Today we are joined by British historical fantasy author Jan Foster.
With a passion for history, Jan has created a world filled with magic and intrigue.
In this interview, we'll dive into the inspiration behind her world, her writing process, and what readers can expect from her books.
So grab yourself a cuppa and join us on this journey into the world of historical fantasy.
What inspired you to start writing in the fantasy genre?
I write historical fantasy and history, although written often by the victors, could be read as absolute. Fantasy allows me to ask the 'What if' questions - like, what if I had to live with wings but pass as a human, what if the world as fae knew it was ruled by an immortal woman, and what if a bastard son was made vampire and took over the English throne. It's fun to explore these ideas and play with them in a parallel world.
How do you approach world-building in your stories?
I have a world within the human world, whose society structure is based on nature's creatures. The beings who inhabit this hidden world have to, at times, interact with the human world though but because they are more ancient, it's accepted that they shouldn't interfere too much and change the course of human history. Because its a parallel world, there is crossover though, and I tried to imagine the view which an ancient observer would have on the human world with the benefit of their long life and experience. Naturae itself is on a real (geographically speaking) island, so I had to incorporate the topography into the design of it!
Can you walk us through your writing process?
My stories are quite character driven (as in, I want the character to start at one point in their journey, face their challenge and then, grow from it - thus making up their arc), but I always start the plotting with the history. I look for years where there was a lot happening in the society - preferably a seismic shift because of change in ruler/religion/discovery and imagine how that might effect a character's aims in their story arc. Once I've noted down those events and plotted out the character's arc within the context, the storyline is virtually broken down into chunks for me to write. It takes a lot of research and pondering to see how the jigsaw of multiple POV's is going to fit together so its a long process. Recently, I thought it would be quicker to write against a beat sheet, for a romantic fantasy, but it actually took me longer because I was so worried about keeping to the desired structure and at times, it just didn't 'feel' right to move ahead with the plotline then. I think, when all is said and done, I'm a plantster through and through - I have a rough idea of where things are heading and when in the story, but let it evolve a bit more naturally than sticking to a word count for an intended end number of words!
Would you survive in your own fantasy world?
Absolutely - but not if I was still a human. I'd quite like to be a witch though.
What themes do you explore in your work?
Belief, right to rule, female empowerment (in a time when women were definitely second class citizens)
What do you consider to be your biggest influences as a writer?
I read widely, especially historical/historical fantasy, but I also LOVE thrillers. I'd like to think some of my influences are those who write in these genres, but I also highly rate authors / specialists who talk about story structure like John Truby and Lisa Cron.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to research for your stories?
Blacksmithing and medieval spycraft!
What do you hope readers take away from your stories?
I'd love it if they could see the parallels I infer with modern life from the history I cover, but perhaps that's a wish too far. Mostly, I just want to tell a good story to escape into!
Would you rather have a pet dragon or a unicorn, why?
Dragon - I grew up with probably every Anne McCaffrey book she ever wrote so it had to be really!
If you could have any magical ability, what would it be?
I'm easy to please - I just want to be able to fly. Telekinesis would be cool though, or am I just too lazy to reach for my brew when I'm reading?
If you were stuck on a deserted island with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
Spenser - my Fae Ambassador to Europe. He's a bit of a fop, a dandy, highly entertaining and well travelled, but would have so many tales to tell I'd never get bored. Plus he's kinda hunky for a fae.
What would you name your pet dragon?
Where is the best place to start reading your work?
Sign up to my newsletter and receive a free novel - the prequel set in Viking era, Risking Destiny. You can sign up on my website and find out more about the Naturae series there as well.
About the Author.
By day, Jan juggles consultancy work with her family, but by night she sneaks off, into the past. Her penchant for sprinkling history with magic is fueled by coffee and Cadburys. When not writing, Jan takes her dogs and small monsters into the countryside, especially if there is a castle or historic building there with a cosy coffee shop in which to escape the rain of Manchester, England
Find Jan online:
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/~/e/B084LF154S