I’m delighted to be hosting JM Landels today who is chatting to us about fantasy novel, Allaigna’s Song : Overture.
Find out about the characters, who she would cast if her novel was optioned for a movie, the authors that have influenced her writing and much more.
In addition to her work as a writer, editor, artist, and publisher, JM Landels teaches swordplay and riding — sometimes both at the same time — in Richmond, BC. She draws on this experience, as well as her time as a rock musician and childbirth educator, to inform her debut fantasy novel, Allaigna’s Song: Overture.
Connect with JM Landels
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise Allaigna’s Song: Overture in 20 words or less.
A love story, a family saga, and a coming-of-age fantasy novel that weaves the stories of daughter, mother, and grandmother.
Please tell us about the characters in your novel.
There are three point-of-view characters in the book: Allaigna, her mother Lauresa, and her grandmother Irdaign. Allaigna’s story is a straightforward bildungsroman, about a hero in the making, who has the dangerous ability to sing music into magic. Allaigna’s mother Lauresa was a princess until she was married off to a duke in foreign country. Her thread is a love story, set during the two weeks she disappeared en route to her arranged wedding. Irdaign is a travelling midwife who marries a prince, and whose gift and curse of the Sight changes the fate of nations. And yet, for all her machinations, she cannot fully protect the ones she loves the most.
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie Jen?
When I created the character of Allaigna I envisioned her as an adult very similar in appearance to Claudia Black. For the young Allaigna, I suppose Maisie Williams is pretty close. The young Irdaign could be played by Jennifer Lawrence and her older self by Helen Mirren. For Lauresa, I’m not sure – a young Kate Winslet or Emma Stone maybe?
Your novel is part of a series. What is in the future?
Book two, Aria is due out in early 2019, and the final book, Chorale should be coming out in late 2020. The latter is drafted but not revised, while Aria is currently being serialized in Pulp Literature beginning with Issue 13.
Do you have a theme for your book covers Jen? Who designs them?
I encountered Melissa Mary Duncan’s work as cover art for Pulp Literature. Her ‘Beer Fairy’ was the cover for Issue 1, and I knew when I saw it I wanted her as the cover artist for Allaigna. Her attention to detail and the meeting of historical and faye elements are perfect for my world. I’m thrilled with her cover for Overture, and beyond delighted that she’s agreed to paint covers for the second and third books, Aria and Chorale.
Do you have a favourite place you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?
I do some of my best inspirational thinking on the back of a horse. Heading out for hack is wonderful for clearing the brain. Plus, since I write fantasy and historical fiction, being on a horse gives me all sorts of sensory insight that my characters would experience. Sword-fighting provides similar insights, and is more cathartic, but perhaps not as soothing.
Do you have a most creative time of day?
Between 10pm and 3am is when I’ve always been able to work the fastest. In university my essays wouldn’t even start writing themselves till 10pm, and I still find I’m most productive when the rest of the world is asleep.
Panster or a plotter?
I’m an inveterate panster. I start a book with a beginning and a final destination in mind. What happens in between is pretty much up to the characters. I write first draft every week with my writing partners Susan Pieters and Mel Anastasiou, using The Hour Stories cards created by Dale Adams Segal. I often sit down with no idea what’s going to happen next. Magically, at the end of an hour, I have a thousand words or so, and somehow … I’m not sure quite how … over the course of a year or two I have a book which needs only minor restructuring.
Which authors have influenced your writing Jen?
There are so many it’s hard to pick. CS Lewis, Margaret Atwood, Guy Gavriel Kay, Patricia McKillip, Mary Stewart, and Mary Gentle are a few. The biggest compliment I ever received about Allaigna’s Song was ‘as if Barbara Kingsolver wrote fantasy’.
Finally, what are you currently working on?
I’m three-quarters the way through a novel set in 17th century France. It’s the story of a shepherdess who inadvertently becomes a spy. It includes alchemy, poison, rapier fights, and intrigue in seedy inns and courtly palaces from Versailles to Cathar country.
Thank you for being my guest today.
Wishing you success with all your writing projects.
Allaigna’s Song : Overture is available to purchase from Amazon US and Amazon UK.
Publisher: Pulp Literature Press; 1 edition (11 July 2017)
You can’t hide from magic when it’s in your blood …
When Allaigna was seven she almost sang her baby brother to sleep — forever. She may be heir to neither her mother’s titles nor her secrets, but she has inherited her grandmother’s dangerous talent for singing music into magic. As her education proceeds from nursery to weapons ground to the rank of royal page, it becomes increasingly hard to keep her heritage and abilities hidden.
Secrets, it seems, are stock-in-trade for her family, and as Allaigna works to keep her own, she uncovers two that will affect both her life and the unstable peace of the Ilmar nations. One is the fate of her grandmother, who married a prince, turning the gift of the Sight into a double-edged weapon of state. The other is the truth behind her mother’s two-week disappearance following an ambush by outlaws en route to her wedding.
As she discovers who she is, Allaigna must decide what to become: the skilled courtier her mother wants her to be, the political chess piece her father bargained on, or the hero her grandmother foresaw.
Allaigna’s Song: Overture is a love story, a family saga, and a coming-of-age novel that braids together the stories of daughter, mother, and grandmother into a rich and deftly woven narrative.
Readers are saying :
“Beautiful writing and gripping storytelling throughout.”
“Allaigna, Lauresa, and Irdaign are tough, flawed, and appealing heroines.”
“Great tension, big world, perfect pacing, intriguing politics and lovely magic.”