Sunday, 12 February 2017

Author Interview: S. Jae Jones | Wintersong

Hey poodles! I have a rather exciting post to bring you today. As some of you may or may not know, the stunning and lyrical debut Wintersong by S. Jae Jones was published by Titan Books on the 7th of February 2017.

Read the synopsis:

All her life Liesl has been enthralled by her grandmother's old tales of the Goblin King; a beautiful, dangerous figure who enraptured her spirit and inspired her musical compositions. Now aged eighteen, Liesl can't help but feel her musical dreams and childhood fantasy are slipping away. But when her sister disappears Liesl find herself once again drawn to the figure that haunts her childhood memories as she journeys deep into the Underground to save her. 

Impressed with the mystical plot and lyrical writing, I decided to interview S. Jae Jones or JJ, as she likes to be called, to explore her inspiration behind the magical world of Wintersong. Here's what she had to say:

"Hello JJ! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. I first fell in love with Wintersong’s synopsis and, sure enough, it turned out to be the enchanting firecracker it promised to be."

"Where did the inspiration for Wintersong come from?"

"Wintersong is essentially a culmination of a lot of things I love: gothic stories, Underworld tales, Mozart, the movie Labyrinth, the trope Death and the Maiden, etc."

"The epigraph of Wintersong is from the popular poem, Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. Were you influenced by any mythical stories or folktale legends before writing Winterising?"

"I’ve always liked fairy tales, folklore, and myths from all parts of the world. I’m the most familiar with western stories, and the one that influenced Wintersong in particular was the story of Der Erlkönig, or the Germanic “king of the fairies.” Der Erlkönig comes from a long line of fey figures related to the Underworld, such as Gwyn the Hunter and the Herla king/hellequin.

But there are many other myths and fairy tales woven into Wintersong: Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, Hades and Persephone, Orpheus and Eurydice. Many of these relate back to the trope of Death and the Maiden that had always fascinated me as a child."

"Music is important to the main character, Elisabeth, in the way she understands her worth in the world and uses it to operate within the Underground. Do you have a soundtrack of songs you listened to whilst writing Winterising?"

"I actually have a couple of soundtracks for Wintersong. One consisted of the pieces of classical music that either inspired me or were referenced in the text, mostly as a way to establish a musical lineage for Liesl. Another consisted of songs that I felt were emotionally relevant to the work in either lyrics or mood, which I put together as a sort of “mixed tape.” The third was a list of instrumental music that I had on in the background as I wrote, mostly because I can’t write to music with words in it, lest the lyrics end up in my own work somehow. That list rotated, depending on what I was working on or what piece I was just really into at the moment."

"From conception to editing, how long did it take to write Wintersong?"

"I drafted Wintersong in 59 days, which is the fastest I’ve ever written anything."

"Your characters’ names are very unique manipulations of commonly used names. How do you name your characters?"

"They’re not unusual names in southern Germany and Austria. Liesl and Sepperl are both diminutives for Elisabeth and Josef (like Liz or Joe), and Käthe is short for Katharina (like Kate)."

"Do you have any advice for aspiring writers that have a story cooking in their heads but cannot get it down to paper?"

"I suppose the first thing I would ask is why they can’t get it down on paper. Is it a lack of time? In that case, it is a matter of making time. Maybe get up a half hour earlier. Maybe arrange childcare once a week.

If the inability to get it on paper stems from not knowing where to start, then I would try and lift the pressure by writing in a journal. Tell the story to yourself and don’t worry about prose, craft, or structure. What is it about the story you love? Why? The more you talk through it without yourself, the more the story will start to take shape, and you can start writing."

"What books are currently on your bedside table?"

"Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate, Stories of Your Life by Ted Chiang, and Windwitch by Susan Dennard."

"What are you most excited about your debut book being published?'

"Holding a physical copy in my hand."

"What do you do when you’re not writing or reading?"

"When I’m not at the day job, I draw and play piano. I contributed the artwork of Liesl that serves as the frontispiece of Wintersong."

"Describe a day in your week."

"I work as a customer financial services analyst during the day. The job is fairly flexible, so I like to go into the office early, around 7AM. I finish up around 3:30PM, so depending on the day of the week, I’ll go to the gym for an hour before coming home to take a shower and make dinner. Then around 7PM I will sit down to write. I try to write until about 9PM, at which point I go to bed with a good book."

"Quick fire round! Try to answer these in one or two words."

Favourite Wintersong character 
Biggest author inspiration
Philip Pullman
Favourite day
Halloween! I call it Goth Christmas.
Tea or coffee
Coffee first thing in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
Favourite food
Korean food, especially when cooked by my grandmother.
Cats or dogs
Dogs (I’m allergic to cats).
Favourite childhood story
Sitting on my family’s piano bench at age 3, picking out the tune to Yankee Doodle using only the black keys. I asked my parents for piano lessons, but my mother told me to wait until I was 4.
Standalone or series junkie
Series. I like spending a lot of time with characters.
Nocturnal writer or ‘early bird catches the worm’ writer: Unfortunately, I’m a nocturnal writer despite the fact that I’m a morning person.
Dream place to visit
Biggest fear
I have a mild fear of heights that I routinely ignore to jump out of perfectly good airplanes.
Which book would you want to be stranded on an island with
Does the entire His Dark Materials trilogy count?

You can find JJ on her WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads.
Purchase the book Wintersong on Amazon.

*** What book are you excited about coming out in 2017? ***

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