Friday, October 15, 2010

Interview with Janet Lee Carey

Yesterday, I reviewed The Dragons of Noor by Janet Lee Carey. Today, Janet kindly consented to answer a few of my questions, so here she is!

In The Dragons of Noor, we get to see more of the amazing cultures and landscapes of Noor and Oth. How did you come up with such diverse and fascinating worlds? How did you create their language?

As a fantasy writer I’m always aware that I’m working within an ancient storytelling tradition. Many of us write of wild woods, strange creatures, fairy folk, and dragons. The challenge is to bring freshness to each new tale. World Building happens through a process of daydreaming and determined exploration. I put myself into the story; walk in it and through it as any explorer does. The world comes alive as I enter with my senses open. The practical side of World Building comes later as I try and create a consistent, vivid world. However, I’m keenly aware that the world doesn’t have to make complete rational sense. Our natural world is wild. Not perfect or neat. A perfect world is a sterile one. The worlds that evolve in my stories have to feel real.

You asked how I create the languages. I’m a very auditory writer. Language is music. In the beginning I hear the new words as a kind of music and spell them as I hear them. Language building like world building is a very slow process. I hope readers will enjoy writing messages using the Othic Alphabet in the back of the book. The letters correspond with our own so you can write coded messages in it.

Were any parts of the story based on old stories or myths?

The World Tree is an symbol used in many cultures and traditions such as Yggdrasil from Norse Mythology. You can see an illustration of Yggdrasil on this website [or on the right here]. Other Indo-European traditions and Native American tales feature a World Tree.

In the Noor books the World Tree, Kwen-Arnun, has its own cosmology. Kwen-Arnun is both male and female. In the second age a great quake shook NoorOth breaking Kwen-Arnun in two and splitting the worlds apart. The damage caused by the broken tree and the separation of the two worlds sets up The Dragons of Noor.

What is your writing process?

I do a lot of daydreaming before I ever go to the page. Once the story idea is strong and the characters are facing trouble, I dive in to see how they’ll handle it. I already knew Miles, Hanna, and Taunier from The Beast of Noor. This adventure had to challenge each of them in a new way. Once the first draft is finished, I circle back and read it to see what’s missing and what’s needed to strengthen the story. Later when I’m working with my editor, I rewrite it numerous times adding new scenes and cutting scenes (and characters) that no longer fit. I don’t toss out the cut scenes. An entire scene sequence from The Dragons of Noor ended up in another novel.

Which character do you relate to the most?

I’m close to Hanna. I felt unsure of myself growing up and somewhat out of place. Hanna is reluctant to take on a leadership role in this novel, but she’s challenged to do just that. She steps into her power. I learned something about how to step into my own power through her.

What was the most fun part of the book to write? What was the hardest part?

I loved writing the early scenes when the ancient forest is toppling down. I wrote those chapters in the hospital while my son was having surgery – they took me away from the hospital setting and the story seemed to echo in those places. Later I loved writing the scenes with the Dragon Queen who is powerful, frightening, and driven to do what she has to do to save her dragon pack.

You often do some kind of outreach along with a book launch. What are you doing for The Dragons of Noor?

Loss of the ancient trees is central to the book, so I looked for just the right charitable organization to celebrate the launch. I found a perfect fit with The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees.

Plant a Billion Trees' goal is to restore one billion native trees to Brazil's highly endangered Atlantic Forest over the next 7 years. “Tropical forests are the lungs of the earth, filtering out ten million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year. Every day these valuable trees help reduce global warming.”

Readers who want to help restore the forest can check out the “Giving Back” page on my campaign page.

What can readers expect from you next?

I’m working on the sequel to Dragon’s Keep. In this medieval tale, currently titled Tess of Dragonswood, an abused girl charged with witchcraft escapes in leper’s garb and challenges powerful fey magic to craft life and love on her own terms. We’re in the final revision stages now and hope to see it hit the shelves in fall 2011.

Thank you so much for the interview, Janet!

For anyone in the Seattle/Kirkland area, Janet's launch party for The Dragons of Noor will take place at Parkplace Books in Kirkland on Saturday, October 23rd, from 7-9 p.m. Anyone is welcome to attend!


Apoorva Chowdhary said...

Ooh that's cool! Thanks for posting all of the questions and answers!

Nonie said...

Lovely interview! Janet's answers are so thoughtful and I like your questions too. ;)