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Yasmine Galenorn

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Coming September 2019

Book 8 in the Wild Hunt Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

Witching Hour:
TWPT Talks with Yasmine Galenorn

©TWPT-2019


TWPT:  Was there a conscious point at which you made the decision to focus on fiction writing instead of the non-fiction books you had written up to that point? Was there a feeling of leaving something behind as you moved on from your other writings or was this more of an evolutionary kind of change that was simply the next step in what you were meant to be writing? 

YG:  Actually, this is an easy question. Or rather, two questions since Iíll answer them both together. I always intended to write fiction instead of nonfiction. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to write fantasy and science fiction. I fell into the nonfiction by accident, actually. I hadnít planned on writing anything nonfiction, until friends convinced me to write about the classes I was teaching at the time.  

Now, Iím glad now that I did ó writing the nonfiction taught me a lot. It taught me how to write tight, and how to focus my thoughts. Plus, I did feel that I had things to say on magick and tarot, and the other subjects I wrote about.  

As to when I decided to go back to fiction, well I had been writing fiction since I was a teenóshort stories and eventually books. I just wasnít able to sell it at that point, and the time period was well before modern self-publishing. Then, in 2000, several things in my life imploded into one of the most traumatic years Iíd had. As I sorted out the aftermath, I realized I couldnít go back to writing nonfiction. I had no energy for it, and no drive for it, so I turned back to fiction, my first love. 

I didnítóand donítófeel like I was leaving anything behind. I had said what I had to say about magick. I didnít feel like I needed to add anything more, especially since I always intended my books to be guidebooks, focusing on giving the reader a foundation from which to create their own path. 

TWPT: What is the biggest difference in your approach to writing fiction as opposed to the nonfiction you used to write? 

YG:  Oh, there are so many differences. For one thing, I donít outline my fiction. I write a synopsis, and then about three chapters into the book, I begin writing bullet lists of the highlights that need to emerge during the next few chapters. Most of the book is filled in around the skeleton.  

I could never do that with nonfiction ó theyíre two totally different animals, so to speak.  

I write my fiction from the gut and the heart. Nonfiction has to be organized and structured in a logical format, and of course, back in the days I was writing it, I had to accept some changes the publishers wanted to make that I would never accept today. They werenít thrilled about me writing about actual mystical experiences. I still remember being told that readers wouldnít accept some of my magical experiences. I argued that I was writing about witchcraft and the gods and if you accept those, you need to accept magick as real. But there were things I was pressured to leave out, though I fought for and won on a few of the points. 

Actually, that runs true for some of my fiction as well. There were changes they requested for some of the books. On a few I argued because I really didnít want to make them. Some, I won, some I lost. I always played by the Ďpick and choose your battlesí motto, so when I did argue, they knew I was serious. 

TWPT:  Are your older nonfiction books going to stay in print at least on the Kindle format or are they a thing of the past?  

YG:  Oh yes. Iíve got the rights back to all of my nonfiction, and right now two of them are in e-format, but weíre going to reformat them again so I can also put them out into print again.
Iím getting them released a lot slower than the fiction because the audience just isnít there, and itís more a labor of love than a money-maker, but eventually I should have most of my nonfiction back out on the shelves. Well, the cyber shelves and POD ó print on demand. There are two books I wonít be re-releasing, one because itís really out of date with my practice, and the other because it was far too personal and I no longer feel comfortable about making it available.

Iíve thought of gathering all my magickal essays and articles into one volume, but to be honest, the market is so sparse for this kind of work that it will have to wait until I have the time. As to writing new work, at this point no. Iíve learned not to say never, but really, most of what Iíd have to say would be essays, rather than any Ďhow-toí work.  

TWPT:  When beginning a new novel or series do you start off knowing the entire story arc and how many books it will take to adequately tell the story? 

YG:  No, I never know the entire story arc when I start. I know the highlights, I may have a vague idea of how the series is going to end, but Iím an organic writer. The books and stories evolve, as do the characters, through my writing. As to how many books it will take for me to tell a story, I make a guess, but Iím never sure till the end. Thatís how Otherworld ended up at 21 books. But I can see the Wild Hunt, along with its spinoffs, going that long. The difference is that Iím putting them out much faster, so my readers wonít have to wait so long between books. 

TWPT:  Do all your ideas/outlines for a particular storyline/series end up in word documents/database files so that you can keep track of where you are heading with a particular story? If not how do you keep all of the intricate details of each story close at hand for reference? 

