Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Interview and Giveaway with J Tullos Hennig





Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Messages can be a slippery slope.  I don’t feel it’s necessarily my place as an author to tell people what to think.  Challenge them to think, yes.  But every reader will have a different takeaway from every book, and find their own message in that.  Don’t get me wrong; it’s terrific when a reader’s experience jives with what I discovered on my own journey whilst writing the book.  But my foremost job is to provide readers with an evocative and authentic experience—hopefully one that lingers even after they’ve turned that last page.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

I would have to say mostly not.  Experiences inform the writing, no question.  Something as simple as being a left handed archer, for instance, is invaluable when writing about left-handed archers!  Or having shot that bow and arrow from a galloping horse. The old saw ‘write what you know’ is true in this much: it is difficult to write with authority and confidence if you don’t have the faintest idea of what you’re talking about!

But it’s not so immediate a process as direct transference.  More like an hyperactive awareness that chops and processes everything as fodder for the muse—and often not anything like expected.

What books/authors have influenced your life?



I should have to say hail to the three Marys: Mary Renault, Mary O’Hara, and Mary Stewart. Very different, but alike in that their command of language, emotions and imagery is superb; their work, even the lighter fare, I can read over and over again. Parke Godwin, who by sublime example taught me two things: it’s all right to write thick, evocative prose, and that writing as a craft is neither quick nor easy. James Goldman–anyone who can write dialogue like The Lion in Winter needs to be emulated, and often! LeGuin. Poe. Felix Salton. Robert Heinlein. L.M. Montgomery. Virginia Woolf. Robert Graves. Ray Bradbury, who has never made the mistake of equalling short with shallow or undemanding.


If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I don’t like picking favourites in anything, but a writer whose talent and work ethic I have admired for years is Ursula LeGuin.  Her prose is evocative.  Her worlds don’t subscribe to the easy way out; they make a reader think, and wonder.  And the speech she recently made when she accepted an honour at the National Book Awards… just brilliant.  There’s a message!  And one to which every single writer should pay attention.
 
What book are you reading now?

Pagan Britain by Ronald Hutton

What books are in your to read pile?

Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels, another re-read of several outlaw ballad books including Rymes of Robyn Hood… basically a whole stack of research.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

I’m presently hard at work on the remainder of the Wode books.  In the pipeline are several historicals, a contemporary fantasy and an SF/Fantasy series.


Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?


Starting a new project and thinking of the possibilities in it, hoping my skills will be up to the task and I can weave a proper tale… that always brings a mix of terror and wonder—and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?

I’m always glad of an excuse to travel. J  Despite the tools with which the internet now provides us, I find incomparable benefits in travelling.  Not only through the research, but through different points of view, cultures and language, surround and landscapes.

Who designed the cover of your latest book?

Shobana Appavu drew the cover for Greenwode, and she is bloody brilliant!  I am constantly humbled and overjoyed by the lucent quality of her work.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

One thing that’s important to remember, particularly in today’s market:  success doesn’t mean talent and talent doesn’t mean success.  Do the work, because craft and artistry do matter, if you want that work to live past the moment.

(People rarely take advice even when they solicit it.  But I’ve taught for long enough that I can’t fight the occasional urge to hold forth.  ;) )
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And let me say many thanks, Roxanne, for welcoming me to your blog!

Thank you for being a guest :-)


Greenwode
Book One of The Wode
J Tullos Hennig

Genre: Historical Fantasy, Robin Hood

Publisher: DSP Publications

Date of Publication: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-63216-437-7 Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-63216-438-4 eBook
ASIN:  B00NPD85GU

Number of pages:  350
Word Count: 151,000
Cover Artist: Shobana Appavu

Book Description:

The Hooded One.  The one to breathe the dark and light and dusk between....

When an old druid foresees this harbinger of chaos, he also glimpses its future.  A peasant from Loxley will wear the Hood and, with his sister, command a last, desperate bastion of Old Religion against New.  Yet a devout nobleman's son could well be their destruction—Gamelyn Boundys, whom Rob and Marion have befriended.  Such acquaintance challenges both duty and destiny. The old druid warns that Rob and Gamelyn will be cast as sworn enemies, locked in timeless and symbolic struggle for the greenwode's Maiden.

