Janice, a true professional with a sharp sense of the craft. She was my very first interview
She'll be back here on October 27 guest posting about first chapters...definitely a post you will not want to miss.
Enough blabbing from me. On to Janice!
Tell us a little bit about Blue Fire.
Nya and the gang are on the run, trying to avoid soldiers and trackers, and of course, the Duke. Nya is still struggling with what she had to do at the end of book one, and feeling pulled in all kinds of directions. The gang decides to flee the city, but things go horribly wrong and they end up in Baseer (not everyone willingly). I really enjoyed putting Nya in the enemy’s city, because she has such a narrow worldview, and this forces her to reevaluate everything she believes and knows. And she learns a few shocking truths that pretty much turns her world inside out.
Blue Fire is your second published novel. How did the experience of having the first in the series already out shape how you approached the writing and editing process for Blue Fire?
It’s like having a whole lot of backstory to deal with that you can’t change. What happened in The Shifter directly affected the plot of Blue Fire, so I had to find a way to make new readers care and understand the story without relying on book one. I struggled for quite a bit before I realized I had to just pretend book one didn’t exist and write book two. Once I had the plot down, I could go back and flesh out where I needed to with the backstory. But it took me five tries to get it right.
When you started The Shifter, did you know how the story would carry through three books?
No, because it wasn’t until about halfway through that I realized it could be a trilogy. I had planned on one book only. Even then, I only had a vague idea of the full story. I knew the arc of the war and the core conflict between the cities, but not how Nya fit into it. That I got to discover as I wrote the trilogy.
As you were writing Blue Fire, and even now with your untitled third one, did you think, “Oh man, if only I’d done THIS plot line instead of this” -- basically finding yourself blocked into a corner or plot? What I’m really asking is about the permanency of your plot since Book 1, The Shifter, is already in print.
Oh, all the time. With book three, I was still doing copyedits on Blue Fire, so I was actually able to go back and change a few things to fit the plot of three. But Blue Fire had to suffer with what I’d done in book one. There were things I really wanted to change as I learned more about the characters. It does force you to get creative to figure out ways to do what you want without contradicting yourself. I’m expecting an email or two from folks who notice details that kinda fell by the wayside, but so far no one has noticed. They’re not major details or anything, but stuff I expected to be more important as the story went on that turned out to be irrelevant and got swept away. Just don’t look under the rug, and it’ll be fine.
Two books in, with your third underway, have your attitudes about being published changed from when The Shifter came out? That is to say, are you more jaded, optimistic, hopeful, or scared?
Not jaded at all, but optimistic, hopeful and scared fluctuate depending on the day. I get optimistic when good reviews or fan emails come in, hopeful that the series will continue to build and gain fans, then scared that no one will like it. It’s a wonderful experience overall, but it does have its terrifying moments when you fear it will all end and you’ll never sell another book. But all I can do is write that next book and make it the best I can. Everything else is out of my control.
Are there any marketing activities you found successful with The Shifter? (And which you’ll repeat for Blue Fire?)
It’s hard to say because there’s really no way to tell what has worked and what hasn’t. My signings have mostly gone well for a new author, and I enjoy those so I’ll keep doing them. The school visits are a great way to tell teens about the book, and I’m doing more this year than last. Blogging seems to be getting my name out there and the blog has grown nicely in the last year. I’ve been very happy with my brochure business cards, and I did more this year, though I skipped the bookmarks. I did postcards to give to schools instead.
What happens after your third book in The Healing Wars series comes out? What are your plans for future books?
A vacation! Actually, by then I hope to have my next novel written and ready to go to my agent. The plan is to start work on that in January, but it’ll depend on when the edits for Shifter 3 are finished. My next book will be a YA fantasy about an undercover teen spy, and I’m really excited about that one. I’ve wanted to do it for a while. Past that I’m not sure. I have five or six ideas, and I’ll have to see where my career is to know which is the best way to go. If The Healing Wars does well, it’ll probably be another MG fantasy series. If it doesn’t, it’ll probably be one of my YA ideas.
What are some recent books you’ve read?
I just finished Rash, by Pete Hautman, plus the first two I,Q books from Roland Smith (who is fast becoming one of my favorite authors), Changeless, by Gail Carriger, Only the Good Spy Young, by Ally Carter.
Have your social media habits changed since you started your blog (The Other Side of the Story) and had The Shifter published?
Some. I try to stay active on forums and social sites, but those are always the first to go when I’m swamped. I did just join Twitter, though I have no clue what to do with it (grin).
Have you been able to quit your day job with this series or since The Shifter came out?
Not yet, and I don’t expect to for a while (if ever). I keep hearing it takes five books or five years, and that if you’re living off the royalties of your backlist by then, you can quit. I have a few years and books to go, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
Tell us a little bit about the three-book contract for The Healing Wars series. You obviously hadn’t written Blue Fire or the third book, which you’re working on now, when you got the contract. What kind of proposal did you need to sell the series?
My agent asked me for a synopsis of books two and three that she could show editors. I did a one-page synopsis for Blue Fire (it wasn’t called that of course) and a half page for book three. That was it.
Can you give us any hints about what to expect from Book 3 in The Healing Wars?
You’ll get to see the war from the series title, and Nya will discover she has a few unexpected tricks up her sleeve. You’ll re-visit some old characters and return with some new ones you’ll meet in Blue Fire. And Nya will get offered a very interesting career choice.
Thanks for taking the time, Janice! You're fantastic!
About Blue Fire
Part fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.
Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer—if she doesn’t destroy it first.
About Janice Hardy
A long-time fantasy reader, Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel.
Buy Blue Fire
Janice's web site
Janice's Writing Blog, The Other Side of the Story