I will admit that I do not read a lot of High Fantasy or strictly Sci-Fi ones either, but somehow Justice was able to combine both in her novel A Wizard's Forge. Justice book (and series I bet) is very world and character driven and you would be hard pressed to find a more real and strong character than Vic. Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books Today:
Who is A. M. Justice? What led you to writing not only a novel but a series?
I’m a born nerd with eclectic interests that range from dance to scuba to the outdoors to all things science-related, including science fiction and fantasy. Most of my favorite books, films, and TV shows fall into the SF/F genre. Even within that genre, however, I prefer stories, films, and shows that present the fantastical in a realistic way—showing the dirt under the fingernails, if you will.
The Woern Saga has been in development for a long time (in fact, I wrote the original source story for A Wizard’s Forge when I was a teenager, back in the last century). I turned it into a series because I love the characters so much, and as I aged, I had new ideas for their adventures.
It has been exactly one year since A Wizard’s Forge was released. How has your year been?
It’s been an emotional rollercoaster! It’s thrilling and terrifying to release your work on the world and see how people react, whether that’s through your sales or reviews. My goal is to keep building a fan base and momentum so when the next book in the series comes out, it’ll make a big splash (I hope!).
A Wizard’s Forge is a mixture of the science fiction and high fantasy genres. Why did you choose to put the two together? Was it another way to express the differences between the two cultures and beliefs?
The choice was more a reflection of my own worldview, which like Vic’s is evidence-based while being open to supernatural possibilities. I also like settings that can fit within our universe—if humans are living in a strange world that is similar to our own but contains different plants or animals, I want to know how people got there. Readers familiar with Anne McCaffrey’s work will immediately recognize I’m following the precedent she set with her Pern novels. Pern is a lost space colony that resembles Earth in climate and ecology (except for the world-threatening Thread), but by the time most of the stories set in Pern take place, the space travelers’ descendants have lost all modern technology and live in a quasi-medieval society.
Another reason why I write blended fantasy and science fiction (also known as science fantasy) is that I prefer “magic” to have some basis in the physical world, even if the how and the why are made up. All the supernatural powers in Knownearth have a biological basis. There’s very little about this in A Wizard’s Forge because Vic doesn’t learn the details until Book Two, A Wizard’s Sacrifice, but I’ve written a lot about the origins of her powers on my blog and elsewhere. You can read about the magic system here: https://amjusticeauthor.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/the-insiders-guide-awf-worldbuild/
My idol is Ursula K. Le Guin, and I would cherish the opportunity to work with her because I believe she’d be a wonderful mentor. I’m in awe of her imagination and her writing skill, and I also admire how she paved the way for female speculative fiction authors in the 1960s. Her novel The Left Hand of Darkness was the first book written by a woman to win the Hugo, science fiction and fantasy’s most prestigious award. Le Guin’s imagination stretches far and wide, she writes really layered narratives that are about a lot more than the surface story, and her writing is elegant—all
What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
I suppose every author has a different answer to this question. For me, the hardest genre to write in would be contemporary lit, because the ordinary problems of ordinary people aren’t terribly interesting or inspiring to me. The real world can be fascinating—I like reading biographies and nonfiction—but I’ve made it picked up very few contemporary novels and finished even fewer. Coming in second would be hard science fiction involving interstellar navigation, because I’d want the physics to be “good,” but the amount of research I’d need to do to make it so is daunting. I was recently joking with a friend about how I can nitpick the biology and medicine on Star Trek to the bone (because I know a lot about those topics), but when the captain calls for a tachyon pulse, I just nod and say, “oh yeah, the tachyon pulse will get the job done!”
The genre I most like writing in after fantasy is historical fiction. That requires a ton of research too, but I like researching clothing styles and home construction and culture and politics from historical periods, so I embrace the challenge rather than shy from it.
Vic is an ever-changing character (as you say in the premise, a scholar, a slave, a warrior and a wizard) in this book just based upon life events that influence her change. Was it hard to write Vic as she grows, changes and adapts several times throughout the book?
I didn’t find Vic hard to write at all, as her experiences and challenges are so dramatic that I could just put myself in her shoes and imagine how she would react to each situation. I also wanted to explore self-reliance as both a strength and a weakness. Her history as a loner growing up in Ourtown makes her incredibly vulnerable to Lornk but also gives her the wherewithal to escape from him and recast herself as new opportunities present themselves. She’s very good at learning, which is why she excels at physical and intellectual challenges, but her faith in her own abilities blinds her to other peoples’ capacity and desire to help her, and a lot of the troubles that arise in the second half of the novel emerge from those flaws.
Torture and manipulation can be a theme that is present in novels, however, you decided to take a route of a more “unconventional” type of torture, sexual torture. Why did you choose this form of torture? Where did the idea come from? Was it hard to write the experiences for your characters?
I didn’t really think of this approach as unconventional, since in real life, for as long as humans have existed, adults have used sexual abuse as a way of grooming young teens to do their bidding. Lornk isn’t interested in Vic as a mere sex slave to satisfy his carnal desires. Instead, he uses sexual pleasure the way Valmont does in Dangerous Liaisons, as a means of controlling his victim. As he tells her, he wants her to crave him the way an addict craves narcotics:
He laughed softly, stretching his arms out, then twining his fingers behind his neck. “I told you once—I want you to crave me. Why do you think that is?”
“So I’ll obey you.”
“Oh, I’ve had your obedience for months. What I want now is your devotion. The day may come when you will have the world in your hands, and I want you to hand it to me, without reservation.”
Lornk also isolates Vic so he’s her only source of food and comfort and comes very close to making her entirely dependent on him. She manages to escape, but his psychological hold continues to haunt her when she’s a grown woman and a renowned soldier.
Lornk encompasses everything dark in human nature. What appeals to you about writing about our dark side?
Well, a book needs a good villain, doesn’t it? As the author, I know a lot more about what motivates Lornk than what the reader sees in A Wizard’s Forge, where he is a villain in every sense of the word. However, as he hints in the passage above, he’s not operating out of pure sadistic pleasure in others’ pain. He’s playing a long-game, one that involves Vic’s role in a future conflict, and Lornk believes if his plans succeed, all of humanity will benefit, while failure could spell the end of human kind. The stakes will become clear in A Wizard’s Sacrifice.
Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
I’m really excited to announce that A Wizard’s Forge received an Honorable Mention Award for Fantasy in the 2017 Reader’s Favorite Book Awards. Readers can check out all this year’s winning titles here: https://readersfavorite.com/2017-award-contest-winners.htm
You can hear a podcast interview with me starting Sept 16 on Write On with Tom Fallwell (http://www.tomfallwell.com/podcast.html), and I’ll be participating in the Virtual Fantasy Con in October: https://www.facebook.com/VFCReadersCorner/
What is one book (other than one of your own) that you think should be a must read for everyone?
Recently someone asked me which book series I would take with me if I had to be stranded on a desert island, and I answered Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle, because it’s a favorite I could read over and over and still see new things. The books in the Cycle feature dragons, sorcerers, evil clerics, old dark magic, and lots and lots of sea travel, while all the stories are tales about finding one’s inner strength to serve the greater good. They are great stories that taught me a lot about heroism and the kind of person I wanted to be as I lived my very ordinary life.
I want to Thank Justice for taking the time to answer these questions and for writing a unique book. If you are looking for something different that blends High Fantasy and Sci-Fi together check out A Wizard's Forge. Justice has also provided a giveaway to go along with her interview so please see the rafflecopter link below to enter :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway