3 Questions Wednesday with Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt fell in love with literature at an early age when her father read classics to her as bedtime stories. Let’s get to know her. Our first question for Janalyn is what do you love most about the writing process? The least?

Janalyn: Writing allows me to live vicariously in a fictional world I create. That’s amazing for any genre but especially when writing medieval epic fantasy. It’s heady to realize that you can write about anything you can dream up. In Tales of Faeraven, readers can experience what it’s like to climb onto a winged horse and lift into the sky. They can walk through a vanishing gateway into a place between worlds, seek salvation in the Vale of Shadows, wield a two-edged sword, and reach into another soul.

I’ll call upon the late Walt Disney to answer the second part of your question. The famed founder of Disneyland once confessed that he resented the limits of his imagination. I share his frustration. The options for what I can create within a fantasy story world are endless, but my mind is finite. There’s almost too much freedom, and it’s easy to become intimidated.

I counter that feeling by establishing parameters for my world. I follow the advice of Orson Scott Card, bestselling author of Ender’s Game (and many other books), who explained in an article that the best fantasy worlds are most like our own. If a book has ever jarred you with its unfamiliarity, you already understand why. Readers relate to a world containing cool elements not found on Earth, but without being distracted by unnecessary strangeness. Adopting this philosophy helped establish parameters. I researched 13th-century Europe when writing Tales of Faeraven.

Wow, you have thought this through thoroughly! Next question, if you could give a novice writer one piece of advice, what would it be?

Janalyn: This might seem hackneyed, but it’s the truest advice I can give: believe in yourself as a writer. If you don’t, no one else will. That’s so hard in the beginning when no one acknowledges you. I can remember being embarrassed to call myself a writer. I still don’t announce it except for a specific reason, but shyness no longer holds me back. I just prefer not to be stared at as if I’ve sprouted a second head or gazed at with awe. Unless the other person is another author or aspires to be one, others can’t relate anyway. But I digress.

While researching a post for Live Write Breathe, my website for writers, I discovered that I suffered from the very affliction about which I was writing. Impostor Syndrome is when you sabotage your efforts due to the misguided belief that you don’t deserve success. I felt like I was fooling everyone by claiming to be a writer, even though I had several books published and contracts with two publishers. The good news is that simply identifying Impostor Syndrome is the first step to eliminating the problem. That is proving true more and more as I leave self-doubt behind.

I’ve had to apply this advice in my writing also. Trusting that the story will tell itself, even when I think I’ve painted myself into a corner has saved me many times. This mindset produces authentic stories that aren’t predictable, and what’s not to love about that?

You are right, we do second guess our own talent many times before moving forward boldly. Final question, who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Villain?

Janalyn: I love Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings books. His curiosity gets him into hot water with Gandolf and carries him into adventure. Ah, but loyalty makes him stay. I can relate to that, which is why Kai in Tales of Faeraven has an overweening sense of duty. In this, Kai is most like his author.

George Warleggon from the Poldark Saga is by far my favorite villain. His flaws make George a complex character I want to hate but just can’t. I’m in awe of that kind of writing. So far, I’ve only seen the Masterpiece Theater production, but I plan to read the Poldark books by Winston Graham. I’ve learned a lot about storytelling from reading classics that have stood the test of time.

Strong choices in characters. Thanks for chatting with us.

Click to Tweet: My favorite fictional character: I love Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings books. His curiosity gets him into hot water with Gandolf and carries him into adventure. Ah, but loyalty makes him stay.

Janalyn Voigt Bio

Janalyn Voigt fell in love with literature at an early age when her father read classics to her as bedtime stories. When Janalyn grew older, she put herself to sleep with her own made-up tales. Her sixth-grade teacher noticed her love of storytelling and encouraged her to become a writer. Today Janalyn is a multi-genre author. Janalyn writes the kind of novels she likes to read – epic adventures brimming with romance, mystery, history, and whimsy. She is praised for her unpredictable plots and the lyrical, descriptive prose that transports readers into breathtaking storyworlds. Janalyn Voigt is represented by Wordserve Literary. Learn more about Janalyn and her books at http://janalynvoigt.com.

Thanks so much, Janalyn, for dropping by!  If you would like to connect with Janalyn, here’s how:


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