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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Interview with J.V. Jones

Order “A Sword From Red IceHERE (US) + HERE (UK)
Read The Prologue HERE

After Tolkien, Jordan, Goodkind, Brooks, and Eddings, the fantasy author that I really got into was J.V. Jones, who happened to be the first female fantasy writer I ever read. Needless to say she left quite an impression on me as not only are all of her books—The Book of Words trilogy, The Barbed Coil, Sword of Shadows series—an important part of my collection, but she convinced me to try out other female authors who have since become favorites of mine including Robin Hobb, Jacqueline Carey, Kate Elliott, Margaret Weis, Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Haydon, Kristen Britain, etc. Unfortunately, with Ms. Jones’ last couple of releases there’s been a dramatic increase in wait time with her newest book “A Sword From Red Ice” finally seeing the light of day—Released October 16, 2007 (Tor) for US readers and October 18, 2007 (Orbit UK) for UK readers. Since Ms. Jones has been out of the spotlight for a while now, what better way to celebrate the release of her new book than with an interview :D So much love & respect to George Walkley from Little, Brown UK for the hookup, and to J.V. Jones for taking time out of her hectic schedule to answer a few questions. Also, be sure to watch Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist who will also be interviewing Ms. Jones, and I believe is taking questions…

Q: For someone who hasn’t read one of your novels, how would you describe your writing style, what book of yours would you recommend first picking up (and why), and what can readers expect with your titles?

J.V. Jones: For me, the only thing worth writing about is people and their personal conflicts. I hope my books have characters that readers care about. My main aim as a writer is to make my characters as real as possible. I want readers to feel that they know the Dog Lord, Raina Blackhail, Effie Sevrance, etc., and if they met them on the street it would be like meeting old friends (or enemies).

Q: “A Sword From Red Ice”, the long-awaited third volume in your current Sword of Shadows series is finally coming out this month (October 16, 2007 for US readers, October 18, 2007 for UK). Can you tell us a bit about the book without giving anything away?

J.V. Jones: A Sword From Red Ice is about families, about the joy, misery and guilt they bring, and how complicated the ties that bind us to our families are. It's also about families created through choice--fostering and friendship--and how we can finds things lacking in our real families in unexpected places.

Q: Some of the criticism aimed at your last book focused on too much exposition and too little dialogue or action. Do you ever pay attention to readers’ remarks and use that input when writing? Specifically, did you try to address any of these issues with “A Sword From Red Ice”?

J.V. Jones: I write the book I want to read. It's a simple as that.

Q: Fair enough :) On the flipside, your strengths include characterization and your descriptive abilities/world-building. Are these more important to you as a storyteller than say, the plot, pacing, etc., and what do you feel are the keys to writing great characters or establishing a realistic setting?

J.V. Jones: To me world-building is setting a stage for the characters. I want the world to provide realistic moral, social and economic boundaries. The fun happens when the characters overstep those boundaries. When I write for my characters I try to tell the truth. All the ignoble, insecure, jealous, small-minded stuff is right there next to the decent stuff.

Q: What’s the status report on the fourth Sword of Shadows book and where does it fit in relation to the series as a whole?

J.V. Jones: I think there'll be five books in the series. The fourth book, which I'm currently writing, doesn't have a title yet.

Q: You’ve basically just written fantasy so far. Have you ever thought about writing a different genre or maybe in another format such as comic books, television, movie scripts, videogames, etc?

J.V. Jones: I'm a big fan of crime fiction. Reading it has helped me with plotting: a good crime novel lives or dies by its plot. One day I'd like to try my hand at solving a murder or two.

Q: I would definitely read that! So I really enjoyed The Book of Words trilogy but I thought you took a major leap forward writing-wise with “The Barbed Coil”, which has carried over in your Sword of Shadows series. What do feel have been the biggest improvements that you’ve made as a writer since “The Baker’s Boy” (1995)?

