A long-time fantasy reader, Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. She’ll tell us more below.
Enjoy this interview.
Tell us a bit about The Healing Wars.
The Healing Wars is my teen fantasy trilogy (The Healing Wars: Book I: The Shifter, The Healing Wars: Book II: Blue Fire, and the upcoming The Healing Wars: Book III: Darkfall) that follows a war orphan named Nya, who has the unique ability to heal by shifting pain from person to person. When her younger sister disappears, this ability turns out to be the only weapon she has to save her. I had a lot of fun with it, because Nya faces some painful morally gray areas where there is no clear cut right or wrong. Her ability hurts as well as helps, and she has to decide how far she’s willing to go to save her sister. It’s all about choices and what we’re willing to do for those we love. Mixed up with a rollicking fantasy adventure of course. And a very cool magic system based on healing and pain.
How did it go when looking for an agent? Did you find one quickly or did it take some time?
Pretty standard actually. I was your basic slush pile query. Did my research online using Agentquery.com, sent out queries, squealed in delight when agents actually asked for pages. The Shifter went fast, six weeks total from first query sent out to signing with my agent. The agent I signed with only took ten days from pitch to signing. That was all very different from previous books I queried, where I tried for months and months and couldn’t even get a page request.
You mention on your blog that October is a good month for you. Funny how that works out sometimes. Besides getting an agent then, what are some of the other great things that have happened during October.
October was when I got the idea to write The Shifter. All my release dates have been in October. When meant all my first author events were in October. I think I even closed on my first house in October.
Anything you’ve been surprised about as you wrote the first two books in The Healing Wars?
How different writing a series is from a stand alone book. There are just so many more things to juggle and work with. It was harder than I expected, which was really a surprise because The Shifter was astonishingly easy to write. I really thought the next books would be just as easy. To balance that, they were also a lot more rewarding and I grew a lot as a writer. I’m curious to see how the next stand alone book goes.
Tell us about your latest book. What do you hope readers take away from it?
I’m just finishing final proofs on Darkfall, book three of The Healing Wars series. It’s the war in the series title, and Nya and her friends have to decide what they’re willing to sacrifice for their freedom. I got to cut loose with Nya and what she can do, which was a lot of fun to write. Well, for me. I suspect Nya didn’t find it nearly as much fun (grin). It wraps up the story, so I hope readers are satisfied and feel that Nya’s journey was worth following. She’s come so far as a character and I’d like them to realize that like her, no matter how many mistakes you make, the trying is what matters.
Please share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?
Next is a teen fantasy about an undercover spy. I wanted to play with a spy thriller in a fantasy setting, so I’m mixing genres a bit. I’m also going to be playing with some romance, which I haven’t done much of before. I’m discovering that planning a romance has a lot of similarities to planning a plot, which is interesting from a writing perspective.
I’m really excited about this story, and so far it’s developing well. The main character is quite different from Nya. She’s thoughtful while Nya is impulsive, and acting without thought will get her killed. It’s also set in this high-altitude mountainous region and I get to use llamas, which are one of my favorite animals. My husband actually came up with the magic system for this story, and we’ve had a blast working together on it.
As for goals, the plan is to start the actual writing (I’ve been world building and planning so far) on March 1, and I’m aiming for three chapters a week. For me, that’s about 7500 words. If things go well, I’ll have a first draft done by early May. I’d love to have it polished and ready to go to my agent around August. I also hope to try NaNo this year. I have an idea for a middle grade fantasy, and if I could do a rough first draft in November that would make me very happy.
And then there are the blog goals. I just did a major redesign on my blog and plans to make the site a resource for writers will continue this year. There are some things I want to do associated with NaNo, as well as doing some targeted ebooks on writing. Like POV, revision, plotting, etc. Take one specific topic or technique and dig deep into it, which exercises and diagnostics.
I think it’ll be a busy year.
Sounds that way. Switching gears now, what’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
I’d have to say The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Not only is the story fascinating, but the writing and structure is brilliant. It’s essentially a first person omniscient narrator, and just seeing how Zusak pulled it off is inspiring.
Book you’re currently reading?
Beth Revis’s Across the Universe. Loving it so far, and I’m about halfway through. (And will probably be done by the time this post is up!)
Where can we learn more about you?
At my website, www.janicehardy.com, or at my blog, blog.janicehardy.com
Anything else you’d like to add?
If this posts in time] I’ll be doing a writers workshop on April 9 at FoxTale Books in Woodstock, GA. The workshop is based on an article I wrote about how POV can solve most common writing problems. Very hands on, working with writers and their works in progress to help them fix whatever is currently giving them trouble. Ought to be a lot of fun.