Guestpost: Fantasy Matured by Philippa Ballantine

Filed in Giveaways , Guest Post , Philippa Ballantine , The HEA Lover Posted on June 24, 2011 @ 6:00 am 34 comments

Today we are happy to welcome Philippa Ballantine at Book Lovers Inc! Philippa (or Pip to her friends ;-p) is not only New Zealand’s first podcast novelist she is also an author penning stories in a variety of genres: she released urban fantasy, fantasy and steampunk novels! Today she is here to tell us some behind the scenes secrets about her writing, please give Philippa a warm welcome!

Here’s a dirty little secret. Writers write what they know. Yes, even fantasy ones like myself.

So, by definition many of the writers write about characters that are about the age they are. Our life experiences—good and bad—bleed over into what problems our characters face, and how they handle with them. I know that as I have got older so too has the average age of my characters—especially the main point of view ones.
Even with the huge Young Adult market being so dominant in the publishing world, there is still a place for the older characters story to be told, and there are just as many interesting stories to be told. When Geist came out I began to get reviews commenting on how pleased people were that the main character the Deacon Sorcha Faris was an older woman (she’s in her late thirties).

The young adult coming of age tale is as timeless as storytelling itself, but now in this modern era with people living longer lives, I think it is the time to examine what a little age and experience can do to characters. That is one of the things I wanted to do with the Books of the Order, and it appears to be something that people are enjoying.

So far in Geist I’ve looked at broken marriages, job dissatisfaction and handling younger people. Yes, all that and in a fantasy setting!

Sorcha, who is heading towards forty, but is a powerful wielder of the runes. She is coming to the end of her marriage—and unfortunately she is married to her partner in the Order. Yes, the double whammy of work and personal crisis. (Perhaps she should of thought of that at the beginning of her career). As I got older myself I became dissatisfied with the way relationships were handled in fantasy. The hero and the heroine rode off into the sunset, and if you saw them in the sequel (even if it was forty years later) their relationship was the same blissful one it had been in the first book. Anyone who has actually been in a relationship knows that most times, there are difficulties. Even if you don’t break up, there are plenty of rough patches to deal with.
She is also having plenty of other problems at work. Once her husband is out of action, she is punished (as she sees it) with being lumbered with a rookie Deacon. Her boss, or at least one of them, doesn’t trust her and she is sent off to a distant town for a seemingly minor event.

Then she has to deal with that new partner—one who is at least fifteen years younger than she is. He’s an up and comer and not exactly respecting of her experience from extra time on the job. They are different generations, with different experiences and poor Sorcha flounders a little. She just don’t know how to connect.

But it’s not all bad for the older character. She manages to keep herself focused on the job and even finds new love when she thought it was no longer a possibility. Characters can learn and grow just like the younger characters in YA books, it’s just that they approach things differently and have had experiences that might have left them scared emotionally and physically.
It sounds doom and gloom, but what I find fascinating about writing more mature characters is the range of challenges and issues they face. They can be just as funny, fun and interesting as a teenager setting out on his first quest. It’s the old adage that in the midst of conflict the best stories are found, and though the older character can have different conflicts than young ones, they can be just as riveting and engaging.


Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is a fantasy writer hailing from Wellington, New Zealand. She is the author of the Books of the Order series with Ace Books, the second novel of which Spectyr coming out at the end of June.
She is also the co-author with Tee Morris of Phoenix Rising: a Ministry of Peculiar Occurrence novel out now with Harper Voyager.

Geist (A Book of the Order)  Spectyr (A Book of the Order)

Philippa generously offered a signed copy of Geist and an ARC copy of Spectyr.

All you have to do is leave a comment/question for Philippa.
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)

Please leave us a way to contact you.
(Email address or twitter name – no way to contact you – no entry).

This giveaway is open worldwide!

Giveaway ends on Saturday, July 9nd and we will announce the winner on Sunday.

Good luck!

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Join the Discussion
  • Blodeuedd June 24, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Nice post 🙂
    Oh I am so bad with questions so…did you have any say in choosing your covers? Cos they are amazing

    blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

  • Philippa Ballantine June 24, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I was always told authors don't have a say in covers, and with Geist that was the case. Luckily I got Jason Chan who is an amazing talent. With Spectyr I got to send in my ideas and reference images. It was a blast to see what Jason came up with. Can't wait to see what he does for Wrayth and Harbinger!

