Author of several series including Wars of Light and Shadow, The Cycle of Fire trilogy, and Empire Trilogy.
JMW: Hello! This is Jean Marie Ward at Dragon Con. With me today is the award winning writer and artist Janny Wurts. Welcome Janny.
Janny Wurts: Thank you.
JMW: So glad to have you here. I understand that there is something new in your writing Universe. Some of your fans’ favorite stories are being re-issued in a new format. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Janny Wurts: Yes, Event Horizon Books is doing [easyazon_link asin=”B00JFM6SNM” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”buzmag-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Sorcerer’s Legacy[/easyazon_link], [easyazon_link asin=”0451451678″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”buzmag-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]The Master of Whitestorm[/easyazon_link] and my [easyazon_link asin=”0061073555″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”buzmag-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]The Cycle of Fire[/easyazon_link] and my short story collection in electronic book format. It will have new artwork in some cases, new chapter headings. I also have those Sorcerer’s Legacy and Master Whitestorm in audio books. Audible has done them and I’m totally completely floored that I got my choice of narrators. Emily Gray did Sorcerer’s Legacy, she’s an Audie-winning narrator. She’s spectacular and then I got Simon Pebble, whose Golden Voice and an Audie winner to do Master of Whitestorm and his performance gave me chills. He just nailed it.
JMW: He nailed all your characters?
Janny Wurts: Nailed the emotional tone, nailed the characters, nailed the mood and the coloration of the book. I just could not be more happy with what they’ve done.
JMW: That’s wonderful. It sounds like they’ve been painting with their voices, almost like you paint with oils.
Janny Wurts: It’s exactly that, yes.
JMW: That is so cool because I’ve always been impressed by the realism of your epic fantasy and your illustrations of it. The horses act like horses in your books. People actually have to deal with them instead of treating them like cars with legs and then things… little things like straining and shooting a boat takes real effort. How do you make it seem so real and immediate?
Janny Wurts: In a lot of cases, I’ve done what I’m writing about. I’ve ridden horses all my life. I’ve retrained race horses, I’ve handled everything from very stubborn horses to very fractious ones, so that’s in my skill set. I’ve shot archery. I’ve shot tournament archery. I’ve sailed off shore in small yachts. I’ve done climbing, done Outward Bound, done wilderness experience, keep bees, so a lot of the backdrop activities in the book are things I’ve done. In the case of say [easyazon_link asin=”0451451678″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”buzmag-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]The Master of Whitestorm[/easyazon_link] where I altered that for ice climbing, I’ve read several years worth of Alpine Journals so ice climbers and then I ran it past people who did that, to make sure all of the details were there. I think it’s important to give you the flavor of actually doing something like that and not softening the difficulties.
JMW: You said to me earlier today that a book is a gift of experience you give to somebody else. What does that mean in terms of your stories and the way you tell them?
Janny Wurts: I feel that that it means giving somebody hope. Giving them a very difficult problem where they walk through it as the character and the character solve it in ways that the person that’s reading will not have seen coming. That if problems confront someone in real life, they know that there is always another alternative. There is always a way through it and it maybe even outside of your skill set but if you use your mind, if you use what skill set you have, you can get through it. It also means sometimes life is really tough. Sometimes you have a job that really sucks. Sometimes you have a health problem. Sometimes you have a period where you’re depressed. A gift of experience given to someone else means a good book that can tide somebody over and bring them through a rough period and again give them hope, give them a way to escape, give them a way to find another alternative way to think. If you read a book that gives you hope, it changes your brain chemistry. It actually literally does. I like books that have difficult problems, put the characters through hard choices but solutions were there, hope is always there and the character tends to triumph.
JMW: That’s very encouraging. In a weird way, speaking as we were about realism, showing them doing things as real people, realistically adds to that because it’s a gift of experience, a gift of skill.
Janny Wurts: Well, that’s the other thing too. Some of your readers are never going to have a chance to be on a small sailboat offshore in the storm. They’re never going to be hanging off of a rope going down a mountain. They’re never going to be climbing on a horse or there are younger reader and it inspires them to try that. I’ve had many people come to me and say “I never thought I wanted to do this but I went and tried it and I Ioved it and your books were what turned me on to it.” One of the finest compliments I ever had was I’m a visual artist also and when I write, a lot of the visual comes through and you are actually going to be seeing the world to a degree as a visual artist would see it. This person came up to and said “I always lack the words to describe to my friend who’s blind, what a landscape looked like,” and he said “you gave me the way to do it.” These are the kinds of gifts I get back from my readers. They give me back their experience and so it’s a very enriching thing for both sides of the picture.
[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B00BK6W6FU” cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”buzmag-20″]JMW: That is a really wonderful tribute. I’m going to ask you a chicken and egg question. Which came first, the writing or the art?
Janny Wurts: Well, I hope you didn’t school and snuck books behind my textbooks and I also doodle in the margin of every single notebook I had and one of my notes got graded, they always said your artwork far exceeds what I’ve written down in the page. It really doesn’t mean chicken and egg. Neither comes first. It’s more how do you shape the idea. If you want to tell the idea as a story and words, you approach it one way. If you want to tell it visually, you approach it another way. It depends on how you wanted to develop the idea.
JMW: Is it hard to do both or do they re-enforce and feed each other?
Janny Wurts: Definitely it’s a different process. When I’m a visual artist and I’m painting, I see the world in a totally different way. You would ask for lined paper if you are writing sentences but if you are looking at it visually, its striped paper. Shifting back and forth from looking at the visual, it uses a different part of your brain literally so unless I’m doing both all the time, sometimes it takes there due to shift gears.
JMW: What are you working on now, both as a writer and as an artist?
Janny Wurts: As a writer, I’m finishing up a massive series that I’ve conceived in my early 20s. I plead it out, totally. I drafted maybe six of the books before I ever sold it. There are 11 books in total and I’m finishing book 10 and that would be The Wars of Light and Shadow. As far as artistically, I’m taking scenes and pictures and basically the world that book takes place and I’m drawing and sketching it out because if I don’t do it, no one will know my concept of what it was and I also wanted to take and develop my paintings one step further.
JMW: One never stops growing as an artist or a writer.
Janny Wurts: That’s the truth.
JMW: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Janny Wurts: I like to play bagpipes and I play four other musical instruments or five so that creeps into the writing as well. One of the dreams I have someday is I just got an electronic keyboard, is actually of score sound tracks. Just to play. That would be my next major endeavor is to learn how to do that.
JMW: Yeah. I should have mentioned that, simply because here we are at Dragon Con and it wouldn’t be Dragon Con without you and your pipes leading the parade.
Janny Wurts: Well there I have to give credit to my instructors. I’ve had top notch instructors. I still play competitively in solos and I have Reay MacKay, whose one of the absolute best people working with me right now with my solos and it’s such a privilege to take someone who’s had a great one band worldwide and a gold medalist soloist working… because when you work with someone that level of skill, it makes you reach in every other way.
JMW: Yes it does. Well thank you for sharing that with us and thank you for BuzzyMag.com
Jean Marie Ward writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between, including art books, novels (2008 Indie Book double-finalist With Nine You Get Vanyr), and short stories such as WSFA Small Press Award finalist “Lord Bai’s Discovery” and “Personal Demons” in the award-winning anthology Hellebore and Rue. Her videos include author interviews and tutorials.