In the last year or so Jordan L Hawk has become one of my favourite writers and I made Bloodline my top book of 2014 when I did my review of the year. So I’m delighted she’s agreed to be a guest on my blog.
Meeting Griffin totally changed Whyborne’s life. How do you imagine his life would have gone without Griffin becoming part of it? Would his magical talent ever have emerged?
Best case scenario, Whyborne would have quietly lived out his life without ever realizing his talent. Worse case scenario, Blackbyrne (the villain from the first book) would have taken notice of Whyborne and subsequently tutored him in the arcane arts. Blackbyrne (and Theo later on) was always meant to be Whyborne’s dark mirror—the thing he very easily could become by giving into his baser impulses.
We’ll just be glad Griffin got there first.
What are the advantages and the drawbacks of writing a series for the same characters, rather than a standalone?
I love writing (and reading) series with reoccurring characters because to me a lot of the really interesting stuff happens after “I love you, let’s be together.” How do these two people build a life together successfully? What stresses threaten to tear them apart, and what makes them grow together instead? Being able to weave that in with a larger storyline is super rewarding.
The drawback is you have to have enough story to carry them along, which is easier with a series like Widdershins or SPECTR where there are much larger forces at work. And there’s a certain element of live performance in it—if you wish you’d done something differently back in book one and you’re on book four, too bad, you’re stuck with it now.
I love your secondary characters, especially Christine. How do you approach their role in a book and a series?
Major secondary characters like Christine (or Jo and Lizzie in the Spirits Series) serve an important role story-wise in terms of balancing out the main couple. They bring a needed skill set or perspective lacking in either of the MCs. Whyborne and Griffin work great together, but drop Christine into the mix and the dynamic is even better.
I think they also add a sense of realism to the books. I think we’ve all read books where the MCs don’t seem to have had a past or a life before chapter one, and that always bugs me. I find it more rewarding to write character with friends and family members who don’t exist just to help them hook up with their love interest.
When writing a series do you have a long term plan set for it? Do you drop clues in earlier books to later developments? Or is it all more organic and you follow where the characters lead?
It really depends on the series. SPECTR, for example, was pretty tightly constructed from the get-go because I wanted it to play out like one story. So I had to know from the start what important plot points needed to happen in which installment.
My approach to Whyborne & Griffin has been a lot looser. I knew what I wanted Whyborne’s character arc to be in the first five books, but the details for each book were usually vague until I started work on it. And some major plot points—Persephone for instance—started out as a bit of random detail I just threw in while writing. I had no conscious reason to give Whyborne a dead twin sister, other than infant mortality was terrible up until the last century. Now it’s hard to imagine the series otherwise.
The Whyborne and Griffin series has – until Hoarfrost – been entirely in Whyborne’s first person point of view. Do you see him as the protagonist of the series?
Yes. Whyborne definitely had the farthest to travel as a character, which makes it mostly his journey. Not to suggest the other characters don’t have arcs also, they do. But Whyborne begins as this very meek sort of fellow who is terrified of…well, life, really. His co-workers bully him, he doesn’t have any close friends, and he’s never even been so much as kissed. He had a lot of growing to do, and that’s really what the first cycle of stories was about.
Hoarfrost has the POV split between Whyborne and Griffin. What were the challenges of writing that? And of creating the audiobook?
The biggest challenge, technically speaking, was just making sure it flows and is clear to the reading whose head we’re in a given scene. Which is also a challenge when writing third person POV, but as readers we’re more used to that than alternating first person.
Otherwise, the biggest challenge was just that Griffin is a difficult character. In the books, he’s someone who doesn’t like to share the painful stuff because he wants to pretend everything is perfectly fine with him. Weirdly enough, he’s like that during the writing phase—I really have to buckle down and keep pushing to figure out what’s going on with him. So any book where the major plotline is connected to him (such as Stormhaven in the first cycle) is guaranteed to give me a lot of frustration in the process.
We haven’t started work just yet on the audiobook, but as I wrote I frequently imagined Julian G. Simmons cursing my name.
The couples in your books, Whyborne and Griffin, John and Caleb in SPECTR, and Henry and Vincent in Restless Spirits, are all contrasts to each other, which makes for great sparky interaction. Is that a conscious choice, or does it just happen naturally when creating the characters?
I love those sorts of contrasts, so it’s a conscious choice because that’s what I like to read. The joy is in finding out how these characters who superficially seem very different connect on a deeper level, and how they then go on to make it work in the longer term. There’s a reason my favorite fairytale is Beauty and the Beast.
Is there more to come for Whyborne and Griffin, SPECTR, and Henry and Vincent?
Oh yes! SPECTR Series 2 will kick off in June with Mocker of Ravens. Then we’ll hear from Henry and Vincent in Dangerous Spirits in September, and Whyborne & Griffin again in December.
Thanks for agreeing to be a guest, Jordan, and for your fascinating answers. Now to count the remaining days until Hoarfrost!
Blurb: Sorcerer Percival Endicott Whyborne and his husband Griffin Flaherty have enjoyed an unprecedented stretch of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, the calm is shattered by the arrival of a package from Griffin’s brother Jack, who has uncovered a strange artifact while digging for gold in Alaska. The discovery of a previously unknown civilization could revive the career of their friend Dr. Christine Putnam—or it might kill them all, if the hints of dark sorcery surrounding the find are true.
With Christine and her fiancé Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must journey to the farthest reaches of the arctic to stop an ancient evil from claiming the life of Griffin’s brother. But in the rough mining camp of Hoarfrost, secrets fly as thickly as the snow, and Whyborne isn’t the only sorcerer drawn by the rumors of magic. And amidst a wilderness of ice and stone, Griffin must either face his greatest fear—or lose everyone he loves.
Bio: Jordan L. Hawk grew up in North Carolina and forgot to ever leave. Childhood tales of mountain ghosts and mysterious creatures gave her a life-long love of things that go bump in the night. When she isn’t writing, she brews her own beer and tries to keep her cats from destroying the house. Her best-selling Whyborne & Griffin series (beginning with Widdershins) can be found in print, ebook, and audiobook at Amazon and other online retailers.