AUTHOR INTERVIEW SERIES
Wendy Joseph's real fantasy
The publishing, television and film industries are continuously feeding the latest fan obsession with witch, werewolf and vampire stories, flooding people's senses with loosely conceptualized fantasy worlds. Yet, these can leave many readers and viewers wanting more depth. Amidst all this, one author has created a story that truly earns its tagline as "the thinking person's sword and sorcery."
The Witch's Hand follows Liana, the uncooperative protégé and successor of Malaxia, the most formidable witch in 13th Century France. Liana is hesitant to accept such awesome powers from Malaxia, and her situation grows worse when she's driven into the wild by the church. However, she receives unexpected help from Jettaret, a returned Crusader and lost soul with PTSD, and his rascally friend Alberge. Liana's efforts to find her path still aren't easy as she struggles within a world filled with magic, swordplay, religion-fueled hysteria, and the use and misuse of power.
This novel, a remarkable fantasy that is well rooted in realism, is rather unconventional within its genre. So, of course, it could only come from the creative mind of an unconventional author. Enter, Wendy Joseph.
The American writer is a merchant sailor by day, following in the footsteps of her father and uncles. Her adventures at sea have included outrunning Somali pirates, surviving typhoons, and rescuing seals. She was once dedicated to her writing craft full-time but, as most writers will agree, there comes a moment when the starving artist has to be a bit more practical.
Working as a deckhand can be exhausting and time-consuming, but Joseph continues to dedicate a part of her life to creative pursuits. She credits influences from her childhood for that endurance.
"My dad was the greatest storyteller who ever lived," said Joseph, whose love of language and literature was also enriched by a few exceptional teachers in her early years. And yet, to her, writing has also been a very natural vocation. "Nobody ever told me to be a writer or encouraged me. I just wrote. I've had no mentors as an adult. They wouldn't be able to tell me what to do anyway."
Joseph began working on The Witch’s Hand in 1985, first as a stage play, then as a screenplay, and finally finishing it as a novel.
"Nobody was interested in the first two," she said, "and with a novel you have more control over the final product; a producer can't take creative control away from you."
A great lover of fantasy, drama, and storytelling from an early age, Joseph wanted to contribute something that could stand the test of time in the literary world.
"I pay no attention to trends. I don't write for the New York Times bestseller list; I write for the ages. I wanted to tell a good story, and give the tale more depth and philosophical meaning than the usual hero-must-conquer-the-evil-sorcerer-and-save-the-princess saga," she said.
"Jettaret's angst is something I haven't seen much of in other sword and sorcery novels, and Malaxia's original desire to be a guiding light to humanity is absent in most of this genre's villains," she continued. "That came from wanting to make each character fully three-dimensional, which makes them far more interesting."
Joseph journeyed to France to research and write the novel, which was an adventure in itself. During the day, she took long walks exploring the ground her characters walked. She soaked up every facet of medieval French history she could uncover by visiting countless local museums. She spent hours studying volumes detailing medieval legends and tales. There were even times when men with questionable motives tried to pick her up at the Gare de Lyon. And, of course, there were many late nights dedicated to frenzied composition.
"While ensconced in a hotel near the Louvre to consolidate my research, I luxuriated in the knowledge that I was playing American expatriate writer in Paris, like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertie Stein," she recalled. "The poor cleaning girl wanted to come in and vacuum — she was under pressure from the dragon lady manager — but I had papers carefully strewn over everything and wouldn't let her. Finally, I opened the door and pointed to a space about one foot square. 'Vacuum there.'"
When the author possesses such an adventurous spirit, it is certain that bibliophiles are in for a good read.
To learn more about author Wendy Joseph and her novel The Witch's Hand, visit her official website, or order your copy now from Amazon.