YG:  I have my series Bibles for each series. And they grow with each book. Of course, I also have the documents in my computer, but I print them out so that I can easily grab the binder off the shelf even if my computerís off. Every time I finish a book, I go through and update the series binder. Itís a chore, but it keeps me on track. I donít keep the outlines, but I keep track of all the places and shops, all the characters and their statistics, all series subplots and series arcs and the magical systems and bestiary, and anything else I can think of in these binders. 

TWPT:  Iím sure that most people think that writers of fiction have it easy compared to nonfiction because they just make stuff up  and it is so simple. Please help set these folks straight in terms of what it takes to write compelling fiction and especially fiction that often comes in the form of a series of books instead of just a single novel. 

YG:  Nonfiction was much easier than fiction. I just had to gather the research, organizine, and write the chapters. With fiction I actually am playing goddess. Iím creating the entire world, and it has to be a world that people will believe and want to spend time in. Thatís not an easy task. And creating a series, at least for me, means that the characters must grow throughout each book, and the plots must move the world forward. One thing I cannot stand as a reader, and I will not do as a writer, is to have a character who never grows throughout a series. Who never evolves. I get so bored with that kind of fiction, and I wonít write it. So with each book I have to look at the characters involved, and ask them, in what way are you going to change in this book? What challenges are you facing? And then make it all happen. 

TWPT:  After you finish a series do you immediately start thinking of the next or do you take a break before diving back into another project? 

YG:  I donít take much of a break between books. Itís just not a good idea for me. I definitely need a few days off, but if I take too much time off I get antsy and irritable. I know Iím a workaholic, but also, itís just the way my mind works. The stories keep coming and if I donít give them an outlet, they drive me a little crazy. I have my planned release schedule set for the next couple years. Of course, a number of things can derail it ó for instance I just got my Whisper Hollow series back from Berkeley, so now I can start writing it again. I had to make some room over the next couple years to add in those books. Which means shifting the entire schedule around. 

TWPT:  When you get the rights for a series like that back from the publisher do you just pick up where you stopped, do you rewrite any of it if changes were made you didn't want to make or do you just start over?

YG:  Thatís a good question. For my Indigo Court Series, I just had the books re-edited (there are always things that trad publishers miss), and released them in their new formats with the new covers. Same with the Chintz Ďn China Series. I had written a novella for each of those two series, to tie them up, and theyíre finished. The Bath & Body series, I had re-edited and released them as they were written. 

For the Whisper Hollow Series, Iím revising the books to tighten them up. The plots will remain the same but I see a lot of hesitancy in my writing of those books, probably relating to where my mindset was with the publisher at that point, and Iím removing what I feel is deadwood, to make the series stronger. Iíll be picking up with book three and will be releasing the first two books and the new one within a few weeks in, I hope, January. 

If I ever get Otherworld back, Iíll do the Ďrun through the editorí pass, and then put them out as is, given Iím not planning to write anymore in that series. That will be one hell of a chore, given the publisher has 18 of those books. As for the brief-lived spin-off, the Fly By Night series, the same. I wonít be writing any more of that series given I had to make one major change that changed the entire feel of the books for me, and Iíd have to re-write the first two books from scratch in order to feel like I wanted to write any more, and Iím just not interested in doing that.

TWPT:  It hadn't really occurred to me to ask this but I was wondering about the cover art that graces each of your books. Each one is a little work of art that simultaneously beckons readers to venture into that particular book but it also captures a small slice of the story in a single picture. Tell me about the process you go through when you are ready to put a cover to your book and how much communication there is between you and the artist to get it to express exactly what you want it to say about your book and of course market that book to readers too.

YG:  Honestly, I had very littleósome but not muchóinput on my covers with trad publishing. But now, I work hand-in-hand with my cover artist. I send her the titles, my vision of the main character, and a brief idea for each one. I base those ideas (and titles) on my subconscious, which knows a whole lot more about the direction of the series than my conscious mind does. The cover artist Iím working with for most of my books at this point does mock ups, sends them to me, we discuss the background, the pose, and the model, and then sheíll send me another, more pulled together version. I ask for any last changes at that point, and she finishes them. Iím thrilled with Ravven, who is the cover artist for my Wild Hunt series, Fury Unbound series, Whisper Hollow series, and Indigo Court series. Iím also going to have her do new covers for the Bewitching Bedlam series because, while I like those, they arenít fully aligned to my brand (the cover artist who did them did a great job, but they just arenít on point enough, I think).