  • Robin K June 24, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I love the idea of reading about older (and I smile when I say that, cause really) and the real world problems we all face as we age and mature. The stories sound very refreshing.

    robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

  • Jason June 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I love your work Pip! I'm half way through Chasing the Bard and have Digital Magic loaded up also. I'd love a chance to read some of your work in print. Thanks! Keep up the great work.

    jason {at} jasonkivla {dot} com

  • Estella June 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I love reading about mature characters and their problems.

    kissinoak at frontier dot com

  • Barbara E. June 24, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    As an "older" woman, I'm glad to see characters that are not youngsters. I love characters of all ages, but reading about someone that has years of experiences that have shaped them makes them so much more interesting.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  • Jen B. June 24, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    First, I just want to say that the covers are amazing. They really captured my attention.
    Now, I really like the idea of the heroine having real issues in a fantasy setting. I read all kinds of books. Sometimes I want the stupid, blissful happiness thing. Sometimes I want the journey even if it means reading about some heartache. One of my favorite series is the Kushiel's series by Jacqueline Carey. The journey of Phedre and Jocelyn was tested and tested again. But, I loved the journey! Thanks for the giveaway!

  • marybelle June 24, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Philippa Ballantine, you are new to me. I have officially put you on my list. I thought the interview was a wonderful glimpse. I hope you have a website because I am about to google you. Cheers!!


  • Maureen June 25, 2011 at 4:47 am

    I do appreciate and can relate to characters who are older and have life experiences that I can sympathise with.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  • Tore June 25, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Please enter me in contest. What gives you inspiration for writing books?

  • van_pham June 25, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    You're a new author to me too, but I will be definitely be putting your books on to my TO BUY list. 🙂

    Questions 🙂
    What are you currently working on, any projects?

    What was the last book that you read?


  • -petit June 25, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Books with older people as main characters would be great! Since they have more experience, they won't have the same (stupid) issues that teenagers have sometimes.
    And I really loved your covers! I really want them in my bookshelf! 😀

    Thanks for the giveaway!


  • Philippa Ballantine June 26, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Thanks for the questions.

    My inspirations are all around me. Friends and family, but I also love watching documentaries. Even as a fantasy author I can find inspiration in far off places and unusual people.

    I am currently working on Wrayth, the third book of the Order, and after that I will shift into editing my first book coming out with Pyr Books, Hunter and Fox.

    The last book I read was the Native Star by MK Hobson. I loved the combination of magic and wild West action!

  • @TheSamWicked June 26, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Well first and formost I want to let "Pip" (if you don't mind I feel like we're friends after reading your work.) know that Phoenix Rising was amazing. Now a question, do you have any school training in engineering,chemistry or alchemy? And if not does it slow down your writing process any?
    Reach me on twitter- @TheSamWicked

  • SGTBash June 26, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Being a more mature human I find it refreshing to not have to read through the same tired mistakes of the average teen and post teen main characters of most books. I heard of you recently and had to check out what all the buzz is about. I'm most definitely going to add you to my "Gotta buy these books" list.
    My question is, do you find it easier to write the longer you've done it, and, do you enjoy writing more now than when you started?


    Thank you for sharing your art and talent with the world.

  • Kannan June 26, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Hey Pip. I've been a fan of yours for years. I came across you when Billibub Baddings came out. Glad to see that you're finally getting the mainstream recognition you've deserved for years. Are you, by any chance, reading the audio versions of the Order series? Like so many people all over the world, I could listen to you read the phone book.

    carliskith at gmail dot com

  • Mel June 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    It's always good to write about you know and you're right, the truth we grow up and face different issues at different times of our lives!

    Is it very different writing for podcasts verses writing novels?

    Mel S

  • Melissa (My words and pages) June 26, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Oh great post! And I too enjoy characters that live kind of the life hells we do as well. But in a fantasy setting. 😉 I really enjoyed the set up of the ruins and the Order as well. Very nice with a great story. 🙂 Looking forward to Spectyr.

    Oh, I have to say I LOVED reading Chasing the Bard as well. WOnderful read.


  • Philippa Ballantine June 26, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Thanks for the great questions everyone!

    @TheSamWicked No, my training was in English, Political Science, and Library Science. However, my library job was working with engineers, and my Dad is one.

    @SGTBash I guess I am more confident of my abilities than I was when I started out (though, like every writer I have my moments). I have more skills to get around writers block than I used to, so I don't panic like I once did. And luckily, yes, I do still enjoy writing as much as I ever did. I am still surprised and amazed by the ideas and character turns that come up.

    @Kannan Thank you so much! Unfortunately there are no current plans for an audio version of the Books of the Order, however I do have some short stories set in the world at

    @Mel I think writing for podcast has given me an appreciation for the sound of dialogue, but apart form that I pretty much write what I write no matter the form. If I wrote audio dramas then that would be a different story.

