Friday, April 19, 2013

Blog Tour: Interview with Author Heather James (Elements of Power Series)

Author Heather James drops by to discuss her debut novel, Fire, why she loves the fantasy genre so much, why she chose to write from multiple point of views, and which male character she would go on a date with from her own book ;)

About the Author: Heather James is a young-adult author who writes about heroines with amazing powers, heroes who will break your heart and fantasy realms that you will want to move to. She works in the attendance office of a South-East London secondary school and spends her school holidays writing, reading, playing flag-American football and wasting time marketing on Pinterest.

Where to Find the Author

TeamNerd Reviews: Something we ALWAYS love to ask to all those who stop by TeamNerd Reviews: what makes you such a big nerd? Were you a nerd when you were going to school? Do like to collect anything?

Heather James: I was definitely a nerd at school: one of the quiet kids who always did their work on time and liked to sit in the library (although that had a lot to do with how cold it was outside!)

I like to collect names, as weird as that might sound. Whenever I come across a good one, or one with a particularly interesting meaning, I make a note of it for future use in a story.

TeamNerd Reviews: What made you want to venture your debut novel into the fantasy genre? What about the fantasy genre do you love?

Heather James: I love the limitless possibilities fantasy provides. If I want my characters to have amazing powers, that’s fine. If I want my world to have two suns, that’s also fine (although I did have a long debate with my physics-teacher fiancé about this one!). I have always loved fantasy stories, but thought that creating my own world was rather ambitious, so I assumed I would write a few other stories first before venturing into fantasy, but the idea for the Elements of Power series just came to me and I went with it.

TeamNerd Reviews: Fire is the first book in your Elements of Power Series. The book follows two of the four realms: Helian (fire) and Brizan (wind). What inspired the concept behind the four realms (Helian, Brizan, Arcan and Sephan) and the names?

Heather James:

Helian comes from ‘Helios’ the Greek god of the sun. He’s the one who gets really angry in the Odyssey and kills off all of Odysseus’ men, so seemed fitting for the inhabitants of the Helian Realm.

Arcan comes from ‘arcus’, the Latin word for Rainbow. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s also the name of a type of cloud, which is eerily fitting!

Sephan is from Persephone – goddess of the underworld. She’s also associated with spring and other earthy things, so very fitting for the earth Realm.

Brizan is from Brizo, a goddess who watches over sailors. As with ‘Arcan’, I didn’t realize it at the time, but Wikipedia has recently informed me that she was a goddess ‘specializing in the interpretation of dreams’, which some fans might want to read into…

My initial concept of the four realms was actually a remnant of another story idea I gave up on, which was all about pirates. The Realm names and their elemental links were the religions of the world of that story. I abandoned the idea, but not the realms. I never get rid of any old story notes or plans for this reason – just because something doesn’t work out in one story, doesn’t mean that it won’t be perfect for another.

TeamNerd Reviews: You wrote Fire from two points of view in first person narration. Why did you decide to write both in first person and from two of the female leads in the book? What do you hope young girls and women learn from both Roxy and Jasmine?

Heather James: When I first began Fire, it was only going to be written from Jasmine’s perspective and Roxy was going to be a side character, but I really struggled to move the story on and was fascinated by the Helian perspective on events. I started writing from Roxy’s perspective as a way of fleshing out the background, but everything clicked into place and I realized that the story needed to be about both girls – it needed the balance of Roxy’s fierceness and Jasmine’s calmness.

TeamNerd Reviews: What was one of the tougher scenes in Fire to write and why? Did you end up getting everything you wanted out of the scene or is part of you still itching to rewrite it?

Heather James: The toughest scene to write came towards the end of the book and is a confrontation between Roxy and Cinaer. I think that I had such high expectations for it, and it’s such a crucial moment in the book, that I put too much pressure on it being perfect. It took me three attempts to write, but after that I barely touched it, as I was so pleased with what I ended up with. Since writing it, Cinaer has become my favorite character to write and I went back and re-wrote many of his previous moments with this new, meaner Cin in mind.

TeamNerd Reviews: Jasmine and Brae are childhood best friends and have a very close bond. Was their relationship inspired by the friendships in your life? Why do you think friendship is such a powerful element to storytelling?

Heather James: I have an absolutely amazing group of friends, all of whom have inspired and influenced the story in some way. I think friendship is powerful is stories because, no matter how fantastical the setting or storyline might be, friendships are something that all readers can relate to and connect with. One of the strongest features of the Harry Potter series is the friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione, because it is so real.

TeamNerd Reviews: As the standard question goes: what can readers expect from the second book in the series? Give us some juicy details you haven’t told anyone else *wink wink* *nudge nudge*

Heather James: Readers can expect to learn more about Jasmine and where she comes from, and see Roxy really struggle with her sense of identity – Roxy’s powers and status as a Protector are a very big part of who she is and without them she feels incredibly lost. There’s also a moment, half way through, which will have half of readers cheering and the other half cursing. My sister is in the second group of readers and I wrote the scene specifically with her reaction in mind; she didn’t disappoint and her Kindle was very nearly thrown across the room… You can also expect some new characters and a closer look at the Sephan and Brizan Realms.

TeamNerd Reviews: Jasmine is an avid book lover (Yay! Book-a-holics! *hehe*). Do you share the same passion she has for reading? What were some of your favorite books growing up?

Heather James: Absolutely. I love all kinds of books and am always reading – I’m taking a break from ‘Clockwork Princess’ to answer these questions (and I’m team Will, before you ask!). ‘Growing up’ (although I’m still very much in the process of that one!) I loved the Harry Potter series and books by Meg Cabot. I also read a lot of classic-themed books, like the Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence.

TeamNerd Reviews: You live just outside of London. Would you ever write a book or series set in London? Or do you already have plans for that in future books?

Heather James: I do have plans for a novel set in London once I’ve finished the Elements of Power series. But it will be a futuristic London, mixing some of my favourite places with what the city might be like in a few centuries time.

TeamNerd Reviews: If you could go out on a date with one of the characters from Fire, who would you choose and why? What would you want to do?

Heather James: From Fire, I would have to pick Brae and I would want to sit on the top of Bryer Hill, looking out across the Arcan Realm and putting the world to rights.  In the series overall, however, I would actually pick a character I haven’t introduced yet – but he’s going to feature quite heavily in ‘Water’ and ‘Air’. I don’t want to give too much away, but he’s a Sephan and he’s going to give Brae a run for his money.

BIG thank you to Heather James for stopping by and letting us into her creative process and thoughts! Be sure to check out Fire, the first book in the Elements of Power Series, on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble!

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