Thursday, January 19, 2012

Interview with J.E. Lowder, author of Tears of Min Brock, book 1, War of Whispers series

Dear J.E,
I've finished reading your novel and a review will be up on my blog and Good Reads shortly. If you are willing to do a guest interview/post I have several questions for you. They are below, and are not necessarily in order as the book goes along. Thanks, Rachel

Thanks for the questions!  Answers are below.  Some I could not answer as they will spoil Book II, III, & IV (which are finished!), but I did what I could!  Let me know if you need anything else.

When Elabea, Galadin, and Il-Lilliad first meet the storyteller tells Elabea "You can no more not be than you can decide to be." Please explain what you mean by this.

Simply that to become a storyteller is not only her destiny (the birthmark) but it's who she is as a person (her heart.)  A more contemporary way of putting it is this: "she's wired to be a storyteller."  She may try to act like she's not one, she may even choose to rebel and not be one, but nevertheless, she is still a storyteller, although perhaps not a very active one!

The novel is called The Tears of Min Brock. Explain why you called it this and why it is significant.

Ha!  Some of this is my publisher's doing.  Originally, the book was called, War of Whispers, but my publisher wanted to use this for the series.  So I chose Tears of Min Brock because the tragedy at the citadel (Min Brock) not only resulted in tears for Elabea and Galadin, but their family, Condin, not to mention Lassiter, Il-Lilliad and Draemel (which will be disclosed in the following books.)  I'm actually glad we changed it to Tears; it provides an overlapping brand for the series.

Many characters' names change as they themselves change. Galadin becomes Romlin, moving from "boy warrior" to "man warrior." Elabea's name, however, does not change. You said that it means "dreamer of days." How does this name fulfill Elabea's destiny of becoming a storyteller? Does Elabea's name not change, because she does not change? Or is it that ultimate who she is stays the same despite her journey?

Very observant!  All your questions will be answered in Book II, so I really can't share too much now.  I can tell you that I purposefully left her name unchanged in Book I because she wrestles more with her faith than Galadin/Romlin.  Even though I don't delve into this with an introspective look on Elabea's part, I wanted the reader to feel the ache and anxiety that she does, yet at the same time, hope there is a great change coming.  After all, she is our heroine! 

Linwith only appears once as he travels. The Bal-Malin appear to him and help him. Why is he significant or is that something we will find out in the next book?

Bingo!  Yep, he appears a LOT more in the following books and has a very key role. Think about it: how is he to get enough weapons for a war with only (1) wagon full of produce?  And even if he does barter for a large cache, how will he get it back without being discovered by his enemy?  And what's all that nonsense from the Bal-Malin about him being a "Worm Master?"

Against all odd, Elabea and Romlin make it to Claire, only to find it's not what they expected. Any hints on what Claire holds for them/what Claire is like? On the book jacket is asks "Will Claire be an ally or a greater foe?" Through out the book, Claire remains a unknown, yet desperately sought after land. What is the real truth about it? What leads people to give up their lives and journey there?

You've got great questions!  Again, most will be answered/explained in the next book.  I will tell you that I wanted to paint a word picture of what faith looked like.  Don't we all have expectations of what life and faith should look like, and yet, when we "get there," it's...different?  Plus, it makes (I think!) for a good story since you're not sure if Claire is good or evil. 

There are people who journey to Claire that Elabea and Romlin run into. They too are going to Claire to recieve treasure and have invitations. Yet, they have not heard the whispers and cast the two away, when they find that Elabea is a storyteller. Later, a man appears on the road as they get closer to Claire, and tells them that Claire does not exist, and that there is nothing there. Are the people and the stranger correlated or related?

Not really.  I wanted to create a world in which there are other "pilgrims" journeying to Claire.  After all, we find similar "pilgrims" on our own journey of life & faith who sometimes deliver negative "news" to us.  I also wanted to continue the tension of "is Claire real?"  By adding these pilgrims, who you think would rally beside our heroes, I've created a more desperate journey for them.  And remember: Elabea is to be a storyteller.  It was the storytellers that the Cauldron forbids and that many blame for the Dark War.  So to truly embrace Elabea on her journey, these pilgrims would need great faith, risk, and sacrifice.  In short, they weren't willing to pay the price.  Perhaps that's why they never heard the whisper.

How are Lassiter, Newcomb, and the ministrel tied in with Elabea and Romlin? What is the real truth about the ministrel? Why is he significant? What will happen to the three of them when the reach Claire? If they ever do?

Book II and III answer the above per Lassiter, Newcomb, DeMorley (the minstrel) and even Paradin.  Are they connected to Elabea and Romlin?  I won't be disclosing anything by telling you "no, they're not." BUT, they are HUGE in the plot lines surrounding Elabea and Romlin.  In short, although I've left a TON of unanswered questions, the following books dive into these deep pools and tie the loose ends together.

Explain the tulip as a symbol. Why did you chose to use it as Condin's greatest hope? Instead of another symbol?

As a writer, I love using contrasts and the tulip (I felt) best suited what I wanted to illustrate in regard to Quinn/Gundin humbling themselves as men.  I personally find tulips blooming in spring to be one of the most beautiful events to behold so I thought, "What if one blooms in winter?" and I fell in love with visualizing the crimson petals in stark contrast to Condin's winter backdrop of gray.  Another reason for the tulip (and yet another contrast) is that a flower is very vulnerable.  It only takes a misguided foot to crush it into the dirt (as Quinn proved!) And yet, because this tulip represents the goodness of Claire, it wasn't destroyed and in fact, was revitalized by the whisper.  And thankfully this was the case, because the greatest hope for Condin is that Quinn and Gundin (broken men) become "transformed men" by the scent from this fragile flower.  It's the only chance they have to save their children, their village, and their namesake.
Sincerely, J.E. Lowder

Review of Tears of Min Brock below. All my words in red. I really did like Tears of Min Brock, all though I did have a lot of questions about it. For those who read this without first reading the novel, sorry, I probably should have warned ya first. Love ya Rachel

Note: I recieved this book in exchange for an honest review. This is no way at all affected my opinions, which are my own as stated here. Thank you.

Here's the truth about me when it comes to fantasy: I'd love to write it, but I don't know how much I love reading it. I loved Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, so that's kinda what sparked it. I wasn't sure about Tears of Min Brock when I got it from the author. Naturally, it blew me away. It's the story of Elabea and Romlin as they hear the Call to go to Claire, because she is to a great storyteller, and he a great warrior. It's told in third person, but shifts from Elabea and Romlin to others. Which really made the book interesting and set it up the sequel. The plot line and characters were also so well developed. Tears of Min Brock lived up to my expectations for fantasy reads. So good work Mr. Lowder! 

My review is also here: Good Reads Review