Today I’m sitting down having a virtual chat with my Indies Unlimited buddy, Yvonne Hertzberger. I’ve been reading and enjoying her new book, The Dreamt Child and want to know more about it.
The Dreamt Child is book three of the Earth’s Pendulum series, a historical fantasy. What was the inspiration behind this series?
Oh my, that’s a hard one to answer. In the beginning there was the word – no, not THAT Word. LOL, but in a sense that is exactly how it happened. I began what I thought was a short story. It became a novel and before I was half-way finished it morphed into the Earth’s Pendulum trilogy. So you could say the inspiration came from the characters who wanted their stories told.
Did you know when you began writing Back from Chaos, the first book, that you were going to write a series? Did you have the three books plotted out already, or had you only planned the one book and found you had more to say?
While, as I said, I did not set out to write a series, it became clear to me very early on that one book would never satisfy the story that needed to be told. I really thought I was
crazy, nuts, odd at first. I mean, do characters really tell you
what to write and what they need to do? They are not real, are they? How can
that happen? I’m supposed to be the boss aren’t I? (See what I mean? I am still
arguing with them.) In the years since I have heard from so many authors that
the same thing happens to them that I now feel I am in good company – odd or
not. I like here it in Weirdland. I’m right at home here, now.
I am right there with you. I’ve also found that my characters may end up having vastly different ideas about where the story’s going to go than I do.
Anyway, to get back to the question, they soon let me know that it would require three books to tell their story. The key parts of the plot-line were firmly etched into my brain, but the wheres and hows worked themselves out as I went along.
Is this book the last of the series, or are there more Earth’s Pendulum stories tucked away in your brain?
This is definitely the final book in this particular series but I have not ruled out going back to that world in a different time period for more stories. Not right now, though.
What would you say is the greatest advantage to writing a series? The biggest disadvantage?
First let me say that I love series as a reader. I don’t like to leave a world where characters have become old friends. I want to follow them further along. So I think it was natural for me to write that way. I think most of us try to write what we like to read – or close to it. The best thing about it is that there is no need to create a whole new world. The first book takes care of most of that, although it is always expanding with greater detail. And I am able to keep at least some of the characters around so they don’t need to be invented.
On the other hand, keeping characters from previous books around create the challenge of having them continue to grow and change, just a real people do.
The biggest disadvantage, in my opinion, is more to the readers than myself. If they have read early parts of the story they are eager to carry on. It takes me about two years to write a new book. That’s a long time to make fans wait.
You have a lot of characters in your books; do you find it’s easy to keep track of them in your mind, or do you have to refer to notes?
Funny you should ask. J I really don’t have trouble keeping them straight until a beta reader or editor tells me too many of them sound the same and I ought to change some names. That’s when it gets a little rough. In The Dreamt Child I inadvertently changed two names to the same new name. Now that was an editing nightmare. One click in Word and I had two enemies with the same name. Yikes!
Yes, that would definitely be a problem!
I think readers who like series, especially fantasy series, generally expect a lot of characters and seem to be able to cope with the large cast.
In The Dreamt Child, Liannis, the main character, can mind-speak with her animal companions, a horse and a kestrel. Did you grow up with pets? Did you wish you could communicate with them telepathically?
Oooh, that’s a cool question. Yes, I grew up on farms, mostly, so there were always animals around. All my early life we had a dog, sometimes added a cat, and also kept rabbits outside in a cage. When I was fourteen I trained a German Shepherd puppy. He was so clever and eager to please it seemed we did communicate telepathically. That pup, quite literally, saved my life by being my best friend when I had no others and was going through a horrid period. He knew my moods and was my rock.
So, in a sense, now that you have led me to think about it, it seems natural that there be animal companions my protagonist, Liannis, can communicate with. It really doesn’t seem alien to me at all.
Anything else can you want to tell us about the book?
My biggest struggle has been to find a way of categorizing the trilogy in a way that readers will find it and that what they get is what they hoped for. Fantasy is a huge potpourri of different styles and types. And it is lumped together with Science Fiction. When I tell people who are unfamiliar with it that my work is Fantasy they think of magic, spells, mythical creatures and alien worlds. My books have none of that. The only reasons it has to be classed as fantasy is that my world is not an actual historical place, and that it has a seer in it who get communications from the goddess on occasion. So it would also appeal to those who read historical fiction, historical romance, or anything in a Medieval setting.
One happy event occurred when I asked Rosanne Dingli, an author whose work I admire, if she would write me a commendation for the front of the book. She referred to my story as “Magical Realism”. I think that hits the nail right on the head. (Thank you Rosanne) Unfortunately no such category actually exists, something I hope will change.
What other books or blogs have you written?
Of course, it is by now obvious that there are two previous books in this trilogy: Back From Chaos and Through Kestrel’s Eyes.
My blog is embedded in my website. I don’t write my own pieces nearly as much as I ought to but I do share posts from others that I think are relevant and interesting to my followers. I think I would enjoy blogging more if I had more time and if I found my computer more user friendly.