TWPT:  Once you decide the time is right to begin something new how do you kick the process into gear? 

YG:  Itís a constant, ongoing process. I never take enough time between books that I have to kickstart anything. However, at the beginning of each book, one of the first things I do is to write the synopsis. Then, I make the playlist for the book based on the mood that I am feeling about the story. I clean my officeóitís an important part of the process for me because clutter clouds my mind and focusĖ and then, I sit down and start work. The first chapter usually takes longer than I expect, simply because it sets the tone for the book, but I write between 15 to 20,000 words a week on average. Iím a naturally prolific writer, and I write tight after all these years in the business. 

TWPT:  Do you ever battle writerís block when you are busy creating all those fictional worlds?  If so what do you do to get the creativity flowing again? Where do you seek out inspiration?  

YG:  No, I really donít. And if I do get stuck, itís usually because I have tried to take the story in a direction that isnít natural for the characters or the plot. I have to listen carefully as the story evolves because if I try to force it into the direction of my own vision, then the writing becomes stilted and difficult. At that point I go back to where the story was flowing and look to see where I went astray. Once I iron it out, the story begins to flow again. As far as inspiration, when I do recharge between books, I watch a lot of media ó a lot of movies and TV. I do most of my reading in between books, as well. And I read widely, I definitely donít stick to my own genre when Iím reading. 

TWPT:  Do you bring your knowledge of magic and your previous nonfiction writings into your fictional worlds? 

YG:  Most definitely! And in a way people may not expect. Even though I include a lot of fantasy-type magic in my work, thereís real magick behind it given my knowledge and practice over the past almost-forty years. And, the gods in my worlds, I work with a number of them personally, and I draw on their energy for writing the worlds. Especially the Wild Hunt Series, that one is driven by inspiration that I feel came directly from the gods. For me, the very act of writing is a magickal act, and I approach it with that mindset. Itís ritual, itís the act of creation, which magickówhen you think aboutóis all about. Creating and manifesting new realities. 

TWPT:  Often people think that because someone stops writing about certain topics concerned with spirituality that they have moved away from the practice in their personal lives as well. We spoke years ago about your spiritual path in the last interview we did. How much has changed or been modified since that time and how much has stayed pretty much the same?

YG:  My practice has deepened with time, and become far more focused on my personalized path. Iíve always been a proponent of the thought that a religion/spiritual path that does not evolve, does not thrive. To me, the whole point of following a practice is that it moves with you through your life. Iím not the same person I was 20 years ago, and my practice has changed to show it. Yes, Iím still a priestess of Mielikki and Tapio, but Iím also pledged to Ukko and Rauni (the sky god/harvest mother of the pantheonóthe leaders, so to speak), and to Brighid (who seems to work well with the other four, even though sheís from a different pantheon). So I work with five primary god/desses, instead of two. And Iíve come to know them more in-depth, and work with other sides of them than I first did. I also work heavily with Herne and Cernunnos.

We encourage the Fae and satyrs to guard our house and land, and try to make the place as magickal as we can to bring that energy to the forefront.

I used to make a LOT of magickal oils, but now I canítóIíve developed a health condition that precludes me being around a number of scents, so my herb magick and oil magick have waned. We keep a central altar still, but what goes on it has changed from my book Dancing with the Sun. Some years I now keep a Sabbat treeómy shorter Yule tree (I have two), I will change out each season with a different look for the various Sabbats. Other years, I donít keep it up, and I think it just depends on how I feel. Most of the recipes I included in my books, I can no longer make/eat due to the MCAS and Histamine Intolerance. Celebration dinners have to be a bit different fare now. So changes? Yes. Definitely. But you learn to adapt. If you canít do something one way, you learn to do it another way.

As far as magick, I work as much or more magick than I did back then, but some of itís almost second natureódone with focus and intent rather than with sachets or candles (though I do love a good candle spell). I do a LOT of work out on the astralóout on what I call Ďthe webí (the web of energy that connects each of us to everything else). I work a lot more with crystals than I didóitís easier to find more conscientiously sourced crystals now with the internet and I am very attuned to their energy. I still love making Craft toolsóI have beautiful wands that Iíve made over the years, and Iíve made not only my own runes, but I developed my own rune system (Called the Faerie Rune Oracle), and created the runes for that. I also still work heavily with the tarot.

