Today I welcome Ashlee Willis, author of The Word Changers, a fascinating fantasy about falling into a book. The Word Changers is currently on sale for 99 cents. Ashlee is also running a giveaway with some super cool prizes. Check it out here to enter.
Chapman: Do you have a new perspective on characters and the role they play in the creative process after writing The Word Changers?
Willis: Yes, I definitely do. The theme of the book was one that was intriguing to me at first, but when I actually began to write it, so many aspects of things came to the surface that I hadn’t consciously thought about before. It was both enlightening and humbling.
The most "powerful" characters in your story are birds: Falak, the owl, and the Author, who appears as a giant swan. Why birds?
Haha. Hmm ... to tell you the truth, I didn’t choose a bird theme purposefully. I had already decided on the owls from the beginning, just because I like owls so much (though, yes, they don’t end up being the pleasantest of characters!). The Author took me some time to decide on, and while he shows up in a few different forms in the book, the swan was his main form. To me, swans have always had such grace and power and myster ... all things I wanted the Author to portray.
Kyran and Posy undergo three trials in the Glooming. What's the purpose of the tests?
Mainly they were meant to represent the path to truth. It’s hard to get at truth without realizing you have to see beyond the surface, as the first test showed them. Seeing the truth within yourself (part of the second test) is also crucial to seeing the truth around you. And the last test, of course, was learning to understand what truly matters, and get beyond the shallow trappings that can slowly eat away at what you should know to be true, but can so easily forget.
Did any of your favorite fantasy books or series inspire The Word Changers?
Oh, I’m sure many of them have, very subconsciously! More consciously, though, the Chronicles of Narnia have been an inspiration not only to my writing, but to my life, ever since I was a young child. The way Lewis wrote stories that gave such enjoyment, yet with a theme that went so incredibly far beyond entertainment ... well, I knew I had to do that myself one day.... Or at least give it a try. :)
Some of the characters in The Word Changers have evil intentions. Others, such as the King, seem to be led toward evil. Did the Author write evil into the hearts of some characters or did the evil come from somewhere else?
Great question! It basically came down to choices. As many authors do, the Author in The Word Changers gave his characters choices, watched to see what they would do within the story he gave them. Some of them chose wrongly, and did evil things. And while the Author wanted them to stay on the right track to the story he had written, and save them from bad choices, he refused to choose for them and thus rob them of the treasure of finding (and fighting for) their own true story. Some of them found that story. Other chose evil. That’s the cost of free will, I guess, in both stories and real life.
The villain Falak is still at large at the end of The Word Changers. Is a sequel in the works?
No, I’m not actively planning one. And I’m even trying to keep myself from thinking of it at all, because once I begin doing that I’m afraid of where it would lead! I’ve got so many other stories I want to tell right now—I just don’t have time for a sequel. Even so, I’m not saying there will never be one. Even if it was just for my sake alone, I think I may someday like to re-explore the world of The Word Changers.
Ashlee Willis is the author of The Word Changers, a Christian fantasy for young adults. She lives with her family in the heart of Missouri. While most of her days are balanced between writing, reading and homeschooling, she also loves gardening, forest walks, piano playing, and catching frogs with her young son.
Amazon (book): http://tinyurl.com/TheWordChangers