As part of the blog tour launching Sela, the second book in the Leland Dragon Series by author Jackie Gamber, today, I have with me, the author herself! We are talking about Jackie’s journey as an author, her books, the Leland Dragon Series and how it originated and a lot more! So, what are we waiting for? Lets get started!
Interview with Jackie Gamber
author of the Leland Dragon Series
Describe your series. What genre would you classify it into?
The Leland Dragon Series is full of magic, mysteries, dragons, and more; the heart of High Fantasy. But more than that, the characters deal with identity issues, fears, dreams…all those things we all deal with in our modern world.
How did you come up with the idea for the series?
The characters introduced themselves to me, and, in particular, Kallon Redheart. Their world filled in around them, as I explored the story. Let it unfold as I was washing dishes, sleeping, or waiting in line at the bank. Most of my ideas come by way of the characters, and then it goes from there.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing very young. The trickier part of that question is answering the why—it’s a bit like trying to figure out why some kids climb trees, or collect marbles, or play with dolls, or paint, or play video games. I seemed to be an observer-type and I wrote out poems and story bits to process through what I was seeing. Or feeling. I’ve always been intrigued by mysteries, and writing is one way I explore that.
Who is your favorite character in the series?
I like different characters in my series for different reasons, but the wizard, Layce Phelcher, has been my homage to one of my favorite comedienne, Lily Tomlin. I like to put Layce into scenes. I don’t even have to wind her up. I just let her go, and she spins.
What has been the hardest part of writing the series?
With Seventh Star Press, REDHEART is a second edition. I’ve experienced a large writing gap between the first and the second books; with REDHEART written and released, I spent years on short stories, novellas, and other projects as my career expanded. So, although I had always planned SELA as the next generation of Leland, my biggest challenge was keeping the world, and the characters, fresh to me. Never too far away in my mind, so the story would stay true to my original vision.
How has your journey from writing to getting published been?
My journey to publication has been, in a word, rocky. I’ve been writing for a long time, from even before the digital revolution that has sent the industry into its current evolutionary throes. And the garnering critical attention, the finding a reader base, the salesmanship of building a career—that’s a test for anyone, let alone an introverted, hippie geek, “We are the World” type like me!
Who designed the covers of the series?
Aren’t the covers for REDHEART and SELA gorgeous? Matthew Perry is the artistic genius of them, as well as the interior art that comes with it.
Did you learn anything from writing this series and what was it?
Wow, did I ever learn. The most valuable take-away I’ve gotten so far, is that I’m more capable of holding on, and hanging in there, than I’ve given myself credit for. And, even better, I can hang on and still give it everything I’ve got.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?
Technically, I did have a chance to do so, between the first edition and second edition of REDHEART! But I didn’t change a word. Not because my execution of the story is perfection (is there such a thing, anyway?) but because the story itself is still the one I wanted to tell.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
There’s a different answer to that for my readers, than for myself, I think. With readers, I hope the challenge (with all my writing) is to point of view. Reading is entertainment, of course, first and foremost. But beyond that, I want a reader to feel a little differently afterward. See life from a new perspective. Challenge what you think you know.
For me, I struggle all the time with that concept of “perfection” as I mentioned. Is this the right word, or is there a better one? Is this passage award-worthy? Is it uplifting? As emotionally responsive as it could be? I want every project to be at the cutting edge of my abilities, each time. I want to challenge what I think I know.
What are your current projects? When is your next book coming out?
I’m in the middle of so many exciting things! My husband and I have established Allotrope Media, a film, book, and music outreach to harness all the storytelling elements of our digital multi-verse. I’ve written several film scripts based on my short stories, and I’m in the process of my first feature-length screenplay.
I’m also writing a steampunk fantasy novel, THE PUPPETEER, for New Babel Books. And of course, the third book of the Leland Dragon Series, which will take readers into the mysterious, dangerous Murk Forest, and in which the dragon hunger, Jastin Armitage, finds himself hunted.
What book are you reading now? Which are your all-time favourite authors / books?
I read a lot of non-fiction when I’m involved in my own writing projects. I think because it fires different brain cylinders. Most non-fiction reading of late has been related to how-to’s on screenplay and such, but in my stack of to-be-read fiction are Asimov’s FOUNDATION and Philip K. Dick’s A SCANNER DARKLY, among others.
Who are your favourite Indie authors?
I believe Indie authors, and Indie presses, are pushing the bell curve for what publishing is going to be in the coming decade and beyond. Seventh Star Press is a leader of the pack, borrowing the best of what traditional publishing can do, with the more personal relationship with readers that Indie press does. Some of my favorite Indie authors are right here, beside me, with Seventh Star Press! Go explore the website and find all kinds of new voices to enjoy!
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you, something you could not read just about anywhere.
Let’s see. I could probably come up with lots of facts, but I’m not sure they’d be “good to know”! How about:
- If I could hire a household helper, I’d love a cook! I just can’t seem to find the time (or the motivation) to create interesting menus. If I am what I eat, these days I’m mostly frozen. Canned. Or fast.
- I love the zoo! Memphis has a great, growing zoo, and I would use my membership card until it disintegrated, if I had more opportunity. Sometimes I take my laptop, and do my writing there.
- I believe green tea lattes are nature’s most perfect food. I’ve learned to make them at home with green matcha powder, Splenda, skim milk, and a frother we got for Christmas a couple years ago. Sheer indulgence, but with all kinds of benefits!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?
I love readers (and not just because I am one)! You are so important to the writing expression. Communication, even with art, is a circle from one, to the other, and back again. There’s little satisfaction in talking to a brick wall; it’s lonely. Writing stories without readers feels the same way.
On writing in the Fantasy genre
How and when did you start writing fantasy?