Instead, a defiant Rob dares his Horned God to reinterpret the ancient rites, allow Rob to take Gamelyn as lover instead of rival. But in the eyes of Gamelyn’s Church, sodomy is unthinkable... and the old pagan magics are an evil that must be vanquished.

Available at Amazon     BN    Kobo    iTunes    Audible   OmniLit


Readers love
Greenwode

Winner in the 2013 Rainbow Awards: First: Best LGBT Novel, Best B/T & LGBT Debut, Best B/T & LGBT Fantasy, Paranormal Romance & Sci-fi / Futuristic


“I loved this story for taking a legend and giving it a twist … I have to recommend this to those who love folklore, mystical legends, historicals, fighting for a love against insurmountable odds, danger, betrayal and an ending that is devastating while giving you faint hope.”
—MM Good Book Reviews

“This is a gutsy twist on a major classic that works.”
—Gerry Bernie

“There is so much good about this book I'm not even sure where to start. … This one is a highly recommended read. Just read it. It blew me away.”
—Better Read Than Dead

“Greenwode is legend. It is epic storytelling. It is fantasy and history. It is religion and spirituality. It is a world in which faith is a weapon, faith is a tool, faith is the enemy, and faith is the last vestige of hope… when there seems nothing left to hope for. If you love epic fantasy, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.”
—The Novel Approach

“I can assure you the weaving of themes and legends in GREENWODE is mesmerizing. … This novel will always be the one against which I will judge all the others.”
—Christopher Hawthorne Moss

“…an interesting, spellbinding read.”
—Rainbow Book Reviews

“I highly recommend this any fan of an epic fantasy with historical settings. It is long but worth it. I can’t wait for the second book to come out.”
—Hearts on Fire Reviews










