by Ernest Lilley (with)
SFRevu Interview ISBN/ITEM#: 0412JL
Date: December 15, 2004 / Show Official Info /
SFR: Jane, thanks for doing this with us. How is Wolf Captured doing?
JL: It's too early for me to know, but it has gotten good reviews -- included a starred review in Publisher's Weekly. That's nearly impossible for a later book in a series. It's hard enough to get those reviewed at all!
SFR: Though the new book is the fourth in its series, it seems like you've moved off in a new direction with it, trimming the cast and moving Derian, previously more of a supporting character, up to a more major role. As a result it seems like this book stands by itself better than the others. Do you agree? If so, what did you want to accomplish?
JL: I have always intended these books to be stand alones. In my mind, each of the books has its own story, but I reserve the right not to wrap up the characters' lives within the few months contained in a book. This is common in mysteries, but for some reason if you write fantasy people expect a neatly wrapped up series of three. Derian has always been a major character in my mind, probably second only to Firekeeper. I'm glad you feel this book stands alone well. That's great, given that three come before. In a sense, you show me that I'm achieving my goal. And, yes, they are connected, but as real lives are connected. Each story has a plot arc that is resolved within the novel. That's one reason they're so long!
SFR: There's also a lot of closure in it for the main character. Is this the end of the series, or will it be going in a new direction?
JL: As I said above, I have always felt each book had its own direction. I don't see "closure" for Firekeeper, but she does learn some things about herself and her past in Wolf Captured that can't help but shape how she sees herself and the choices she will make in the future. "Closure" implies ending. In reality, how we react to revelation is more like what the Tao te Ching says, "The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao." In other words, whatever we learn changes everything else we know, and the world is transformed -- not closed, not ended.
SFR: You grew up in DC, and though there are now a fair number of coyote sightings there and in its suburbs, there probably were fewer when you were young, and even fewer wolves. What attracts you to wild canines?
JL: I've always loved wild canines, especially wolves. Coyotes came to fascinate me later, after my move to the Southwest. I have no idea when I developed this fascination, but my mom says I had Kipling's Jungle Book practically memorized when I was small. I remember reciting "Mowgli's Song Against the People" when I was ten. Startled the hell out of the teacher when after a bunch of short, bland recitations, I get up and start with "The song of Mowgli, I Mowgli am singing..." and go on about killing and vengeance and dancing on the hide of a freshly skinned tiger. I'm the eldest of four kids and the group psychology, the pack mindset, is closer to my soul than the solitary "orphan" characters that populate so much fantasy fiction. Even when I've written about ostensible orphans (like Sarah in my first novel, Brother To Dragons, Companion To Owls) she finds out she has family. The same is true in my forthcoming novel, Child Of A Rainless Year. I'm a pack animal, I guess, and wolves are among the finest, most complex pack animals I've met. I've met real wolves, too. Had one sit in my lap (amazing), watched them run, watched them hide. They're completely fascinating. Perhaps the finest thing for me has been learning (after years and years of being told that Kipling's wolves were nothing like the reality) that wolves really are creatures of law and family. However, wolves do not make good pets. I have cats, guinea pigs, and fish. Yes, there are people who manage with wolves or wolf-hybrids, but these are the exceptions. For every instance that works, many are killed. You can read more about this on my website.
SFR: Have you read any other authors who are interested in the feral/human angle? Tainted Trail by Wen Spencer, or Wolf And Iron by Gordon Dickson?
JL: I haven't read Wen Spencer, but I did a huge amount of research into feral humans before writing Through Wolf's Eyes. Reader's familiar with the field will recognize it in various things I set up in Firekeeper's background. For example, it has been fairly conclusively proven that if someone is not exposed to language by a certain age those centers of the brain do not develop. Therefore, I make it clear that Firekeeper was exposed to both spoken and written language.
SFR: Living in New Mexico, do you ever miss being "Back East"? Is there anything that you could point to about the difference between worldviews here and there that has affected you and your writing?
