Q&A with Author J Lynn Else
Q: When did you first begin writing stories?
I’ve always loved stories and books. I must have started writing more seriously in middle school, ‘seriously’ meaning that people started noticing, as a friend gifted me with a blank book “for all the future stories I would write.” I never really noticed others were seeing that side of me before I received that gift, which I still have. In high school, things picked up when I started developing short stories and movie scripts (I completed one for X-Files, and even sent it to the show…but it was returned unread).
Q: What was the name of your first book? My first (self) published book is “The Forgotten: Aten’s Last Queen.” It’s about the wife of King Tut and her life. I wanted to explore women’s voices from antiquity.
Q: How did you get into the historical fantasy fiction genre?
My interest was first piqued when they discovered the RMS Titanic. An uncle of mine was into maritime history, and he would gift me the newest books about the Titanic–with then and now photos. Getting into the mindset of that time period was so interesting to me, that belief that humanity was now ‘unsinkable.’ The ship represented hopes and dreams for people seeking a new life or new opportunities.
In college, while I was dating my husband, he introduced me to “The Dragonlance Chronicles.” I was a huge sci fi fan at that time, and while I’m still a fan, fantasy has definitely taken over my bookshelves since then. Thus, as I loved magic and loved strong female voices, why not merge the two with my own writing?
Q: Who was your favorite author when you were younger? I had a couple: Madeleine L’Engle; L.M. Montgomery; Ann M. Martin, who wrote the Baby-Sitter’s Club books; James Howe, who wrote the Bunnicula series.
Q: How would you describe your writing style in three words? Nerdy, female-driven, and fantastical.
Q: How many books have you published so far?
I’ve self-published 3, traditionally published 3, and have a short story published in an anthology. So, should we count that as 6 and 1/4?
Q: What inspired you to write your latest release, Descendants of Avalon?
I wanted to create a fantasy story, and it started out with a magical land inside a wishing well. Eventually, the idea of blending some Arthurian aspects began to trickle into the plotline. What started with just the Lady of the Lake slowly began to encompass additional females from legend. Eventually, the idea was shelved in my mind as reality got in the way.
The tipping point was while I was watching a movie in which the two male characters were having all the magical fun and the females were the ones getting them into trouble. It was like something snapped inside me: The time had come to get the first book of the series out there and let the girls take the reins and have the magical fun. I wrote because I wanted greater depth of characters for young girls reading these genres so that they could picture themselves in these worlds without having to be ultrasmart or beautiful or super aggressive.
Q: What future projects are you currently working on that you can share with us, readers? I’m writing and illustrating a children book, which I originally wrote approximately 18 years ago. It’s about a young girl who joins a ballet class but is a different shape than all the other girls. I wanted to create a story that illustrates how dance should not be one size fits all. Dancers are more than their size. What perfect way to illustrate that than by using different animals as the characters?
Q: Do you outline your stories, or do you just dive into writing them?
I’m a very character-driven writer. I typically have a general idea where I want to go; however, I let the characters take me there. When put into situations/scenes in which their options are limited, my characters have actually surprised me by what they do. Of course, when I’m writing historical fiction, I try to stick to as many facts as possible. For my historical fiction novels, I kept a timeline next to the computer every moment.
Q: What is your go to beverage when working on a new book?
We have a local brewery that creates the best peanut butter blonde ale! Its delightful! If I’m out of that, I typically go with a fruit wine. If it’s the middle of the day and I have to drive later, then its Mt. Dew—my go-to for any occasion.
Q: What is the writing and publishing process like for you?
I’m blessed with a fantastic group of women writers in my local community. Writing isn’t easy, but it is more enjoyable when shared with friends. Despite the fact we all write different genres, their insights are invaluable. They’ve beta read, encouraged, and cheered me on through all the writing stages. I’m so grateful to have them in my life.
Big thanks to another friend and fellow writer, Meg Hafdahl, who introduced me to my current publisher, Inklings Publishing. They were just what I needed to develop and publish my Arthurian-inspired fantasy trilogy. I connected with a developmental editor who was fantastic and really pushed me. My stories have grown because of all these wonderful people within the process.
Q: For aspiring writers in your genre, what advice would you give to them?
You are the only one who can tell your story. Your voice is unique and valuable. What’s important to me in my story may not be someone else’s focus if they were writing the same book. Embrace what makes your own voice special. I’m a huge nerd, so inevitably, one of my characters is going to be nerdy like me.
Additionally, be sure to read a lot (especially in your genre), be open to constructive criticism (trust me, it helps in the long run), and use exclamation points sparingly!!!!!
Q: Tell us about your main characters in Descendants of Avalon.
The book is about friendship, so here are the four main heroines of my trilogy:
Genie is one of our main voices in book 1. She just found out her parents are getting a divorce, and she wants to find a way to make them happy again. She knows a lot about Arthurian history and provides background on the different people they meet from King Arthur’s time to her friends, though not all of the information is true. History is defined by the writers after all, and many of them are not women. Genie doesn’t like heights, which poses a minor problem as many of the towns in Avalon are built up in the trees. Her last name, Eques, has a special meaning which she finds out along the way.
Beth is another of our main voices for book 1. She’s been captured by an evil wizard in Avalon and is stuck in his dungeon. She’s a take-charge type of person and doesn’t back down from a challenge, like finding a way to escape a dungeon. However, Beth has a secret she’s kept from her friends. She fears that if she reveals it, they won’t want to be her friend any longer. She already lost her father because of it.
Whit has a sweet, bubbly personality. She’s a dreamer but is also a bit sensitive. Her family recently found out her older brother went MIA while on duty overseas and is presumed dead. She struggles to cope with this. Whit finds healing in books 2 and 3 (Lost Daughters of Avalon and Destiny of Avalon) and makes a very unique, fire-breathing friend in those books.
Mei is loud and proud. She is never afraid to speak up in defense of her friends. Mei and her quick wit were so fun to write. She’s a Chinese American and is heavily influenced by a friend of mine. Mei’s story shines the most in book 3, Destiny of Avalon, as she goes toe to toe with an evil djinni intent on using her to change the past.
Q: Where can readers find you and your books online?
You can find them at the Inklings Publishing website: Bookstore | Mysite (inklingspublishing.com)Or at most major online retailers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Here’s my Amazon author page if you’d like to check it out: Amazon.com: J. Lynn Else: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle