Friday, August 23, 2013

The Wysard by Deborah J. Lightfoot: Interview


Welcome Deborah! Thanks for this opportunity to find out a little about you.  At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?


I've written since I was a kid. My childhood was secluded, growing up on a farm with few neighbors. In my isolation, I found writing to be a more natural form of communication than talking. Not having many people to talk to, I expressed myself in a diary, in letters, in imaginative scribblings. It felt natural. Still does. I'd much rather write than talk.


How do you describe your writing style?


Active. Lots of action, a proper pace (mostly fast but slower as needed), and realistic, sympathetic, believable characters. I know verbs are a writer's best friends and I try to use them well. A carefully chosen verb can convey as much as a paragraph! A literary agent said of my work: "I was very impressed with the tautness of your writing—your avoidance of clichés, your fresh similes, your strong verb choices."


Some might describe my style as "Brontian." I admire Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre and Emily's Wuthering Heights. My dark, dangerous leading man, Lord Verek, owes aspects of his personality to Heathcliff and Rochester. And in my heroine, gutsy Carin, readers may catch echoes of a famously strong female character: Jane Eyre. Writers are shaped by what we read.


Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass shows up in your trilogy, too. What made you give the Alice books a role?


The idea popped into my head when the warlock handed Carin a book that he couldn't read, and she could. I knew the book's title, Through the Looking-Glass, at almost the same instant Carin did. Eerie, how naturally it melded with my trilogy! They belonged together. I'm tempted to believe the Waterspell story is real—it's a history of a world that accidentally obtained a copy of a Lewis Carroll classic. I just wrote down the events the way they happened. Carin uses Looking-Glass as a clue to help her unravel the mystery in which she finds herself entangled. The forgotten-but-familiar book is her tangible connection to another reality.


Plotter or Pantser? Why?


Definitely pantser. I knew where Waterspell began, and I had a vague idea of where it would end. But in between, the characters drove the plot. I didn't know what would happen until it happened.


Which is a revision-heavy, trial-and-error way to write a novel. I'm sure plotters write more efficiently, with their outlines and their fully-thought-out synopses. But I agree with Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft): "Stories," he wrote, "are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer's job is to … get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible." That's what Waterspell feels like to me: an account of real events. I couldn't plot it beforehand because I was only following along, notepad in hand, to record the action.


Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you as a writer?


The science fiction/fantasy author Andre Norton was among my major early influences. To quote from her Wikipedia profile, under the heading of Recurring Motifs:


"Again and again in her works, alienated outsiders undertake a journey through which they realize their full potential … In most Norton books, whether science-fiction or fantasy, the plot takes place in the open countryside, with only short episodes in a city environment. Protagonists usually move about singly or in small groups, and in conflict situations they are more often scouts, spies or guerrillas rather than regular soldiers …


"As could be expected of such characters, they tend to be resourceful and capable of taking independent initiative … the protagonists (often young) are thrust into situations where they must develop quickly …"


That gives an excellent sense of my trilogy. My heroine is a teenager who undertakes a journey that taxes her resourcefulness to its limits. By story's end, Carin is far along in realizing her full potential. Clearly, I'm influenced by all the Norton books I devoured in my adolescence.


How did you arrive at the series title?

Stand beside a thundering waterfall, walk in a rainstorm, or listen to ocean waves pound the shore. You'll fall under a "water spell." Water is magical. In the mythologies of many cultures, rivers and other bodies of water are sacred. Fantastical beings live in water: mermaids, sirens, the Lady of the Lake. In my story, too, water has magical properties. For my characters, it is both a portal and a source of power. Carin (she's a Pisces) is in her element there. Scorpio is also a water sign, and Verek is the quintessential Scorpio: dangerous, secretive, proud, but loyal and passionate. The "water" in the title reflects the oceanic symbolism in my trilogy. It's there in the beautiful blue covers, too.


Do you consider Waterspell to be a romance?

Romantic elements are inseparably intertwined with the main storyline. From page one, the hero and the heroine find each other perilously intriguing, but they are mutually mistrustful. Combative. One reviewer described their relationship as "balancing in a tense power struggle," which is a great way to phrase it. Neither knows what to make of the other. But suppressed feelings have ways of cracking the toughest emotional armor. As the tension rises between these two, it's an open question: Will they or won't they? Will love blossom amidst the shared dangers and cosmic catastrophes? Mix environmental fantasy with magic, mystery, and romance, add dark dystopian undercurrents, and that's Waterspell—a cross-genre story with too many layers for a single label.

Thank you, Laurie, for this interview and for hosting me on your blog! I've enjoyed this stop on my book tour.

Young Adult/New Adult Literary Fantasy
Date Published: 
Book #2 in the Waterspell Series

WATERSPELL Book 1: The Warlock
Drawn into the schemes of an angry wizard, Carin glimpses the place she once called home. It lies upon a shore that seems unreachable. To learn where she belongs and how to get there, the teenage traveler must decipher the words of an alien book, follow the clues in a bewitched poem, conjure a dragon from a pool of magic—and tread carefully around a seductive but volatile, emotionally scarred sorcerer who can’t seem to decide whether to love her or kill her. "Carin and Verek’s well-crafted relationship balances in a tense power struggle … intriguing premise and original characters … Fine fantasy." —KIRKUS

WATERSPELL Book 2: The Wysard
After blundering into the last stronghold of magic, Carin discovers that she is right to fear the wizard Verek. He is using her to seal the ruptures in the void, and she may be nothing more to him than an expendable weapon. What will he do with her—or to her—when his world is again secure? Or has he erred in believing that the last bridge has been broken? The quest may not, in fact, be over … and Lord Verek may find himself not quite as willing to dispose of his fiery water-sylph, Carin, as he once believed himself to be.

Deborah J. Lightfoot

Castles in the cornfield provided the setting for Deborah J. Lightfoot’s earliest flights of fancy. On her father’s farm in Texas, she grew up reading tales of adventure and reenacting them behind ramparts of sun-drenched grain. She left the farm to earn a degree in journalism and write award-winning books of history and biography. High on her Bucket List was the desire to try her hand at the genre she most admired. The result is WATERSPELL, a multi-layered fantasy trilogy about a girl and the wizard who suspects her of being so dangerous to his world, he believes he'll have to kill her ... which troubles him, since he's fallen in love with her. Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock; Book 2: The Wysard; and Book 3: The Wisewoman 


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1 comment:

Deborah J. Lightfoot said...

Thank you, Laurie, for hosting this stop on my blog tour and for the interview. Lovely presentation! The question about whether the Waterspell trilogy is or isn't a romance has been brewing for a while now. I appreciate this chance to present my perspective.

Happy reading!