Author Interview – Jess Owen

Here we are with Jess Owen - author of The Song of the 
Summer King, due to be released this year. This is 
Jess's first book, and hopefully not her last! We're 
lucky to be interviewing her, as she's also an artist
(The same one who has done Echoes of  Winter's cover 
art.) Links to her blog and page will be posted 
after the interview.

1. Where do you get your ideas?
I read lot, and that keeps the gears turning. 
I look to old mythology from all cultures. The
myths are great to spark an idea, and many stories
are based on them again and again. The idea for my
current novel actually came from an idea I had way
back when I was a kid. I did a drawing of a wolf 
and and a gryphon battling to the top of a mountain. 
They were both bloody and dying (Yeah, this is 
when I was akid!) and recently that idea resurfaced
in my head. It was a slow day at work, dusting 
all day... and I thought, so what
about those wolves and gryphons? What were they 
fighting about? Where do they live? And from there 
you keep asking questions. What's their culture? 
What do they hunt? Who's in charge? Are they more
like lions, or more like eagles? You can go all day. 
That's the best way to figure out a story. Ask 
questions. And I did. And by the time I got off work, 
I had the beginning of a story. It has evolved 
massively from that first idea, but good ones 
always do.


2. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Of course! Usually it comes from lack of momentum. If I
allow myself to stop, I stop. If I write National Novel 
Writing Month style (even if I take more than a month
to finish), I can usually bash through the
difficult days and keep on going. You can always go
back and fix bad, forced, or awkward writing later.
But you can't edit a blank page.

3. Is there any particular author or book that 
influenced you in anyway either growing up or 
as an adult?
I read Tamora Pierce over and over growing up. Her
books sealed my love for fantasy. The Xanth novels 
were awesome (who doesn't want a magic talent of 
their very own?) and Ursula LeGuins Earthsea cycle is
still one of my favorites. But I've realized now that
 the very first books I loved were animal stories, 
and I've gone back to that as a writer. One book in
 particular I got from the library called "The White 
Panther," a really oooold book, I must have read seven 
times.

4. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I thought you'd never ask ;) "The Song of the Summer 
King" centres around Shard, a gryfon who is just 
coming of age and trying to earn his place in the
pride of Sverin, the Red King. Shard has a number of 
things going against him, and worse than that, even 
as he's beginning to earn a place of honor, he begins
to learn things about the pride's history and his own 
past that makes him question the king, and everything
he's ever known. He begins interacting with those 
that the gryfons call enemies --a gryfon exile, a 
wolf . . . and when a war breaks out, he must decide
where he stands. I call it your classic fantasy 
adventure--with gryfons. 
There are no humans in this world.

5. Is anything in your book based on real life 
experiences or purely all imagination?
I hope it's a good mix! I think most people 
have more of themselves in their writing than 
they realize, but if you write purely from your 
own experience, that can be a shallow pool. 
So read, research, daydream. I did a lot of 
research on lions, eagles, wolves, and tried 
to mix their animal behaviors into the story, 
but they have their own culture and ways of 
being because it IS a fantasy story, not an 
animal behaviour manual. I researched Iceland, 
because their home islands are very much like 
that region, a little Viking and Norse culture. 
The wolves are loosely based on the Hopi tribe, 
because as I researched, their values seemed to 
match what I wanted for the wolf culture. The 
"themes" in the story--tolerance, courage, 
individuality, the underdog, etc-- are things
that are important to me personally.

6. What was your favorite chapter (or part) 
to write and why?
Oooo I don't want to spoil things. But there was
a certain scene I had in my head that's about in 
the middle of the book, one of those scenes I'd 
been picturing since the beginning of the story, 
that was awesome fun. I think people will be able 
to tell which one it is, because so much leads to 
it. Some scenes are so integral, so fun and you 
hope they're so powerful that you write the book 
toward those scenes. Let's just say Shard meets 
someone powerful, and I had great fun writing 
the tension and interaction.

7. How did you come up with the title?
Well, you'll have to read the book to figure that 
out!

8. Be honest, how often do you wash your hair?
Every other day.

9. Are there certain characters you would like to 
go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love 
to work with?
Since I'm a fantasy fan I tend to think in trilogies! 
So I have the luxury of going back to every character 
for a couple more books. I love the main character 
Shard, of course, but sometimes others come out in 
the writing who just beg for a little more time in 
the spotlight. His stepfather (or nest-father) Caj, 
is one of those. Some of those secondary characters 
that just seem so interesting, or deeper, or have more 
complicated motives than you first thought, are always 
fun to go back and explore. As a reader, I always like 
connecting with the secondary characters in a good book, 
and I hope my readers will too.

10. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
I could give advice all day :D Make sure you're a 
reader. Read everything. Force yourself to read outside
your genre. Write. Do Nanowrimo. Finish things! The best 
way to learn how to write a novel is to write a novel. 
Put in your 10,000 hours of practice to earn your 
mastery (That's from Seth Godin's book, 'Outliers'). 
Writing is just like any other profession, art, or 
sport. Just because you have the ability to put words 
on paper doesn't mean those are the best words you're 
capable of. Push yourself. Practice. Write. Treat it 
like a sport or a musical instrument. You've Got to 
put in the time. Read about writing. Study.

And right now when it's so easy to self-publish, make
sure you give your work time to sit before you go 
back and read over it and decide to publish, if you
go that route. You might see major changes that need
to happen, or you might come back perfectly happy with 
it. But there's no rush! Remember that. There's 
absolutely no rush. It's just all very exciting. I've 
been writing for ten years for the pure joy of it, and 
this is the story I want to show to the world. And 
finally, write the first draft for yourself. Don't 
worry about anyone else. It's your world, and if you
don't have fun playing in it, nobody else will. 
So dive in.

You can find Jess on her 
blog 
and for updates, teasers and reveals, on her 
Facebook page
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1 Comment

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One response to “Author Interview – Jess Owen

  1. Pingback: My First Author Interview! « Jess E. Owen

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