Author Interview: Joel Flanagan-Grannemann

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1. Paperback, hardback, audiobook?

Paperback.

2. Pick a genre, any genre!

 Fantasy, til I die!

3. What is the first book you remember reading? 

 Goodnight Moon, or another kids book that was around in the late seventies. (I am old.)

4. What book shaped your childhood most? 

That would be Lord of the Rings. My mother read it to me, and then I think I read it maybe four or five times more before I graduated high school. I had a wooden sword that I carved elvish runes into. I would run through the fields behind my house with my sword and a metal trash can lid for a shield. Tolkien’s words (and fantasy in general!) are one of the few reasons I made it through high school.

5. When did you first start writing?

In junior high, I handwrote a horribly derivative fantasy story about someone (me, surprise!) who was transported into a fantasy realm. I’m afraid to look back at it (if I can even read it, as I have horrible handwriting). But there might be something I could use.

6. What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?

Thinking about it, I could say something like wanting to create stories and characters that would entertain others, but I truly think all I’ve ever wanted to be is a writer, to shape the scenes and people I see in my mind, and show them to others. Maybe that’s why, when I stopped writing after college, I was so depressed. I wasn’t being my true self. Yes, it still holds true: I am a writer, and if I am not writing, or thinking about characters or situations, I am not truly happy.

7. What book/poem are you most proud of creating?

The chapters “Realm’s End” and “Repercussions” in Talia: On the Shore of the Sea. They work together to tell a complete story of one day from multiple points of view.

8. Did you publish your first book or is it for you?

I published my first book in 2020, and the second in 2021.

9. How many books/collections have you published so far? 

 Just two so far, with more to come.

10. What genres do you write in (or hope to)?

Fantasy. I may do a little dabbling in soft science fiction. I don’t have the math background for the hard stuff, though. I would like to revisit some of the poems I wrote in college and see if they are any good.

11. Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head? 

I research items, places, things that I put into my work. Mostly it’s a quick Google search to get the basic idea, or to see how something works.

12. To plan, or not to plan your plot? 

Most of the time I have a beginning and an ending, but am not sure about the middle. I let the characters decide.

13. What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?

I have been self-publishing, and plan to stick with it. I doubt my bi/pan Fairies would find a place with a major label.

14. If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)

Iain Banks’ Culture series. The citizens of the Culture have it so easy. And who doesn’t want to spend the day with a sentient AI warship named Sorry About the Mess?

15. Do you currently have a WIP?

Mother of Exiles, Queen of Thorns follows my characters after the events of book two. It’s really three separate stories, and I’m not sure yet how they will fit together.

16. Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.

Canin. In his first form, he was someone I created in high school: a wandering hero with a tragic past and a secret. He was everything I — a lonely, skinny, clumsy teenager — wanted to be: someone who comes into town, does cool things with a bow and arrow, and leaves. In the books, he starts out as a broken half-Fairy looking for his father, lonely, and desperate to find a place to belong. Haunted by his dual nature and the hatred on both sides, he stumbles onto Talia and her band. I am very proud of his arc in the two books, and how it continues in the next ones. There’s a lot of me in him.

17. What do you consider your *current* magnum opus? 

I will tell you when I write it! But I am really attached to the Exile Forest and all the people there.

18. Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!

Talia and Elanor, Min and Canin, Talia and Bastile: all of them are my favorite! I love them all. They each have wonderful moments, and sad moments. I think the ones coming in the next books will be very important. I’ve poured a lot of myself into them.

19. Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song. 

Sometimes. Music seems to unlock my creativity. I’ve gotten so much inspiration from the songs of Gordan Lightfoot, as done by Tony Rice. His voice, paired with Lightfoot’s words, is a shining beacon to my muse. Earlier in 2021, I rediscovered an album I had loved as a teenager. It’s an obscure band that only hardcore newgrass fans know, but it lit a fire in my creativity. It was nothing directly related to the songs or the themes; I just felt energized by the music and lyrics.

No one is ever going to know (well, now they are, because I’ve told them!) that Canin’s scroll to Min was inspired by the song “Don’t Cry Blue” and the lines, “I’ll read you all my cards and tell you what I really meant to say,” but it makes me so happy. I smile every time I remember that flash of inspiration. Of course, that’s what he was doing all this time, late at night, hiding from Fairies and Humans, writing to his missing love.

Place names, character names, plot points, and little moments with characters have all been inspired by musicians and songs. One chapter in book two was originally titled “Fairies Get Ready,” after the song “People Get Ready,” but my wife and editor objected. It became “Fairies Prepare.” My short story “After Four Days of Rain” was inspired by the New Grass Revival song “Four Days of Rain.” I was looking for inspiration for a submission and the lines: “Four days of rain and I’m feeling okay. The sun’s back again, and it’s a beautiful day,” hit me, and I was off, writing about Talia and her first heartbreak.

20. Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)

No, but I would love to. I have a Frozen II calendar poster by my desk. It’s a hand-drawn version of Anna and Elsa. The way the white-haired Elsa is looking at the red-haired Anna might have inspired something in my work in progress. Just maybe.

21. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be? 

Pay attention to the little things. My wife got a new ring a few weeks ago. It’s a thick, clunky thing that expands out into a globe. Hard to wear, but cool. I held it in my hand and knew it was a magic item. So I wrote three hundred words on how a Fairy uses it to unlock a gate. That small flash of inspiration is what writing is all about: taking those little moments in your life and turning them into stories. A snippet of overheard conversation. Why is that guy wearing a blue shirt with grey pants? Anything can lead to a story, or add flavor to your characters.

22. Have you entered any writer contests? Tell us about your experience!

Entered one for a local Con last spring. Won. I will admit, the competition was not that stiff, but winning was a huge boost to my confidence. People, other than my friends and family, actually like my writing! The story let me explore a small part of Talia’s early life that I had only alluded to in the books. And let Peregrine, the purple-haired flyer, tell her story, and demand a place in future books.

23. Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers? 

Janny Wurst, Katherine Kurtz, and Julian May inspired me tremendously. Kurtz’s use of ceremonial magic in the Deryni books directly influenced how my Fairies use their Power. Also, the mind powers in May’s books and the very musical way Wurst described her magic formed how I think about the Fairies and their magic. Then there’s Tolkien, Tad Williams, Weis and Hickman, and R.A. Salvatore. All of them showed what fantasy can do: how it can tell important stories, and address current issues, but with Elves, swords, and crazy names. Then, there’s Aaron Sorkin, and all the writers on “Sports Night.” That show is a master class on how to write dialogue!

24. Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!

Twitter is @ServantAnd. My website is here. At the website, you can sign up for my mailing list and receive the short story I was talking about earlier. You can find my books, Talia: Heir to the Fairy Realm and Talia: On the Shore of the Sea, on Amazon. They are also available at all major booksellers. My Goodreads author page is here.

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