Many writers think it might be cool to be interviewed about their writing. However, for a writer that isn’t well known, those opportunities may not come along very often. And then, for those who have been interviewed often, the questions may get mundane and tedious. “Why do they keep asking that question? They think they are being clever, but they’re not!” So, why not an “Interview in the Mirror”? Interview yourself, ask good questions, and enlighten those who are interested in your work. Sound weird? Not really, writers speak in many voices already. Our characters speak to us and we write their words on the page. How is this any different? Just think of it as “Frequently Asked Questions…in a narrative format. Imagine, if you like, that the interview is taking place in some exotic location. It’s not a new concept, but it’s the first time I’ve tried it. I hope you enjoy it.
IITM: So, we’re here today to talk about your writing. There’s a rumor that you’ve started a second book, a sequel to Draegnstoen? Tell us about that.
Jeff: Yes, it’s true. After I had written Draegnstoen, it had gotten a lot of positive feedback. One of the first people who read it all the way through was my brother. After he finished, he called me up to tell me how much he enjoyed it and one of the things he said was “You should write a sequel.” I laughed at that, I’d never even considered a sequel to Draegnstoen. Later, after I secured an agent, she also said I should start thinking about a follow up to the first one. That sort of woke me up to the idea. I pondered the possibilities and realized that I hadn’t left myself a jump off point for a sequel. The loose ends had pretty well been wrapped up in Draegnstoen.
IITM: Couldn’t you just continue the story?
Jeff: I thought about that. But I wrote Draegnstoen as Historical Fantasy. It takes place on the edge of history. To continue the story brings us more into the realm of tangible history, rather than fantasy, and starts pushing into many stories that have already been told, such as Arthur. So, what to do? I felt hemmed in. I finally decided to back away from history and move again into fantasy. If I was going to do that, I had to move north.
IITM: North, from northern England into Scotland?
Jeff: Yes. Scotland, in the fifth century was the domain of the Picts, an earlier people who were eventually assimilated by the Scots. But I had used the Picts in Draegnstoen. They were an intriguing people, and there is precious little hard information about them. Their history is sketchy I was amazed how little fiction had been written about them. Very little is known about them and so it was fertile ground for a story. The main character in the second book ends up being the nephew of Coel, the main character from Draegnstoen.
IITM: So, this second book, do you have a name for it?
Jeff: Yes, that evolved slowly as well. The original working title was “The Blue Land”, because when the Picts go into battle, they paint their bodies blue with woad. As time went on, the title seemed lame, and I needed a new one. I meet a couple of times a month with a writing group and so I asked them for suggestions. Cheri, Janie, Dan and Lynds gave me many suggestions. I’m not sure who gave the recommendation, but I settled on “Highland King”. And once I had the title, the story started to fall into place.
IITM: How does that happen for you?
Jeff: It’s a strange process. At first you have nothing. A few ideas start to swirl around, but there is still no substance. Finally, after awhile, some…thing of substance appears. It’s tangible in some way. You leave it, go back to it, and it’s still there. There is something to hold on to, to build on.
IITM: And the writing, do you start with chapter one and work your way through it?
Jeff: That’s mostly how Draegnstoen happened, but I’ve just written Highland King as its come to me. The chapter that makes the most noise gets written first. It’s going to be terrible to put together all the pieces!
IITM: So, briefly, what is the story about?
Jeff: I’ve made various attempts to verbalize it and it always comes out differently…It’s dark, much darker than Draegnstoen, there’s more fantasy, but not really out there fantasy. It’s fantasy that could almost be real. Scotland, almost 900 years before William Wallace. Okay, here’s a short pitch: It’s the story of a broken kingdom, an invading army and a war that has gone on for hundreds of years, so long that no one remembers the cause. It’s a story of power, betrayal, epic love and epic battles, of heroes and champions, the coming of a legendary king; the magic of women, the power of silver and the stone of destiny.
IITM: Great! Thanks Jeff, we’ll continue the interview in the next blog posting.