Name: Yvonne Hertzberger
Age: 64 (I get to collect my Old Age pension in March, woo hoo)
Where are you from: Originally from Gouda in the Netherlands but lived in Canada from 1950. Now in Stratford, Ontario.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect
I live with my spouse, Mark in a tiny brick railroad worker’s cottage built in 1883. This is out retirement home. Our two children have grown and flown. We just became grandparents in April when our son and his wife had a son who is the joy of my life. Our daughter moved to Calgary and will be married in June.
I graduated from the University of Waterloo with an Hon. B.A. in Sociology and stopped my M.A, just short of completing my thesis due to health issue (fine now, thank you).
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I just published The Dreamt Child: Book Three of Earth’s Pendulum, the final volume in my Fantasy trilogy.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
When I retired from ‘paid’ work at the age of 56 I finally had time to write. It has been so liberating. Before that I didn’t even consider it due to lack of time, energy and other commitments – and lack of confidence. J
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer? I still struggle with that some days but I think that I began to feel like a ‘real’ writer when I got the first five star review from someone unknown to me. Reviews from family and friends are wonderful but they don’t give me that sense of legitimacy that one from a stranger does.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was speaking with a friend who told me I ought to journal. That didn’t appeal to me so he told me to write – just anything as long as I wrote. I began with a couple of short stories and thought Back From Chaos would be another short. It fooled me by morphing into my trilogy. Some things take on a life of their own. They cannot be denied. Lol
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m not sure how to answer that. I try to write in a language that suits the time period of the story but also keep my vocabulary accessible without the constant need for a dictionary. That said, I don’t dumb down the language either. For those few words I made up I included a glossary. My main focus is on characters. I see that as the most important element and I think I have succeeded in that area as almost all reviewers mention that aspect. Plot and setting are important, of course, but take a bit of back seat to characters.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The trilogy is called Earth’s Pendulum. It is based on the idea that history tends to swing back and forth between periods of relative calm and periods of chaos. The plots follow that idea. Earth is the goddess. She is not all-powerful but is interdependent with the people. The result is that when people create chaos Earth suffers and in turn has difficulty keeping the environment in balance so that health and peace may prevail. ( bit of an environmental theme but subtle)
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Although it is not explicitly stated the underlying idea that we must live in harmony with others and with our environment if we are to survive and prosper is present. However it is couched in a fantasy story that spans love, romance, adventure, treason, and other elements so that it is implied rather than in the reader’s face.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Earth’s pendulum is, strictly speaking, Fantasy. The setting is loosely early medieval and I keep it plausible to that period. The only paranormal element consists of occasional visions Earth give the seer and some minor abilities the seer has that allow her to know things that most of us cannot. Some have labelled my work as ‘magical realism’ because the kind of ‘magic’ I use is considered very real in some societies still today. So, to elaborate – Is it real? No. Is it plausible? Very.
I also did keep the food and herbal elements true to what I have researched from that time.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I believe we all bring elements of who and what w know into our writing but while certain characters display traits I would recognize either in myself or others in my life I have not based any characters on any real persons.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
The book that my seventh grade teacher introduced me to is still my all-time favourite. Les Miserable by Victor Hugo gave me insights into social issues and human nature that remain current. Two other influences on my writing are Marion Zimmer-Bradley and Robin Hobb. (If I could only write like Hobb – sigh). Today I enjoy Rosanne Dingli’s books and love how J.D. (Dan) Mader creates his characters.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Oooh, I think I already alluded to that. It would be Robin Hobb, hands down.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I have little time to read and am a slow reader. I try to keep up, though, and lately it’s been all Indies that I have met through Indies Unlimited and some groups that I belong to. So many have supported me and I try to return that support. People criticize Indie authors for various reasons but I have found that criticism to be largely unfounded. There are some great Indie authors that deserve their place among the best. If I’m totally frank I have to say that what I see on bookstores has lost much of its appeal. The quality there has gone down, while Indies have upped their game by leaps and bounds.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I have already mentione Rosanne Dingli and J.D. Mader. To that list I would add Melissa Bowersock, K.S. Brooks, David Antrobus, Ed. McNally, and Lynne Cantwell and Massimo Marino. The list could become a long one if I carried on but these come to mind immediately. Hm. Maybe I read more than I thought I did. J
Fiona: What are your current projects?
