A Talk With Jackie Gamber
Author of Redheart
1) What gave you the idea to write your debut novel, Redheart?
Tessa, the character of Kallon Redheart showed up in a dream, at first. And then I pondered on the mythology of dragons, and how they came to be known as gold-hoarding, maiden-munching monsters. The dragon in my dream wasn’t like that…and the story evolved as a way to shatter that mythos.
2) The characters in your book, such as Riza and Kallon, added so much to the story and were very easy to relate to. How did you give each of your characters such strong and distinct personalities?
I believe what makes a believable, well-developed character is based on strong motivation. No human, no matter how peculiar or extreme, behaves “just because they do”. People have reasons for how they act and why they believe a certain way, even when it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. Showing a character’s motives makes it possible to see how they think, and gives legitimizes their personalities so they don’t act the way they do “just because”.
3) Redheart takes place in the Leland Province, a land full of dragons and scattered villages. What was it like taking this land you imagined in your mind’s eye and expressing what the Leland Province looked like in words?
Sometimes I frustrated myself in creating the descriptions for the world of Leland, because I so want a reader to feel they inhabit the place, they aren’t just reading about it; finding just the right word for just the right feel can be a real challenge! But words are the medium for my art, so I have to be very familiar with a lot of words, so I can select just the right one for a purpose. That’s the most satisfying part of my work, though!
4) You’ve written countless award-winning short stories. Can you tell us what it’s like writing short stories compared to novels?
Writing short stories is only different than writing novels in that a story is a nugget of time from a character’s life. There still needs to be an arc, a growth of some kind. A character at the end of a short story can still be changed in some way, but it’s generally a shorter trip! In some ways, a short story has to be stronger than a novel, because it has only a brief chance to make a distinct impression
5) I know you’re involved with Book Tastings, part of the English Tea Store blog, on which you pair up books with the perfect tea. Can you tell us a little more about this?
I love to talk about how I brought my two passions together into something called BookTastings! I believe books and tea are such terrific partners, I love to pair certain blends with certain novels to really bring out the best of both. A good tea companion while reading involves all the senses, and deepens the entire experience. And on top of that, you receive a complete cleanse, because teas have antioxidants for the body, and books are antioxidants for the mind.
6) Which tea would you pair up with your own novel, Redheart?
I know the perfect tea, I picked it out myself! It’s Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon – be sure to add a little honey and cream. It’s a solid tea, like my solid fantasy, with just the right cinnamon candy sting, like dragon breath. You can check out my other BookTastings on my website at www.jackiegamber.com.
7) Riza and Kallon’s relationship started out as a timid poke at friendship, but grew into something much more. What was it like watching your characters grow on each other in such a way, and slowly learn about one another?
As a writer, I do very little outlining ahead of time, because I enjoy watching the journey from A to B. Maybe because I’m a reader, too? But I am careful to stay true to a character (it’s that motivation, again), and to be on guard against rushing a romance. So much of the vicarious pleasure is in the little, subtle changes.
8) Can you tell us a bit about book two of the Leland Dragon series, Sela, and are you currently working on any other projects?
I can tell you that in book two, the Leland saga continues for the next generation. A certain landowner is still trying to get his hands on the crystals in those mountains. My next slated project will be the final book of the series. But I’ve also finished a time travel/historical novel based on two real figures in England’s past, and I’m putting some final touches on a novel about a teen in the 60’s who finds herself in a sanitarium, surrounded by other-worldly folks who might not be as crazy as they seem.
I have deep-seated convictions surrounding despair, and letting fear drive people into their “caves”. But dreams can be wings. Don’t give in, even when it seems the only option left. Fight to believe. Believing is flying.
10) Lastly, what advice would you give to any young readers who someday wish to become recognized authors?
Tessa, I really appreciate your use of the term “recognized author”—I think I’m going to borrow it. Because the writing industry has been undergoing such dramatic evolvement over the last decade or so, and being a “published” or “professional” author can have a variety of interpretations.
To answer your question, my advice to young readers would be to keep reading. Drench yourself in words so you can know just the right brushstroke to paint the mental picture. Learn about the writing industry, and practice, practice, practice.
Jackie Gamber is an award-winning freelance editor, as well as award-winning author of the fantasy novel Redheart, available now through Seventh Star Press(www.seventhstarpress.com) and ebook at a special rate of $1.99! A veteran of the USAF, she is now, among other things, a rosarian, a professional BookTaster, and an avid believer in imagination. Visit Jackie and her BookTastings on the world wide web at www.jackiegamber.com.
-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf...
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!