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Interview With Jayel Gibson, Author of "The Wrekening – An Ancient Mirrors Tale"
Synergy Books (2006)
Reviewed by Ian McCurley (age 13) for Reader Views (4/07)
Reader Views’ Tyler R. Tichelaar visits for the second time with Jayel Gibson. Jayel was here last month to talk to us about her first book in her “Ancient Mirrors” series, called “Dragon Queen.” She is now back to talking about the recently released sequel, ‘The Wrekening’. We are also fortunate to be joined by Ian McCurley, our 13-year-old reviewer.
Jayel Gibson is the author of several fantasy novels. His writing is heavily influenced by Celtic folklore, mythology and role-playing games. After teaching elementary school for fourteen years, he left teaching in 2003 to pursue writing full-time.
Tyler: Welcome, Jayel. It’s good to have you back. To start with, could you tell us a bit about the “Ancient Mirrors” series in general?
Jayel: Thanks, Tyler
“Ancient Mirrors” is a fantasy series based on the mythical world of Ædracmoræ, a place that is home to ancients, guardians and men, dragons, deathawks and downy flyers, magic and machines.
The series’ title comes from the seven ancient mirrors scattered beneath the earth, mirrors that provide magical links from one realm to another.
Tyler: Since “The Wrekening” is a sequel to “Dragon Queen”, do you recommend people read “Dragon Queen” first?
Jayel: Yes, although a recent reviewer, who read ‘The Wrekening’ first, indicated that learning about the goal and eventual end result of Yávië’s actions in ‘The Wrekening’ added to his reading experience of “Dragon Queen”.
I think reading “Dragon Queen” first will provide that intimate familiarity with the world and its inhabitants that readers often enjoy in a series. “Dragon Queen” contains the building blocks of the Ædracmoræn realms and the story of Yávië the Dragon Queen. “The Wrekening” throws the reader forward with Cwen, the Queen’s estranged granddaughter.
Tyler: Are there characters from “Dragon Queen” that the reader will meet again in “The Wrekening”?
Jayel: Yávië has returned, now leading the Seven Kingdoms as the official Dragon Queen. Warden Nall and sorceress Näeré make appearances, as do a number of Ancients and dragons, and the obligatory downy flier.
Tyler: Ian, I know you had some questions about Nall and his little appearance in the book.
Ian: Why didn’t you use some of the main characters from “The Dragon Queen” as main characters for “The Wrekening?” Why did you use Nall’s daughter instead of Nall?
Jayel: The storyline of “The Wrekening” called for characters who went down a less savory path than Yávië and the Guardians of “Dragon Queen”. Cwen and her companions met that criterion. Yávië and Nall had very specific callings at the end of “Dragon Queen” and were too well known in Ædracmoræ to undertake the search for the Wreken’s Heart Shards, although Nall volunteered. Writing Nall’s daughter also allowed readers to see Nall develop in a very different light.
Tyler: Thanks Jayel. This makes perfect sense. It reminds me of the Arthurian legends, where King Arthur is introduced in the beginning, but then once he becomes king, he has to deal with the management of the kingdom, which is not as interesting as having adventures, so the stories focus on his knights and their missions.
But Ian, I know you were also interested in learning more about the new characters appearing in “The Wrekening.”
Ian: Where did you find inspiration for Cwen?
Jayel: Guardians Nall and Näeré were the inspiration for Cwen. The question: if Nall and Näeré had a child, what would it be like? -she refused to leave, and so did Cwen. Cwen is the quintessential rebellious child, determined not to be like her parents. One of the things I love about her is her personal struggle for independence. Outwardly she appears so confident, but we glimpse another Cwen, her daughter looking for love and fatherly approval.
Tyler: I know you paint Cwen as a strong woman who doesn’t submit to any man. Is she modeled on any particular female archetype in Celtic literature?
Jayel: Not particularly. In Cwen we find an almost medieval idea of knighthood, with a feminine touch. She is a combination of the battle-hardened warrior ready to fight for honor and justice, at least as she sees it, and a kinder knight, one who defends the helpless and can pass for a lady among the more civilized members of society. Ædracmoraen.
Tyler: I know a lot of novels in recent years have tried to tell Celtic literature from a women’s point of view and to depict strong female characters. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon” especially comes to mind. Do you think such works accurately represent the women of that period, or are they more projections into the past than our 21st century issues?
Jayel: In my opinion, it’s a bit of both. I believe the basic qualities of women (and men) are the same today as they were a long time ago. There have always been submissive and silent women and energetic and outspoken women. We tend to assign many modern liberties to women of today’s fantasy while still staying true to the legendary strength of women in the Arthurian lore. Honorable qualities, such as courage, strength, and truthfulness are not particularly masculine or feminine, but they represent the best in humanity. It is these qualities that are exemplified in the women of Celtic legend and the women of modern fantasy.
