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Aidah begins seeing visions through her brother’s eyes. He’s a Firestarter, gifted with the Talent to control light and heat, destined to become a Sun Mage in the great city of Landaran. But he doesn’t want to leave without his sister. As storm clouds gather, Aidah dreams of a beautiful man, a frightening man, calling to her.
She fears the truth. That she may developing a Talent of her own, one that will change their lives forever.
The power to read minds. To possess bodies. To travel inside dreams. In the world of Ernid, Spirit is the ultimate power.
Nations will go to war over them.
Interview with Judy Goodwin
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Journey To Landaran is about Aidah and Tavish, twins who grew up being troublemakers in their tiny mountain village but who are forced to leave their simple life behind. Tavish is a firestarter who can control light and heat, destined to become a Sun Mage. Aidah has another Talent emerging, one which rulers both good and evil have been searching for. The question is, who are the good guys, and who should they fear?
Where did you get the idea for the book?
I wanted to write about twins—I’ve always been fascinated by the psychic link that some twins claim to have, and I wanted to base a series on a fraternal set, boy and girl. Everything else in the book started from the characters.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
There’s a very dark theme in the book, one of sexual molestation, and of using people. I want readers to understand that just because you’ve been abused doesn’t make you powerless. In addition, young people need to look beyond the surface of a person. A beautiful face can hide an ugly heart, and what seems to be a grumpy old person may in fact become your best friend.
How long did it take to write the book?
Longer than I would have liked! It took me about five years, but that was mostly because real life got in the way and I had to stop for a couple years before returning to it. I’ve now adopted a strict writing schedule so that I can churn out a new book every year or two.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
I really love Tavish with all his fire, his temper and his brashness. He’s pretty fun to write. But I have to admit, the character who is the most fun to write is Rangwar de Innis, the Emperor. Ever seen “Labrynth?” That’s kind of how I picture him. Creepy as hell, but sexy also.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
I start with a notebook where I build the world, the characters, and plot notes. For me the world building comes first, including history and ideas of what kind of a story it could be. Then I start to write descriptions for the main characters. This book I also created a detailed genealogy because that’s a key factor in why Aidah and Tavish are so important. I wrote an outline but I’ve found that I never stick to my outlines. They’re useful for about 10 chapters or so, and then the book takes on its own life, and I just let it proceed from there. I always have a good idea of what the ending will look like, but I don’t think up every complication or scene.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
I’m actually pretty happy with this one, at least right now. Ask me again in a few years!
How did you come up with the cover?
I had an idea of having Aidah and Tavish in the foreground with the city of Landaran in the background. I worked with Katt Amaral, my cover artist and together we dug up possible models for the twins as well as shots for the city. We wrestled with it quite a bit before I was happy, so I have to give her a huge thank you for that. I did the lettering myself, after seeking a variety of fonts online.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Writing is just what I do. I was writing stories as soon as I knew how to write, and when a teacher pointed it out to me, I knew in my heart that this was what I wanted to be. Even in my day job, I’m a writer—I do technical writing for the healthcare industry. I just love writing!
What was the first story that you ever wrote?
Houses when I was six years old. It was a picture book with a poem I wrote. But if you want to know the first thing I had published, that would be a poem entitled The Voyage in Space and Time magazine when I was twenty-something.
What are you favorite books and authors?
I have quite a few. My all time favorite would be Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. But I also love Harry Potter, Stephen King’s The Stand, and Mercedes Lackey’s Vanyel trilogy.
What are you working on next?