J.V. Jones: The Baker's Boy was the first book I wrote--no short stories or previous work--so I hope I've improved as a writer since then. Technically, one learns how to write tighter sentences, and how better to pace and plot a story. Overall, I try to be more honest now. At first I worried if one of my characters did something less than perfect. Will the readers still care about him? Now I let the characters be themselves; good, bad and ugly.

Q: In the past year, two of fantasy’s great authors passed away in Lloyd Alexander and Robert Jordan, the latter of which provided a blurb for your novel “A Fortress of Grey Ice”. Is there anything you would like to say?

J.V. Jones: I was very sorry to hear about the death of James Rigby, who wrote as Robert Jordan. As you mentioned, he graciously provided a cover quote for one of my books that has been used by publishers in several countries. Reading “The Eye Of The World” seventeen years ago was a thrilling experience for me. He was writing on the grand scale of Tolkien. He'll be missed.

Q: What’s been in your reading pile lately?

J.V. Jones: When I'm writing I tend to read a lot of non-fiction: it's where I get most of my ideas. Ice by Mariana Gosnell is a fascinating book full of interesting facts about ice, and is probably required reading for anyone writing fiction with the word "Ice" in the title. By that token, “Stiff” by Mary Roach is required reading for anyone writing about dead bodies.

Q: I’ll keep that in mind ;) Do you have anything else you’d like to say to your audience?

J.V. Jones: To learn more about the books and how I write visit my website


SQT said...

Oh man! J.V. Jones is one of my all time favorite authors! I am so jealous you got to interview her!

I've been trying to get a galley of "Red Ice" but no love from Tor. I'll have to keep trying...

Robert said...

It was definitely a nice treat :D

I haven't received a copy from the publishers either, so I just bought the book! Can't wait to check it out...

Jeff C said...

I cant believe there werent any advance reviews for her latest book. With the delay and interest folks had, I am wondering where the reviews are. Although the book is now part of 5, i want to know if the new one ends on a cliffhanger, or if its "safe" to go ahead and read the first 3.

Tia Nevitt said...

Short but sweet! We seem to have the same taste in authors; many of your favorites are my favorites as well. I loved The Barbed Coil the best, but to be fair, I've only read the first book in this latest trilogy.

Robert said...

Jeff, I'm a little surprised too. Maybe they figure she has a large enough following not to worry about advance reviews. Regardless, they should start popping up soon :)

Tia, guess we have good tastes ;) You should definitely check out the other books in the Sword of Shadows series!

SQT said...

Tia, I loved Barbed Coil too. I would totally recommend the Book of Words series. J. V. Jones is such a great author. I'm kind of backed up on reviews right now, but I will definitely put up posts about her new books when I can.

Unknown said...

I'd like to say that I love J.V. Jones as an author, because I'm currently reading her A Sword of Shadows series, but I cannot, and for the same reasons that I cannot say that I liked Robert Jordan as an author: 1) her characters are NOT realistic, and 2) she seems to have never learned the golden rule of writing that is "SHOW, DON'T TELL." For example: "Drey had once told him that descending hills was more tiring than climbing them, and he had not believed him until now. Drey...
Apruptly, Raif started down the slope." (Yes, we get it, he misses his brother, but it's irritating that every time he thinks of his brother we can expect him so think "DREY..." and then move. Who thinks "Drey..." anyway? memories come back, not names.) Show, don't tell: Drey had once told him that descending hills was more tiring than climbing them, and he had not believed him until now. A heart string pulled, and Raif used its momentum to begin his long descent down the snow covered mountain." 3) She has a tendency to write dragging, dragging, dragging lengths of writing that involve little character development (and much repetitive character trait and unnecessary reaffirmations of a character's position on certain subjects) and very little plot movement. All in all it makes for tedious writing that honestly adds no more useful or memorable details than the synopsis that she provides at the beginning of each next book. My advice: wait for the next book to come out, read the synopsis, and be done with it - because there's not much else within the pages.


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