Interview: Jim Galford

Today I have author Jim Galford with me to talk about his second book, Into the Desert Wilds, which is due for release on the 10th (tomorrow!). I had the pleasure of reading it early, and let me tell you, if you like epic fantasy, DON’T miss out on this book! As you can probably tell from my review, I LOVED getting back into Estin’s world, seeing what he’s been up to and how he and his family tackle the new problems they are faced with. And if you haven’t read the first book, In Wilder Lands, yet, go check it out!

TK: The first book is told solely from Estin’s PoV. This time, we have two different PoVs – Estin and Oria. Was it hard to make them sound different?

JG: Honestly, no. In my mind, the story happens no different from how one might see a movie. Oria and Estin are most definitely different people, with their unique perspective. It’s a little harder to separate two male point-of-views, but very easy when you’re dealing with a teenage girl (Oria) and her father-ish person (Estin). Estin has more of a “always concerned about what might come of his decisions” feel, while Oria has a carefree viewpoint, where she mostly just thinks about the moment at hand. They’re different enough that the transitions were really easy.

Now, finding Oria’s mindset as an adult male writer was tricky, but making her different from Estin was easy. I had to double-check a lot with my wife to be sure that Oria didn’t come across as a man trying to write a woman’s perspective, which was a fear I had with this particular point-of-view.

Generally, I’m always looking for a new way to broaden my scope of writing and point-of-view is the most obvious. Next comes emotional viewpoint. Into the Desert Wilds pushed my area of expertise on both a little, but I’m hoping to push even farther in the next book.

TK: Again, in book one, we saw Estin change – a lot – yet it is Oria that changes this time around. Do you feel this is more her book than Estin and Feanne’s?

Oria and Phaesys by artist Darryl Taylor

JG: Definitely. Estin’s story was about finding what makes life worthwhile for him. Once he had found Feanne and become a part of her life, there is not a lot of change in the works for him. His perspective will mostly revolve around protecting his wife/mate and children, like any father. Personal growth is mostly done for him.

With Estin no longer changing, Oria became an easy focal point for me. I had to ask myself, “what would a child who was born in the middle of this war grow up like?” That led me to many of Oria’s haphazard choices as she tries to mimic her mother’s erratic nature, while attempting to prove herself, like any child does.

In her case, it’s a little more dramatic and fast-changing, given the rapid rate at which wildling children mature. By age three, she would be about 12-14 years old as a human. That makes her emotional growth much faster, but leaves a lot more opportunity for those moments where one realizes that the character thinks they have matured more than they really have.

TK: What was the hardest scene to write? The easiest?

JG: Honestly, this book’s hardest point to write was at the ending. I won’t give away too much, for those who haven’t’ finished it yet, but Oria’s choice to forgive or to embrace the mistakes of others was harder than I expected. I rewrote that part about twenty times, trying to decide how her particular personality would work through that dilemma, given the events that had just happened. In the end, I’m happy with the choice she made and I think she is, too.

The easiest scene would be the entire handling of Lorne. That particular character was one I wanted to introduce in In Wilder Lands, but could not find a reason to do so. She is the embodiment of what Estin would have been if he never met Feanne. Her motivations are entirely selfish and guided by what she thinks she can get away with. If you reread Estin’s early bits in the first book, you’ll see she’s just the female version of where he started. His personal growth took him far past that, but Lorne never had those chances to become a better person.

TK: Many of the characters from the first book played a part in this book as well. Did you feel pressure to bring them back, or was it just a natural (torture) device to use?

JG: Torture? Lol…I hate to think it falls into that category!

The main characters’ story was supposed to (mostly) end after the first book. A rather amazing public demand for more information about what happened in Corraith made me fill in the next few months, which is the focus of book two. I always knew what happened to them, but hadn’t intended to make it public.

The other characters, as well as the tidbits we find out about some of the others back near Altis, are a “gimme” to those who wondered about the loose ends from the first book. Don’t worry, I intend to fill in a few more with each book. All of the stories are intended to tie together, wrapping up the lives of all presented characters in to a broad story-arc.

