About the Author:
Author Interview -
1) When did you first discover you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always written, since I was a kid. My early years were somewhat isolated. I grew up on a farm with few neighbors. Other people were not much in my life until first grade. In my isolation, I found writing to be a more natural—and more available–form of communication than talking. Not having many people to talk to, I expressed myself in a diary, in letters, in imaginative scribblings. It felt natural. Still does. I’d much rather write than talk.
2) Do you have a special place to do your writing? Can you describe it?
My writing room is upstairs in the quietest part of the house. It has windows facing south and west. The window A/C runs constantly, filling the room with the same kind of white noise as in a shower. I do a lot of thinking in the shower. It’s where I solve many writing problems. Phrases come to me, new directions suggest themselves, answers arrive to questions that I might have been puzzling over for weeks. I love running water. The window A/C in my upstairs office does a great job of simulating its sound. My writing space is purpose-built, it’s not a converted bedroom. In designing our house, my husband made sure to give me plenty of built-in bookshelves. Also electrical outlets! I’ve got lots of plug-ins for electronics. My office is quite cluttered because I almost never file anything away. I’m a piler, not a filer. Somewhere I read that creative people prefer piles. It’s our natural way of organizing information.
3) Are you a plotter or a panster?
I had to look up the term “panster.” Until you asked, I’d never heard it. :-) DeniseA.Agnew defined it this way:
“A panster may have a title or an overarching idea for a book based on a time period, a concept, or an individual character. They may know one or two of these ideas up front. Or they may start with a single scene that intrigues them. They will rarely know the end of their book. Most of the time outlining their books beforehand damages their ability to write.”
That’s me: definitely a panster. I knew where WATERSPELL began, and I had a vague idea of where it would end. But in between, the characters drove the plot. I didn’t know what would happen until it happened.
Which is a revision-heavy, trial-and-error way to write a novel. I’m sure that plotters write more efficiently, with their outlines and their fully-thought-out synopses. But I agree with Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft): “Stories,” he wrote, “are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.” That’s what WATERSPELL feels like to me: a real thing, a real history of another world. I couldn’t plot it beforehand because I was only following along, notepad in hand, to record the action as it happened. The story told me what it was and how it wanted to be structured. To me, this is a more organic kind of storytelling. It has roots.
4) Your book features the great Lewis Carroll's 'Through the Looking-Glass' quite a lot. Was this your favourite book growing up?
I read and enjoyed it as a child, but only as an adult have I come to appreciate its layers, its depths of meaning. The Alice books succeed on many levels. They are delightful children’s books. They’re also filled with brilliant little treasures that sparkle brightest for those who go deepest. If we had time and space, I could ramble on for an hour, quoting from Martin Gardner’s The Annotated Alice (Definitive Edition). In his sidebars, Gardner explains it all: the puns, the inside jokes, the intricately coded subtext. There’s an enduring kind of magic in the Alice books. Writers of science fiction and fantasy have long been drawn to it, as have filmmakers. The work of Lewis Carroll speaks in new ways to all who read it, if they’re willing to go deep, into the subtext.
I like to think that WATERSPELL also has depths. It’s layered. It’s a fantasy and a romance and also a mystery. The protagonist, Carin, uses Through the Looking-Glass as a clue to help her unravel the mystery in which she finds herself entangled. The Looking-Glass book is her tangible connection to another reality.
5) What gave you the idea to merge Looking-Glass with another story? Was it easy to do?
The idea came when the warlock handed Carin a book that he couldn’t read, and she could. I knew the book’s title, Through the Looking-Glass, at almost the same instant Carin did. I do find it a little eerie, how easily and naturally Looking-Glass melded with the whole WATERSPELL trilogy. The two fit together, hand in glove. I’m truly tempted to believe that the WATERSPELL story is real: it’s a history of another world, a world that accidentally obtained a copy of a Lewis Carroll classic. I just wrote down the events the way they happened. But if I’m to be rational about the creative process, then I’ll say that my subconscious decided what role the Alice books would have in my story. I mention Alice “books,” plural, because the other one—Adventures in Wonderland—will be seen to have a substantial supporting role in WATERSPELL Book 3: The Wisewoman.
6) You have some quite unique names in your story, how did you choose them?
You may think I’m joshing you, but I’m being perfectly serious: The characters told me who they were. They named themselves. The only important figure I re-named was the warlock’s horse. That tall, charcoal-gray hunter began life as “Argerich.” One of my sharp-eyed beta readers pointed out that several proper nouns throughout the trilogy start with the letter A. Most of the names were too firmly fixed in the reality of Ladrehdin for me to even consider changing them. My readers will just need to keep their concentration and realize that Archamon is a person, Angwid is a place, while Amangeda is … well, we don’t actually know WHAT Amangeda is, do we? At the minor end of this range of names, the Horse Formerly Known As Argerich could easily take a new identity. I renamed the warlock’s mount “Brogar,” for the Ring of Brodgar, or Brogar, in Scotland.
A few other elements got their names more prosaically. The herbal remedy called cyhnaith is just an anagram of “hyacinth.”
