Contest is now closed.Today's guest on Story Behind the Book is a fellow Breathless Press author and a friend. I found her explanation of her book, Wayfarer's Road, very fascinating and I know you will to. Janie is also holding a contest. One person, who comments to this post will be chosen to win a free book so be sure to leave a comment.
Where did the idea for this story come from?
I first discovered Jan-nell, the bowdancer, in a meditation. I saw her take a bowshot with a flaming arrow across the sky. That became the first scene in the first book, The Bowdancer, that came out last December by Breathless Press. While in meditation, I asked Jan-nell what her name was and found her conflict. I took notes about my mediation, put it in a file, and never encountered her again in meditation. I eventually wrote her story and Bastin, her love interest, popped into it.
The Bowdancer begins the saga that continues in The Wayfarer’s Road. We see Jan-nell as a woman alone, years later, traveling the Wayfarer’s Road with her very precocious child. She is beginning to fear for the safety of her child and herself as events unfold. Meeting the playful handsome bard Khrin offers her hope.
I wrote the first chapter several years after The Bowdancer was written. Both stories were put into a file, along with my handwritten notes and stayed there for several years. I took out The Bowdancer once and did the standard rounds back when the only way to submit was by snail mail and magazine editors liked it but print publications were beginning to shrink their size, reducing the number of pages in them. So, a novelette (at the time) was just too long.
When an opportunity to pitch the story at last year’s Muse Online Writers Conference came, I fleshed out the story until it was a novella, and Breathless Press grabbed it. It was the first Fantasy Romance they put under contract. And one that they had to create a new heat level for---not hotter, much cooler. This was a Sweet Confection, more like mainstream romance. The Wayfarer’s Road is a bit hotter, actually having a Heat Level of 1. My stuff is relatively tame but very sensuous. I’ve been told that readers feel the steaminess there.
Warrior Women, the third book, in The Bowdancer Saga, will be out November 5. The whole series of books explore gender, roles, cultures, the arts, spirituality, and different concepts of family---and hopefully will offer some romance and adventure along the way. I do think the whole Bowdancer Saga empowers women, even though we are sometimes caught by circumstances.
I am currently seeking another publisher for the rest of the series because the books have become more than HEA or HFN romances. The complex themes in The Lost Song trilogy, the next chunk of the story, for example, delve into some disturbing women’s issues that aren’t the stuff of general romance readers.
How did your characters come to life?
Magic. That’s the only way to describe the process. I have said that I have a Zen approach to writing. I do a lose outline that I embed in the document I’m working on. I add notes and details and remove them when those sections are written. But what happens scene by scene is really up to how the characters interact and how they’re feeling at any given time. I also try not to write out of sequence. When I’ve done that, I’ve had to scrap those scenes because it just didn’t work.
I liken my approach to writing to stage acting as opposed to film. Movies are shot out of sequence so that cinematographers can take advantage of lighting or the availability of a location. I always wondered how actors could do build energy and believability doing things piecemeal. Stage acting, even in rehearsal, is one continuous thread that builds on the energy of the scene before. So by the time the curtain falls at the end both the audience and the actors feel a catharsis through the process. Granted early rehearsal may be done in pieces, in little French scenes, but that’s like working on a piece of music, trying to memorize it and get the details all worked out. When the performance comes, though, the energy has to start from the ground and move higher and higher until the climax and the resolution. Then the curtain falls.
So, it’s important to me to build on the scene before and let the characters build their personalities on this stage I’m creating. Of course, sometimes, they can become bigger than I’ve intended for them. That happened in Warrior Women with one character I thought would only be in the background.
With The Wayfarer’s Road, Jan-nell is a known quantity to me. I know her very well. Mira-nell, her daughter, is a combination of my own precocious daughter at near her age and a bit of Alia from Dune, but not quite so creepy. For Khrin, well, I live with a singer/songwriter with a wonderful sense of humor and a keen sense of play. Other parts of Khrin’s story came from friends I’ve known.
The Bowdancer Saga continues in The Wayfarer’s Road. Healer Jan-nell, now a woman traveling alone with her precocious young daughter on the Wayfarer’s Road, meets a handsome wandering bard. But he is carrying his own secrets along with the priceless chance at hope for her and her child to belong.