I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started writing fantasy; it seems I’ve always been a genre girl. I do remember one of my first fantasy books that made me think “I want to do that!” I bought it through the Scholastic Book Club in elementary school. THE FRIGHTENED FOREST, by Anne Turnbull, is story with magic and trees, and a wizard and a witch. I loved it, although I didn’t realize at the time it was “fantasy”.
How do you come up with names for the characters and places in your books?
I actually do have a standard for names in my books! They must be easy to pronounce. I like to take a name we might be familiar with and change out a letter or two. Take one off. That way, it’s comfortable enough to feel real, but different enough to feel “other-worldly”.
Which do you think is more important, world building or character building?
I can’t say as I think world building or character building are in competition. Setting can even be its own character, if done well. I do think genre writers can fall into a habit of becoming so infatuated with their own world creation that they forget why the rest of us are reading: to find out what happens! But characters are a product of their own environment, and must stay true to that in order to be believable.
How easy is it for you to write non-human characters?
I actually enjoy that part of writing so much. It’s likely how I landed in this genre! I like to test boundaries, to challenge perceptions, and how better to do that, than to write through a character that isn’t even human? It’s a whole playground, in the mind of an alien (even if the character isn’t literally an extra-terrestrial).
If you could not write in the F/SF genres, what would you be writing?
Mysteries. I love having a puzzle to work out. The good thing is I can include a mystery into any story. I do love to read a good murder mystery, but that’s not the only kind of intrigue to play with.
ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
All of them!
Cats or dogs?
I like cats. I love dogs.
Coffee or tea?
Tea! Lots of it.
Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream?
What are 4 things you never leave home without?
Depending where I’m going: a book. Driver’s license. Pen. And pants of some kind. One should never leave the house without pants.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I write all day, some days, but I love mornings. At home, on my yellow desk. Snoring bulldog at my feet.
If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you and why?
MacGyver, because he’s a genius with a paper clip, Ray Bradbury, because wow, the conversations we could have!, and Rosa Parks, because we’d need someone very courageous.
List 3 of your all-time favourite movies and 3 of your all-time favourite music bands.
Movies: “Princess Bride”, “Mystery Men”, “Anchorman”. Bands: REO Speedwagon, Genesis, Chicago
Which is your all-time favourite song (only one song please)?
“You’re the Inspiration” by Chicago. It’s been my and my hubby’s song since before we were married—more than 25 years ago.
What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
Wow, have you seen “Spaced” with Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson? It’s brilliant. Available on Netflix, if you like streaming.
About Author Jackie Gamber
As an award winning author, Jackie writes stories ranging from ultra-short to novel-length, varieties of which have appeared in anthologies such as Tales of Fantasy and Dragons Composed, as well as numerous periodical publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, The Binnacle, Mindflights Magazine, Necrotic Tissue, and Shroud.
She is the author of the fantasy novel Redheart, and writing an alternate history time travel novel. She blogs professionally for English Tea Store.com, where she reviews classic science fiction and fantasy novels and pairs them with the ideal tea-sipping companion. Jackie is a member of the professional organizations Science Fiction Writers of America and Horror Writers Association. She was named honorable mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award, and received a 2008 Darrell Award for best short story by a Mid-South author. She is the winner of the 2009 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction for her story The Freak Museum, a post-apocalyptic tale that looks closely at perceptions and outward appearances and how they affect the way we see ourselves.
Jackie was signed to Seventh Star Press in September of 2010, to publish her full Leland Dragon Series. Book One, Redheart, was reissued in March of 2011, with Book Two, Sela, to follow in the beginning of 2012, and the third book of the series in early 2013.
For more information on Jackie, please visit her official website at:
About Jackie’s books - the Leland Dragon Series
Book 1: Redheart
Enter the lands of Leland Province, where dragon and human societies have long dwelled side by side. Superstitions rise sharply, as a severe drought strips the land of its bounty, providing fertile ground for the darker ambitions of Fordon Blackclaw, Dragon Council Leader, who seeks to subdue humans or wipe them off the face of the land.
As the shadow of danger creeps across Leland Province, a young dragon named Kallon Redheart, who has turned his back on dragons and humans alike, comes into an unexpected friendship. Riza Diantus is a young woman whose dreams can no longer be contained by the narrow confines of her village, and when she finds herself in peril, Kallon is the only one with the power to save her. Yet to do so means he must confront his past, and embrace a future he stopped believing in.
A tale of friendship, courage, and ultimate destiny, Redheart invites readers to a wondrous journey through the Leland Dragon Series.
Book 2 – Sela
Peace was fleeting. Vorham Riddess, Venur of Esra Province, covets the crystal ore buried deep in Leland’s mountains. His latest device to obtain it: land by marriage to a Leland maiden. But that’s not all.
Among Dragonkind, old threats haunt Mount Gore, and shadows loom in the thoughts of the Red who restored life to land and love. A dragon hunter, scarred from countless battles, discovers he can yet suffer more wounds.
In the midst of it all, Sela Redheart is lost, driven from her home with only her old uncle to watch over her. As the dragon-born child of Kallon, the leader of Leland’s Dragon Council, she is trapped in human form with no understanding of how she transformed, or how to turn back.
Wanderers seek a home, schemes begin to unfurl, and all is at risk as magic and murder, marriage and mystery strangle the heart of Esra. A struggle for power far older and deeper than anyone realizes will leave no human or dragon unaffected.
In a world where magic is born of feeling, where the love between a girl and a dragon was once transformative, what power dwells in the heart of young Sela?
- Sela by Jackie Gamber tour announcement (frellathon.com)
- Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop (frellathon.com)
- Sela by Jackie Gamber – REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY! (kaitlinmichelle.com)
- Sela by Jackie Gamber tour (frellathon.com)