I also have contributions in:
Indies Unlimited 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
Indies Unlimited: Tutorials for Prospering In A Digital World
What are you working on currently?
Mostly I am fighting with my anxiety over computers, promotion, marketing and all things connected with those. Many people understand computer logic. My mind simply doesn’t work that way. So I struggle with each and every aspect of social media. I am trying to find the nerve to do a Facebook Event for this book. And I have a “real” launch party planned locally that I am putting a lot into. Even food. Want to come? It’s on Jan. 18, 2014, here in Stratford.
Since I’m in Arizona, that’s just a tad out of my way. However, I will be happy to direct more folks your way.
That said, I am working on a new novel and have an idea for another, each totally unrelated to the trilogy or to each other. The first one will be more of a (non)historical fiction/romance. No paranormal in this one but I think it will still appeal to a similar audience. The second one is a real departure with regards to setting, and time. The idea for that one came to me in a dream. Strange for someone who almost never remembers her dreams.
My spiritual fantasy came from a dream. We may not remember most of them, but when they have a story to tell, they can do it in a very compelling way.
What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser?
I’d have to put myself firmly in the pantser club. However, I do have key events in mind as I write and know where I want to end up. I don’t write them down, though. That would feel too constricting. lol
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
No, not so far. I am tempted, though, with the two story lines I have in my head. I worry that one will disappear if I don’t write it, that I will lose the thread or the inspiration. Dreams tend to fade over time.
When you're not writing, what’s your favorite activity?
That’s easy. For the last six months it has been to spend time with my new grandson. When we can’t actually visit in person as they live a 2 ½ hour drive away, we visit on Skype. He’s the joy of my life.
Oh, and I love to sing, so I am a member of the Stratford Concert Choir. We sing some really challenging things and put on four or five concerts every year. December is always Handel’s Messiah month. I’m a high soprano.
Otherwise I love to garden when the weather allows. I also love to read but am a slow reader and have so little time for it. I like to cook for company and have friends over, two at a time. As an introvert, larger groups take the stuffing out of me.
In my next life, I’m choosing musical parents who will encourage that part of my education, including voice. I love to sing but do not have a good voice, so that will have to wait until my next trip around.
What’s the best part about being an indie writer?
I suppose you could call me a bit of a control freak. I love that no one can tell me what my title will be, what my cover will look like and what I need to remove or include in my manuscript. I love being part of the indie writing community and have more friends there, real friends though I have not met most of them. I love the give and take there, the generosity between Indie writers on Facebook groups and especially Indies Unlimited. Writing is a solitary activity and the connections I have as an Indie have kept me from feeling isolated.
I wholeheartedly agree. We’ve got some fabulous indie groups online, and they understand us like no one else.
If I were offered a contract by a publisher tomorrow it would have to be extremely good to give up being an Indie. (Hey, I’m broke – like most Indies. I did say ‘extremely good’.)
You’re able to invite three people (alive or dead) to dinner. Who do you invite, and how do you seat them?
That’s a tough one.
One would be Victor Hugo. His insights into social issues were so ahead of his time. It would be fascinating to see how he would view our time and culture.
Possibly Angelina Jolie. I find her so interesting. She’s a class act, not at all how the media used to portray her. I admire her intelligence, ethics and passion.
Oh, I know. I’d fly J.D. (Dan) Mader in. He is a fine writer, a wonderful person and I have sort of adopted him as my nephew. His life and his views on human nature are so deep and so generous. He’s young enough to be my son but I have learned from him.
We’d all sit around a small round table, close enough that we could almost put our heads together. That allows for a truly intimate conversation. There would be lots of simple, good food, fresh coffee and, well yes, sweets and chocolate, too. The room would be private so no one could overhear or interrupt us and we’d talk all night.
Too bad! I think I’d like to be a fly on the wall in that room!
What is the one book that you wish you had written, not because it was successful but just because you thought it was the best book ever?
That’s easy. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. (Do you see a theme here? Lol) Although I’ll stick with the 1100 page abridged version, thank you.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Listen to all the advice you can. Then digest it and keep only what you know in your gut works for what you are trying to do. There are no laws, only rules, and rules can be broken if you know how.
Best advice ever. Too many follow the “rules” of “experts” and only find out later that they just don’t work for their stories. However, it often takes time to build up the confidence to go against the tide.
Yvonne, thanks so much for taking the time to answer all my questions.
My pleasure. This was really fun. You had some great questions. Thank you for having me.
Find out more about Yvonne below.
Yvonne Hertzberger lives in Stratford, Ontario with her spouse, Mark. She calls herself a late bloomer as she began writing at the ripe age of 56. The first two volumes of her Fantasy trilogy, ‘Earth’s Pendulum’ have been well received and the third is being published at this time. She loves to sing, garden and spend time with like-minded people and family.
She is a contributing author of Indies Unlimited.
Where can we connect with you?
Blog: see website
FB Author page: https://www.facebook.com/EarthsPendulum.YvonneHertzberger.author