Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Interview by Perpetual Prose
Wendy, how and when did your love for fantasy begin?
I think it really started a long time ago. I am from the Netherlands and my parents were in love with the United Kingdom. They even named me after the Welsh Moon Goddess. We travelled to the hills of England, Scotland and Wales each year since I was five years old. I loved the lonely moors, the ancient trees and the crumbling castles where, if I really concentrated I see the medieval knights and ladies walking around.
My love of reading fantasy started with reading Lord of the Rings in English at age 15 or so. It was a library book in three volumes, and you can imagine my chagrin when I had finished part two, The Two Towers, and part three, The Return of the King was checked out and not available for a week. Talk about a cliff hanger!
What can we expect from your debut novel, Curse of the Tahiéra?
“Curse of the Tahiéra” is not a typical fantasy: it’s more like a semi-historical novel set in an early medieval setting that will remind some readers of the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon world. I suppose it is really three books rolled into one: it’s a quest adventure, a coming of age tale, and a story of healing the wounds of war.
The story revolves around Rom, a young man shunned for his Tzanatzi ancestry. When he crosses paths with Yldich, a mysterious Einache Shaman, they embark on a journey which will change their lives and that of their people forever.
Faced with power-hungry Southern nobles, rowdy Northern Einache warriors, shamans and Yldich’s spirited daughter Maetis, Rom has to grow up fast if he is to fulfil Yldich’s prophecy and free his people from a curse that has haunted them for five hundred years.
Tell us about your association with OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids).
I have always been a very spiritual person, though I never gravitated towards organized religion. From a very young age on, I was convinced of the sacredness of all life. Nature-based spirituality like druidry is a way to study and celebrate the sacredness of life and the earth. I enrolled in the OBOD bardic training course (the first stage of becoming a druid, where the emphasis is on music, story-telling, and other forms of creativity) when I had first started writing, and I must admit I have been a very lazy bard as far as studying the gwersu (Welsh for lessons) is concerned. But I have been into so many bardic activities: writing, playing the Celtic harp, jewellery making… so though I am not a very conscientious student, I am living the bardic way, so to speak ;-)
Does your knowledge of Clinical Psychology, dreamwork and past life therapy ever seep into your writing?
Yes, I suppose it’s inevitable! I think my experience as a psychologist and past life therapist really helps me get into the minds and hearts of my characters and manifest them as three-dimensional beings. Healing the wounds of the past, which is what I do as a therapist, is also very much the focus of my first book. (In part two, “The Search for Tzanáta” the focus is more on power – finding your own power, and the consequences of denying or misusing your true power.)
Dreams as a reality underlying daily life has also made its way into my book – as Yldich, my shaman character explains, there are different kinds of dreams – nonsensical dreams, dreams in which you learn something important about the world or yourself, and: dreams in which you are free to explore the different worlds parallel to our own, including the Underworld. Of course you need to be very careful when entering the underworld. You might meet your darkest fears there, or your own shadow!
Dreams, when used skilfully can also serve as a great flashback device; in the novel they help Rom discover his roots and true past.
If you could collaborate with 2 authors, Wendy, who would they be and why?
Well, of course I would have loved to collaborate with professor Tolkien, but I would need a really good time machine to do that. Another author I would love to collaborate with one day is a fellow writer I just met online, Derek Hart. I just finished reading the first in his dragon novel series, a story set in World War II Britain starring sir Thaddeus Osbert, a 1500 your old dragon. Thaddeus shares some uncanny similarities with my character Yldich, a 500 year old shaman. They both have great power, great heart and a dry, British sense of humour. It would be great fun to get them together one day! What stories they could tell one another…
If I may, I would like to add a third author: one of my readers recently introduced me to an online comic called “The Abominable Charles Christopher”, a bittersweet tale about the adventures of a naïve abominable Snowman, by Karl Kerschl. What fun it would be to see him turn “Curse of the Tahiéra” into a comic!
To learn more about Wendy Gillissen, visit: http://www.wendygillissen.com/
Read the interview on perpetual Prose