Welcome Jan Harman, the author of The Whisperer's Chronicles!
Rebecca: BRUSH of SHADE is your debut novel, is it not?
Jan: Yes, BRUSH OF SHADE is my first published novel. I have several other stories that I hope to publish in the future.
Rebecca: Where did you get the idea for this series?
Jan: Several years ago when my children and I were exploring New Salem, Illinois, I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye. The incident occurred along a forested trail near the one room school house set off by itself. The rational mom side of my brain passed off the man like shape as wildlife or branches blowing in the breeze; whereas the other part of my brain stirred to life from having grown up watching scary shows like the Twilight Zone. What if I’d caught a glimpse of someone who had the ability to make his body invisible? What if there were communities of these people living among us and they had the ability to wipe their existence from our minds? While my kids were fascinated watching a candle dipping demonstration, the beginning of a story played out in my head. Gradually the story evolved into today’s version of the Whisperer Clans.
Rebecca: You've shared with your readers that you're a stay at home mom, like myself. Was it hard to find time to write? How long did it take to complete BRUSH of SHADE?
Jan: Over the next couple of years the idea of sharing the planet with another species continued to churn in my head. Snippets of story lines would pop into my head at the most inconvenient times, usually when I was supposed to be preparing the next day’s lessons for my children. As a homeschooling mom, it occurred to me that I had an opportunity to sneak in writing time of my own to demonstrate how to write dialogue or to explain point of view. These examples stirred my creative juices, compelling me to carve out mom time. I adjusted my bed time to take advantage of the peace and quiet of the late night hours. I wrote every minute I spent waiting in the car for kids at 4-H events, scouting, or community service projects. Despite my efforts, I had scenes but not a cohesive book. Life got hectic and my writing continued to take a backseat. I don’t regret the decision. I treasure every minute I got to spend with my children. Then one day, I broke my arm and had to have surgery. Knowing I was bored out of my mind, my daughters, then in high school and college, pleaded with me to work on my story because they were still waiting to see how it all played out. The result of this labor of love is my debut novel BRUSH OF SHADE.
Rebecca: Who is your favorite character in the book, your least favorite, and why?
Jan: Picking a favorite character is like being asked to choose your favorite child. My favorite child is always the one I’m spending time with. Olivia is a wonderful character to explore. Her circumstance as a senior in high school with her world in pieces, battling her way out of crippling grief all while coping with expectations of inherited obligations and threats upon her life provided many opportunities to place myself as a reader and writer into that same role and wonder how I would cope. Olivia doesn’t instantly morph into a heroine ready to defend a valley full of humans and Whisperers on the brink of civil war. For this devastated teenager, everything hinges first upon her rediscovering that she is the heroine of her own life. Yes, she has her weak moments, her uncertainties, and those times where she wants to refuse the burden of legacy, but for Olivia, as for most of us, these bumps in the road only make us stronger. I applaud her courageous decisions to place other’s lives ahead of her own even when she is afraid and wonders why anyone would ever look to her to be a leader. Challenges are what make us stronger, and Olivia’s story is just beginning; she changes so much from the beginning to the end of the book. As a writer, I look forward to the reader’s reactions as new challenges shape the strong young woman Olivia is becoming. I believe Shade’s assessment was correct when he said, “…if we rated our wardens like we do our vibe levels, folks would do well to strap themselves down.”
My least favorite character is Mr. Cassidy, Trent’s father. I hate bullies and people who believe they are always right. I feel bad for Trent growing up in that environment. It remains to be seen whether Mr. Cassidy’s actions are motivated out of self-interest or out of true concern for the survival of the valley.
Rebecca: What do you think inspired you to be a writer?
Jan: My children inspired this particular journey. I wanted them to know that it is okay to take risks and to dream big. I wanted to be that example in their lives.
Rebecca: There is a lot of talk right now about the changing face of self-publishing. How do you feel about it?
Jan: I’m very appreciative of having the opportunity to self-publish. I like the idea of controlling what I write about even if it doesn’t match the current trend. I’m a firm believer in more is better when it comes to book choices. The world is full of diverse people with wide ranging taste, as can be seen when you read reviews. Unlike the publishing companies which have to consider their bottom line when selecting which books to publish, independent writers really are free to give a voice to their imagination. Where the publishing houses have the funds to advertise and rack up presales to get a book in the top 100 lists, a self-published author struggles to find ways to get noticed. For that reason I’m glad we have sites like Goodreads where readers can come together and share what they love. I just wish more people would take a chance on a book by an unknown author. Maybe a reader will stumble upon a gem that will become a lifelong favorite. I’ve heard people get into heated debates over whether publishing house books or independently published books are better in regards to the quality of editing, writing, and cover design. I remember the days when I browsed books on the shelves at a book store. I’d read the synopsis and if it piqued my curiosity, I’d buy the book. I never cared what a critic had written or if the book had made it on a best seller’s list. These days I see posts where readers come out and state that unless a book has so many reviews or a specific star rating they won’t bother checking into the book. It saddens me when I think of what the reader may be missing out on, and I feel bad for the writer who just wants to share his words. No system is perfect. Everyone has their own standards. In the debate between the merits of traditional publishing versus self-publishing, can we not just agree that both deliver the chance to discover a book that will move readers in some way or just maybe lighten their day with something to smile about?
Rebecca: Who would you say your favorite authors are right now? Do you have a favorite book or series?
Jan: My favorite authors today are Cassandra Clare or Jessica Sorensen to name a couple for a great YA read and Janet Evanovich when I need a light, fun read that will make me smile. I’ve always been an avid reader so choosing a favorite book after all these years is a tough question. I love all the books that are part of the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. I devoured that series as fast as I could get my hands on each book.
Rebecca: What are some of your hobbies? Favorite things to do when you're not writing?
Jan: My favorite things to do when I’m not writing happily coincide with whichever child I’m hanging out with. My oldest daughter shares my love of photography. Thank goodness for digital cameras that allow us to take tons of pictures. My youngest daughter and I love to bake together and share craft ideas. I’ve always got several crochet projects going at the same time. Science fiction movie watching and discussing the plots for hours on end is something my son and I do frequently. My husband and I enjoy day trips to area wineries. We’re starting to build up a nice collection of wine glasses from each stop.
Rebecca: Can you tell us what projects you're working on? How soon can we expect to see the second book in THE WHISPERER CHRONICLES?
Jan: The unexpected passing of our family dog hit me harder than I realized. The mood of the entire household was very down for a long time. For most of the winter months, I couldn’t seem to find my creative juices. Family obligations have also delayed the second book of The Whisperer Chronicles. I’m hoping to publish the second book sometime around the first of the year. On the back burner there are several characters from another paranormal series I’ve roughly outlined that keep intruding into my thoughts, enticing and distracting me with their exploits. I’m hoping soon after the second book to the Whisperer Chronicles is published this new series will come to life.
Rebecca: So in closing, I find the impish side of me wants to know. This interview wasn't so scary was it? Would you do it again?
Jan: Yes, it was pure torture. I don’t open up easily because I’m so shy. “Seriously, mom, what’s so hard about this?” my youngest daughter has said repeatedly all afternoon. Like everything else in life, I’m sure the next time I do an interview I won’t agonize over every little word.
Thank you so much, Jan, for sharing with us! You and I seem to have a lot in common! And my deepest condolences for the loss of your furry loved one.
Please do catch Jan Harman at the following locations:
...and check out my review of BRUSH of SHADE, Book #1 in The Whisperer's Chronicles!