I strive for a fire and ice quality in my female characters. On the one hand they show unwavering courage and stubbornness, which means they either win or die: giving up is not an option. The flip side is that they can express a warmth and coy grace that makes them attractive to the reader.
Tyler: Well said, Jayel. Much of what we see today we consider new when it really has been around since the beginning of time. And of course, love has been a part of human history since the very beginning. While I understand Cwen refuses to submit to any man, do I also understand that there are men who seek her affection?
Jayel: Cwen is a young woman without much faith in romance, so she is constantly off balance due to the constant persecution of the thief Caen and the less overt attention of Klaed, the son of a diplomat.
Tyler: But will Cwen find love, or is it a secret you won’t tell but let the reader find out?
Jayel: Cwen’s fierce desire for independence tends to get in the way of her relationships. Readers will have to follow the series in “Quondam” to find out where, and with whom, Cwen finally settles down.
Ian: Where did you find the inspiration for Caen?
Jayel: Caen was inspired by several real-life people I’ve known over the years. He is an enigma, that one minute we love and the next we despise. He’s reluctant to admit goodness, but he’s also not successful at being a “bad boy.”
Tyler: Jayel, the storyline of “The Wrekening” is all about destroying the Wreken Shards before they destroy your fantasy world of Aedracmorae. Where did you get the idea for the Wreken Shards?
Jayel: As a child, one of my favorite stories was about large legless dragons called wyrms and the magical power of their heart fragments. A large piece of amber, complete with a misshapen air sac and a large ant, served as further inspiration for the symbiotic relationship between the ancient dragons and the ethereal race known as the Wreken.
Tyler: Assuming the Wreken Shards are destroyed and Aedracmorae is saved, can readers expect more novels in the “Ancient Mirrors” series?
Jayel: They can. “Damselflies”, the next book in the “Ancient Mirrors” series, will be released on November 1 this year, followed by “Quondam” in the summer of 2008.
“Damselflies” tells the story of Arcinae, the last Damselfly. It’s a story of twisted legends, broken promises, and humanity’s never-ending fear of what it doesn’t understand.
In “Quondam”, a witch tempts fate by binding a dragon’s seed in the womb of a mortal woman, forcing Yávië and Cwen to venture into the unlikely realm of a dragon spawn.
Tyler: Wow, you’ve been busy writing. What kind of difficulties did you encounter in writing a series? Did you have the whole series all planned out in your head when you started writing and publishing your books like JK Rowling seems to have done with the Harry Potter novels, or do you write them one at a time and see where each one takes you? ?
Jayel: A series requires character development to take place over a long period of time (several books). Even in the final episode readers expect the characters to unfold in a new, albeit familiar way. Sometimes it is difficult to restrain the characters and stop their headlong gallop into oblivion.
For me, the entire series is like a single story. I always knew where the characters were headed and the ultimate reason for their existence.
Tyler: If it were possible, do you think you would physically want to live in the fantasy world you’ve created, or are you content to only experience it in your mind?
Jayel: My husband would say I already live in a fantasy world. He enjoys telling people that he never knows which “Ancient Mirrors” character he’s going to meet over morning coffee.
I love what I do and am quite happy with mind magic. If given the opportunity, I would love to travel through history, both real and fictional. I’m an adventurer to the marrow in my bones, so traveling to our existing world and writing about the realms beyond, keeps the itch of wanderlust eased.
Ian: Mrs. Gibson, why did you start writing?
Jayel: Wow, that’s a tough question. The truth is, I had no choice. I think it’s the writing that chooses the person, rather than the other way around. Once the story was in my head, I had to get it out. It’s the last thing I think about before I sleep and the first thing that comes to mind when I wake up.
There is much truth in the old cliché: a writer writes.
Ian: And what’s your favorite thing about your books?
Jayel: The Ancients, Willowort and Rosewort are my favorite characters because they’re where it all started, but it’s the communication with the readers that brings me the most pleasure. Nothing beats meeting and chatting with people who have read the books. Whether it’s at a book signing or through an email, I love that interaction.
Tyler: I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, Jayel, that you’ve quit teaching to pursue writing full time. What advice do you have for others looking to make a career in writing?
Jayel: Blow your ego before you start. Join a group of constructively critical writers. Attend writers’ workshops, conferences, and conventions to familiarize yourself with the business aspects of writing and network with others in the industry.
Tyler: Before closing, Jayel, would you tell our readers where they can find more information about “The Wrekening” and where to buy a copy?
Jayel: Thanks, Tyler. For more information and signed copies by the author, or to contact my publicist, please visit the Ancient Mirrors website at [http://www.ancientmirrors.com]. Books in the “Ancient Mirrors” series are available wherever books are sold; just ask at a local bookstore or order from any online bookstore.
Tyler: Thanks, Ian, for taking the time to join us today. And of course, thank you, Jayel. It was a real pleasure. We can’t wait for your next book. I hope you will come back then.
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