  • Reorex June 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Pip has created an incredibly deep world with stong characters that draw you in and keep you wanting more. With her awesome sense of humor and frightening sense o the macabre, Pip has gone from Fantasy thru erotica and into the brass of steam punk, while give the reader Her unique take on the strong leading woman. I can give my highest recommendation to her work and her commitment to her fans.
    I do have a small question for her. How do you cope with his enormous ego?? Lol

  • Inner Demons Productions June 26, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    as a fellow podcast author myself. i just wanted to say well done. hope to follow in your footsteps. 🙂

  • Anonymous June 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Hi Pip!
    I've started reading Phoenix Rising last night and I just can't put it the book down. I got to know about the book through the podcast and I've been hooked since then.
    I'll definitely check out Geist once I finish this one.

    My question would be:

    When are you and Tee going to visit Australia?

    e-mail: jcmaramba(AT)hotmail(DOT)com

  • Anonymous June 26, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Hiya, Pip! I'm an avid listener of the Sonic Society and they brought you and Tee Morris to my attention. You have given me many hours of audio and literary fun in a variety of genres for quite some time. I have both Chasing the Bard and Digital magic adorning my bookshelf and I can't wait to pick up this new series! Thank you so much for all you do!

    mendozazz at hotmail dot com

  • Doc Coleman June 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I loved Geist. And I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on Spectyr. There are a number of things in Geist that were played as background that can become serious issues in Spectyr. Sorcha has been running away from her personal problems. Eventually, these will come back to bite her. Could happen in Spectyr… or at the worst possible time in book four… I look forward to finding out!


  • SambearPoet June 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I loved Chasing the Bard, and I was wondering if you based the characters in this series on people you know and love?

  • Michelle @ The True Book Addict June 26, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    I really like the idea of an older female protagonist in the fantasy genre. Being in my early 40s, it would be nice to read more books with that character element. One thing a liked about my recent read, A Game of Thrones, was that Catelyn Stark is a strong character and takes things into her own hands when she knows it's required. She's a 40 something woman with children and a strong character. It was refreshing. And especially that it was written by a man!

    I have heard a lot of good buzz about Geist and would love to read it. Thank you for the giveaway!


  • lingeorge June 27, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Yes! Someone who appreciates life experience. I love the urban fantasy genre, but so very much of it is YA. I do not mind an occasional coming of age — but I am well over 40 and I want my characters to have experienced life. I want adult books. By "adult" id do not mean erotica. I hate where a story only exists to set up the next sex scene, sex should exist where it enriches a story. I am going to have to get these books! An author agter my own heart.
    linda at gordonvalley dot com

  • Sam Bradley June 27, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    The subject of a writer's age and the characters they write is an interesting one. In my current WIP my protagonist is a 26 year old male and I am a 50+ female. It's a stretch to put oneselves so far out of our own shoes, but that's what makes it interesting. I enjoy your willingness to stretch your own boundaries in your writing and your podcasting, Pip.

  • Philippa Ballantine June 27, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    @SambearPoet Chasing the Bard isn't really based on anyone in particular- though there is always an amalgam of people you know and love around you.

  • Tatiana L. July 3, 2011 at 1:23 am

    The covers looks awesome.
    Thank you making this an international giveaway – I am sure many people are very happy and hopeful =)


  • Lexi July 5, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Sounds like your writing has changed a little as your getting older, do you feel that you use people you meet as basis for characters?
    Your books sound wonderful with complex characters, thanks for a chance to win!


  • Janinay July 6, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Hi Philippa! As a reader, I notice some changes in my reading preferences. I like more mature work now, heavier topics and stuff. 😀

    ninmonster at rocketmail dot com

  • Ren July 9, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Hi Philippa! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
    I want to read your book since I'm cover lover and cover is the first aspect for me to choose a book for reading. I'm surprised when you said your character Sorcha is near her forties. Since I assumed from the cover, your books are YA genre, but its not. So, I think "don't judge a book by its cover" is true, lol.

    How many book do you plan for Books of Order series? Is this series have romance part or at last a happy ending? Thanks 🙂

    sawamura_foxman AT yahoo DOT com

  • Philippa Ballantine July 12, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    @Lexi I rarely conciously use a whole person as a basis for a character, but I find aspects of people interesting and stick them together in books.

    @Ren Well, Sorch does look good for her age! 🙂 The plan so far is there to be four Books of the Order, and there is romance in there. Not just for Sorcha I might add. As to the happy ending, I still haven't quite decided where I want to leave the characters at the end of book four. We'll see 😉

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