Hey, everyone! We thought it’d be interesting to get a few thoughts from the author on the day of their book release so here follows a brief interview with JW Whitmarsh about Enchantress Awakening and the Elemental Cycle books to come.
NEXUS: So, first up. What are your feelings on release day?
JW: A real mixture at the moment. Part of me is very happy that people will finally have the chance to read something I’ve written. Equally, there is an amount of nervousness and worry. I don’t think any author is completely happy with what they’ve written and entirely sure that it couldn’t be improved in some way. This feeling becomes magnified when you’ve not had a dedicated editor working with you the whole way. Typophobia is quite strong at the moment.
NX: But surely you’re happy to have your story out there?
JW: Of course. It’s a major step. But knowing your book is only Part One of a story brings an extra kind of pressure. I never intended Enchantress Awakening to be a stand alone tale. For me, the Book of Water was always one book of which this is only the opening act.
NX: Sorry about that.
JW: Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand the reasoning. Newly-published authors rarely get the luxury of putting out a 900 page book on début.
NX: That is true. I guess we also felt that the trilogy is such a well-established part of fantasy literature that it’s something the readership would quickly be able to buy into.
JW: Yes, it does clearly say Part One on the cover. But, on reflection, if I had ever imagined that I had enough material for three books I would have written them differently.
NX: You will get your wish later. We’re only at the beginning here. How long have you been writing in general?
JW: I think most writers start early. I wrote stories in primary school. I remember in Year 7 being asked by other students where I got my ideas from.
NX: What did you tell them?
JW: Then I said ‘from my head’ or ‘I just use my imagination’. It’s not a very good answer, to tell the truth.
NX: What do you say now?
JW: I say I get my ideas from everywhere. Imagination is a misleading term in a way because it suggests that stories come from nothingness, as if they’ve crossed from another dimension. This is never the case, the ingredients for every story are in the world around you. It’s in the the old church that looks like it hasn’t changed from mediaeval times. It’s there when you squint at the lights from a hilltop and see it as fires from a goblin encampment.
NX: So would you say you’ve drawn on your own experiences?
JW: Yes, but often in a very abstract way. I hate the idea that people who know me might think I’ve based my characters on them. I haven’t. Nor have I drawn completely from myself either. Many of my characters have views I disagree with.
NX: Does this mean there is no Caleigh in your real life?
JW: No, there isn’t. Caleigh is an amalgam of muses.
NX: Why choose Caleigh as your protagonist? Did you want to tell a coming of age story?
JW: Actually, Caleigh more or less chose herself as the protagonist. I didn’t start with a coming of age story. My entry point was that my protagonist was to be an Enchanter. The particulars of her character evolved from that.
NX: So you weren’t tempted to tell the story of a male Enchanter?
JW: No. The bond between Caleigh and Loreliath is very strong and I wanted that to be based on empathy. Rightly or wrongly, if Caleigh had been male I think it would have seemed more like a traditional hero saving a damsel in distress. I didn’t want that for this story.
NX: Was this not so with Albion?
JW: No. Albion was inspired by Loreliath but it was never his task to rescue her.
NX: Speaking of which, there are a lot of references to the preceding history of Caleigh’s world. Why not simply write the story of Albion and Caerddyn?
JW: Because that’s the story of Camelot. I think that’s been done, hasn’t it? I wanted that history there. I wanted Caleigh’s world to be rooted in Celtic mythology but I also wanted to write a new story.
NX: Why not simply set it in our world using the Arthurian characters?
JW: I have considered that. In the end I feel the parallel world setting gives a bit more freedom. Not everything has to play out the same way. It’s the same with Sena and Rome. If I wrote about the Roman Empire it would fix the story in real events and limit the scope for deviation. After all, I did want a world where magic roams free. Quite clearly our own history does not record this.
NX: So we shouldn’t expect to hear more from Albion and Caerddyn in future books?
JW: You never know! I don’t rule out writing that tale one day but not until after the Elemental Cycle is complete.