LitStack Author Interview: J.S. Chancellor

 

J.S. Chancellor is a fantasy author with six books under contract with Rhemalda Publishing.

I first met Chancellor in 2010, when we were both writers for Suspense Magazine. After reading all of her blog posts, I finally messaged Breanne and told her how much I admired her. Her response was to send me a free, signed copy of Son of Ereubus. It was the first signed book I’d ever received, and one of the first books I reviewed for my website, Reader’s Den. She’s a great inspiration.

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing Chancellor. She’s very conversational, friendly, and wise.

Novel-Specific

LS: Ariana, the female main character in ‘Son of Ereubus,’ is feisty, powerful, and strong-willed, and not in that cliche way action chicks often are either. She grew throughout the story, became more open-minded to the world around her and gained authority. How similar are you to Ariana?

Thank you, first of all. I love hearing that Ariana has been perceived exactly as I see her. I’ve had readers who know me well, tell me that even had they not been aware that I’d written Son of Ereubus, that they would have figured it out because I am SO much like Ariana that its unmistakable. Aside from the obvious physical attributes (I have long red hair, pale skin and blue eyes), I also have her sarcasm and sense of brash courage. What I don’t have, however, are her equestrian and archery skills. That’s something I hope to remedy one day.

LS: In my review, I summarized my thoughts about the romance between Ariana and Garren as follows: “Generally, I love that the romance never takes the story over, while also enhancing it and being of importance to the overall plot.” How did you want readers to react to their romance?

Exactly as you stated it—literally. In fact in the early early stages of the draft, I nearly wrote that exact line in the journal I was using to plot Guardians in. Their love story is the heart of the overall epic, but what makes each novel unique on its own, is the individual stories of the secondary characters; Bronach, Azrian, Duncan, Sara, Gabriel, Aiden, Tadraem and how they all interact with the three principle characters.

LS: In other articles about you, I read that it took you about 14 years to complete ‘Son of Ereubus.’ Was that just for the first book or the other two books in ‘Guardians of Legend’ trilogy as well? Was there a particular section in ‘Son of Ereubus’ you struggled with the most?

Actually, I’m not entirely sure where that came from. I’ve read it myself and all I can figure is that it was assumed that when I said I drafted the first couple chapters of what is now Son of Ereubus when I was fourteen, that I worked on the books the entire time between then and signing my contract with Rhemalda, but that simply isn’t true. I stopped and didn’t pick the story up again until July of 2006. I finished all three books in a year, then set them aside for 6 months before beginning the process of revision and editing, and after that my grandmother-in-law helped set me up with a freelance editor who went through my final draft and taught me how to polish a manuscript. So, all in all, you could technically say it took me 14 years, but it really only took about 2.

The area I’ve struggled with the most so far in the series has been keeping facts straight. Guardians of Legend is the first trilogy in a planned set of three. So, there aren’t three books, there are nine. This world—these characters—all of it is HUGE. The world building has been shown little by little because it would be WAY too much to reveal all at once. My desk is littered with genealogies, maps and story arcs. More than a few readers have stated that the beginning of Son of Ereubus confused them, and that they were grateful that we included a glossary at the back of the book, and my fervent hope is that the further they get into the story, the more tangible the world itself will become, and the more easily understood. For the record, since I’ve mentioned the other books, Guardians is a stand-alone trilogy. There will only be one thread left undone at the end of the trilogy, and it’s relatively minor in the scheme of things (at the time anyway. It turns up to be a BIG deal later on). So, rest assured, all of the bomb dropping will be over with soon. The second trilogy, Origins, goes back in time and picks up where The Dark Goddess Ciara entered into Middengard, Irial and Eanna’s past, etc.

LS: In a lot of reviews, people have consistently brought up J. R. R. Tolkien. I even did that in my review, when I said, “The story ends similar to the first book of Lord of the Rings, in that there are many loose threads and much more at stake than when the story started.” How do you feel about people comparing your work to that of Tolkien’s?

I’m always a little stunned whenever I see his name come up. I mean … I’ve said it myself only because I couldn’t think of any other fantasy author my in-laws would recognize by name, but when real fantasy fans liken my worlds to his (in a good way, not in a you’ve-ripped-off-Tolkien kind of way), I’m always blown away. It’s the greatest honor I can imagine.

LS: When reading the story, I couldn’t help but compare Adorians to angels and Ereubinians to demons. Is it a good or bad thing for readers to go into this story with those comparisons? Did you go into this story with those comparisons?

I think it’s a good thing if it helps the reader put the story into a paradigm that they can understand. I grew up religious, so those sorts of images are always going to be threaded into my work one way or another. I purposely steered away from the titles and direct religious references (aside from Michael and Gabriel) because I wanted the reader to make their own choices on how to see these characters and these worlds. So, to answer your question, yes I did go into this story with those comparisons, but at this point, as familiar as I am now with the world I’ve created and the characters that inhabit it, they’ve become something else entirely and those comparisons, for me, are no longer truly valid.

General Writing

LS: I suppose I should’ve asked this before the novel-specific questions, but can you tell us about your book(s)?

I’m so bad at that. You’d think that with the second book coming up soon (and five total under contract) that I’d have a better handle on answering that question. Guardians of Legend is a classic epic fantasy tale, told in the tradition of Clash of the Titans, with a little dash of age-old heroism and modern sarcasm thrown in for good measure. Truly epic in every sense of the word, there isn’t one main character. In Guardians, the reader follows a cast of diverse, multifaceted characters as they navigate the unraveling fate of their individual lives, and the world they think they know.

LS: Why do you write? How has writing changed your life?

I write because I have no choice. No, really, I mean that. I’ve been writing stories since I could hold a pencil. My earliest memories are of winning (or being in the running for, can’t recall which) the Young Georgia Author’s Award when I was 6. I was too enamored with the candy peanuts they were serving at the ceremony to care. So, perhaps that was an omen for how I would view later literary success: Irrelevant so long as the candy floweth, and the story is read by someone, somewhere, regardless of who they are, or where.

LS: What’s an interesting/embarrassing/funny fact about your writing process that you haven’t shared…until now? Also, give us writers open to writing techniques some of yours!

Oooo, so many, where to start: I think I’ve been in love with most of my male leads at one time or another. I’ve caught myself thinking about them like a teenager dreams about whichever star is currently hogging the pages of Tigerbeat or Big Bopper (are those mags even in print anymore?) So sad. I even pick actors to visualize in my head.

You can learn more about J.S. Chancellor at her blog, Welcome to the Asylum.

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