It's been awhile since we posted an interview but when I found out fantasy author Jennifer Hartz was available, I had to dust off the old Gandalf costume and invite her to the Diaries' plush and palatial offices for a sit down, hoping for some dishy dish on her upcoming book, Conception, Book One in the Future Savior series. I read the blurb on the Desert Breeze site and have been waiting breathlessly—well not breathlessly, because I'm still alive—for its September release. I so do love a good fantasy.
So, please give a rousing welcome to Jennifer Hartz. Okay, you guys in the back, I didn't hire you to stand around looking like elves. Let's hear some clapping and somebody glue Bernie's pointy ear back on. I will not have people thinking the Morgan Diaries can't afford Lucas-worthy special effects!
Jmo: Jennifer, welcome to the Diaries. Please ignore Bernie. Sauron knows, I wish I could. I had some Lembas bread here somewhere but it appears someone got a case of the munchies. Excuse me for one moment, Jennifer. Reginald! No, don't try to deny it. There're crumbs in your makeup. Now, where were we? Oh, Yes, please say hello to our readers and tell them a little about yourself.
Jennifer: Hello to Jmo, the motley crew (elves included), and of course the readers! First of all, thanks so much for having me on your blog… at least I think this is a good thing. Should I be worried that Reginald might eat something else?
As Jmo said before Bernie's ear fell off, my name is Jennifer Hartz. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, but currently I live in northeast North Carolina. I have a great husband and an amazing little boy. I also work as a teacher. If all of that wasn't enough to monopolize my time, now I've taken on the task of being a writer… apparently I enjoy torturing myself.
Jmo: Let's cut right to the chase. Conception! Tell our readers about this amazing looking book.
Jennifer: The best way I can sum up Future Savior is to say that it is a combination of all the stories I have ever loved. It is essentially a Christian fantasy series, similar to The Lord of the Rings, but modernized and with a major romantic storyline. There are also some subtle sci-fi elements and a huge cliffhanger that stems from the season finales of my favorite sitcoms. What? We have to wait all summer to find out if Ross and Rachel get together?!
The story revolves around Christina Vaughn, a seemingly ordinary person who is thrust into an extraordinary situation only to find out she's not as ordinary as she assumed. As Christina makes her way through her amazing fantasy-like adventure, she learns a great deal about her unbelievable past. She falls in love along the way, all the while battling horrific monsters and struggling with her remarkable destiny.
Jmo: I love the idea of an Inspirational Fantasy. How hard was it to combine all the elements of what people traditionally think of as fantasy with the Inspirational side of the book?
Jennifer: The pieces sort of fell into place on their own. As I conjured up my fantasy, the Inspirational elements of the story-line evolved right along with it. I think this stems from my strong Christian faith. I'm sure there will be some more conservative Christians who will hate Future Savior, it's near impossible to write an Inspirational Fantasy without having a few eyebrows raised, but I hope the majority of people out there can stretch their imaginations and truly enjoy the story.
Jmo: World building! You know I love it. With a series on this scale, how much world building took place before you started the first book? Did you already have an outline of what you wanted to accomplish or did the different elements fall into place as you dug in to write the book?
Jennifer: The Future Savior Series is the byproduct of a ridiculously long commute. I have an hour and a half drive… one-way. That's three hours in the car! One day, while driving, I started to daydream about interesting characters and the fantastical land of Meric. I would let my mind conjure up different storylines for my mystical characters, pulling out the things that really worked and filing them away in my memory bank. For three months these daydreams continued until I finally realized I needed to sit down and write. There are five books in the series and I have them all planned out… I just need to sit down and write the remaining four!
For the actual structure of The Land of Meric and all its lovely little details, I have a pretty good template already in existence with which to use… okay, I know that sounds vague, but if you read Future Savior Book Two: Resurrection it will make sense.
Jmo: Will the series revolve around Christina, the main character in book one, or will different characters narrate each book?
Jennifer: Future Savior is Christina's story to tell so she'll be leading you through the entire five book series
Jmo: Normally, I'd pound you with questions and wring every ounce of knowledge out of you, but this beard is beginning to itch—I think it has beard bugs or something in it—and I want to leave plenty of room for a juicy excerpt. I want to hit you with one more question before you leave. No, Bernie put down your hand. This isn't Q and A, time. I'm the only one with the power to ask questions. See, I've got the staff, so I get to do it. One more thing outta you and you're not getting paid. So, no store brand Oreos for you!
