About The Witch’s Compendium of Monsters
What’s the first book of the duology and when does it come out?
The first book is titled Foul Days. Both it and the yet unnamed book 2 are coming out in 2024 from Tor Books.
What genre is The Witch’s Compendium of Monsters?
Fantasy. I’d hesitate to go any deeper than that and assign it to a particular subgenre—other than, perhaps, ‘Eastern European fantasy’. Some of my favourite books coming from my end of the world are a mishmash of secondary world and urban fantasy, high and low, magic both painfully mundane and spectacular… and, of course, a dash of dark, Slavic humour.
What inspired you?
The inspiration behind The Witch’s Compendium of Monsters was three-fold. Firstly, Bulgarian folklore is at the duology’s heart. Traditionally, the Foul Days are the days between Christmas and St Yordan’s Day when the new year has been born, but it hasn’t been baptised yet, and the spirits and monsters are free to roam the streets. I thought that made for a fascinating setting for a novel. My second inspiration was Bulgarian history, and the Cold War in particular. I think people who grew up on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain will notice something very familiar about the Wall in Chernograd—and the fact that the most horrible monsters, both in fiction in real life, tend to be people. Finally, my experience as an Eastern European immigrant in Brexit Britain informed a lot of my choices, and filled me with the necessary rage to fuel my writing.
How do you pronounce your name?
I’ve got the pronunciation on my About page, and I’ll also link it here, but to tell you the truth, I’m not too worried how you pronounce it. To most of my English-speaking friends, I’m ‘Gen’ with a soft ‘g’. People who use my full name tend to make me nervous, anyway—it always reminds me of when my mum is upset with me.
Who are your favourite authors?
I’d be worried I’d crash the website if I list all of them! Here is a link to my ‘favourites’ shelf on goodreads, where I list both old and new favourites. Growing up, my favourite authors and biggest influences were Sir Terry Pratchett, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Roger Zelazny, Mikhail Bulgakov, Ursula K. Le Guin, Astrid Lindgren, and Ivan Marinovski. Some recent favourites include (but are not limited to!) Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames, The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah, The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec, The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards, Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, Sistersong by Lucy Holland, and The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova.
Is it hard to write in English as a second language?
Not any harder than writing in my first language! I truly believe having two languages I am fluent in enhances my writing, rather than detracting from it. It means I have twice the supply of words, phrases, idioms and ideas to draw from.