You are a successful novelist of historical fiction for adults. Why did you suddenly decide to write a fantasy novel for young adults?
Well, I knew how to pitch the dialogue, but I made a conscious decision not to over-simplify the prose or narrative to ‘make it easy’. There was no ‘writing down’ whatsoever. ‘Is it more difficult to write for younger readers?’ I would say yes, definitely. Initially I was consciously writing for adolescent boys, but as the story grew so did the scope and nature of potential readers. To be honest, I’d like to think The Doomsong Sword is one of those books – like Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy or the Hobbit that appeals to all ages. The main character starts off a lazy adolescent and then gets younger, but he does grow up – I can’t say more because it would give too much away – but it’s not strictly a children’s story.
Nowadays fiction authors are advised to find a genre and stick to it, at least until they have written a complete series. That, we are told, is how to get and keep readers. We are also advised to write what we read; and I read all sorts of books. I suppose my sort of fantasy – in this novel anyway – is essentially historical fiction without the facts: the hero, Davor, is abandoned in a Dark Age Scandinavia, and having been to the area where the story opens numerous times, I can assure you that when the clouds threaten or the mists come down anything might happen. In the not too distant past, I was addicted to magical realism, so I suppose there is an element of that in the story, as well. The Doomsong Sword falls into ‘high’ or ‘classical’ fantasy, I suppose, but I wasn’t bothering about that while I was creating the story itself. This genre question is a nuisance, useful for online marketing perhaps, but very limiting for a widely-read author. Margaret Atwood has written books in just about every genre and nobody criticises her for it – to my knowledge.
Yes. As I’ve said, I have a whole file full of unused material, but this Davor character has places to go and people to meet before I can finish his story. He has some pretty amazing adventures from the old Norse sagas to get through before his story is finally told.
JG Harlond's books can be found on Amazon, other on-line bookshops and, if you're lucky enough to still have one where you live, in high street bookshops.
You can find out more about her on her web page www.jgharlond.com