With almost forty years in the Craft, I now realize just how little any of us actually knows, and how much there is to learn. I do work with friends, we have a loosely-formed coven, and we get together for the Sabbats, and at other times to discuss our magickal work and paths. Weíre all pledged to different gods, so itís an interesting mix when we do.

TWPT:  Do all of your stories take place in one huge YGU (Yasmine Galenorn Universe) like the MCU (Marvel Creative Universe) or do you create a new universe for every story or series that you tell? 

YG:  Almost every series is in a different altaverse, though I do set everything regionally (except for the other realms that my characters travel into). Now, Ravenís books are part of the Wild Hunt Series, and she interacts with Ember and the Wild Hunt cast frequently, and vice versa. But Maddyís world of Bewitching Bedlam has no crossover with, say, Furyís post apocalyptic world, which has no crossover with Whisper Hollow, and so forth. 

Iím constantly asked if there will be crossovers between different series but itís not a logical thoughtóeach world has differing systems for magic, the gods are different, the political systems are different, even the Fae and other Cryptos are different. Vampires donít have the same qualities in each world, and so forth. So it wouldnít work.  

And, to be honest, I have no desire to write crossovers unless Iíve deliberately placed two series in one world. The characters belong in their own worlds, and the progression wouldnít be true to the story if they popped up in other universes. 

TWPT:  Are there any fiction or nonfiction authors who really motivate you to try to reach ever higher in your books, your writings and how you present them to your readers?  

YG:  Well, my very favorite authors are Ray Bradbury, Daphne du Maurier, Richard Adams, Amy Tan, J.R.R. Tolkien, and a number of others. These were authors that I grew up with and came to later in life that spin stories that make me fall under their spell. Other authors I love are: Annie Dillard, Charlene Harris, Diane Mott Davidson, Anne McCaffrey, Tanith Lee, Michael Crichton Greg Bear, J.A. Jance. 

Current authors Iíve recently discovered, both fiction and nonfiction: Deanna Chase, Kate Danley, Barbara Freethy, Marie Force, Karen Mahoney, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brenť Brown, Donna Augustine, Jana DeLeon, and Jen Sincero, to name a few. Iím even inspired by writers that Iíve never read ó by their business sense and work ethic. 

In terms of how other writers motivate meÖWell, Iíve received so much help once I entered the indie world, in terms of learning how to successfully make the transition, and Iím very grateful for all of it. I donít try to imitate anyoneís voiceóthereís no need. I write the books that speak to me, and I write the books that only I can write. After 20 some years in the business, and over 65 books on the shelves, the last thing I want to do is compromise my voice by trying to become somebody Iím not. 

TWPT:  Will the Witching Hour coming up in July be the final book of The Wild Hunt series?  Could you talk about how you plot and arrange multi book series like this so that it flows together as a single story broken into many pieces?  

YG:  Oh no, this isnít the final book of the Wild Hunt Series. Witching Hour is book 7 ó and there are many more to come. As I said earlier, I start with a very basic series arc, and I usually donít even know all of it, or just how in-depth the arc will become. I learn as I write each book, and each book is a stepping stone in that process. Iím as surprised by some events that happen in my worlds as my readers are. While I do know the highlights of the book before I began, if I tried to heavily outline the entire story it would kill the spontaneity for me, and would stifle my creativity. I plot as I go. And I begin to see more of the series arc as more of the books come into being. In other words, I learn about the world Iím writing, as I write. 

TWPT:  Is a multi-book series a typical thing for you when telling an involved story that needs time to form an adequate foundation before moving into the thick of the plot?  

YG:  I always write series. I love writing series and am passionate about watching the character growth and the world evolve as the books progress. There must be an end to each series though, because that, too, is the natural order. Some series will be a lot shorter than others. It would be hard for me to write a stand alone and feel like I had really dipped into the world. Not all writers feel this way of course, and every writer is different. This is just the way I do things. 

TWPT:  Is it difficult for new readers to discover say Blood Bonds (Otherworld Book 21) and realize that they have to read 20 other books before they can come back to Blood Bonds to be able to understand what is happening in the plot line?  

YG:  Oh, definitely. Thatís why I like to have several series going at once. And thatís why Iíve finished some series, so if new readers are reluctant to start a long series, they can read one of the shorter ones and see if they like my work enough to tackle the others. In fact, when I uploaded Blood Bonds ó the last of the Otherworld books ó I cautioned readers in the description that if they hadnít read the rest of the series, donít start with this one. It would spoil the entire series for them. Thereís NO way to recap twenty books worth of subplots and stories in one. 

