Today I welcome author Janet Ursel. Her upcoming debut novel, Disenchanted, will release July 14. She is giving us a peek into how and why she decided to write this intriguing book. The premise looks amazing, I must say. What do you think?
Wizards have never in the history of Coventree, renounced Wizardry. But Blayn Goodwin finds himself growing detached from the practice of Wizardry, even as he rises through the ranks to become the youngest member of the Supreme Council. He has lost interest in the usual gods in favor of a god without a name, not that he makes that fact public.
Edgar Savile has his own traitorous secrets and kidnaps Blayn’s eldest son to prevent Blayn from probing into them. Meanwhile the Supreme Wizard, suspicious of Edgar, sends Blayn to retrieve an ancient book from the Other World, hoping it will arm them against Edgar’s treachery.
What Blayn finds is not what anyone expects, and threatens to tear Coventree’s fraying system apart at the seams.
In a parallel earth, populated by witches who fled Cromwell’s England, an influential wizard turns his back on witchcraft at the worst possible time, leaving his land of Coventree vulnerable to a traitor who plans to subject it to the rule of the Black Priesthood. It’s a book for a general adult audience, although younger men might be especially fond of it.
So how does a woman on the downhill slope of middle age decide to write something that’s a little outside of her normal demographic? There are a number of reasons. Although I read very widely, and have a degree in languages and literature, I have always had a special fondness for speculative literature. I love the scope for imagination, and how by examining issues outside of their familiar context we can gain new perspectives. Plus they’re just so much fun. My first favorite books were the Narnia books: I was lending them out to my friends by the time I was seven. I guess we were nerds before the word was even invented. I moved on to Asimov and Heinlein and Clark and Tolkien in my preteen and teen years and I am honestly still reading them along with a good number of younger writers.
I am also a contrarian. I had heard that first novels are usually biographical in nature, so I figured if I wrote about a tall, dark, quiet, young wizard in another world, I would avoid that trap. I have no desire to write my life story, not even symbolically, so this way I was safe. Or so I thought, anyway. It mostly worked.
The way that societies change through history also fascinates me, and by placing my story in a different world, but still working with very human dynamics, I got to play with these ideas. That sociology of religion class finally came in handy! I also wanted to show what it would be like for someone with an unsatisfied spiritual hunger to encounter the God of the Bible when it was something totally foreign to his experience. We tend to forget that early Christianity exploded across the ancient world because the message of a God of love who wanted to make his temple in human hearts was such a radical departure from the gods who needed to be appeased or coerced or approached through intermediaries that it just blew people away.
I also wanted to break free from foolish stereotypes. Modern Christians tend to either deny that there is any power at all in witchcraft or else live in abject fear, like medieval peasants. Neither one of these attitudes is balanced in my opinion and I wanted to fill my world with normal human beings who happened to practice a pagan religion. People who love or don’t love their kids, or their books, or power, or stability, or knowledge, or country. Real people. All different kinds. Just like real life.
After I decided I wanted these elements, then I had to find a story. This is the hardest part for me, but I put it together piece by piece, with just a very rough idea of where I wanted to end up. I’m not going to talk too much about this now, because I don’t do spoilers. But I did my very best to make it an exciting story with believable people. While I love deep and heavy ideas, novels are supposed to be fun to read, not philosophy textbooks. Heavy ideas are like bones: they hold everything up, but you shouldn’t see them, just feel them if you squeeze a bit. So those who like to squeeze will find something solid underneath, and those who don’t should have a lot of fun watching the body move.
After raising five children and one husband, Janet Ursel came to the obvious conclusion that writing novels was an essential part of the recovery process. Her studies in languages and literature, along with her experience as a pastor’s wife, market analyst, and ESL teacher, made her uniquely qualified to explore the life of a wizard in a parallel universe, so she did. She can be found at janetursel.com and on too many social media sites in one universe, and alternating between Canada and the United States in another universe.
FIND JANET HERE