I recently heard a Kindle “read” my book aloud with its text-to-speech feature. I figured it would mangle the foreign words, but it pronounced “Ladrehdin” perfectly: LAD-ruh-din. I’m not sure of the significance, but I find it interesting that a device’s phonetic pronunciations are spot-on. What does the Kindle know? How did it learn? I wonder. :)
7) Are any of your characters based on real people?
The characters are combinations of real people I’ve known plus fictional creations I’ve admired. Heathcliff and Rochester are the literary godfathers of my dark, dangerous, seductive leading man, Lord Verek. My protagonist, Carin, is a little bit Jane Eyre and a little bit me. The housekeeper, Myra, owes some of her chattiness to a talkative friend of mine. The monk Welwyn (you’ll meet him in Book 2) is partly inspired by the Ellis Peters character, Brother Cadfael, as played by Sir Derek Jacobi.
8) If you could choose between living here and living in Ladrehdin, which would you pick and why?
I’d go to Ladrehdin. Most of my life, I’ve felt like a person out of time. The romanticized view of the Middle Ages appeals to me. I emphasize “romanticized” because the real thing was dirty and squalid and terribly harsh. I like cleanliness, so I gave my characters baths! I also like clothes with pockets, and I made sure my characters had pockets for all the things they needed to carry. One of the great things about writing an “off-world faux-medieval” fantasy is the freedom to depart from the actual historical reality of the European Middle Ages. I could pick and choose the elements that worked for my story and my characters.
Of course, if I lived in Ladrehdin I would want to be a member of the landed gentry. The scullery maids don’t have it so good. ;-)
9) Horses feature quite a bit too, do you own any horses of your own or do you go riding?
I grew up around horses. My cousins owned several and I got to go riding with them. I always wanted a horse of my own but never had one. However, I felt a bond with horses. My dad grew winter-wheat on our farm. Horse owners would pay to pasture their animals each winter on our lush green fields. I’d wrap up in a heavy coat and boots and brave the winter winds to go commune with the horses for hours at a time. Even animals that were half wild and hard to manage would generally let me walk right up to them. I’d curry their coats and work the knots out of their manes. I like horses and cats: I’ve been known to have a similarly soothing effect on half-wild cats. Myra says to Carin, about halfway through WATERSPELL Book 1: “I’ve always thought it the surest test of anyone’s character—how kindly he treats the dumb brutes and the loyalty they give in return. People can be fooled … and often are, but not the dumb brutes. They’ll soon know a man for what he is.” I believe Myra was onto something there. :-)
10) How many books will there be in the series? And when can we expect Book 2?
WATERSPELL is a trilogy. Books 1 and 2 were released simultaneously. Book 1: The Warlock ends on a cliffhanger, making it essential to have the second book available immediately so readers wouldn’t have to wait to find out what happens. Book 2: The Wysard takes up where Book 1 leaves off. And freshly arrived to wrap up the story is Book 3: The Wisewoman, which hit the shelves this spring.
From the start, I’ve thought of Books 1, 2, and 3 as the beginning, middle, and end of one continuous story. Now that the trilogy is finished, however, I’m mulling over the possibility of a Book 4. Threads exist that could carry the saga onward. But that fourth book is not yet demanding to be told. Not like the WATERSPELL trilogy, which was a work I HAD to complete. It wouldn’t leave me alone. It possessed me for more than a decade. I still get a little dizzy when I realize that it’s FINISHED. After so many years of hard work, it seems surreal to have the writing behind me.
Thank you! I’ve enjoyed discussing the mystical aspects of the creative process. For a panster like me, it can be hard to say where “story” arises. This has been an opportunity to dig around in my subconscious. It’s like a whole ’nother country in there. :-)
Thanks Deborah, great answers! I'm a Panster too!
Drawn into the schemes of an angry wizard, Carin glimpses the place she once called home. It lies upon a shore that seems unreachable. To learn where she belongs and how to get there, the teenage traveler must decipher the words of an alien book, follow the clues in a bewitched poem, conjure a dragon from a pool of magic -- and tread carefully around a seductive but volatile, emotionally scarred sorcerer who can't seem to decide whether to love her or kill her.
This book was a refreshing change for me, I haven't read a good fantasy for quite a while and I was looking forward to getting back into one, and from the first page I settled in for a good adventure.
Carin crosses into an eerie wood on her journey and is discovered by a Warlock, he sees her as a threat and threatens to kill her, but she manages to get out of it. Instead she goes back to his home where he uses her skills to his advantage - she can read, and not just normal writing but a mysterious language only she can read. It seems she could hold the secrets he needs in deciphering an ancient puzzle.
This book links to 'Through the Looking Glass' by Lewis Carroll a lot, which I loved as I adore Alice and all thinks Wonderland. It was an interesting mix that actually worked really well and I was intrigued to see what would happen.
There is a good mix of magic, mystery and a bit of romance thrown in there.
The housekeeper made me laugh - she's a bit of a busybody and can talk a mile a minute, she reminded me of someone and it made me chuckle.
Throughout I couldn't tell if the Warlock was really a good guy or a bad guy, he has that rough, angry exterior but moments of softness and caring. He's really one to figure out and sort of becomes a bad guy that you love to hate.
