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Interview with JE Browning, author of Homequest: Liberation

Book Talk / Author Q&A Volume 8 Issue 73 08/25/2010

By Elizabeth Milo and Meghan Morrow

WNW recently spoke with author J.E. Browning about her book Homequest: Liberation, the first in the Tales of Roumanhi series.

WNW: Which was harder: planning the series or writing it?

Homequest: Liberation wasnít really planned in terms of plot and characterisation. I had a few ideas in which direction I wanted Liberation to go; a few strands of plot, but little more and the story just happened. This did lead to some tricky moments trying to work out how Tískya, Cail and Hollam could get out of the scrapes they had put themselves into, but I enjoyed it so it didnít feel hard to write. I also knew that I wanted the sequel, Homequest: Decimation, to be darker and incorporate more fantasy, but I couldnít leave the story there. I needed to reflect the impact; the trauma and stresses, and Separation was born. I am slowly working on the fourth, which is complicated as I have stepped outside the land of Roumanhi. Itís been the hardest one to write so far, especially as ideas for a fifth are also floating around my brain!

WNW: Do you feel that your knowledge of the martial arts has helped you in writing realistic and exciting fight scenes?

Yes, most certainly. I believe hand to hand combat is compelling and honourable. It requires great skill, courage and dedication. You have to face your enemy, look them in the eye, and then outsmart them mentally and physically. Fighting also hurts and Iíve tried to reflect a more realistic approach than you see in most movies. My characters get hurt and sometimes lose their lives. Iíd better clarify, however, that all the Taekwondo and Kickboxing students are alive and well and I donít experiment on them to work out my fight scenes!

WNW: What was it like for you to create a new language? How in-depth did you go?

Although I can sing along to Lord of the Rings in Elvish, I am not a linguist like Tolkien, but I was a teacher of English as a Foreign Language for a few years, so I understand how my own language is structured. I wanted the Roumanhis to speak a beautiful working language and so I took my time establishing a proper grammatical structure, including rules on pronunciation for their everyday speech. It was challenging, but I really enjoyed working on it, although I donít claim to be fluent myselfÖyet! You can learn more about the Roumanhi language on my website.

WNW:Youíve create a new world in the Tales of Roumanhi - do you ever find yourself wishing to be a part of that world?

People came from the cinema after watching Avatar feeling depressed because they didnít live in a world like Pandora. I came out feeling depressed that we live on an equally stunning and miraculous planet yet donít really appreciate it or do enough to protect it. I wish we had half the passion the Roumanhis have for their world and often wish I was there; especially to meet Hollam. I wouldnít, however, want to live under Santovinís oppressive rule and would miss chocolate!

WNW: Names seem to be significant to both individual characters and groups; do they have other hidden meanings?

The Roumanhis and Kalkassians have birth names which are sacred to them and well guarded. Only those in positions of authority or given leave to use them may do so, and then only as a sign of respect. It is offensive to take the name lightly. This becomes more evident in Decimation. The birth names can reflect family ancestry, status or virtues held most dear. Sometimes the name is so important to the family that elements of it are used for the common Clan name, which is why Hollam and Cail are not named after plants, animals or features like Briar, Tarn and Badger. KhŠzakha names carry no hidden meaning, although the women use abbreviated forms until they have earned their full titles, hence Tískyaís real name is Talaskya.

WNW: Are any of the characters autobiographical?

There are elements of me in most of the main characters, but no single character purely reflects me. The Roumanhis certainly share my passion for nature, and their emotions and experiences sometimes mirror my own, but Iím not letting on which. Many of the virtues, especially of the forest dwellers, are ones I value highly, but the darker side of my personality is probably best reflected in Raven. I certainly believe people will understand me better once theyíve read Liberation.

WNW: You mentioned that Tolkien and Stephen Donaldson were very inspirational to you; what other authors have influenced you?

I love the worlds Tolkien and Donaldson created and their style of writing. I especially enjoy epics and also wanted to write a story that wasnít full of modern day swearing, explicit sex and gore, yet could still evoke strong emotions. Bronte with the dark and brooding Heathcliff; Thomas Hardy with his evocative countryside; Anne MCaffrey and her fantastic dragons, Asimov with his robots and many others have been influential, but the biggest influence has been life itself.

WNW: How many books are going to be in the series, and how much do you already have mapped out?

I havenít made an executive decision on when to end this particular series. The second and third novels are now fairly polished drafts, the fourth is half a rough draft and the fifth is only an idea at the moment. The possibilities for more are endless; I could also do side stories about times past, or develop minor characters in a companion series etc. Writing the Tales of Roumanhi, Homequest series is a compulsion. If I donít write about Tískya, Cail, Hollam, etc. and continue their tale, itís as if Iím cutting their lives short. I will write until I die, but whether I publish them all is up to the fans. Due to enthusiastic demand, however, Iím hoping to publish Decimation sometime next year.
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For more information about J.E. Browning and her book, Homequest: Liberation, please visit her website; www.homequest-liberation.com

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