You’ve entered In the Jaded Grove into SPFBO this year, gorgeous cover by the way! Who would you say your target audience is, and what would be your elevator pitch?
The cover is designed and illustrated by the amazing Jenny Zemanek!
As to target audience: Readers who like standalones with some violence (but not super graphic) and some romance (also not super graphic) with lots of banter between characters facing impossible odds (plus magic) will enjoy “In the Jaded Grove”.
Elevator Pitch: “The Darkest Part of the Forest” meets “A Curse So Dark and Lonely” in this portal fantasy where an injured pixie knight from a magical realm falls into the path of a poet from Michigan.
If you were to write a romantic singles ad for one of your main characters, what would it say?
Pixie knight seeking a friendship that could lead to more. Looking for a fellow poetry fan with a dry sense of humor who doesn’t mind a companion with blood on their hands. Fast flyer & strong defender. Have sword – Will travel.
Have you read any other SPFBO books in the past few years that you enjoyed?
The Sword of Kaigen!! Also, Fortune’s Fool, A Wind From the Wilderness. We Ride the Storm, and Ruthless Magic.
It says you speak four languages on your blog — what got that started and which four do you speak?
Besides English, I speak Spanish, French, Dutch, and some ʻŌlelo
What got me started? Warning: This will not be an academic answer.
Does anyone remember the movie The Dark Crystal? I was obsessed with it as a kid, and one of the gelfling characters could speak every language of the world. Each sounded so different and it just seemed magical to me, like a code she’d cracked – plus incredibly handy when facing all the dangers of the story. The idea stayed with me until I had the chance to study abroad for a year in Ecuador in high school. After I’d learned one language, I wanted to learn more.
So, yeah, a fantasy story inspired my language learning. But it turns out – it is really handy.
If you had to be relocated into one of the worlds you’ve built, which one would you want to be banished to for life? Which one would be the most difficult?
The pixie hamlets from In the Jaded Grove would be most idyllic with their heather fields, wild ponies, and cliffs of emerald stone. Although, I might run into some logistical issues since I don’t have wings and pixies don’t have ladders…
The most difficult would definitely be to live in my cyberpunk novel Failsafe, since the remnants of humanity are forced to live like captives on an Earth terraformed for the machine after it took control generations ago. Not a lot of nature walks or self-determination there.
Some authors report hearing their characters speak to them as if they have minds of their own, and they don’t always know where the story is going. Do you identify with that, or are you “in control” of the story?
In general, I know how a story begins and ends, though I’ve learned to leave room for my characters to misbehave. I don’t hear them “speak”, but they’ve definitely gone left when I’d planned for them to go right. In Beneath Cruel Fathoms, the hero was offered the chance to ally with the villain (which would let him spy on their plans) but they required him to kill the heroine first. He was supposed to refuse, but instead he went and accepted the offer. I mean, what? He’d thrown the next chapters completely off track.
So, they definitely do have minds of their own. They just don’t speak to me about it beforehand.
You mentioned in a thread about grimdark ratings that yours would be a 1, and that your books are in the noblebright arena. What inspires you to write more happy, hopeful stories?
Noblebright often gets misdefined. It’s not full of happy fluff and sweet, honorable MCs. Really bad things happen in Noblebright stories, just like in Grimdark. Characters are flawed. They do terrible things and make terrible mistakes. There’s a lot of tragedy and trauma and violence. The main difference is that Noblebright depicts stories where choices matter. The world can be saved, even a bleak world. Characters can grow and become more than the flawed versions of themselves. There’s hope, and it’s worth fighting for even when there isn’t much of it.
I write Noblebright because it helps me to see hope in the real world. It’s grim enough out here. We need stories of possibility.
Thank you so much for the interview!
Thanks for taking the time!!