Sorry about that. You just can't hire quality anymore. As I was about to ask, what is the one thing you hope readers walk away with after finishing Conception?
Jennifer: "Write a story that you would enjoy reading." That was the advice I used when working on Conception. I created a story I would love so my hope for the readers is that they have as much fun reading Conception as I had writing it.
Jmo: Thanks for joining us today, Jennifer. It's been a blast. Before you go drop that excerpt on us, please let everyone know where they can keep track of you and your amazing books on the Net.
Jennifer: It was great being here Jmo, thanks! Although I am a little worried at the way Reginald is staring at me. I hope he doesn't follow me home. By the way, congratulations on Immortally Yours, your own September release. I'm looking forward to reading it! The best place to find me is my website:
That's your one-stop-shop for all things Future Savior! People can learn more about me, my books, and all the other fun places to find me on the web including Twitter and Facebook. I hope everyone enjoys the following excerpt… including Bernie.
Available now from Desert Breeze Publishing
Shaw faced me and the frightened men. His incredible pale blue eyes narrowed, and burned with such intensity they were nearly silver. "Stay back. I can handle this."
A brilliant flash of lighting framed his perfect physique in an illuminating beauty. A resounding crack of thunder pounded the air, and I jumped. How did the storm happen upon us so quickly?
The five men backpedaled until they were behind me. Then Shaw spun to face the beasts. He tossed his bow and arrows off to the side and ripped out his long sword from its sheath. Neither Shaw nor the Vaipes attempted to strike. They assessed each other, trying to ascertain a weakness, I supposed. The Vaipes on either end of the pack were trying to slowly loop around behind Shaw and surround him. This was the scene from my premonition!
The lightning and thunder continued. Shaw's muscles tensed. He prepared to attack. Looking around me quickly I realized that the five men were gone. I stood back myself, watching Shaw, not knowing what to do. I had my sword raised, but I had no clue how to help him.
Apparently he didn't need my help.
He pounced with alarming speed. The spin move he performed was so quick, so strong, so devastating that when he completed the one-hundred and eighty degree turn that took less than a matter of seconds he had killed seven of the Vaipes.
He faced me now and the fierce, deep concentration in his face astounded me. He attacked Vaipe after Vaipe, and the beasts continued to fall before him. I couldn't believe how swiftly and fluidly Shaw moved. He had pulled out his smaller sword now and assailed the creatures two at a time.
Shaw truly had to be the greatest warrior in all of Meric. None of the Vaipes even came close to him. He just spun, ducked, thrashed, lunged, turned and twisted so effortlessly that it barely appeared he exerted any energy at all.
When the last Vaipe lay dead, he walked toward me, wiping the blood and gore off his face. I stared, amazed by what he just accomplished.
He looked me over, drawing the back of his hand across his cheek. "Are you alright?"
It was a loaded question. Was I physically injured? Was I mentally scarred for life?
I replayed the last few minutes in my head. I witnessed a man being eaten and Shaw slaying more than twenty Vaipes. The stuff of nightmares.
"Yeah, I'm fine." Even though I wanted my statement to sound brave, I couldn't control the shakiness of my voice.
"You should go inside one of the houses," Shaw reiterated.
I was about remind him of my last answer to that suggestion when a Vaipe leapt at us from on top of the fence. I dropped my sword and tried to shove Shaw out of the way, but he was just out of my arms reach. My telekinetic powers kicked in again and I brushed Shaw off to the side with my left hand as easily as sweeping dust from a shelf. With my right hand, I held the Vaipe in midair. It looked at me with such hatred and rage that I couldn't help but scoff ever so slightly. Then I thrust my right arm as hard as I could, throwing the Vaipe into the fence knocking the wind out of it. Grabbing my sword again, I ran to the dazed monster. I hesitated for just one second, wondering if it was right to kill something that was knocked unconscious, when its eyes snapped open and it snarled at me, bracing for attack. The instinct to protect myself outweighed my moral debate, and I slashed it straight through heart.
I turned back to Shaw, breathing hard. He stared at me with raised eyebrows and a slightly open mouth.
I smiled. "How can I go inside a house when clearly you need my help."
Shaw snorted a laugh. "Clearly." He gathered up his bow and nodded for me to follow.