Saturday, March 7, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: J.S. Bangs


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hello!!  Welcome to The Gal.  Let's start out with an easy question: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

J.S. Bangs:
I live in Minnesota, where I have a lovely wife and two kids, the oldest in kindergarten.  I work during the day as a computer programmer, which of course gives me a lot of insight into magic systems.  (Computers are totally magic.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.)

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five t things most people don't know about you?

J.S. Bangs:
  1. My college degree is in Linguistics. I'm one of the only people who went to college already knowing I wanted to study Linguistics.
  2. I am bilingual in Romanian and English.
  3. I once ate an endangered animal.  (But it had been legally hunted.)
  4. My brother, my father, and my grandfather were all clergymen.  I obviously didn't take up the family business, though.
  5. I bite my nails incessantly.  I have never successfully broken that habit.
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

J.S. Bangs:
I learned to read at a pretty young age, so I'm not sure.  Probably a Little Golden Book.  I especially remember one about Dumbo that we had at our house.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

J.S. Bangs:
Serpent's Reach by C.J. Cherryh.  I went to my local used bookstore a little while ago and bought every C.J. Cherryh book they had, and I'm currently working my way through them.  And I recently finished Cherryh's The Faded Sun Trilogy, which was absolutely amazing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

J.S. Bangs:
I had written stories for my own amusement since I was in grade school, but I didn't really become serious about learning the craft and attempting to get published until I was in college.  There were many years of learning, though, before I got to where I wanted to be.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

J.S. Bangs:
In bed, next to my wife.  (Sorry, this answer is boring.)

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

J.S. Bangs:
You mean aside from the copious amounts of tea?  Because I go through a lot of tea, all the while listening to this Pandora station.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where do the ideas for your books come from?

J.S. Bangs:
Usually from history.  I'll read about some historical event or change, and I'll think, That would be fun to work into a story.  Typically I combine an idea about a historical context with a theme that I want to explore or a character idea that I have, and eventually the whole story falls out.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?

J.S. Bangs:
Always Coming Home by Ursula K. LeGuin is one of my all-time favorites, and it deeply informs my aesthetics and aspirations.  After that, The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, which is a pretty obvious choice, but it's still incredibly influential.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

J.S. Bangs:
Yes: the writing.  World-building is fun, outlining is great, brainstorming characters is a blast, and editing is breezy.  But writing the first draft is just incredibly hard.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

J.S. Bangs:
Good characters, an exciting story, and at least one awesome scene that will leave you shouting for joy and crying and fist-pumping, possibly all at the same time.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

J.S. Bangs:
Well, in Storm Bride, the characters are a pregnant mother, a blind old woman, and the leader of a  horde of barbarians.  So ... none of them?  If I had to pick one, I'd pick Saotse, the old woman, because she's the only person in the book that I'd be willing to be for a little while.  And she gets to talk to the gods, so that's cool.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why did you pick your particular genre?

J.S. Bangs:
I've never even considered any other.  I've been reading fantasy and science fiction for my entire life, andI wouldn't even know where to begin with anything else.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

J.S. Bangs:
I try very hard to break out of the ruts that epic fantasy usually falls into.  I eschew quasi-European settings most of the time, and I like to use characters that aren't usually represented in epic fantasy, which is why the primary characters in Storm Bride are a pregnant woman and an old lady.  But, at the same time, I don't skimp on the epic part of "epic fantasy."

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

J.S. Bangs:
I've already finished a book tentatively titled Heir of Iron, set in the same world as Storm Bride, but in a distant country.  That's going to be the first in a series, and I've just started working on the second in the series.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Wow!!  This series sounds interesting - you have my attention. :)
            Thanks for stopping by.  One more thing before you go, though: Where can we find you?

J.S. Bangs:
You can read my blog here.  I respond to all comments, and there's a sign-up for my mailing list there.  I'm also on Twitter, and you can email me here.

About the book:
When Soatse rode across the treacherous ocean on an orca at the bidding of Oarsa, Power of the Sea, the blind maiden believed she had been chosen for a great destiny.  But she hasn't heard Oarsa's voice in decades.  Aged now, she has found her place among a peaceful, long-lived people, though her adoptive sister, Uya, still blossoms with youth.  Then, pregnant Uya is kidnapped, and the rest of her family is slaughtered when an army of mounted warriors strikes the defenseless capital, leaving Saotse grief stricken and alone.
            After Soatse finds refuge with strangers in a distant village, a new Power makes contact.  Saotse embraces the opportunity to bury her bloodthirsty enemies in vengeance, but wielding the Power's bitter magic could cost her everything she is.
            As war escalates and allies flock to her side, Saotse believes she finally understands Oarsa's purpose for her.  But the Powers may have set events in motion that even they cannot control, and the fates of gods and men alike hang in the balance.

2 comments:

JS Bangs said...

Thanks for having me over, Meghan!

Meghan H said...

You're welcome :)