Today, please welcome fantasy author Jean Lamb to my blog.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m nearly 60, and I have over 30 books planned to write. Fortunately, Nana lived to be 97. I work as an accounts payable clerk, and write in my spare time (mainly lunch hours). I grew up reading SF and fantasy, and some of the James Bond books of my mother’s that I sneaked-read. I went to college in the early 1970’s, got a BA in economics (which comes in very handy when creating fantasy worlds), spent four years in the Air Force, and moved to Klamath Falls when I left and my husband got a teacher job there. Have been in K. Falls ever since! Stayed home, though I did some part time stuff, since I was raising kids (one of which was special needs), till 1996 when I began working at the county library. In 2000, I moved up to a full time job with benefits, where I am still working. I am really looking forward to paying off enough bills to retire and write full time!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I have always been a writer in some ways. I was the one who made up good scenarios for the neighborhood gang to play while I was a kid (“rocket ships to Mars by way of the tree house”), soap opera for the Barbie dolls, the inevitable sad attempt at composing musical while in junior high, the book report on Faust (English translation, I wasn’t that precocious) in high school, the horrible little stories sent to Analog as a teen, some of the research papers—er, well, those were factual and footnoted, but I tried to write them so the teacher might enjoy reading them. I just took the long way around to working hard on publishing my work (though I did work on my first fantasy novel while in the Air Force. It seemed like a way to deal with my commanding officer in a way that would not get me court-martialed). I also had a long, pleasant detour in fandom and fan fiction (I write as excessivelyperky at www.fanfiction.net). But now I’m certain I want to spend the rest of my life torturing heroes—um, composing good fiction in the romance, SF, and fantasy genres.
Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?
Phoenix in Shadow is the beginning of a fantasy romance series, though future volumes lean harder on the fantasy. Lady Idabel is a young woman with a hot temper seeking revenge against the enemy who killed her family. Tar-Kapel Demytry is a somewhat older man ruling an empire that seems to be falling apart. He’s given up on love (not that he believed in it that much in the first place), and certainly doesn’t expect to meet the woman who will match him just before he leads an army off to war. There are other strong characters as well; Wolfraven, Demytry’s best friend, who needs to learn to leave married women alone; Dar Fennoy, who also loves Lady Idabel; and Lady Ardry, who can’t help making mischief. The main draft is complete, and I’m working on the retyping and filling of plot potholes stage. I hope to have the book ready by the end of this year; I already have a really nice cover for it.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I do like to have at least a general outline. I also put together a chapter outline, which often goes out the window, though I try to keep in the same direction. I often get the best results when I know my last line; then, no matter how I wander off, I usually end up doing exactly what needs to be done to get to that last line. Sometimes I have to work without that last line, but it drives me nuts till I come up with a good one.
Please tell us about your current release.
Hatchling is a fantasy novel about Tameron dayn Sidian. In the land of Fiallyn Mor, famed for its magic and enchantment, he has no powers and never will. In another family, he’d be all right; there is a place in the country for the non-gifted, if only in the Protector’s Guard. But…he’s the only son of Lord Protector Sidian, and his father plans to make him the heir anyway.
This does not go over well with Sidian’s political rivals, and after an attempted assassination, Tam is sent off to a castle in the north which is supposed to be safer. Well, that’s the idea. Tameron learns a great deal there, but not always what he is supposed to. For instance, there are ‘dragons’ in the hills who are rebels against the established order, which are hunted down like bandits (which sometimes they are). Tam also learns through experience what the common people have to face when their magical overlords are corrupt or vicious, or both.
When he returns from that experience, he is told that he is to marry a young woman who is already in love with somebody else, and who resents being matched with someone who doesn’t have any magic.
He decides that his only alternative is to escape, and find the dangerous world Outside. At least there, he hopes, his genuine skills at swordplay will be valuable. After a long ordeal, he finally discovers that he is free.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I had to do some research in swordplay; my experience in fencing is forty years old! I also had to research horses and their care. I had to draw a map, and then hire someone who actually knew how to draw to make it look like a real map. I also did many pages worth of worldbuilding, because I plan to use the culture of Fiallyn Mor in later volumes (yes, it’s a series). I developed a system of magic based on the elements, as well.
If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?
Yes, Hatchling is the first book of a six book series. The next volume, The Dragon’s Pearl, takes place in the empire of Talisgran, which fell to bits about fifty years prior to this book and now consists of warring provinces. Tameron must learn a new language, though I give him plenty of time to do so, since he quickly becomes acquainted with some new and unpleasant microbes (he picks up something that’s a child’s disease in the city of Sitat, but he’s no longer a child, and it is Not Fun) and needs some recovery time. He later becomes a mercenary through a) bribery and b) lying about his age, and discovers that sieges are boring, except on payday when people become drunk and disorderly and he’s stuck guarding the pay wagon. He also discovers that boring is sometimes a good thing compared to being attacked once the siege is supposed to be over. Still, he learns a great deal, especially when an older mercenary named Hauk takes him under his wing.
What book are you reading right now?
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. At first I found it a bit heavy going, because the hero is introduced to a huge list of characters—but then, the hero is a bit overwhelmed by them all as well. I keep wondering if there is a betting pool on how long the kid lasts in his new position, but I am enjoying the book immensely so far. See, a half-goblin child of the Emperor (political marriage, didn’t go well, long story) is the only survivor of the imperial family after a terrible accident (nobody seems to think it was anything but an accident so far, but you have to wonder…). He’s jerked from a somewhat abusive situation to one where he has the power of life and death over er, just about everyone, actually. At least in theory. And now he’s undergoing the solitary vigil required of every emperor before his coronation.
Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
I once sat in the back of a T-38 jet and learned how to do a barrel roll. See, I was once an Air Force ROTC cadet at Oregon State University back in mid-1970’s. In 1974 (40 years ago!) I went to field training (4 weeks of boot for officer cadets) at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho. As part of our training, we were shipped down to Webb AFB in West Texas in a C-130 (sat on the lovely orange seats in back and tried hard not to think of having to use what they called restroom facilities). During that time, I had the chance to play on a simulator for a bit, and to have a ride in the back of a T-38 jet. Fortunately, my stomach interpreted the experience as ‘fun’ and the pilot was kind enough to show me how to do a barrel roll. Alas, I was too short even for navigator, so for the rest of my four years in the Air Force I flew a desk at Little Rock AFB, but boy, I discovered that flying was a lot of fun.
But he doesn’t. How can he be his father’s heir without the gifts that would make him worthy? How can he make sure the common people are heard?
Wait, there’s more. He finds out he does have one special gift, but it will mean he’ll live the rest of his life as a prisoner, with all his partners chosen for him.
What can he do now? Find out how he discovers what he must finally do. And someday he’ll know what all his dreams of dragons are about.
First volume of a multi-volume series.
You can purchase Hatchlings on Amazon.