JL: The only thing I miss about the east is water. Otherwise, I love the Southwest. I grew up in DC and in its own odd way New Mexico fits the multicultural landscape that I considered "normal" as a child.
SFR: Growing up, when did you first get interested in SF/Fantasy? Do you remember the first book that turned you on?
JL: I don't remember the first book, but my gateway in to SF/F was mythology. By the time I was nine, the Greek/Roman stuff was so familiar to me that I read The Iliad and The Odyssey in adult formats, unabridged because I recognized my "old friends" in there.
SFR: Were you a writer as a child? That is, did you make up your own stories?
JL: I have been a storyteller since I was small. Probably my first format was telling my dreams (I was and am an active nocturnal dreamer) to my younger sister, Ann. Of course, I had to fill in the gaps, since dreams never make sense. I never gave up "pretend" games and was blessed with a sister eight years younger than me (Susan), so I had someone who wanted to share those games. Later, I wrote down fragments, but never finished anything. In fact, I didn't finish anything until I was an undergraduate and took a course on creative writing.
SFR: Why do you write genre? Do you feel a stronger affinity for one genre or another?
JL: All fiction is genre. It's only the current market that tries to divide it up, and those divisions are very modern. I've written SF, F, historicals, mysteries. However, I love SF/F because I have a warped mind and the stories I want to tell come out in a form that is marketed as SF/F.
SFR: Who is your ideal reader?
JL: I don't really have one. Early on I learned that once a book or story leaves my desk it belongs to whoever reads it. Our own lives color who we identify with in a story, what we are willing to praise or condemn. One thing that fascinates me from reader response is learning whom a reader identifies with or likes or hates.
SFR: How did your first book sale come about? Was it before or after you worked with Roger Zelazny? Was it the biography? How did you first become interested in the man and his work?
JL: My first book was my doctoral dissertation. My first novel was not influenced by Roger Zelazny, although I knew him at the time and he encouraged me. However, his mentoring of me was more in the area of business. He was determined I become my own writer, not a copy of him. I was pretty determined to do the same. The biography of Roger was my second published book, but I think I'd sold a novel by then. It's hard to remember ... I was interested in Roger's work long before I ever met Roger. I wrote him in the late eighties and somehow a correspondence developed. We met at the first SF convention I ever attended, a Lunacon. I had just finished my PhD and, in fact, flew out from NY for VA for a job interview a few days later.
SFR: How do you write? Do you plan out your books before you start? Do you write every day?
JL: I am an intuitive plotter. I know when a book is "there" and then I start writing. I write five days a week, and take weekends off to spend with my husband (Jim Moore; he's an archeologist). I usually write daytimes, just like a person with a "normal" job. I'm often at my desk by 7:00 a.m. Being a full-time writer also means running a business. I have lots of non-writing related work to do in between.
SFR: What's your most popular book? Why? Of your own books, do you have a favorite? Was it because of the idea, the characters, your life situation while you wrote it, the way it turned out, something else?
JL: I don't have a favorite book. I love each of them for different reasons. The Firekeeper saga is certainly the most popular, followed by the two "Athanor" novels, Changer and Legends Walking. I have great hopes for my other 2004 release, The Buried Pyramid. It was fun to write, and has some rather "deep" themes under the surface adventure.
SFR: Does writing have a role in shaping people's worldview?
JL: Definitely. What I read shaped who I am. I have readers write me and tell me that they've found inspiration or courage in something I've written.
SFR: What are you currently working on?
JL: I'm currently reviewing the page proofs for Child Of A Rainless Year, my next novel. It's a non-Firekeeper, a contemporary fantasy sent here in NM. I'm completely in love with it. After that, I'll return to the next Firekeeper novel, Wolf Hunting. I'm also in love with that, but for different reasons. Basically, I'm a happy person. I love what I do, and I love doing it.
SFR: Is there anywhere your readers can learn more about your writing or contact you?
JL: Try my website, www.janelindskold.com