Joel C. Flanagan-Grannemann interview

AUTHOR INTERVIEW


A little introduction:

My name is Joel C. Flanagan-Grannemann. I grew up in western PA, but now live in SC with my wife and editor, Jay-Jay, and two cats (number subject to change). We met at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and have been together ever since.


When did your love of books begin?

Starting very young, my mother read to me. We must have started with kids books, but what I remember most are The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings, and a collection of tales about Robin Hood by Henry Gilbert. On a recent trip home, I was able to find that book. With only my dim childhood memories to go by, I had been unable to find another copy. It had all the traditional stories, but with the added wrinkle of Robin befriending two little men of the forest. 
My love of fantasy was solidified early. After Tolkien, I found the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books. David Eddings, Tad Williams, Frank Herbert, Julian May, Janny Wurts, and Katherine Kurtz followed very quickly. Those last three -- May, Wurts, and Kurtz -- inspired me greatly, with their characters, their world building, and their use of magic (or mind powers, in May's case). 


When did you start to have the wish to become an author?

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to create my own stories, like the ones I read in my favorite books.


How have you found the process for becoming an author?

It's been a very long one for me. I hand-wrote some awful, derivative fantasy when I was a young teenager. Then, I wrote more short stories and some poetry in high school and college, where I studied writing. I worked at the university's literary magazine all four years of college. I was prose editor my junior year, and co-editor of the magazine, Baily's Beads, my senior year.  After I graduated, I stopped writing. Moving in with my fiance, finding a job, living on our own, getting married, moving 700 miles away from all our friends and family, getting promoted, buying a house -- all of it just pushed writing out of my mind. That became a source of depression for me. I can remember one day when I was almost crying in my car, cursing that I had pissed away any talent that I had, lamenting that I would never be what I had always dreamed of being: an author. Some of that anger was fed by an awful work environment and a horrible store manager, but I was also ashamed that I had wasted my time in college. I wasn't being creative myself, only reading and watching others who were. 
As it does, the world turned, and my terrible manager moved on. The atmosphere at work improved. I moved to a backroom position, away from customers. Things got better. Suddenly, I found myself at the head of a small team of people I could depend on, who knew their jobs, and were very good at them. I enjoyed going to work again. This allowed space in my head for the muse to find me again. 
On a beach vacation in September of 2019, my wife and I watched the movie Maleficent. It was a movie we had avoided for some time, but there isn't a lot to do at the beach after dark, and we're big Disney fans, so we sat down one evening to finally watch it. It was what I expected: very well shot, with great special effects. The one thing that struck me was the very motherly relationship between Maleficent and Aurora. As the credits rolled, I thought, 'This would be a better movie if Aurora were actually Maleficent's daughter.' Then, unlike other times when I've had ideas (The Seven Samurai, but with werewolves and other monsters, or retelling sexist bluegrass songs from the woman's point of view), I followed through. I was awake most of the night, thinking about the world and the plot. The next morning, I woke up early, got out my new laptop (serendipitously acquired), and wrote five pages about the Fairy Realm, the Exile Forest, the magic, the characters, and the basic plot arc. Since I could not use the name Maleficent, I went back to the origins of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. In one tale, I found the name Talia. From that moment, I knew who she was, and many of the things she would do. She still surprises me on occasion, but who Talia is was formed that morning.
None of this would have been possible without the love and support of my wonderful wife, Jay-Jay. She's my editor, my muse, and my manager. She sees things I am too close to see. She makes me a better writer. 
Now, I am working on the next book in the series, submitting to short story anthologies, and trying to find more readers.


What would you say to those wanting to become an author?

Just write. Don't worry about how good it might be, or if the plot makes sense. Just write. Start with two characters talking. Keep it simple. Don't worry about world building. Just get those words on the page. You can revise later.
The best advice I have ever heard was from Janny Wurts: Tell your story. No one else can tell it. No one else has your life experience or point of view. So use them. My horrible store manager? Some of her is in my villians, and in my heroes. People are never one thing; they're complicated. Listen to and watch the people around you. Hear the way they talk, see how they move, and watch how they relate to one another. It will feed your characters.


Tell us about your book/books:

The series is called Servants of the Moon and Sun. The first two books are Talia:Heir to the Fairy Realm and Talia: On the Shore of the Sea. They are a female-forward epic fantasy adaptation of Sleeping Beauty. I want them to do what all good fantasy and science fiction does, show the problems of the real world, but sideways. I can write about racism, sexism, and classism, but through the lens of Fairies, Humans, and half-Fairies (known as Elenites in my books). And I can have fun doing it, telling the stories I always wanted to tell. I can write about powerful women throwing things around with their magic  Archers and brave soldiers, fighting to protect their sisters and their Realm from enemies, both with wings and without. And I can have quiet conversations. I can work through my own issues as my characters work through theirs. I can write about the woods, streams, and hills of my childhood and feel like I am back there, home.


What do you love about the writing/reading community?

The support and the inspiration. Seeing how other authors take an idea and mold it, make it their own. Seeing the covers and the mood boards, the pictures of sunsets, and cats sitting on books. All of it feeds my almost-bottomless need for inspiration.


If you could say anything to your readers what would it be?

I want you to meet these characters, who have been living so long in my head. Meet Talia, and join her on her path to discover who she really is. Marvel at the beauty and grace of Min. Be wrapped in the motherly wisdom of Flora. Enjoy the stoic dry humor of Shatterstaff and her soldiers. Curse the Three Sisters for their bigotry and hate. Wonder if Humans and Fairies can ever be at peace. Discover things you can relate to in the characters and situations. And above all, enjoy reading about the Heir to the Fairy Realm, her Ladies, and The Nine.


Where can people connect with you?

On Twitter at @ServantAnd
Visit my website at ServantsoftheMoonandSun.com. There, you can see how to sign up for my email list and receive a free short story. It's called "After Four Days of Rain," and is a prequel about Talia's first heartbreak.


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