At the moment I am spending far more time than I like on promoting my trilogy. But I have two new ideas for books in my mind. I have put the ideas down but need to choose which on to go with next as I can’t work on more than one at a time. One is a historical romance, another a fantasy based on a dream I had. I keep waffling between the two.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
That is soooo easy. Indies Unlimited has helped me so much. I have made wonderful friends there as well. The group is dedicated to supporting and promoting Indie writers and they have become very highly respected. I cannot imagine being where I am today without them.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I never thought it would be but from where I sit now I can safely answer that with a yes. Sometimes life leads us into places we never expected.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Overall I am happy with it. But like most writers, I am a perfectionist so every little errors bugs me. It seems editing is never finished. There are a few scenes I would have fleshed out a little more but I am mostly satisfied with the story.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
That is bittersweet. I wrote a short story as a composition assignment in the eleventh grade. My teacher liked the story but told me my prose was too ‘terse’. I took that to heart and it stopped me cold. Looking back I see that as part of my ‘style’ and in today’s milieu it would no longer apply. I think she wanted lots of description but I now know that would have slowed down the story too much.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us? I’ve attached the first chapter of The Dreamt Child. Thank you for asking.(see attachment)
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Haha – that takes me right back to the grade eleven incident. My teacher wasn’t ALL wrong. The hardest part of writing for me is making sure I have offered enough description for the reader to picture the scene in their mind. Knowing how much background to include and when to realize I am giving more than needed is a balance that can be a struggle.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
If I stick to my own genre (fantasy) I’d have to say Robin Hobb. I love series because I don’t want to say goodbye to characters and places I have fallen in love with. Hobb writes long books, some in long series. Her “Liveship Traders” series is one of the best I have ever read. She never bores me in spite of the length. That’s a balance that is an art to achieve. Her characters are real, her settings, while magical and fantasy are so plausible, her plots complicated but only enough so to hold a reader’s interest. On top of that, her work is literate and well written.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, hardly at all. I visit bookstores in small towns in my area but that is all. My local city has been quite supportive. Other than that all my promo is on-line. Isn’t the internet wonderful?!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
So far they were designed by a professional but I hesitate to name him because he has since gone AWOL due to business problems. I do love what he did, though. He will not be easy to replace.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The writing itself has not been a great problem. I run into difficulties when it comes to marketing and promotions for two reasons: I am really not good at using social media and computers, and I am very shy about tooting my own horn or asking for help. The latter has become easier die to the support I have received from Indies Unlimited and some Facebook groups such as Book Junkies.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I find that my standards keep getting higher so that I never think my current work is on par with the previous ones. Feedback to the contrary doesn’t seem to change that opinion.
Writing has also helped me look into human nature in a more focused way, so that I think my insights have become clearer.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Pretty much the usual. Read, Write, Know the rules but break them when called for. Be true to your own voice. If you get feedback make sure it applies and is not the result of the other’s personal taste. Don’t expect to get rich.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A great big thank you. Without the feedback from readers and fans I would have given up long ago. Your belief in me helps me believe in myself. I owe you everything..
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies
I love tossing and belong to a Concert Choir here. I also garden, cook, and am a pretty good interior decorator.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I find that British shows appeal to me most, both series as seen on masterpiece Theatre and crime shows. Closer to home I love Dancing With The Stars for the banter and the dancing. (It’s the only reality show I care for), Elementary, Castle, and my fave – Murdock Mysteries.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I don’t have a favourite colour but the ones I go for are usually warm – greens, teals, browns, yellow –you get the picture. I like many kinds of music but hate hip-hop, rap, and modern jazz. I like music with a melodic line I can follow and sing to. As for food, I am a foodie and love sweets – the sweeter the better. But as I have a number of food sensitivities I have to pick and choose very carefully.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would have been a singer – possibly opera or folk.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes. Thank you for asking. You can see early short stories, sneak peeks of my books, blogs of my own and shared posts from others – all related to writing in some way. http://newfantasyauthor.com
Sneak Peek. The Dreamt Child: Book Three of Earth’s Pendulum/ chapter one
Kira flew in excited circles overhead, emitting such a series of anxious klees and chirrups as Liannis had ever heard from her. Liannis opened her inner senses.
