© 2013 Clive Eaton
Katy Huth Jones grew up in a family where creative juices overflowed and made puddles to splash in. She has published four books and over 100 short stories, poems, and magazine articles. When not writing, Katy plays piccolo and flute in a regional symphony. She lives with her husband Keith in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Their two sons, whom she homeschooled, have flown the nest and live creative lives of their own. Best of all, she is a cancer survivor.
Return to Finian Jahndra, the sequel to Leandra's Enchanted Flute
Four years after saving the magical land of Finian Jahndra, Leandra returns when Songcatcher asks her to help repel an invasion. But this time Finian Jahndra's magic does not restore her health, and her flute is not enchanted. How can Leandra help her friends?
Despite heartbreaking losses, a series of perplexing mysteries, and the exhaustion of her advancing illness, Leandra must find a way to rally the birds and the humans of Finian Jahndra to meet a much greater and deadly force before the magic dies forever.
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
I have a hard time relaxing, since I feel compelled to be productive all the time, but I do like to spend time outdoors, read, do crossword puzzles, cryptograms, and Sudoku, and watch the occasional movie.
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
As the child of a U.S. Army officer, I dealt with frequent moves combined with frequent illness by retreating into an imaginary world at a moment's notice. There I felt I had some control with the stories and characters of my imagination, and I began writing them down with illustrations beginning at age eight. My teacher that year, Mrs. White, greatly encouraged me to continue writing.
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
I wrote Leandra's Enchanted Flute as a result of wanting to make Mozart's Magic Flute accessible to children. The eventual story is nothing like Mozart's opera, thanks to a real Carolina wren which sang outside my window while I was undergoing chemotherapy and became the inspiration for Songcatcher. I wrote Return to Finian Jahndra at the suggestion of my Cool Well Press editor, Christine Nodes. Before that I had not considered Leandra might return to Finian Jahndra.
Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) To Leandra's great shock, 100 years have passed in Finian Jahndra.
2) Leandra discovers she's a legend, Finian Jahndra's "national hero."
3) Leandra takes her piccolo as well as her flute, which turns out to be a crucial decision.
What research did you need to do for this book?
Siege warfare, ancient weaponry, ostriches, and owls.
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
The character of Leandra, at least her determination in dealing with her illness at such a young age, is based on a former flute student of mine who had cystic fibrosis. Leandra's view of living with cancer is based on my own experience.
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.
I'm currently finishing book two of what looks to be a five part fantasy about a warrior prince who is a Seer and speaks to dragons, and a pacifist Healer who together use their supernatural abilities to protect the land from outside threats and treachery within.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
Leandra's Enchanted Flute was published in January 2012. At that time I started asking "What if?" questions to see if there was a possible sequel. As I wrote down bits and pieces, a story came to me, and I finished the first draft in June, ran it through my fantastic critique group, rewrote, and sent to Cool Well Press. They sent a contract right away!
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
I need stretches of uninterrupted time, though I can write almost anywhere. Parts of this book were written in airports, on planes, while riding in cars, and in my pickup truck parked under a tree. My office is cluttered with bright colors, pictures of birds and dragons, stuffed birds and dragons, plastic birds and dragons. The one thing I can NOT write to is music. Being a professional musician, I want to focus on the song, the chord structure, the melodic line, and totally forget the words of the story!
How easy did you find it getting a publisher?
It's never "easy" finding a publisher. I tried sending Leandra's Enchanted Flute to agents first, and though I had some nice feedback, all the responses were "no, thanks." Then a friend sent info about a new publisher of YA fantasy, Cool Well Press. I felt their philosophy matched my own and sent an email submission, following their guidelines. They accepted quickly, and their editing process was thorough and professional.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Staying focused!
2) Banishing self-doubt and the editor on my shoulder.
3) Allowing emotions to come through on the page. Since I've experienced cancer and nuclear bomb-strength chemo, it's painful to relive and I tend to "hold back". Being one-half stoic German is also a stumbling block.
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
(1) Writing something—anything!—on the page helps get the flow going again (I write my first drafts by hand). (2) Re-reading the previous chapter(s) helps remind my brain where the story is and where it ought to go. (3) Writing something else, a poem or a song, takes the pressure off and the words leap back with new energy.
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
Just keep writing. The more you write, the better you'll become. Try not to worry about whether you'll be published or not. If you can't find joy in the journey of writing, you'll never be happy, even if you're published!
What genre does your book fall into?
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
Most of my favourite books are fantasy or YA fantasy. I read; therefore I write.
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Anne McCaffrey for her fantastic imagination, her musical background, and, of course, her dragons.
2) Katherine Kurtz for her amazingly detailed, gritty fantasy worlds and her living, breathing characters.
3) Jane Austen, for her ability to capture the ridiculous and the sublime in each of her characters.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Charlotte's Web by E. B. White, but a close second was The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss.
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. I had put off reading it for a long time, and once I started, I couldn't put it down. Then I couldn't write for ten whole days because (1) the story affected me so strongly, and (2) my self-doubt kicked in thinking, "What makes you think you can write???"
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
I recommended Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series to my reluctant-reader nephew, hoping it would spark an interest, and wow, did it!
Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?
Although I'm getting more comfortable with reading books on my Kindle, I still prefer "real" books. I love the feel and the smell of a book, as if it's an old (or new) friend. I love my sagging bookcases, which make me feel as if I live inside a library.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
Actually, I think Leandra's Enchanted Flute would make a really cool Pixar movie.
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
I would love for Howard Shore to write music for it and the London Philharmonic to play it. Might as well dream big, eh?
Drink – Mixed berry smoothies
Meal – Sorghum flour pancakes, bacon and fried eggs
Holiday destination – Devonshire
TV programme – Haven't had TV since 1994, but before that I loved Star Trek: The Next Generation
Film – The Sound of Music (since I was 7 years old)
Method of travel – driving my 2001 Ford pickup (no frills, standard transmission)
Sport – archery
How can people connect with you?
Facebook: Katy Huth Jones - Author
Apart from Amazon, where can readers find your book?
Cool Well Press: www.coolwellpress.com
Authors always appreciate feedback and comments. Please leave your comments by using the following link: Author Feedback/Comments - Thank you.
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