Author Interview: Jennifer Ivy Walker

What inspired the idea for your book? 

When I earned my MA in French literature, I discovered the medieval legend of “Tristan et Yseult” (Tristan and Isolde). But I didn’t like the ending—they die of broken hearts, like Romeo and Juliet. I wanted my characters to become lovers and otherworldly mates, empowered by Druidic magic and aided by shapeshifting allies, to defeat the evil queen who threatens them both. I researched lots of dark fairy tales and French legends from the enchanted Forest of Brocéliande, birthplace of Merlin, Lancelot, and the Lady of the Lake Viviane. My trilogy is a paranormal fantasy adaptation of the medieval French legend of “Tristan et Yseult”,  interwoven with Arthurian myth and the dark lore I discovered.

If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?

I have already begun a spin-off—a new series—which tells the story of the next generation of characters introduced in “The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven” trilogy.  I am weaving together many of the original paranormal elements with new fantasy worlds and dark magic.

What author in your genre do you most admire, and why?

I most admire Sarah J. Maas, author of the Throne of Glass and The Court of Thorns and Roses series.  I love the blend of passion, magic, danger, and fairy tales. Although I have wanted to be a writer since I was eleven years old, and I knew I wanted to retell the medieval legend of Tristan et Yseult, I credit Maas’ writing as the inspiration for me to finally realize my dream last year and write this trilogy from my heart.

If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

I am delighted to say that my sequel— “The Emerald Fairy and the Dragon Knight”— is already under contract and will be published in the spring of 2023.  It concludes the trilogy and the story of “The Lady of the Mirrored Lake” as Tristan and Issylte form alliances with a triad of shapeshifting warrior tribes and a trinity of Celtic kingdoms to confront the wicked Black Widow Queen, the Shadow Witch, and an indomitable Viking Trident.

How much research did you need to do for your book?

I’ve incorporated years of researching dark fairy tales and Arthurian myth from the enchanted Forest of Brocéliande—birthplace of Merlin, Lancelot, and the Lady of the Lake Viviane. I spent months researching actual places that I discovered in these French legends, such as Le Miroir aux Fées—a lake named Mirror of the Fairies, which is the inspiration for this novel, “The Lady of the Mirrored Lake”. I wove together many legends into my trilogy, and I virtually visited places on Google Earth to “see” them so that I could write realistic descriptive scenery  as I wove together real places into the fantasy world of my imagination.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

I took the medieval French legend of “Tristan et Yseult” and used many of the original characters, but wove in paranormal fantasy elements as I rewrote the story. I created new characters from my imagination, based on the myths and legends I researched.  For example, there is a legend of the Gallizenae—nine Druidic priestesses who control the tides and weather.  I expanded upon that legend and created my Mélusines–mermaid shapeshifting Sea Dragon warriors– based on that myth. I researched lots of Arthurian legend, where Lancelot and Tristan were both Knights of the Round Table, so I developed that friendship as a core element of my trilogy. Many of my characters came from my heart, like the Elven blacksmith Ronan, my favorite character of all.

How do you come up with character names for your stories?

I research medieval French, Cornish, Breton, and Irish names. For the diabolical dwarves, I create my own. And for the fairies, I chose French phrases that describe their otherworldly power—such as La Fée Bleue (The Blue Fairy) for the Lady of the Lake Viviane, whose power is the healing essence of water.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

There is an actual lake in the French Forest of Brocéliande called Le Miroir aux Fées—Mirror of the Fairies. My female protagonist—who becomes a gifted healer on the Island of Avalon in book 1 of my trilogy, “The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven”– becomes The Lady of the Mirrored Lake, inheriting and protecting its sacred powers bestowed upon her as a warrior Priestess of the Goddess Tribe of Dana.

Is there something unique about your trilogy that you’d like to share?

I am very proud to have taken real places in Ireland, England, and France to incorporate into my trilogy. For example, in the original French legend of “Tristan et Yseult”, the hero uses hazelwood branches to communicate with his forbidden love. I wanted to create an enchanted Hazelwood Forest in Ireland, and I learned that there really is a Hazelwood Forest in Ireland! When I researched it, I discovered Lough Gill (Shining Lake) situated on a tidal bay. Since I grew up on a tidal bay in Maine, I used my childhood experiences in imagining the fairy witch Maiwenn’s life in the Hazelwood Forest. I did the same with creating my own Avalon, based on researching French legends and selecting an actual archipelago off the coast of Brittany in the English Channel, which is the realm of my Avalonian Elves.

How do your books get published?

My debut novel is entitled “The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven”. When I was searching for a publishing company, I discovered The Wild Rose Press.  The name attracted me, since it was part of the title of my novel, but I signed with this publishing company because of the wonderful welcome I received and the fabulous support they offer their authors. The Wild Rose Press is publishing my entire trilogy, and I have just submitted a fourth novel, “Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle”, which I hope will be offered a contract as well.

Jennifer Ivy Walker

Author of paranormal romance and medieval French fantasy

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