Interview with Tanya Jones

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small town in Alberta, Canada, near the rocky mountains and British Columbia. I think the small town mentality had a big impact on the interactions and connections between my characters and the scenery surrounding me definitely impacted the locations I chose.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I came up with the idea to write a book during the 45 minute commute that I was doing twice a day with my kids. My idea was that the three of us could 'build' a book together. Well, the kids' attention lasted all of one commute, but by then it was too late for me, I was bitten and found myself deeply submerged in the creation of Dreams of Beautiful Whisper during every spare moment over the following 45 days!
Would you say your book is more about escapism for the reader or to address social issues?
I would have to say both. I didn't write the book with the intent of addressing social issues, it was written purely for entertainment and escapism. However, simply through a natural progression and because I am who I am, there are positive role models presented along with a rather analytical and problem-solving approach to a variety of more common teen-life issues. They aren't 'in your face' and readers won't feel like they are being served a life lesson course, but many parents may appreciate the style and presentation of the characters.
What do you mean when you say your book presents 'positive role models'?
I find that a lot of the entertainment surrounding us these days thrive on characters who are edgy, they portray characters who are often disrespectful as being really funny, they suggest that insulting our friends and family are a normal way of communication. While many may notice that this has become something of a "norm" in society and we often get told to "chill" if we do take offence to certain behaviours, I feel that it's our entertainment industry who has the biggest power to alter those perceptions of what is acceptable and what isn't. Unfortunately, those who oppose the concept "smack talk" as being acceptable and funny often try to go the other extreme of excessive "warm and fuzzy" counters to this type of behaviour - frankly, this won't work, it lacks excitement and the "cool" factor. Having said that, I believe that it is entirely possible to present characters through entertainment who are fun, engaging and entertaining while also being respectful, compassionate and empathetic. That is what shines through in my characters.
What do you feel is an important "take-away" for your readers?
Although it was not an original intent when I wrote the book, it soon become apparent that my own aptitude for problem solving had manifested itself throughout my book and it is continuing throughout the series. At first I hadn't really thought much of this, however, with further and deeper discussions among many people I realized that this is one of the strengths of my book. Few young adult readers will make the conscious choice to read a book (fiction or non-fiction) based on the problem solving skills they can learn from it. However, problem solving skills are hugely important for success in life no matter what path an individual chooses and it's not a skill that is necessarily common place for everyone. Many teens even struggle with the relevance that schools try to place on the importance of problem solving. In Dreams of Beautiful Whisper, the main character Amanda (who very soon learns that her real identity is Amanae) is faced with a number of situations that require a sound problem solving approach in order to cope and make decisions. While being a fantasy novel immersed in an elven world with magical powers, the problems she faces are extremely parallel to more common problems that young adults often face - things such as parents uprooting them and moving to a new location, the confusion of emotions during the stages of first love and dating, family matters and even those who are faced with the discovery of being adopted. Not only does Amanae use thorough problem solving skills to work through these issues, she shows us how and even works on helping her peers understand the process she goes through. This is not a head-on, in your face aspect of the book and in fact it flows very smoothly with the characters feeling extremely natural, but it is present none-the-less and is a concept that cannot help but take root in the minds of the readers.
Is there a review that you feel will give potential readers a better insight into your book?
I absolutely loved the tone, honesty and insightfulness of this review. It's incredibly real and taps into both the strengths and weaknesses of my debut novel:

Dreams of Beautiful Whisper by Tanya Jones is about Amanda, a young girl soon to turn 16 (along with all the trials and tribulations that that brings, like parents who do weird and embarrassing things). At least, that’s how it starts out but soon things change for Amanda. When her family suddenly up-sticks and move to a mysterious village, Amanda discovers that her real is name Amanae, that she is an elf, and that she has powers that she couldn’t even begin to imagine… (Oh, and as a side note: if you are somewhat irritated by the lack of the ‘a’ in the title as I was, the reasoning becomes apparent near the end of the book and once you understand, all will be forgiven!)

The beginning of this book is not great. The writing is loose and bland, as though the author hadn’t re-worked this section in her edits and re-writes. There are a few jumps between past and present tense that are irritating. The narrative jumps from scene to scene with no break or distinction (actually, this happens throughout the entire book – but you get used to it). The characters are weak and uninteresting – I really couldn’t care less about Amanda; even her name irritated me. My Kindle is riddled with comments for the first few chapters. Something must have sparkled through all that though, something buried deep in the back that shone through, because I stuck with it…and boy am I glad that I did!

Once the family move back to the village of their past, the story comes alive. Suddenly there is light and colour and sparkle and thejuxtaposition between this and the first part of the book reminded me of The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy left the drab, grey Kansas and landed in technicoloured Oz. I went from wishing that something would happen in the story to being swept away by the pace of the action. I went from wishing that Amanda would fall down a drain to falling in love with Amanae. I went from being irritated by a name to adoring a name! I went from stopping every few minutes to note a comment to completely forgetting I was reading and being wholly immersed in the story. In fact, I didn’t make another note until right at the end of the book.

If this distinction between the first part of the book and remainder was an intentional way of showing the distinction between Amanda and Amanae, it’s a very clever technique – but it’s also a dangerous one. If you, as a reader, are stuck trying to get past the first few chapters of Dreams of Beautiful Whisper, stick at it – it will surprise you.

The story of Amanae is gripping and the concept of a young elf who doesn’t know she’s an elf, and who has to develop her Elvin skills in such a short amount of time, is a fascinating one. It’s a new and interesting way of writing about elves that kept me entertained throughout and although characterised as a ‘YA Romance’, for me, the romance is far from the best part of the book. Amanae as a character really comes out of herself, making this book as much a ‘coming of age’ tale as anything else and watching Amanae grow is heart-warming.

Speaking of the romance though, (and as most of you know, I hate romance), it’s done really well. It isn’t thrown in your face and is not sickly sweet – although the whole love triangle thing between Jordan, Amanae, and Caelsah, is a little strange to say the least. As a general hater of romance, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself rooting for Caelsah and Amanae.

No, this book is not without problems. You’ve got to stick with it to find the magic within, it’s at times jumpy and leaps through time with no notice, and the dialogue is sometimes stifled and not lifelike. I didn’t highlight any phrases for their beauty or smile at striking narrative, but actually, it doesn’t need any of that because of how deeply immersed in the story you become, and how much you begin to believe in Amanae, in Caelsah, in the village, as real people and places. And it left me with one overwhelming feeling that will tell you all you need to know: I was desperate to start reading the second book in the series, and I’ve struggled to start reading anything else since as I miss Amanae already.

Oh, and mum, if you’re reading this, I am ready. You can reveal my true elvin nature whenever you want.

(original source of this review:
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Partially the frustration at the ineffectiveness of the query process; partially the frustration at the number of "professionally" published novels (by the big 5) that are poorly written and edited; partially success stories from indies. I'm also a very techie person with a background in marketing and I'm Type A, so kind of like to have more control over things that effect me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The development of my characters. I love getting to know them and the way they take over and guide the story despite any outlines I've created - I can never be sure exactly where the story go when I start writing a segment. It makes writing it just as exciting as reading a new book I really enjoy.
What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on Book 2 in the series, The Elves of Eytherfel and making notes for Book 3.
Who are your favorite authors?
Julie Garwood, J.R. Tolkien, Piers Anthony, Cassandra Clare, Helen Dunmore, Rick Riordan and I'm quite taken by a brand new author Marina Finlayson who's debut novel is Twiceborn - really looking forward to her second book in this series.
Published 2015-08-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.