I had the chance to interview the awesome Janice Hardy a few days ago. She is the author of The Shifter which is the first book I reviewed on this site and is one of the reasons this site exists in the first place. Do yourself a favor and go buy this book, you won't be sorry.
DAB: Hi Janice
JH: hello there
DAB: Thanks for agreeing to talk with me
JH: most welcome
DAB: What gave you the inspiration for the Shifter?
JH:I was playing with various common fantasy ideas, trying to see if I could turn any of them on their heads for a fresh take.
Then I started thinking about healing and how you rarely, if ever, see any downsides to healing. I wondered what would be the "bad side" of something that was always associated with good
And I came up with pain, and how you might be able to buy and sell it, and how a society that healed by removing pain might work
Once the world building started taking shape, the rest of the story developed pretty quickly
DAB: That's so cool. Was there a specific author who got you interested in the fantasy/dystopian genre or have you always been a fan?
JH: Always been a fan. My father was a science fiction and fantasy fan, so he got me into it when I was young
DAB: I saw on your website that you have a pet eel. How did that happen?
JH: I've always like eels, can't really say why. Maybe because they're a little dragon-like. My husband saw one in the pet store when he was buying so fish for our tank, and he brought him home to surprise me.
I really want one of those big green moray eels, but salt-water tanks are much harder to keep
DAB: Ah well I've heard they are a bit cranky anyways.
JH: This is true ;) I'll have to settle for seeing them underwater.
DAB: Fair enough.
DAB: So can you describe a little bit of your writing habits? Like a schedule or rituals or anything like that?
JH: I'm most creative in the mornings, so I usually start around 7-8am, then write until about noon. I've been writing almost every day lately (I'm on deadline for book three) but when I'm not on deadline, I like to write for a day or two then take a day off. I get burnt out if I write a lot every single day.
No real rituals, though I do usually read the last chapter I wrote to get back into the groove.
DAB: hmmm book three... can you tell us anything about what Nya will be up to in the next book?
JH: Well, she's going to take a bit of a trip, and have her world view turned upside down. I'm pushing her way out of her comfort zone this time.
DAB: When I was reading I really liked the names of your characters and places. Where did they come from?
JH: Many are just made up, but I based Geveg on the geographic area of Lake Victoria in Africa, so lots of names are based in Afrikaans.
Like Geveg means struggle, Baseer is hurt
pyn in the word for pain, which is where pynvium comes from
There's a lot more of that in books two and three
DAB: Neat. Sometimes when I need a name or place I just randomly zoom in on a place and find names that way. Was Lake Victoria a random choice?
JH: Not at all. I knew I wanted to do a lakeside Venice, with a canal city. I started researching the world's biggest lakes, and Victoria is big and shallow, which made sense to me since you couldn't build a city on something deep.
I liked the idea of using the climate and having a tropical locale, especially since I grew up in South Florida, so I know hot and humid.
DAB: I live in Tampa. I know all about the hot and humid
JH: Practically neighbors!
But yeah, I liked that idea. I was trying to avoid the whole "medieval England" feel
DAB: yeah that seems a bit tired
DAB: I bought your book after reading the first page on Kristin's blog. Was that something that was in the initial draft or did that come later?
JH: That was pretty much the first draft I ever wrote. I do spend a lot of time on my first line before I start a book though. I need to start off well or I just flounder
I think I revised it a teeny bit for clarity, but it's pretty much the same words I first wrote
DAB: I remember reading it and immediately forwarding it to my girlfriend with the message "I want to write like that!"
JH: LOL, thanks!
DAB: you're welcome
JH: Nya's been easy to write from day one. She just has a really strong voice for me
DAB: She is a lot of fun to read. So are you an outline person or do you let the story guide itself?
JH: I like a basic outline to provide framework for the story, but then I like to let the characters run and develop the story organically from there. I like to say I always know where I'm going, but rarely how I get there.
My outlines are usually the major act climaxes and set pieces of the story. So maybe six or seven key moments that create the overall story arc
Then I fill in as I write and get ideas. I'm always going back and fleshing out my outline. It's more of a paragraph summary per chapter abut what happens
DAB: Interesting, I always enjoy hearing about authors' different techniques
JH: Me too
DAB: Well that is all the questions I have, anything else you want to tell the readers about?
JH: Book two, Blue Fire, comes out Oct 10, 2010. That's probably good to know
DAB: Is it available for pre-ordering?
JH: I don't think so, but it probably will be soon. They (my publisher) just released the fall catalog, and the pre orders usually start after that *
DAB: okay well thank you so much for your time. I can't wait for the next book to come out
JH: you are most welcome :) Thanks for asking me
*Note from Jeff: Blue Fire is now available for pre-order on Amazon here