Carin was a bit moany in places but I admired her courage to stand up for herself and her determination to stay independent. The more the book went on the more I found myself liking her. She certainly can be feisty.
The world is well set, I could totally picture everything, from the wild forest to the beautiful gardens in the castle grounds, perfect imagery in my head, and it helped bring the story to life.
I was a bit disappointed by the ending, it's like the whole book builds up to this one thing, and it keeps building, and building and building, then never gets anywhere. I know it's set for book 2 and the rest of the series and I really do love a good series, but I also like each book to kind of hold it's own and this one to me felt a little bit abrupt and too open ended. I now really want to know what happens and will need to get book 2, but I don't have time to read it right now, so by the time I do get it, I probably will have forgotten what had happened, but that feeling of disappointment when there wasn't a proper ending will remain. I can understand why it was done though, but it really lets my experience down. So I would say read it when you have got part 1 and 2 ready and waiting to read.
Want to try it, here's an Excerpt to get you hooked:
WATERSPELL Book 1: The Warlock
by Deborah J. Lightfoot
Chapter 9. The Note
The figure in the doorway seemed half trapped by the darkness of the corridor behind it, its features sunken, hollow, as indistinct as if charcoaled with heavy, slashing strokes. The eyes were lost in pits of deepest black, but still Carin felt the force of the gaze. It drove her back against the window. It made her draw in her breath: one short, quick gasp followed by another so sharp that her throat constricted. And then it gripped her so tightly that she could not breathe again—
—Not until the figure broke its stillness. Stiffly, it leaned to place a lamp upon the table by the door. And as the light fell upon it from this new angle, the face emerged from the gloom to become recognizably Verek’s.
Shadows! Carin told herself fiercely, gulping for her next lungful of air as if the warlock’s movements had triggered a reflex. You’re jumping at shadows. The lamp Verek had held had illuminated his face from directly under his chin, rendering his features grotesque. It was a trick of the light such as children played on Mydrismas Eve to frighten each other with spooky faces.
Carin leaned against the window and kept quiet. With her breath still convulsing her throat, she couldn’t trust herself to speak without a quaver—and any tremble in her voice would betray a fear she didn’t want him to see.
Verek addressed her in cool, clipped tones. “Be easy. I have not devised new torments for you. I know you loathe the sight of me, so I shall keep this visit short.”
He laid a thick volume down, next to the lamp. “This is a book of woods’ lore.” He rested his finger on it. “I charge you to study it well, for your life may depend on a mastery of its contents … You will study the book until you know it better than you know your own mind.
“When spring comes, I will question you to discover the depth and breadth of your knowledge. If I am satisfied that you’ve mastered every particular of each page, I will allow you to continue your journey northward—if that remains your wish. I think it likely, however, that when you have acquired a true understanding of the rigors of that place, you will see that you have come as far north as you can. Venture beyond my borders, and you will not survive.”
Wordlessly then, he picked up the lamp and strode to face her at the window.
Carin recoiled from him, feeling the glass at her back like a sheet of ice against her shirt. The cold crawled up her spine. Her huge supper of half an hour ago lay in her stomach like a lumpfish swallowed whole. To avoid the warlock’s eyes, Carin focused her gaze over his left shoulder. As she stared into the comforting glow of the open bathing-room door, she thought only of holding down her dinner.
Verek shifted the lamp from his right hand to his left and raised the light to Carin’s face. Blinded, she could see nothing of his next movements, and started violently when his fingers touched her chin.
“Turn the bruise to the light,” he ordered, pressing against her jaw.
Carin squeezed her eyes shut and submitted to his examination, though her every fiber screamed a protest. When his fingers moved from her chin to touch her hair and lift it aside, she couldn’t help flinching away from him, her breath a piercing whistle through clenched teeth.
“The bruise remains tender, so it would seem,” Verek muttered, evidently misreading her horror of him for physical pain. “There’s some purpling yet, and slight swelling.” He stepped back a pace and lowered the lamp. “This would now be healed, had the poultice been left in place as I ordered. Who removed the dressing? Myra? Or yourself?”
“I did,” Carin whispered, her head still twisted away from him, her eyes closed. “I wanted to wash the stain off my face.”
“Hmm. If you had permitted the ocher to mar your beauty for a few hours longer, the bruise would now be gone, and the lump with it.
“No matter.” Verek turned on his heel and walked to the door, to replace the lamp on the table. Not looking back, he spoke over his shoulder. “A day’s time will remove the last traces of your injury. Therefore, you may spend tomorrow in bed, or with your books, or as you please. But at first light the morning after, be at your task in the library—or answer to me.”
Then he was gone, the bedroom door closing solidly behind him.
Carin unlocked her knees. She slumped to the floor, where she had no company for a time except the hammering of her heart and the rush of short, quick breaths …
Copyright © 2011–2012 by Deborah J. Lightfoot. All Rights Reserved.
Enjoy a longer sample at www.amazon.com/dp/B00686UIFW
I have got 1 (one) e-book copy of 'Waterspell: The Warlock' to giveaway. Can be in whatever format you prefer, winner will be asked preference.
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