Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Interview And Book Giveaway With Janalyn Voigt

 by Jeff Reynolds

How many of you are fans of Tolkien or the Chronicles of Narnia? Yes, I know this page focuses on Suspense and Mysteries, but Ihave a hunch that several of you enjoy the above mentioned stories as well. If you find yourself in that category, you might be interested in learning more about the Tales of Faeraven by Janalyn Voigt. Better yet, you might like to enter the giveaway for one of the three digital giveaways for your choice of her two novels, whichever format you prefer.

Congratulations to Dana, DeAnna, and Elizabeth!

I became familiar with Janalyn via her web-site, Novel Books. I won two novels on her site, both by authors I have interviewed here on Sleuths and Suspects (Donna Fletcher Crow and Suzanne Hartmann).

Jeff Reynolds: Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects, Janalyn. Would you like to start off telling us a little bit about yourself? Your education and vocational background? Your family? (Your husband's name sounds familiar.) Your church background and involvement?

Janalyn Voigt:
I grew up in California and landed in Washington by way of Australia and Hawaii. My husband was in the military, and we traveled a lot. One of my interests happens to be travel, so that worked out well. I have my AS and meant to go into music performance, but the need to make a living eventually me trapped in an office job, proving you can become successful in something you were never meant to do. I eventually escaped into the life of my dreams. My husband is the other John Voigt. I participate in worship team and in a ministry to Moms in my local church.

JR:  Tell us about your series, Tales of Faeraven, and about your current installment, Wayfarer. What inspired the series?

  I started a story about a half-cast princess trying to unite a divided kingdom against a common foe on the spur of the moment to entertain my bored daughter on a road trip. I twisted the name of her doll, Cinda, into Syl Marinda to name the heroine. The story took hold of me and wouldn't let go, even through the years when I gave up on my writing dream. I eventually returned to the story I'd abandoned but kept moving into the back story. It occurred to me that the back story needed to be told and that I had a trilogy to write rather than a single book. Syl Marinda shows up near the end of Wayfarer, book two, and becomes the heroine of DawnKing, the last book in the Tales of Faeraven epic fantasy trilogy.

I like to think of the books as forming a composition similar to a three-movement symphony. The series started on a fast-paced adventure, but then the music slows and grows reflective before buidling on a crescendo that culminates in the final climactic scene. The stories are like a play told by an ensemble cast, with each character important and their individual tales told as the fabric of one overarching storyline.

Wayfarer just released this January. Since it is that slower, deeper passage in the symphony, it shows us the world of Elderland and its people from a more intimate angle. There are dangers here, but many of the monsters found in Wayfarer dwell within the characters. Attaining peace with self is the story’s main theme, the hero’s greatest need and desire, and the thing he can’t capture without change. If he fails, his people will be destroyed. The story problem asks whether the high king of Faeraven can unite a nation divided by his own mistakes. DawnSinger was an epic quest adventure. Wayfarer is more of a love story, both on a romantic level and in relationship to God. I have received feedback from readers that Wayfarer’s thought-provoking themes have challenged them and in one case even changed a life. I wondered if I would be able to retain male readers due to the emphasis on romance within Wayfarer, but male reviewers so far have told me that the romantic element was acceptable.  

JR:  Writing contemporary and historical fiction involves a lot of research so it comes across as authentic. How does writing fantasy differ? [One example I'm thinking of is the language and glossary guide in your books.] What are the benefits and pitfalls of that genre?

  I actually researched 13th-century Europe and medieval siege warfare to write Tales of Faeraven. I had heard that the best fantasy worlds are those most like earth itself. That made sense, when I thought about it, so I did my research. However, there is less pressure for everything to be historically accurate. It does have to adhere to common sense, though, and to be believable. Sometimes what you make up aligns to reality, which can be surprising. I am not a linguist, but I like fantasy names, so I invented the languages in Tales of Faeraven. I then started to notice that they bore similarities to early Anglo Saxon and Celtic patterns, so I took the names those directions.

Some writers shrink from the thought of creating a fantasy world, but really all fiction involves made-up worlds. Writing fantasy allows more freedom of creative expression, and of course that very freedom can be challenging to manage. When I had to draw a rough map of Elderland, it was difficult for me. Until then I'd carried the map only in my head. It was the same when my publisher asked me to put together a glossary of the creatures, features, and foreign words within my series. Next time I invent a world, I'm going to write it all down as I go. :o)   

JR:  Dawnsinger describes a harrowing journey, almost as difficult as its journey to publication. Could you tell us about what it was like, and the equally fun part of marketing the book?

