Janni Lee Simner's FAERIE WINTER

I'm proud to announce, FAERIE WINTER, the long awaited sequel to BONES OF FAERIE (which I loved) by Janni Lee Simner. She was nice enough to stop by dulemba.com to answer some questions...

Q. Hi Janni! What challenges did you hit writing a second book for this series?

A. Writing a second book scared me at first! Bones of Faerie had been hard for me to write, and in the beginning I let myself be intimidated by writing a sequel: I wanted it to be just like Bones of Faerie, only even better. What I eventually realized is that it's impossible for any book, even a sequel, to be just like the one before. Once I let go of trying to write Bones of Faerie all over again, and freed Faerie Winter up to become its own story, the writing became much easier. (Deciding to set the sequel in winter, when the deadly trees of Bones of Faerie's forest had dropped their leaves, helped a lot with this.)

Q. Unlike most faerie stories that occur in some medieval past, your series occurs in the future. What inspired that decision, and why the location you chose near the St. Louis Arch?

A. The series began with my realizing--only after I wrote the opening chapter of Bones of Faerie, in which protagonist Liza told me it was so--that there'd been a war with Faerie. Once I knew that, I sort of figured out the rest from there. I always thought of Liza's world as being our world, only magically changed, and so it naturally evolved to our near future.

Eventually of course I had to figure out where as well as when the story was taking place. Since I'd started writing Bones of Faerie while still living in St. Louis (I moved away long before finishing it), I decided to set it there. And once I'd decided to set it there, it soon became obvious that I had to make use of the St. Louis Arch, too. (Gateway to the west and--to other things!)

Q. I love how plastic is a valuable commodity in your stories. Do you have a philosophy behind matching magic with these modern supplies?

A. I think for me it's as much about the the effects of time and technology as about magic. There are so many things that are part of our world now that we don't think about, things that if society collapsed we wouldn't be able to recreate in smaller, lower-tech communities. Plastic is one of them. The sort of perfectly clear glass we take for granted is another--the list goes on and on. I was intrigued by the idea of being surrounded by things that we once knew how to make but couldn't make anymore, because the ability to do so was lost in the past--not only things like computers and cell phones, but also more basic things, things we don't even think of as requiring technology. I think that if such a collapse were to happen, even the most ordinary things--like plastic--would take on a sort of metaphorical magic, because they exist, artifacts of a past that's just out of reach, but in the lifetime of the characters, there'll never be more things like them again.

It's intriguing to me to imagine something so commonplace and also so problematic as plastic would take on that sort of magic!

Q. Each of your young characters is born with a special skill, from simple to huge. Can you describe them, and if you had one for yourself, which would it be?

A. Every human born after the War is born with some sort of magic in the faerie books. The magics vary, and I'm still exploring them. Magics that have shown up in the books so far include speaking magics--the ability to talk to animals, or plants, or wind, or fire; shapeshifting magics and magics that can force others to shift; magic for healing, magic for weaving, magic for summoning things to you. Most people are born with just one type of magic, and when it shows up can vary tremendously, but seer magic (the ability to see past, present, and future) tends to get tangled in with other magics. All magic flows in multiple directions--so if you can call something to you, you can push it away; if you can turn into a wolf, you can turn back to a human; if you can heal people with magic, you can also hurt them. Faeries have always been born with magic, but humans are new to it, and still learning how to live with it.

If I could choose, I think I would want to be a shifter of some sort, maybe a raven shifter. I think the magic I admire most is healing magic; I also think that's in many ways the hardest magic to have, though it doesn't always seem so on the surface.

Q. Worlds/Realms overlap in your world. Do you see that as very different or similar to our 'reality'? Death is also somewhat amorphous - how do you see it?

A. That's a hard question! I don't know that I really feel any certainty about whether there might be overlapping realms or not. In a literal way I tend to think that there's only one physical world/universe (at least if you ask me today--I might answer differently tomorrow!), but I also think there are things we don't understand, and that places can have a sense of power about them--so maybe that's a sort of metaphorical way of there being multiple realms.

I'm even less certain about death, much as I wish I had answers there! I think Liza and I are exploring that one together in a way. In Liza's world, death is very close at hand, something you can reach out and touch. In our world, I tend to think of it as a stronger separation--though the dead and the living can be metaphorically very close, because those who are gone do haunt those left behind, emotionally at least. All our presences echo on, in a sense.

And then there are the long-lived faerie folk amid all that death, and their place in the story--this is something I've actually been exploring with the third (and final) faerie book, which I'm working on right now!

Q. And I didn't even ask you about glamour yet! It's quite an evil weapon in FAERIE WINTER. Can say something about it?

A. I don't remember when I decided to make glamour a part of my faerie world. It shows up in other faerie stories, often used as a way for faeries to confuse humans' sight/perceptions, or to make the things of faerie seem unnaturally beautiful and compelling to us. It's always been dangerous magic, but I don't think I knew until I started using glamour in my own story just how harsh it would become there--in the same way that so many magical things became harsher when cast in the cold light of that story's magical War. Glamour is much more absolute in my world, something that not only clouds your sight, but pretty much takes away your will, without your ever understanding it, because you want so much to please the faerie who has glamoured you. I hadn't planned that ahead of time, but it felt right. And everything about my backstory changed, once it was seen through glamour's cold light.

I found writing the Faerie Winter scenes with glamour terrifying. If anyone wants to lure me into Faerie now, they'd find they're too late. I once wouldn't have hesitated to run away to Faerie, but after writing Faerie Winter, I think if I were invited, I would run the other way!

Thanks again for having me on your blog!

Thanks Janni! :) e

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