Wednesday, November 04, 2015

A Conversation with Novelist Sophie Masson

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Sophie Masson

We are delighted to welcome author Sophie Masson to Omnimystery News today.

Sophie's second book in her Trinity occult thriller series is The False Prince (Momentum; October 2015 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we recently had the opportunity to spend some time with her talking about it.

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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to some of the lead characters in your Trinity series.

Sophie Masson
Photo provided courtesy of
Sophie Masson; Photo credit
Zoe Walton

Sophie Masson: Helen Clement is the female lead in both my new book, Trinity: The False Prince, and its prequel, Trinity: The Koldun Code. She is in her early twenties, a young woman of mixed French and American parentage who has lived most of her life in London, UK. Beautiful, gifted and intelligent, she nevertheless lacks confidence due to various earlier experiences in her life, and her arrival in Russia in the first book precipitates her into a thrilling but dangerous world that she is definitely not prepared for. But everything changes for her in the first book, and in the second her earlier softness and trust has turned into something harder and darker. I enjoyed creating Helen as a character who develops enormously over the course of the two books and who is now able to stand her ground and fight.

Maxim Serebrov is a lead male character in both books. A career in the Moscow police as a homicide detective, coupled with a hard-scrabble early life, has made Maxim almost the opposite of Helen. He trusts few people, takes everything with a grain of salt, and yet is not corrosively cynical but with a sense of honour and an intelligence that make him a very attractive character. I really enjoyed putting Maxim on the stage and in the second Trinity book, The False Prince, I've really enjoyed also developing the relationship between him and Anna Dorskova, who works as an ekstrasens or psychic. Two of my favourite characters!

These are only two of the main characters in the Trinity books, but I enjoyed creating them all.

OMN: How true are you to the settings in the books?

SM: The Trinity books are both set in Russia (with a Mexican prologue in The False Prince). I have been to Russia twice and know most of the locations that I've used in both books. I try to be as true to geography and local environment as I can, and research things carefully both on the ground and on the Internet and in books, however I have also improvised with some places, just to make them fit my fictional world! I like to stay true as well to a "feel" of the place, so I show the manuscript to a Russian friend for advice on such things as slang, idiom, etc. The setting is very important to both characters and plot — in fact you could say that Russia is in fact a major character in the Trinity books — Russia and her amazing history, culture, sounds, smells and sights. In the first book, it's mostly Uglich in northern Russia that you are immersed in, with a side-trip to Moscow; in the new book, it's just Moscow that is centre stage.

OMN: How does the title of The False Prince relate to the story?

SM: The idea of "falsity", betrayal, masks, secrets, are at the heart of the book. People pretending to be who they're not. Enigmas hidden in plain sight. Hope placed in the wrong people. But also, it's a reference back both to Russian history, and to something in the first Trinity book, The Koldun Code. Don't want to say any more for fear of spoilers!

OMN: Describe your writing process for us.

SM: I describe my writing process this way: it's like going on a holiday overseas. Some people like to devise exhaustive itineraries for each step of their journey, so that they know exactly where they are going to be on any given day, with hotels fully booked; some people just take off with passport and toothbrush and ticket without any plans; and some people like to do some research, book the first night or two's hotel, and have a reasonable idea of where they want to go and do, but allowing for serendipity and the unexpected. Well, the last one is me, both in travel as in writing! I have a good idea of my setting, characters and initial scenes, and I know where I want to end up — but I allow the writing to take over, the characters and settings to suggest their own possibilities. This means that sometimes unexpected characters do make an appearance, that plot lines can go in different directions from what I had originally envisaged. As well, I don't just het the first draft down in one go — every day I always look over the chapter I've written the day before, before starting another, but I always then go on to write new material. It means that the book is going through edits and drafts as it goes, but it also doesn't interrupt the flow.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests? And have any of these found their way into your books?

SM: I love traveling and that definitely goes into all my work. I was pretty much born traveling — my French parents left France to work in Indonesia and I was born there, then at the age of 9 months I was sent back to France to live with my paternal grandmother, as I had become very sick and my parents were afraid I wouldn't survive in Indonesia. I stayed with her till I was five when my parents came back from Indonesia and then took me and my sisters to Australia, where Dad had a new posting! (He worked for a big French civil construction company that did projects all over the world.). From then on, we alternated between our home in Australia and our home in France, and I was brought up bilingual. That has all had a very big effect on my life and my writing. And I haven't stopped traveling since — to Russia and other countries in Eastern Europe, to many places in Western Europe — France of course but also UK(where my husband comes from), Germany, Italy, Malta and Spain; to Asia — Indonesia, Korea and Singapore; to Africa — Zimbabwe and Tanzania; the Middle East — the United Arab Emirates, and to the USA. There are lots and lots of places I'd still like to go to! (By the way, though I have never been to Mexico, my son Xavier spent several months there and I picked his brains on that for the prologue — all my kids love traveling too incidentally!) Another hobby of mine is cooking and food generally — and you will often find references to that in my books! As well of course I am a very big reader, and that is a hobby that definitely enriches what I write.

OMN: When selecting a book to read for pleasure, what do you look for?

SM: A gripping story, an interesting setting and a range of vivid characters — they don't all have to be "likeable" but they have to feel real. I want to feel breathless, to drop everything so I can finish the book. I love to be surprised, and I want the ending to be on a great twist that doesn't come out of absolutely nowhere though!

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Born in Indonesia of French parents, and brought up in France and Australia , Sophie Masson holds a BA and M.Litt from the University of New England (New South Wales, Australia) in French and English literature. In 2015, she started a PhD in Creative Practice at the University of New England. Her PhD project is researching and writing a YA cross-over speculative fiction/mystery novel, plus associated exegesis. She is on the Board of the Australian Society of Authors and is the Chair of the New England Writers' Centre.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at SophieMasson.org and her author page on Goodreads, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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The False Prince by Sophie Masson

The False Prince by Sophie Masson

The Trinity Series

Publisher: Momentum

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)iTunes iBook FormatKobo eBook Format

Truth is the first casualty of war …

Over a year has passed since the events that changed Helen's life forever. With Maxim and her other friends, she is fighting to uphold the legacy entrusted to her, but struggles with the weight of memory, the stress of trying to keep Trinity afloat, and the continuing manipulations of the company's enemies.

Meanwhile, in a remote coastal settlement in southern Mexico, a young fisherman is made an offer he can't refuse. This triggers a chain of events which will completely transform the struggle for Helen's ownership of Trinity and the secrets of the Koldun code.

The False Prince by Sophie Masson

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