This month, it's my privilege to interview Janalyn Voigt. I discovered her via the ACFW loop, which directed me to her web-page Novel Books. As a result, I've added two enjoyable books to my library through contests she offered. DawnSinger, Janalyn's debut novel will be released July 3rd, and it's currently available for pre-order on Amazon.
JR: Welcome to Hoosier Ink, Janalyn. Could you start off by telling us about yourself and what prompted you to start writing.
JV: It happened over time. My father instilled a love of literature in me at an early age when he read chapters from "The Wizard of Oz," "Robinson Crusoe" and other classics as bedtime stories. When I grew older, and he stopped reading bedtime stories, I put myself to sleep with tales I "wrote" in my head.
As a precocious reader, I soon graduated to the novels in my parent's bookcase. I'm sure those books contributed to my growth as a writer. Eventually, I scribbled my own stories on paper. A teacher noticed my storytelling ability when I was twelve. As a result of his encouragement, I identified my desire to write novels.
I live in a beautiful corner of the Pacific Northwest. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, gardening, and finding adventures in the great outdoors. I dream of owning a horse, exploring all the national parks, and visiting European castles.
JR: Congratulations on the release of DawnSinger. Could you give a brief synopsis for the story?
JV: The High Queen is dying… At the royal summons, Shae mounts a wingabeast and soars through the air to the high hold of Faeraven, where all is not as it seems. Visions warn her of danger, and a dark soul touches hers in the night. When she encounters an attractive but disturbing musician, her wayward heart awakens. But then there is Kai, a guardian of Faeraven and of Shae. Secrets bind him to her, and her safety lies at the center of every decision he makes. On a desperate journey fraught with peril and the unknown, they battle warlike garns, waevens, ferocious raptors, and the wraiths of their own regrets. Yet, they must endure the campaign long enough to release the DawnKing—and the salvation he offers—into a divided land. To prevail, each must learn that sometimes victory comes only through surrender.
JR: I'd like to hear about the journey it took for your book to get published.
JV: My Tales of Faeraven series, of which DawnSinger is book one, began as a story to entertain my little girl during a drive. For the main character of my story, I twisted the name of her doll, Cinda, and came up with "Syl Marinda," a half-breed princess in a divided land. Long after my daughter had forgotten that first story, the world of Elderland took shape in my mind. I could picture its trees, creatures, and landscapes. As time passed, the characters deepened and grew, and so did the struggles of the alliance of Faeraven, a group of kingdoms unified under a High Queen in Elderland. Through several attempts, I tried to record the story as it unfolded for me, but I kept backing up in time because much of the history in the story demanded to be told. Syl Marinda doesn't even enter the scene until close to the end of WayFarer, book two in the series. She is the heroine of DawnKing, book three.
I had quite a story lodged in my mind, but I needed to grow as a writer before I could do it justice. I gleaned magazine credits, but I seemed unable to take the next step into becoming a published novelist. I needed to let go of my own vision of how my writing career would play out. It took my receiving a series of disappointments and turning away from writing for a number of years for me to do that. When I returned, I prayed about what I should write, and the answer popped into my head almost immediately. DawnSinger, the first novel of the series I'd abandoned all those years ago. Although I abandoned my writing dream, Tales of Faeraven and its people never left me. If anything they matured as I did, becoming more complex. I now knew them well.
A little over a year after I began writing DawnSinger, I signed a contract with a small press that would later back out of the contract. That was devastating, but I needed to see that I wouldn't turn away from writing ever again. I signed with Harbourlight just a few months later. I lost a contract for one novel but received a two-book contract and found an agent in a single day. Barbara Scott of Wordserve Literary agreed to negotiate my contract and to represent me.
JR: Which of the following best describes DawnSinger: A true allegory like John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress? A story rich with Spiritual symbolism like the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis? Or a story that reflects a Christian worldview like Tolkien's Ring Trilogy?
JV: Wow, that's a tough question because in reality DawnSinger combines all three. Allegory works its way into everything I write, often without my even being aware it's there. Allegory expresses itself through symbolism in my stories. And because I am a Christian, my story just naturally expresses a Christian worldview.
JR: I enjoy reading your interviews and book reviews on Novel Books. Do any interviews stand out as being your favorite (or least favorite)?
JV: I enjoyed interviewing Lauralee Bliss because she described how she found out about a book contract while hiking the Appalachian Trail. I love that she wasn't sitting in front of a computer staring at a screen but actually out living life. Michelle Griep's interview was particularly appealing due to her sense of humor. And when Sarah Sundin explained her writing process, I was taking notes. :o) My least favorite author feature was Stephen Bly's Finding Love in a Classic Western, not because of the quality of the post but because I had to publish it the week he died. He was a dear man and a great writer who is missed by many.
JR: One thing you're doing on the website is a book reading challenge. How are you doing on yours, and any interesting books that you've read?
JV: I've had to back down my reading due to contract obligations, so I probably need to revise my expectations. I'll always read, though, just at a more leisurely pace than a book a week. I don't understand writers who say they don't read. Much of my storytelling craft I've learned from analyzing the books I read. Besides that, reading another author's novel is like sitting down to a dinner you didn't have to cook.
JR: Thank you for your time, and I can't wait to read DawnSinger.
JV: Thanks for featuring me, Jeff. I can't wait for you to read DawnSinger either! :o)
Check out Janalyn's webpages. Maybe you'll be lucky like me and win a book!