For my first author interview, I’m thrilled to feature Janice Hardy, author of the acclaimed middle grade trilogy THE HEALING WARS (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Children’s). The UK edition of THE SHIFTER was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, and VOYA calls DARKFALL, the final book in the trilogy, “riveting and fast-paced. . . A thrilling novel and a satisfying resolution to a gripping series.” Congratulations, Janice!
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. Her books include THE SHIFTER, BLUE FIRE, and the final book in the trilogy, DARKFALL. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel. You can visit her online at www.janicehardy.com or chat with her about writing on her blog, The Other Side of the Story.
THE HEALING WARS is a big story. At what point did you see THE SHIFTER as part of a trilogy? Did you plan it that way or did you discover while writing it that you needed more room? And while we’re at it, are you an outliner or a just-turn-my-fingers-loose type of writer?
JH: It was just one book at the start, but about halfway through I saw a much larger story brewing. Nya triggered far-reaching events, and there was a lot more going on in her world than she knew about. It could stay as one book with a relatively happy ending, or continue on with the bigger problem and ramifications of her actions. I’m thrilled I got to chance to tell the full tale.
I’m an outliner for sure. I tried pantsing a book once and it was a huge mess. But I like to let the story evolve organically, so I outline the major turning points of a plot, and let the story unfold as I write (mini-pansting maybe?). I always know where I’m going, but rarely how I’ll get there. That keeps the story fresh for me, allows me to get the “first ideas” down on paper (in summary form) so better ideas can develop in the story. Once the first draft is done, I do a much more detailed outline and start the heavy structure work.
So which book was the hardest to write?
JH: BLUE FIRE, hands down. It was a monster. It took over a year to write, I did five “start over from scratch in a new document” rewrites, and it still needed a lot of revision after that. There were many tears and a lot of swearing. I even got sick right at the end of it. I HAD to turn it in by a certain date, and then I came down with a nasty flu. The last two weeks I was writing from bed, sick as can be and loopy on flu medicine.
As bad as it was though, it did teach me that A) I love this job, and B) even when things are really, really hard, I can do it if I keep pushing myself. I never want to go through that again, but I appreciate the lessons it taught me.
From a few of our conversations, I know you keep a crazy busy work schedule. What does your writing day look like?
JH: I’m an early bird, so I’m up around six am every day. I hit the laptop and write until lunchtime (around 11-11:30) then have lunch, then back to my desk for my day job. Toward the end of the day, I do my blogging/social media/marketing things. I try to take weekends off to let the brain recharge, though when I’m on deadline that isn’t always possible. I used to do all my blogging for the week on Saturdays, but my New Year’s Resolution was to take more time for myself and not work so hard.
Can you give us any hints about what’s up next for you?
JH: I finished a YA fantasy late last year that my agent is currently reviewing. Soon as I get that back I’ll dive into revisions to get it ready to submit. It’s an early draft and still needs work, but I’m very excited about it. Right now, I’m nearing the end of a fun MG adventure caper. (And it’s probably done since I wrote this answer) It’s a departure for me, because it takes place in the real world, which I’ve never really done before. I’m having a ton of fun with it though.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?
JH: I’d be a graphic designer. Which is cheating a little, because I’m a designer already. That’s my day job, or I guess I should say, afternoon job. I spend my mornings playing with words and stories, and my afternoons playing with pictures and layouts. It’s a pretty good gig, actually.
Thanks, Janice! Can’t wait till your new projects hit the shelves.