Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Behind the Scenes of "The Seventh Spell" with Danielle E. Shipley

The third book of the Wilderhark Tales is out, and you know what that means!!


Thank you for joining me once again, Danielle! How does it feel to have the third volume of The Wilderhark Tales out?

D: A little bit insane, when I pause to think about it. I mean, wow, it was less than a year ago that we kicked things off with “The Swan Prince”, and now here we are, at the halfway point of the six-book series! Real life doesn’t usually go this fast, but I’m just so eager to share all the magic I found in this world, slowing down probably won’t happen anytime soon!

K: No kidding! What was your favorite scene to write in "The Seventh Spell"?

D: Ooh, such a tough call. I had the biggest blast writing this story, and there’s so much Edgwyn in it! XD It might be the scene where he’s locked in a dungeon; I love how that chapter ends. Or perhaps the introduction of the extraordinary minstrel; Lute made quite the first impression on me. Then again, Rosalba’s meeting with that enchanted prince in Anuranda always tickles me… Gah, who am I kidding? There’s no way I can decide.

K: Well, the more Edgwyn the better! Though, I'm sensing some favoritism with Edgwyn. Care to explain?

D: Haha, yeah, I’m none too subtle, am I? XD Somewhere halfway through “The Stone Kingdom”, I ended up falling in love with my tailor’s valiant spirit and indomitable heart. The green eyes and ready humor didn’t hurt anything, either. I’d hardly hit “The End” on Book Two before I knew I needed a Book Three to hook me up with my Edgwyn fix. So basically, the world has Edgwyn to thank for the Wilderhark Tales turning into a full-blown series. (He says we’re welcome.)

K: Lol. Speaking of the extent of the books, this story involves a lot of characters. Was it challenging to have so many people to work with?

D: The size of the cast wasn’t as big a challenge as was keeping track of their positions along the storyline. The catastrophic Seventh Spell for which the book is named sent everyone off in all directions, so the narrative had to do a lot of zipping back and forth between the scattered groups, weaving everyone’s progress and predicaments together the best I could from a distance.

K: How did you keep track of all those story lines?

D: Do you know, I honestly don’t even remember anymore? I raced through the book’s first draft in under a week; I was way too into the story to go any slower! It was so exciting, getting to watch the dynamics between old characters and new characters, and old characters and other old characters who we didn’t get much opportunity to see interact with one another, ‘til now. I think my evil subconscious may have deliberately forced people together with their opposites, just to see how they’d cope with it!

K: I'll admit, I loved seeing the old and new characters intermingle—especially with the hindsight some of the characters had available to them as they were shuffled through time.

D: Crazy stuff, going back to some of the most stressful parts of your past. It would be like if I suddenly found myself thrust in the middle of a childhood piano recital. …Okay, yikes, I’m terrifying myself. Moving on quickly, please!

K: Too late! You've brought up music, so now I must know, do you like to listen to music as you write? If so, what kinds?

D: It varies. Sometimes I need silence; other times reality gets so noisy, I need better noise to muffle it, and that’s when I’ll usually turn to music. I prefer instrumentals or movie scores, since voices and lyrics disrupt my focus. I don’t recall listening to much music during the writing of “Seventh Spell”, apart from all the songs we got from the minstrel and the singing harp. X) Even without such melodic characters, though, there’s something musical to me about losing my head in a story world – music I can’t so much hear as just feel.

K: I've found sort of the same thing. Personally, I can't listen to music as I write, because it screws up the music I'm trying to write!

D: Precisely.

K: When designing the covers for your books, how much do you and the artist interact?

D: After receiving a description of my vision for the cover (its general color scheme, the characters and scene I want to portray…), Yana will send me a sketch to test whether we’re on the right track. I’ll point out the parts I love and any aspects I’d like to change, then she goes back to work to produce a color revision of the piece. By that stage, the cover is usually about 95% right, and I’ll be giddy over what a fantastic job she’s done. I’ll make any final tweak requests nagging at me, and the next thing you know, I’ve got cover art waiting for me to stamp my name and title upon. It’s essentially the same process for the beautiful bookmarks she creates for me, too.

K: Did you give her any guidelines for the cover of The Seventh Spell?

D: Just a bare-bones description of the final result: Edgwyn coming down a giant beanstalk, carrying a golden harp-lady. Yana had already completed individual portraits of those characters for bookmarks, so that part was straightforward enough. And I never have to tell her to make the work gorgeous; she always throws that in on her own.

K: Brilliant! Does she interact much with the Tales outside of design? What I mean is, has she read your books?

D: Not to my knowledge. Maybe I’d have a better shot if I translated the books from English into her native Russian. As it is, I believe she’s mostly just familiar with the characters, and that’s cool with me. The characters are the soul of the stories; the plot’s just a device for showing them off.

K: Lol! I've never thought of it that way before, but it's so true! As for the characters themselves, will there be any more interaction in future Wilderhark Tales from characters of the past?

D: Oh, yes. Most of the characters featured in “Seventh Spell” still have roles to play in the books to come – rather important ones all around, really. I sort of see the series like a big spotlight, moving book to book across the stage, shining brightest on different protagonists along the way. Most characters will follow the light for a little while before surrendering it to the next key players in line. For some cast members, Book Three may be the last you see of them; for others, their time is on the wane, but they’re not quite out of the picture yet; and you never know when another blast from the past may take the stage by surprise.

K: I'd ask who, but I'm already quite certain you won't tell me. Spoilers and all that. XD

D: *does the “You’ll just have to wait and see!” squirmy dance*

K: Any hints or sneak peeks of what to expect in the next Tale?

D: Well, it’s one of Wilderhark’s, so that’s pretty much a guarantee of a search for true love. Who’s doing the searching this time? Why, hello, blast from the past! Meanwhile, the minstrel of strong first impressions convinced me without much difficulty that he needed a book of his own, so readers who got a kick out of Gant-o’-the-Lute’s debut in “Seventh Spell”, rejoice! He’s back and as spectacular as ever in Book Four. (Highest Good help us all.) Magic, mystery, and music. Stay tuned!

K: Yes! Can't wait! I was hoping to see more from Lute!

D: He had a feeling you would be. X) The fellow is nothing if not utterly self-confident; Book Four will definitely attest to that.

K: Marvelous! And this has been another lovely chat, Danielle! Thanks again for taking the time to drop by my blog!

D: Always delighted to! The Kimberly Kay blog stop is becoming one of my favorite Wilderhark release traditions. ^.^ Many thanks for inviting me over once again!


  1. Already looking forward to the next chat. XD Thanks for having me, K!

  2. Haha, yeah, Kim, you'd know all about spoilers. ;) I can't wait to read this!