TWPT:  I was checking your books on Amazon and you are currently publishing your books under Nightqueen Enterprises LLC which is your own company. Does it make it easier for an author to control their books and the flow of profits from those books if you publish them yourself?  

YG:  I absolutely love being indie. It works for me. Itís not going to work for all writers because there are so many facets to being your own publisher that it can be overwhelming. Without a good sense for business, or an interest in learning the business, I canít imagine someone making a career out of it. But I find that it works for me and I really enjoy the control and the extra money that I make. Itís up to me what I write. Itís up to me how far I take a series. Itís up to me when I end a series. And having had several series dropped by my former publisher before I was ready, I have to tell you, I was terribly crushed. I donít think Iíd be willing to go back to traditional publishing unless I could spell out a number of the terms of the contract, and I doubt theyíd agree to my demands. 

TWPT:  Does Rakuten OverDrive give your novels the extra reach that their distribution network has? How does that work out for you as an author and a publisher?  

YG:  Actually, I go through Draft2Digital for Overdrive. I like Overdrive, because itís a good lead in to libraries, and one of the things I really wanted was for libraries to still have access to my work. I love libraries and have always been supportive of them. 

TWPT:  Your fiction writings have been quite successful over the years landing you on the NYT bestsellers list a number of times so do you feel you are right where you need to be as an author in the here and now?  

YG:  This is a difficult question.  

On one hand, no, I donít feel anywhere NEAR where I want to be as an author.  

My plans are to build my career to become a major player in the indie world. And I know that will take time. One of the major lessons I had to learn coming out of traditional publishing into indie was: Check my ego at the door.  

I had to accept that I had a great deal to learn about indie publishing because itís very different than trad and if you insist on trying to use traditional techniques in the indie realm, youíre going to be disappointed. So I had to set down that twenty years of experience and come at the indie world as an acolyte again. It was humbling. 

As to the lists, yes, Iím proud of the fact that I hit the big lists a number of times and that thousands of people read/have read my books. I have almost two million copies of my work in print. But honestly? What matters to me now is establishing a much wider indie audience, writing the books that I love, and taking care of my family. Iíve been the primary breadwinner of my family for a long time. I needed to make this work. 

AmI where I want to be as an author right now? No. But perhaps, Iím where Iím supposed to be at this time. Iíve never backed down from the challenge of learning new skills, so Iím constantly looking for new ways to approach the various aspects of the indie publishing world, and Iím trying to be as flexible as I can. One thing I will tell you: publishing has changed so much that itís almost unrecognizable from when I first started. And, it will continue to change as new technology is developed. 

TWPT:  Is there anything you are looking forward to after Witching Hour comes out in July?  

YG:  Witching Houróbook 7ócomes out July 8th. Then, on September 2nd, Witching Bones comes out, and more after that.  

Iím also thrilled that I recently got the rights back to my Whisper Hollow series, and I plan on expanding on that series now that I have control over the backlist (there were only two books published in it). Now that I can handle it the way I feel it deserves to be handled, promote it the way I feel it should be promoted, Iíll begin writing more books in the series and am planning a big re-release party in January. 

A lot happened since my first interview with the Wiccan Pagan Times. Itís been what ó almost 20 some years? My lifeís done so many 180s itís left me dizzy, both good and bad and in between, and exhilarating and debilitating. But thatís the nature of life,
isnít it? I fully expect to be writing another 20 years down the road. Perhaps we can catch up again then!

TWPT:  Well it has been wonderful talking with you again and catching up with what has been going on with you for the last 20 years. Sounds like you are settled in quite nicely with your fiction writing and we couldn't be happier for you. As to catching up in 20 years if I'm still here in 20 I'll drop you an e-mail and we can discuss a third interview. Until then we wish you the best of luck and as much success as you can handle. Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to TWPT once more.  


New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance. In the past, she has written paranormal mysteries, and nonfiction metaphysical books. With over sixty-five books on the shelves, she is the 2011 Career Achievement Award Winner in Urban Fantasy, given by RT Magazine.  

She lives in Kirkland WA with her husband Samwise and their cats, where she collects daggers, teapots, and tattoos.  Yasmine is a shamanic witch, has been in the Craft since 1980 and has created her own tradition, and is considered an elder in the Pagan Community. Yasmine can be reached via her website at Galenorn.com.