a Prelude b


In the Deeps of the Shire Wode
1175 ACE

Wind and water, stone and tree….”
Firelight flickered against rock, as if in time to the low melody. Both light and song wavered as they traveled into the depths. Not that the voice was not strong or the fire not warm—the caverns were that deep.
An old man, lean and crystal-eyed, stared into the fire. Every now and then the fire would jerk and start, as if some giant had spat upon it, but the cause was natural enough. Thunder rumbled in the forest above, sending puffs of wind through unknown entrances into the caverns. The old man could hear the stones embedded in the earth above him creak, almost in reply; he tuned his low voice as if in reverent time. Those rocks that formed the circle above him might be a tiny imitation of the ring stones on the plain of Salisbury far to the south, but no less eternal in their observance of the powers that he, too, had served for….
How long had it been? Stubble had scarce grown on his now leathern cheeks when he’d first taken up the mantle of the god. He had put aside his real name when, on a midsummer night not long after King Stephen had taken up another, more politic authority, a peasant gathering had crowned a young man with antlers and cried the god’s name:
Cernunnos. Horned One. Green-Father. Hunter.
Cernun.
Stephen had relinquished his crown to his nephew Henry even as Cernun had groomed his own successor, moving from Hunter to Hermit’s guise. It was the way of things. Shaking a twisted lock of silver from his eyes, Cernun grumbled to himself again, stirring at the fire with a long stick. He was old, but not infirm. The Sight was still strong in him, his body still hale and sound of limb; the forces of nature had rewarded him well for his service. Most men who had seen over fifty winters were bent and aged, senile from hard, miserable lives. The blood of the Barrow-lines ran strong. And he had been lucky.
He could only wish his successor such fortune.
The fire sparked. Cernun leaned closer, scrutinizing the writhing embers, watched them swell then flare white, reaching for the low limestone overhead. Yes? he asked, silent beneath the swell of power. You speak, Lord?
Images assaulted him. He saw what had been: the midsummer madness of dancing and singing, the rejoicing in rites, which, for a short, sweet time, took his people from the harsh reality of toil and hunger. Saw Horned Lord take Lady, clothed in Hunter and Maiden, horns and moon-crown.
Saw children born, Beltain-gotten, and the sweet green Wode prosper. As above, so below.
The fire damped, the vision strayed. Cernun spoke a low, guttural word, grabbed a handful of herbs from the cauldron at his side, and threw them onto the fire. The past was a given—to what future led this vision?
Scented smoke rose. It blossomed, damp cavern mists and heat writhing, tearing into wisps then coalescing.
A scream. The Mother’s face reflecting flames and terror, the woods aflame, and the Horned One on the Hunt. Downed in snow, horns broken, wolves with blooded jaws snapping and snarling….
“No!” Cernun hissed. He caught his breath as more shapes danced in the smoke, dissolving then coalescing….
A cowled figure draws a freakishly long bow, the arrow’s flight swift and sure, to split another arrow already in the black… a sister of the White Christ bends over a kneeling soldier… clad in the red and white of the Temple, he raises his fair head to let her make the sign of the Horns upon his brow… a booted foot stomps the long bow, shattering it….
Cernun blinked, shook his head. It made no sense, none of it. Smoke hissed, twisted into a pair of cowled figures locked in struggle….
One slams the other up against a tree, yanks his head back, and brings a drawn sword against the exposed artery, only to have the sword fall from his hands, to stagger back as if he has seen some demon… or ghost….
Another twist of smoke, and abruptly the flames flared high, gusting char against the old man’s face. He didn’t move, in fact bent forward.
A figure, crouching naked in the fire, a silhouette amidst burning ruins. The fire rises again, a spiral of sound and wind, and the figure rises with it, backlit, stepping barefoot over the coals and extending pale arms as if clothing itself in fire.
And, suddenly, it is. Flames whip, clad and cowl the figure in brilliant scarlet that ebbs to black… then gray-ash rags. Winter blows through, snow hissing in the coals and covering the figure. It walks back and forth, and in its footsteps ice crystals form. Green, sharp-edged leaves unfurl amidst the winter ice, revealing blood-red berries in their depths. The figure turns to him, eyes glowing within its cowl, still pacing, like to a wild animal caged.
Wolf, it says, but does not speak. Witch. Hawk.
Wind gusted through the cavern in a bank of noise and cold. The fire pitched down from copper into indigo, sparks flying, smoke rising.
Cernun did not bother to stir it. Instead he closed his eyes, tried to make sense of what he had seen.
Wolf. The most skilled of hunters, yet hunted throughout the land by another, even more treacherous predator. Or… outlaws were known as wolfshead. Perhaps? But not likely. Cernun would tolerate no outlaw within his covenant.
Witch. What the White Christ’s followers called those who followed the old ways of the heath and Barrow-lines, a calling turned to hatred by outside forces, even as the Romans had done with another naming: Pagani.
Hawk. Proud birds, another hunter/predator forced to perform beneath nobleman’s rule, barely tamed and kept from free flight, jessed, hooded.
“Hooded.” It came out in a soft rush of breath. Not only the hawk but wolf and witch—predators cornered—the struggling figures, the flame-gotten one… all cowled. By fire, by ash, by blood. “Great Lord who lies incarnate in us. Has it come to this?”
He stared at the dying embers, not wanting to believe. But the image persisted.
The one to walk all worlds, to breathe the fates of dark and light and dusk between, male and female; the Arrow of the goddess and the Horns of the god. The champion of the old ways—and the beginning of their ending.
The Hooded One.





About the Author:

J Tullos Hennig has maintained a few professions over a lifetime--artist, dancer, equestrian--but never successfully managed to not be a writer. Ever. Since living on an island in Washington State merely encourages--nay, guarantees--already rampant hermetic and artistic tendencies, particularly in winter, Jen has become reconciled to never escaping this lifelong affliction. Comparisons have also been made to a bridge troll, one hopefully emulating the one under Fremont Bridge: moderately tolerant, but. You know. Bridge troll.

Jen is blessed with an understanding spouse, kids, and grandkids, as well as alternately plagued and blessed with a small herd of horses and a teenaged borzoi who alternates leaping over the furniture with lounging on it.

And, for the entirety of a lifetime, Jen has been possessed by a press gang of invisible ‘friends’ who Will. Not. S.T.F.U.




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1 comment:

J Tullos Hennig said...

Thank you so much for hosting my work and words, Roxanne!

(I thought this was supposed to happen today, so I'm lagging behind--mea culpa.)