, Margaret Rogerson, and Elizabeth Knox's world-builds.
What are you currently reading?
I’m always reading at least one book and listening to one other. I’m currently reading a collection of short stories by an Indie author, JD Stirling, which is haunting and from left field. I’m listening to Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth.
Do you use any life experiences to inspire your writing?
Definitely. It was after attending a magic show that I first began thinking about gender imbalance in the field of illusionists. I went with my three daughters, and afterwards, their heads were spinning as they marvelled at all that this male magician had done. Mine ached with all the woman had done that they had not seen. I knew I wanted to be part of creating a new narrative. My thoughts snagged on how that story would be told if such ambition was born during a time of mass hysteria. So many stories about witches end with women tortured, trialled or straight-way executed because they did something entirely reasonable although perhaps thought different; they provided contraception to others, had a way with animals, or consumed herbs someone thought unseemly, met together unconventionally, or most dispassionately, experienced a seizure. These stories were not always of women, but mostly so.
I wanted the fight to be won there, at the front line.
How did you get into writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
My earliest memories feature me quarto folding paper and maneuvering a long-armed stapler to secure them together. I have no memory of a time when I didn’t intend to produce books.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Begin. You can research, outline and workshop your ideas until your keyboard letters have worn away, but you'll need to do the actual trench-wading of getting the story out of you before you're really writing. What’s your experience marketing your book? What did you like/dislike? Any tips for other authors?
What's next for you? Do you have any other projects in the works right now?
I wish there was only one! Then maybe they’d roll out faster! I have a magical realism manuscript submission on submission. I’ve also started writing a sequel to an earlier book I published (Unnatural) – those poor characters have waited for their ending while Ash stole the stage, I do need to get back to them. But then, a small revolt for more set in Mórlough won me over, so that’s also in the works!
What’s a fact about you that might surprise your readers?
I’m almost 40 but I’m on TikTok, lol! I love interacting with readers! @ange_armstrong
Before writing books, Angela studied English and Film at the University of Otago, taught full-time in schools, owned an art gallery, and reviewed books for trade publishers. She lives with her husband Haki in Northland, New Zealand, where she devotes her non-writing hours to home-schooling three chatty daughters who have inherited a fierce love of words from their mother.
Check her out on social media!