Thursday, August 9, 2012

Meet the Villagers: Joni Parker

After a bit of a hiatus, this week we’re talking with Joni Parker, author of the new fantasy series, The Saga of Seward Isle. Fans of traditional fantasy are sure to find a lot to like here, yet Parker manages to morph the genre in some unexpected and original ways.

Q:  Seaward Isle is a fascinating world in fantasy fiction.  A ‘lost’ world where with some standard elements, such as wizards, witches and elves, but it’s combined in a unique way with elements such as time travelers and pirates.  It’s kind of the ultimate “melting pot.”  Can you tell us a bit about how the series all came about?
A:  It all started with the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.  I loved it and kept making up my own stories and characters.  One day, I decided to write it all down and set up my old computer (which I still use).  After two months, I was done and stared at it for a while.  It was really awful, but I decided to polish it up for publication.  At the very least, it would help my writing skills and could be something I could do in retirement.
 I knew I had to make a lot of changes and the most dramatic of which was the setting.  I had to create a whole new world and came up with Seaward Isle.  Not only did I have to determine its appearance, but its location, history and population.  I even bought an atlas to look at the shapes of islands to get an idea of what it looked like.  It was much more difficult than I imagined because the story also had to fit.  Fortunately, it did. 
    My main character is a product of this “melting pot” concept.  She’s part-mortal, Elf and Titan, disguised as a boy when she was orphaned to attend her brother’s school and subsequently, adopted by an Amazon warrior and her Dwarf companion.  Part of what drives her is her desire to find out where she fits in. 

Q:  As a self-published author, you published a first edition of The Black Elf of Seaward Isle, but then decided to go back and revise.  What led to your decision?
A:  I had two book reviews after it was published.  Both of them said I had a unique story, but suggested the need for professional editing.  My second book was ready to move forward at the time, so I went searching for a professional editor.  I found one, had her edit both books and thought I was ready to go.  I updated my ebook on Kindle and was in the process of updating the printed version.
    Then, I found a book called Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.  I stopped everything and started over again when I realized that the editor didn’t do a very thorough job.  I think she was too nice to me.   When I posted a blog about it, Renni Browne actually sent me a message leading me to her website, where I met my current editor, Teresa Kennedy.  Shortly thereafter, Teresa moved to Village Green Press, a new indie publisher and took my book with her.
She worked on my second book and once that was done, I decided it was only right to have her edit my first book.  I really want a good product for my readers and a solid foundation for my series.  

Q:  What’s the best advice you could give aspiring authors?
A:  I would suggest they read Renni Browne and Dave King’s book on editing to help them find a good editor.  Teresa Kennedy is outstanding. 
I would also suggest that they join some local groups to learn more about their craft and meet fellow authors.  Writing can be lonely.  I’m a member of the Writer’s Garrett and the Writers’ League of Texas. 

Q:  What other authors really inspire you?
A:  I loved the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.  She inspired a lot of people to read books, including me.  I just got interested in another author, James Rollins.  After I read his latest book, The Doomsday Key, I went looking for more.  He keeps me turning the page!

Q:  From your point of view, what’s the most difficult thing about the publishing business these days?
A:  Now that I have some experience, the most difficult thing is getting my book noticed.  I have no clue and I’ve notified all my friends and relatives.  Thankfully, I have some help from my publisher this time.

Q:  How many books are planned for the series?  Any other projects in the works?
A:  I don’t have any other projects in the works because I’m still absorbed with this one.  Seaward Isle didn’t give up its secrets easily.  I have ten more books in the pipeline.  I’m focusing my efforts on completing the first series and work on the next, The Chronicles of Eledon.  Thus far, I don’t have a grand finale—I guess I don’t want this to end.    

Watch the series trailer here:!

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