Writing and finding a publisher for DawnSinger took many years and lots of tears. I had to grow as a writer and as a person first. It's interesting that the harrowing journey in the book parallels my own as its author. The tagline of the book says it all: sometimes victory comes only through surrender.

Marketing my books has taken me to some interesting places and stretched me in ways I would never have expected.  I'm introverted and a little shy, so my first inclination at a party is to make like a wallflower. Having books to market forces me into the center of the room. That's good for me, I remind myself. The hardest part was when I went on live international radio for an Alive in Christ interview that was broadcast to 80 countries. (No pressure there, right?) I won't say I did a perfect job of it, but they did offer to invite me back, so I couldn't have been completely horrible.

JR:  Two years ago, you had a reading challenge on your web-site Novel Books, which has encouraged my reading -- I read over twenty books that year, and matched that last year without that motivation. I'm currently on my sixth novel in '14, not counting non-fiction I'm plowing through. On a previous interview I did on with you on another site, you commented "reading another author's novel is like sitting down to a dinner you didn't have to cook." What are your favorite authors/books, both fiction and non-fiction?

It just thrills me to know that, Jeff. I started Novel Books with the idea of sharing my passion for reading. I'm so glad to have inspired you. I don't send it out by feed anymore, but I still post book reviews at that site.

My favorite authors are in fiction Charles Dickens for his larger-than-life characters, Mark Twain for his turn of a phrase and vivid characterizations, Mary Stewart for gorgeous prose, and J R R Tokien for his detailed world and deep sense of story. I don't read much non-fiction, but when I do I tend to pick up autobiographies like Act One, Moss Hart's autobiography, and Mark Twain's Roughing It. I’m currently reading The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer. This is no dry history tome. The author takes the reader, quite vividly, into the time period.    

JR:  What's next? Is there another tale of Faeraven on the horizon? Or something completely different?

  I’m not sure which of the two fantasy series brewing in my mind that I'll pick up first. It may be the story of Daeven, Kai and Shae's missing older brother, or something in an entirely new world. I'm currently finishing DawnKing, and then for a change of pace I'll write Deceptive Tide, a romantic suspense novel as part of the Islands of Intrigue series I'm writing with authors Lynnette Bonner and Lesley Ann McDaniel.

JR:  Thank you for your time. Could you let us know about what you do on your blog page, and any other websites to keep up with your writing journeys? Or where we should go if we'd like to invest in a Wingabeast (flying horse) or tips on keeping Waevens (a spider-like creature with a very nasty bite) out of your house?

I've enjoyed visiting with you, Jeff. Thanks for the opportunity.

Those who want to learn more about wingabeasts, waevens, and the other creatures and aspects of Faeraven can visit the Fantasy Worlds area of my website. I created it as a book extras site to give just a little more to readers who told me they didn't want DawnSinger to end.

Readers can escape into the Creative Worlds of Janalyn Voigt or into creative worlds of travel at my new Literary Wayfarer site, a different kind of travel blog. And I teach other writers to live with passion, write well, and remember to breathe at Live Write Breathe.

Jeff to readers: It's time for the giveaways. As stated, we're giving away three copies of your choice of her two books on your favorite digital format. The rules are simple:
  1. Leave a comment.
  2. Share your e-mail. (You can spell it out like AuntDotKahm(at)ant(dot)com.)
  3. What is your favorite mythological creature? (Mine is an unbiased news reporter.)


  1. I just went to your site Janalyn--loved it! And my favorite mythological creature is probably a dragon, though I'm not sure which dragon. sheiladeeth at gmail dot com

  2. Thanks, Sheila. Sorry to have missed this when you posted it. Best wishes.

  3. Jeff, thanks for featuring my books at your site and for the lovely review.

  4. Great interview! I also write fantasy, and I love hearing about other writers' processes and inspirations. Janalyn, your books sound so intriguing! And I must go check out that Ian Mortimer book now, too. :)

    Oh, and my favorite mythological creature is probably the phoenix. danamichelle3(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. Oh this sounds so cool. I love Narnia, and these look like books I'd really enjoy.

    My favorite mythological creature is a Gryphon. :D

  6. Favorite is probably a hobbit or a gar (once they stopped eating people) like Gratch in the sword of truth series. Klandee@yahoo dot com