I’m hard at work writing the next book in the Spirit Mage Saga to continue Aidah and Tavish’s journey! The book will be entitled Fall of the Guardians. If you think things are tense in Journey To Landaran, just wait until war engulfs the entire country.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
It takes 10,000 hours at least to master a skill. This includes writing. So keep writing. Read authors you admire, and try to notice what they’re doing that makes you admire them. Join a writing critique group to get feedback on your own stuff. That’s really the main thing. Oh, and please learn your grammar. Grammar and spelling are you tools, just as an artist uses a paintbrush and paint. If you don’t know your tools, it’s hard to build a masterpiece.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
It’s very difficult, actually. I write at odd moments of the day, breaks at work, lunch time, late at night. Don’t wait for the “perfect” time or place to write, because you may never get started. In less than an hour I can churn out 400 words. With 400 words a day, you can write a book in a year.
The wyrrets squealed and took off away from the nest, abandoning their babies as the shadow gave an ear-splitting shriek, the volume of its voice sending trickles of snow running down the cliff at Aidah’s back. Light returned as the creature crossed the sun and was illuminated in frightening detail, russet feathers and enormous scaled talons. With a rush of wind which drove Tavish and Aidah into the cliff, the giant roc flapped its wings and took off after its prey.
“Tavish, do something! Save them!” Aidah screamed as the giant bird swooped past them after the wyrrets, its beak opened wide. The roc chased them down around the mountain, out of sight.
The wyrrets would hardly make a mouthful, but the enmity between rocs and wyrrets was far greater than a simple need for food. The small creatures were notorious for annoying the huge birds, stealing their nest sites and diving at their young to steal food right out of their mouths.
Aidah glanced at her brother and found him struggling just to hold onto the cliff.. It seemed the wind and falling snow had made him lose his foothold. She hurried to help him to a more secure part of the ledge.
“What a monster!” he gasped once he was steady. “Is it gone?” He clutched at the rocky face of the cliff, hugging it to keep from the edge.
Crouching to keep her center of gravity, Aidah peered over the edge, but the slope of the mountain prevented her from seeing anything but sky and mountain. “Should we continue? I’d feel awful if our actions today killed those poor things. Did we attract the roc?” Her heart pounded against her ribcage and that strange dizziness overcame her again. She heard Tavish muttering to himself, but when she looked up at him his mouth was shut. He was grimacing.
“Damn bird. If it would just fly up here, I’d show it a thing or two. How dare it attack our prey! And if it finds that nest . . .” His eyes widened. “Hurry! We’ve got to get to the nest to protect the babies.” He didn’t say what they both feared; that the parents had already both been swallowed.
Carefully they scaled the cliff leading up to the nest on an outcropping of rock. Tavish, his arm muscles contracting, pulled himself over the top then he helped pull Aidah up alongside him. Together they crept into the enormous nest of thorn brush and thistle, softened with molted roc feathers. The outcropping provided just enough room for the huge nest, undoubtedly stolen from its former occupant. Aidah stepped over a long fir branch which made up the base of the nest, trying to make her way into the center where she heard the frightened mewling of the wyrret cubs.
Just as she spotted the brown-furred little fellows stumbling clumsily over each other, there came again that awful screech from behind. Aidah whirled and screamed at the roc to scare it off.
Her movement was too sudden. The branch she stood on snapped, and she fell back, tumbling down the nest towards the brink of the ledge. Tavish reached out and caught hold of her shirt as her legs slipped over the edge.
“Grab my arm! Pull yourself up,” he commanded as the fabric in his hand began to tear.
Aidah tried to grab for his arm, but her body was turned awkwardly. At least her predicament seemed to have one benefit. The roc, startled by her fall, wheeled away.
She didn’t have time to see if there were any other flying creatures down there, such as a few frightened wyrret parents. The shirt tore. Aidah scrambled to get hold of something, anything,. She felt herself falling, and then Tavish’s fingers clamped hard around her wrist, his short nails pinching into her skin.
“Sis, don’t move; I’m not secure here. Just stay still and let me pull you up.” Aidah looked up at her brother holding her with one hand, trying to get a foothold or any kind of handhold on the cliff to brace himself in order to pull her back up. The fact she was looking up at him alarmed her—she was truly hanging off the cliff, her shoulders rubbing the hard granite of the edge, her lower body dangling.