Thanks for being on my blog today, Helen! I recently finished reading Lord of Druemarwin, and I would love to delve deeper into the story directly from your mind as the author.
Who was your favorite character to write in Lord of Druemarwin?
I knew Naed very well as he was a major character in book 1, THE PRINCE OF VALFEYRIDGE, and I’ve always loved him. But I have to say Raell’s scenes were the most fun. She’s a dynamic, always going forward character, full of passion and impulses. Where his heart and head are in constant conflict, she’s all heart-driven. I especially loved writing her verbal duels with his mother. Raell is the proverbial Princess-and-the-Pea, always having to prove herself to Naed’s family and folk.
How did you come up with all the names?
My second language (albeit rusty these days) is German, and I have a deep fascination for
anything UK medieval, such as Welsh and Gaelic. I draw on those influences while
choosing/inventing character and place names. Other creations come from serendipitous
mistakes in typing. For instance, the Adanak city Vinvinnysee actually grew from hitting ‘y’ instead of ‘c’ in Cincinnati. (One never knows where inspiration may strike.)
From beginning to end, did you have to delete any scenes?
Only one short scene in the villain’s point of view. It gave away a surprise that worked better coming later in my hero’s point of view. However, I cut several thousand words overall in revision passes.
What character do you identify with the most?
That would be Lady Vyenne, our hero’s mother. She’s the first mother I’ve written as a
significant character, and it was incredibly easy to channel all my motherly experiences through her. We are both very self-contained on the outside and passionate on the inside. And we DO know what’s best for our offspring, even if they don’t want to hear it.
What was your favorite scene to write?
Probably the wedding night because I have two characters who want to be together but didn’t expect it to happen this way, this soon. It’s both sexy and sweet—and occasionally humorous—as they negotiate the intimate details of their relationship, each wishing earnestly to please the other.
Who was your cover artist?
Rae Monet. She’s done all three of my covers. She did a fantastic job portraying Raell.
Is there going to be a third book in the series?
I hope so. First I’m working on a novella in the series. That is, if I can write something short enough to fit novella length. 🙂
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Thinking that vagueness creates suspense when specific, significant detail is the real lure; relying on bland verbs, clichéd descriptions and unreferenced pronouns when active verbs and nouns put ‘flesh’ on the plot skeleton; and writing characters that are ‘too nice’ in an attempt to make readers ‘like’ them when it’s their flaws that hook us.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
A certain amount of self-confidence is essential; you need to believe in your own work and
worth or you’ll lose your way bending to everything other people say about your work. Yet you must have a thick enough skin to accept and heed truly constructive criticism or you’ll never improve.
Thanks for being my guest today, Helen! I loved reading Lord of Druemarwin, and I’m excited to explore your other books!
Blurb for Lord of Druemarwin
Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress
of her father’s household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.
Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts,
and fight against claims he’s a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.
With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the
innocent and save their love.
“Raell, now is not the time—”
Aye, it wasn’t. They stood in torchlight on an open parapet while assassins stalked them,
but this might be her only chance to reach him across that precipice he’d thrown up between them, to secure the future they were meant to share.
“Does my honor mean naught? When weighed with D’nalian honor, is mine lesser
because ‘tis a woman’s honor? Or because ‘tis a Tolemak’s honor? Be honest and tell me that.”
The world had gone silent; Raell could hear nothing over the rush of blood in her ears,
the terrible heavy beats of her heart while she waited, dizzy with fear, breathless with longing, for the man she loved to respond with a word, a look, even a blink. Even a shift of his gaze she’d take as a sign he’d at least heard, mayhap begun to consider—
“Yes, be honest, Lord Naed,” said a voice she’d heard but once, a voice that raised all the
fine hairs on her body and made her innards contract into a cold, tight knot. “Tell us both how much honor means to a bastard who’s betrayed his countrymen and his blood.”
Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.