TK: What’s next for the cast of characters/world?

JG: These characters are mostly done. The first two books I’ve tentatively dubbed the “wildling story-arc.” While the survivors of book two do go on with their lives, their story no longer impacts the fall of the world of Eldvar, which is really what the series encompasses.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the survivors may appear again, but their primary story is done. Where they fit into the world’s story is another matter entirely.

The world has a lot more to cover and I hope I can do justice to it all. Eldvar is far bigger than what we see from a few wildlings. With book three, I hope to get back into showing what happened around Lantonne, as well as fill in more information about what the war was all about.

Books after three may take a slightly new direction, showing how the war ultimately ends. I haven’t decided if more “during the war” stories are needed before I move into the post-war era. Guess I’ll just keep writing and see where it ends up.

Full cover art by artist Darryl Taylor

TK: How long did it take for you to get into the mindset of the characters?

JG: It really doesn’t take any time at all, especially when dealing with characters I hold near and dear. Feanne and Estin I can hop into the mindset of at the drop of a hat (not that either of them really wear hats, but the point remains). These characters are the ones that helped me see what Eldvar is really like and give me the perspective I need, even for other characters.

Oria was a little harder, given that she was a teenage girl in book two. Having never been a teenage girl, that took a bit of work. I do find it kind of odd that thinking like a teenage girl is harder than thinking like a fox-woman or a (whatever-breed-Estin-is)-man, but that’s apparently just a quirk of the way I think.

At any time, I can easily say what any of these characters would think, say, or do. Once I’ve gotten a character in the back of my head, I know how they think and feel, which makes getting back into their heads very easy.

TK: Magic seemed to play a smaller part in this book, while swordplay was used more. Will the magic system come back into play in the future installments, even if just as part of the antagonist’s ploys?

JG: Yes and no. Magic is definitely downplayed after the fall, mostly as a result of some not-yet-revealed quirks of the mists. So any books that take place after the fall of Eldvar will have far less magic in-use than those during or before the fall.

Book three takes place during the war in the city of Lantonne, which is arguably the point of highest magic in the known world. As such, I’ll have quite a bit in that book, though I don’t expect later books to use it nearly as much. That largely depends on the exact time and place of those books, which I haven’t fully decided on.

TK: Where do you write?

JG: That varies a good bit. Mostly, I write on a laptop in whatever place suits me at that moment. Lately, I’ve taken to using a “walking desk,” which allows me to walk on a treadmill while writing. Kind of weird, but it keeps me from sitting at my desk for hours on end, staring at text.

Honestly, I could write anywhere at any time. The entirety of a story is always waiting at the back of my mind, waiting for me to put it into text.

TK: Where do you get your ideas?

JG: This is always kind of a hard thing for me to answer.

I’m working here!

I don’t decide on the course of a story, or say to myself, “What should I write today?” Never do I make active choices about what I want a character to do or say.

Whenever I write, it’s because I have a daydream that shows me a scene or two, just as vividly as any movie one might watch. Once they start coming, I see those daydreams almost constantly, even flowing into regular dreams. The more I put onto paper, the less they pester me.

My stories are more real in my head than I care to admit. The way they hit me is quite vivid, including not just what happens or what was said, but going so far as me knowing what a given magical effect felt like, or the smell of a particular person.

Estin smells like pine sap and has a bad habit of picking at burrs in his fur when he’s idle. Feanne smells like a leather-store, mixed with pre-dawn dew and has a habitual tendency to check her claws to be sure they’re sharp enough. These don’t really help further the story, but do make the characters real enough to me that writing their story is incredibly easy.

It’s really odd, but I’ve always written that way.

Thanks for stopping by, Jim, and letting me peak into how your writing works. Come back tomorrow for RELEASE DAY!

Where to find Jim:

His website

Goodreads

Related:

Darryl Taylor

Review: In Wilder Lands

Review: Into the Desert Wilds

Interview: Jim Galford and Feanne

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