A friend of mine, Jenny Graham-Jones has recently embarked on a new writing journey, entering Inkshares contest in hope to see her Fantasy novel Witherfist published. You can check and pre-order her book on Inkshares site. She accepted to do a two-part interview here.
NG: Can you tell us about your book, Witherfist?
GRAHAM-JONES: Witherfist is a fantasy novel that at its heart, centres around two women struggling to deal with the repercussions of power-struggle that both women were on the wrong side of. The book opens almost a year after the conclusion of a conflict in Last Empire, a political upheaval that nearly split the Empire in two and made our two main characters – Irusai and Arren – into fugitives.
The story tracks their attempts to reclaim the lives they once had. Irusai, also known as Witherfist, is a warrior and former provincial governor, who made a pact with a malevolent spirit to gain the power to protect the people of her province. Arren is the daughter of the Empress, who openly defied her mother’s decision to take the throne from her father. Irusai wants to return to her family and to the people who she swore to protect, but first she must rid herself of the spirit that earned her the name Witherfist. Arren wants to return the Imperial throne to her father, but to do so she must have the backing of people within and outside of the Last Empire.
NG: What was your first writing experience?
GRAHAM-JONES: My memory is hazy when it comes to my first experience of writing, but I can recall some of my first attempts at storytelling. Some of them involved a pack of toy farmyard animals and their encounters with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I dare say that the stories I’ve chosen to write have become a little less bizarre since, but they have always been far from normal.
NG: How were you drawn to the Fantasy genre?
GRAHAM-JONES: Growing up, I spent a lot (and I mean a lot) of hours listening to, rewinding and re-listening to a cassette tape I had of Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvelous Medicine. Though not strictly a fantasy novel, there is a clear element of the fantastic to the story – and the themes of the wonderful and the strange have never stopped appealing to me.
NG: What are your greatest inspirations as a writer?
GRAHAM-JONES: A significant source of inspiration and ideas for me has to be the world around me. I love reading about or watching documentaries about countries and cultures, outside of the UK. So much of history is already full of fascinating stories to draw inspiration from. The idea that eventually evolved into Witherfist, for instance, came out of watching a documentary about the Empress Wu Zetian. I couldn’t draw direct parallels between my writing and real-world events, but by echoing a fraction of history, I feel like fantasy world my stories inhabit can become more human.
The other main source of inspiration would be Brandon Sanderson, whether I’m reading his books, or listening to the ‘Writing Excuses’ podcast that he co-hosts Brandon is a master of the fantasy genre and arguably the creator of some of the most interesting and unique magic systems in the genre. Brandon’s worlds always feel deep and fully realised, without being mired in too much detailed.
NG: Thank you, Jenny! I look forward to continuing this conversation next month.
English author Jenny Graham-Jones is a newcomer to the fantasy genre. Based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, she spends her days at her job as a software developer and her evenings writing about the weird and the wonderful. Witherfist is her first foray into novel writing.