R.J. Anderson is the author of the Faery Rebels series. The second book in the series, Wayfarer, will be released June 2010.
A Little About R.J.: R.J. Anderson (known to her friends as Rebecca) was born in Uganda, raised in Ontario, went to school in New Jersey, and has spent much of her life dreaming of other worlds entirely.
As a child she immersed herself in fairy tales, mythology, and the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and E. Nesbit; later she discovered more contemporary authors like Ursula LeGuin, Patricia A. McKillip and Robin McKinley, and learned to take as much pleasure from their language as the stories they told.
Now married and a mother of three, Rebecca reads to her sons the classic works of fantasy and science fiction that enlivened her own childhood, and tries to bring a similar sense of humor, adventure, and timeless wonder to the novels she writes for children and young adults. She currently lives in the beautiful theatre town of Stratford, Ontario. SOURCE
OBS: Who are your literary influences?
R.J.: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and George MacDonald defined my childhood love of fantasy; in my early teens I was influenced by Patricia A. McKillip, Susan Cooper, Ursula K. LeGuin and Robin McKinley.
OBS: What are you currently reading?
R.J.: I’m just about to start into Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner. I’ve heard lots of good things about it. After that I’ve got Flora’s Dare by Y.S. Wilce — I loved her first book Flora Segunda, so I’m looking forward to it.
OBS: What is your favorite book? Favorite character(s)?
R.J.: I just did another interview that asked this question, where I mentioned The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis and Jared Sapiens from Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron. So I’ll pick another favourite book, Connie Willis’s hilarious, romantic, madcap Edwardian time-travelling novel To Say Nothing of the Dog, and admit my deep and abiding adoration for Faramir in The Lord of the Rings.
OBS: What brought about the idea for Wayfarer?
R.J.: Well, the first book in the series hadn’t really wrapped up all the loose ends, so I always knew that there would have to be a sequel. But for reasons that will be clear to anyone who’s read Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter a.k.a. Knife, I needed a different faery heroine to resolve those dangling issues. The only possible candidate was Linden, a character who is just a baby in the first book — so I had to jump forward fourteen years in order to tell her story. Basically the first book laid the whole foundation for the second, but I also knew I didn’t want to write the same book with the same characters twice, so Linden and Timothy are very different from Knife and Paul and the adventure that they share is a very different one as well.
All that being said, it’s quite possible to read Wayfarer without having read the first book, and I know quite a few people who have done it. I try to make each of my books self-contained and satisfying on its own.
OBS: How much and what kind of research did you do for Wayfarer?
R.J.: First I read a lot of faery folklore, looking for legends and ideas that I hadn’t seen used by other authors — and I came across a little-known Welsh story that turned out to be perfect for my purposes. Knowing where those particular faeries lived gave me a good idea of where my characters would need to go to find them, and once I had a rough idea of the journey they’d take, I flew over to the UK and took that same journey myself. It was a wonderful research trip, and a great tenth-anniversary vacation for myself and my husband.
OBS: How do you develop your characters in your books? Is there a character you enjoyed writing the most? The least?
R.J.: Usually my characters begin with a mental picture and/or a name. Finding the right name is incredibly important to my process; a character’s whole personality can hinge on it. But once I’ve got those basics, I find out most of what I need to know during the writing process. Sometimes my characters surprise me by developing in ways I never expected!
Thorn, who is a secondary character in the first book and a minor one in the third, is always a favourite of mine. She’s so unapologetically herself and says exactly what she thinks, so you can always count on her to get straight to the point when everybody else is dancing around it. But really I love writing all my characters, even the hateful ones, because they bring tension and conflict into the story, and isn’t that what stories are all about?
OBS: Was it difficult to get your books published?
R.J.: Let me put it this way: it was difficult for me to learn what I needed to know in order to get published. I kept getting discouraged and giving up for months or years at a time, and I didn’t realize how valuable some of the feedback I was getting from editors and agents really was. But once I stopped seeing my rejections as just rejections and started taking the advice they contained, things moved much more quickly for me. The crucial skill I needed to learn was to revise — not just tweak and polish and make my prose shiny, but really take my book’s structure apart and put it together in a new way. And I didn’t learn that skill until I’d finished two complete novel manuscripts, and spent nearly fifteen years trying to get published.
OBS: What draws you to writing Young Adult and children’s books? Do you plan on writing adult books?
R.J.: Spell Hunter was originally written for adults, actually; it took me ten years to realize that it would work just as well or better for a teen audience, and just how fruitful and diverse a genre YA had become in the meantime. I’d always loved children’s fantasy literature and still do, but once I got into my teens I jumped straight to adult fantasy, having dismissed YA as “Judy Blume and all those problem novels” because, well, that was what I’d grown up seeing as YA. But there’s been this wonderful renaissance in the past ten or so years, and now there are so many wonderful YA fantasy and science fiction books, and so few restrictions on what stories you can tell within the YA sphere, I hardly read — or can see myself writing — anything else.
OBS: What are some future projects you have in mind?
R.J.: My third faery book, Arrow, is coming out in January 2011, and the following January will see a fourth book in the series, called Swift. But in between those two publications I have a YA paranormal thriller called Touching Indigo, which I like to describe as Girl, Interrupted meets The X-Files. It’s the story of a 17-year-old girl who ends up in a psychiatric hospital for teens following the death of a schoolmate, struggling to prove her sanity and control her increasingly powerful and unsettling abilities. It’ll be out next summer in both the UK and the US.
OBS: Is it difficult to find time to write while raising your 3 boys?
R.J.: It’s become a lot easier as they’ve become older and started school, so now I can write during the day. But it’s always a discipline to set aside uninterrupted writing time. I get most of my writing done in the early afternoons when two of the three are in school, and after 8:30 at night when they’ve all gone to bed.
OBS: What is one thing you would like your fans to know about you and your books?
R.J.: That I really try to do things that haven’t been done before, where faeries are concerned. I know there are a lot of faery books out there, and it’s pretty hard to tell just from the cover whether a book is something fresh or just a re-tread of ideas we’ve seen before, but I think that if people pick up one of my books they will find something different there. Whether they’ll like it or not — well, that’s the part I can’t control! But at least they won’t be able to say, “Oh, that’s exactly like the faery book I read last week…”
Thank you R.J. for a great interview!!
For more information about R.J. and her books please visit her WEBSITE