Man comes, the little kestrel sent to Liannis. Wooden leg! Wooden leg comes on horse!
Liannis had gone deeper into the forest in search of early greens and stood, bent over a patch of cress at the edge of the stream from which she took her water. The snows had almost all melted, leaving only a few dirty patches under the evergreens where the sun could not penetrate. Merrist! It had to be.
Wooden leg was the name Kira had given Merrist. She did this with all people. She could not understand names and referred to everyone by some identifying feature.
Liannis’s head shot up in alarm, resulting in a painful crack as it met with an overhanging tree limb. She fell into the water with a splash and saw her precious harvest of cress and wild garlic float downstream. After pulling herself out by the same offending branch she wrung out her cloak and the hem of her gown, silently cursing herself for her clumsiness.
She looked up at Kira. Are you certain, little one? Where is he now?
Wooden leg comes! On big horse! Come! Come see!
Part of Liannis wanted to hide.
She had grown accustomed to the rhythm of life, alone in the forest all winter with only her horse Cloud and Kira for company. It demanded little of her, just the day to day practicalities of snaring rabbits for meat, gathering what greens she could find to supplement the meagre provisions she had brought with her and caring for Cloud. Kira hunted her own food. Liannis had found a measure of contentment here, away from the reminders of the death of her father or the demands of her mother and friends … or the goddess, Earth.
She mused that perhaps her fall into the water was the goddess’s way of making sure she returned to the cabin quickly.
Answering some unspoken call she must have sensed, Cloud appeared between the trees. Go back now? Need ride?
Liannis gave up on the idea of running. The cold from the icy water had chilled her skin and she began to shiver. She needed a change of clothes, and soon. Thank you, Cloud. Yes, I need to get back to the cabin.
Why are you wet?
Because I fell in the stream.
The disdain in Cloud’s tone pricked Liannis. Yes, she had been careless to let herself be caught unprepared. But Cloud was a horse. She did not need to be chided by a horse.
Just get down so I can climb on. And hurry, I am freezing.
Chagrined by the rebuke, Cloud hurried to obey, and Liannis climbed onto her back. Ever since they had been isolated here Liannis had not bridled nor saddled her. There was no one here to question how she controlled a horse.
Kira had flown off when Cloud appeared and now returned. Wooden leg close to cabin. Come!
Thank you, little one. You may show yourself to him. It will let him know that I am coming.
I go. The little kestrel hurried away.
Liannis had no time to sort out how she felt about being found, or about seeing Merrist again. She knew it meant that her respite had ended. Was she ready? Just as she approached the last trees that sheltered her from view she heard his familiar voice.
“Kira? Is that you?”
Kira’s excited answering klees left no doubt.
“It is you. I have found you. Where is Liannis? She must be near. There is a fire in the hearth. I see smoke. Is she coming?”
The eagerness in his voice awakened something in Liannis that had lain unacknowledged all winter. She no longer wondered if she ought to flee. She urged Cloud into the small clearing.
“Merrist! How did you find me?”
Merrist turned to meet her eyes. “Liannis! At last!” He stumped in her direction, his wooden peg leg causing a hitch in his step.
Liannis slid off Cloud’s back so they stood face-to-face, each at a loss for words.
“How did you find me?” Liannis asked again when she found her voice.
A puzzled look came over his face. He opened his hands wide. “I do not know. I left as soon as the snows had melted enough to pass. I had to, though I could not tell you how I knew. I had no idea where to begin. And every time I chose a different direction, Warrior refused to budge so I finally gave him his head.” He threw his arms wide in triumph, his mission accomplished. “And here I am.” The last words brought the familiar grin that made him so dear to her.
At her answering grin the shyness fell away and he enveloped her in a great hug. Just as quickly he drew back, taking in her wet attire.
“Liannis, you are soaked! You need dry clothes!”
Thank you so much for having me here. This is so timely with the launch of my latest book. I truly appreciate it.