First, I would like to thank Wendy D. Walter for taking some time out to chat with us about her book Ambril’s Tale: Return of the Dullaith (Read the review HERE).
GG: Welcome Wendy! It’s always great having you stop by. Your novel Ambril’s tale is a magical story that tells about a young girls journey to find the truth and along the way discovers a magical world filled with mystical creatures. What inspired you to write about magic and what elements did you find the most difficult?
WW: I have endured many a withering glance from practical people who never allow magic into their world. But for me, infusing my written worlds with magic is not only great fun, I believe it helps strengthen my ability to visualize. Sort of like creating a series of hoops to jump through—just before they morph into a pool of Jello. For if up is up, and down is sideways, it’s more of a challenge to keep it all straight. So, whether I’m writing or reading fantasy, I find that the more intricate the world, the better.
But there is a problem. Unfortunately, there is no pause button in a brain. It constantly tweaks everything, just for fun, even when you think it’s perfect. It’s very frustrating when you finally get it all worked out, only to find that your solution has sailed off to China on a bus made of butter, with the head of a goat (this actually happened, I’m not kidding). This means that I am always scrambling for a notepad to get something down before it morphs into something I can’t use (I don’t even like goats).
GG: I am sure that this is not the first time Harry Potter has been brought up with regards to this book, not because the story is similar, but because the elements are reminiscent, especially intertwining real life issues with fantasy. Did you find balancing these two components difficult and what techniques, if any, did you employ to keep your voice succinct?
WW: Writing fantasy is definitely a balancing act. Both sets of rules, one for our world and one for the fantastic one, have to run alongside each other in a believable fashion. As I am also an artist, it helps me to sketch things out. That way I can resolve the fuzzy edges of my characters and smooth out the rough bits of both worlds with something concrete: a pencil and eraser.
GG: Finding inspiration to write can often be a great challenge for many writers and I occasionally do a piece on un-blocking your creativity. Is there anything in particular that you use (music, night out, family time) to drive your motivation when you hit a slump?
WW: Other than large quantities of chocolate? I am constantly searching for something new to arrest the ’round and ’round flow of destructive thoughts. We all seem to have this issue. A long walk with my dog, laughing with friends or even wrestling with the quirky bits of someone else’s stories help sometimes. Of course if all else fails, there is always ice cream!
GG: Bullying is a real hot topic right now, justifiably so, and Ambril’s tale delves into this issue. Besides it being a very relevant teen topic, was there any other driving force that led you to include it in the story?
WW: Like Ambril, I was a perennial new kid, I attended 5 different schools before the age of twelve. And yes, I ran into my fair share of bullies. I’m fascinated by this issue. How big of a difference is there between an aggressive bully and a successful corporate raider? Not much, really. I believe recently that the fine line in the sand, which separates acceptable behavior from not, has been redrawn to protect us more from bullies of all ages. This is a wonderful thing!
I don’t mean to minimize the problem. I think that recognizing that bullies are everywhere in our society is a big first step toward resolution. We are resetting the bar for human behavior by working through ways of dealing with bullies on the playground and online. We won’t ever be rid of them, but I believe that the best method of minimizing them is through education and by intervention. This will be a never ending process, but one which will eventually lead us to a healthier society.
GG: I love that you are using your platform for good. Thank you! Ambril’s tale is a very vivid world whose characters had very distinct voices. When drafting your manuscript, how much of yourself did you inject in your world, your characters and their struggles? And was tapping into your youthful voice difficult?
WW: As I am really just a kid inside, Ambril’s fourteen year old voice came fairly easily. Though I do wonder why I am so comfortable voicing gnomes, fairies and nasty old biddies who want to poison the town. There are little bits and pieces of me scattered throughout all my characters, I have to admit. Deep down, I think we all have multiple facets to our personality.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, Most of my evil villains contain elements of my least favorite people. Nasty relatives, frenemies, tyrannical bosses.—they’re all in there, hopefully, well camouflaged. There is nothing more satisfying than winning a battle with my evil Aunt who always believed the worst of me, or that boss who never said anything positive.
GG: I think we all love getting the last word. It’s even better when it’s achieved creatively! Do you have any advice for new authors looking to get their work published? Any complications or warning blocks you could offer as well as inspirational anecdotes?
WW: The best advice that I can give to a newbie author is to write well, get as much help as you can (content editing, critiques from your peers, editorial reviews) and above all, don’t give up! Keep going. It’s incredibly rewarding when a perfect stranger likes your book enough to put up a review. Because being an author is more about sharing your work than it is about making lots of money or becoming famous.
I’m in this for the long term. I love to write, illustrate, and to build worlds—however improbable. I plan to continue until they roll me out in a box!
GG: Agreed and well said. I know asking for a favorite author is too broad a question and I would never expect anyone to choose just one, but is there any writer or writers that you admire and considered inspiring while writing this book?
WW: My all time favorite fantasy writer is Diana Wynne Jones. She never underestimated her readers and wrote intricate, twisty curvy plots which delight me still, even after a third or fourth read. The Dark Lord of Derkholm is absolutely hilarious! I also read a Jane Austen book once a year, and adore all the classic fantasy series, including Harry Potter, Tolkien’s work, and the Wizard of Oz (great illustrations too).
GG: The second installment of this series comes out this year. Can you tell us a little about it and if you have a date for release we would love to know when we can expect to purchase?
WW: I’m shooting for mid 2013 for the release of the next installment of Ambril’s Tale, Riding the Cursed Shoots. Keep your fingers crossed, I’m working on the illustrations and cover art now.
GG: Okay, for the fun stuff. What was your favorite read of 2012 and is there any book that you are really looking forward to this year? (Excluding yours 😉 )
WW: In fantasy, I really liked the Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams. Great main characters, great voice, fun plot. It’s all about an alternative afterlife option, something between heaven and hell. I don’t know about you, but I’m all for a third option.
Outside of fantasy, I loved The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It’s a beautifully written book which weaves a young girl’s struggle to heal herself and the secret meaning assigned to flowers in the Victorian era. I have to say, though, that it has me researching flower arrangements before dinner parties, to avoid insulting my friends.
GG: And finally, we want to know a little about you. Family, dogs, friends, favorite food…anything.
WW: What fun! I live just south of San Francisco, with my husband. My daughters are in college now. My favorite foods are: artichokes and anything chocolate. I prefer interesting sneakers, trying new things, jangly earrings, writing in coffee shops, and westerly breezes which make my cheeks pink.
Thank you so much Wendy for sharing your story with us and being such a great friend. We look forward to seeing much more of you in the future. You can purchase a copy of Wendy’s book at the link below! Plus join us in the chatroom, where we can continue the dialogue and you can share your thoughts!
HERE ARE ALL THE LINKS:
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