Wendy has very kindly offered one copy of Curse of the Tahiéra for an Alternative-Read giveaway! Please come back tomorrow to read my review of her book, and enter!
Interview with Wendy Gillissen. Conducted by Sassy Brit
SB: Good morning, Wendy! First, can you please briefly describe your book, Curse of the Tahiéra?
WG: Good morning, Sassy! Curse of the Tahiéra is about Rom, a young half-blood Tzanatzi. Shunned for his heritage, Rom makes a living travelling up and down the country selling goods. While preparing to journey North, Rom learns the road ahead has become increasingly hazardous. An evil presence from long ago is rising, and travellers are disappearing. An Einache story-teller called Yldich offers Rom to accompany him on his journey. Rom finds that there is more to Yldich than meets the eye as he has the ability to commune with nature and sense the very fabric of life around him. When Rom’s dreamwalking pulls him deeper into the past, he begins to wonder what his own connection to the rising evil could be. In fact, Rom learns he himself may hold the key to an ancient curse that threatens to destroy the lives of the Einache and Tzanatzi alike.
SB: In your book’s ‘about me page’ you say that this started off as a short story. However, during an inspiring trip to the Greek Island of Cephalonia you start writing down your ideas and end up with a novel of 400+ pages! Just what did inspire you, whilst out in Cephalonia?
WG: Well, I always knew there was a story living inside of me – since the age of five, in fact;) I just never worked up the courage to sit down and write! But when I visited Kefalonia for the first time something happened which I can’t quite explain. As if the spirit of the island opened a door in me which I knew would never be shut again. I feel a connection to the place, especially the Mycenaean ruins (+/- 1600 BC), which has me wonder – did I live there before? Is there is a connection to the mysterious Tzanatzi people’s origins and ancient Mycenae? These are questions I’m still pondering, while writing ‘The Search for Tzanáta’ – it’s still a mystery, even to me, and I discover bits and pieces of the truth as I go along, so I discover them at the same pace as the reader!
SB: In my review, I stated that it was very clear that your experience as a past life therapy worker, and dreamwork specialist was used to enrich and enhance your story. For the purpose of anyone who may be new to this, please explain what is involved as a past life therapist and dreamworker.
WG: As a past life therapist I help people resolve issues that have their origin in past-life trauma. I actually work a lot with problems stemming from childhood trauma as well. I love my ‘day job’, not only because I enjoy working with people, but also because I can see my clients truly freeing themselves from restrictive fears and beliefs that have no place in their lives anymore – it’s great!
Dreamwork is a term I use loosely to encompass many techniques of working with dreams – but they are all geared towards helping the dreamer understand what their dreams are telling them. There are no cut-and-dried explanations for dream symbols, they are the unique expressions of the dreamer’s subconscious and messages from their higher self, and communications from the other ‘worlds’ – for instance from spirit guides and helpers. Helping the dreamer access his unique inner life is equally rewarding! I love teaching dreamwork courses as well.
SB: You use very unique and creative words in your fictional world which brings the reader into this magical land. How do you come up with these words and phrases? Do you have a background in languages and etymology as J.R.R. Tolkien did?
WG: Ah yes, the Einache and Tzanatzi languages! I have always had a feel for languages, which is why it’s no problem for me to write in English (Dutch being my first language). But I don’t have a real underlying etymological structure for my fictional languages. I make them up as I go along, trying out different words and sounds – they have to sound right! For instance, I had a word for ‘lovemaking’ in Einache, tracheia, which bugged me – it just didn’t feel right. I found it was the tr-sound – it just doesn’t sound very sensual!;-) So I changed it to lacheia. For some reason, the l-sound works much better for love scenes…
SB: Do you find yourself writing at a particular time of day? Night owl? Morning bird?
WG: All times of the day and night! Inspiration strikes at the oddest times: doing the dishes, on the road, just when I’m drifting off to sleep…
SB: When inspiration strikes and you are not at your desk, how do you capture these ideas?
WG: The same way I advise people to capture their dreams when they have no pen and paper ready: I imagine telling the story to someone else. Somehow it helps the material ‘stick’ in my mind.
SB: That’s a great idea. If you could name one book that inspired you, what would it be and who wrote it? And why is this book so special?
WG: I’m afraid that would have to be The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Cliché, I know! But I feel the story works on so many levels. It’s an engrossing adventure, it’s built on a solid underlying mythology and history that feels ‘reel’, it has a spiritual level I feel was lacking in the movie – though I understand that would be extremely hard to transfer to film. For instance, in the book the ‘evil’ wizard Saruman is a character driven by arrogance and fear… he’s not a black-and-white character at all. Which is a theme that fascinates me, as well. What is evil? What drives people to ‘evil’ acts? It’s a question I hope to shed some light on in my books!
SB: Oh, I can’t wait. Actually, cliché or not, I have to agree with your book choice there. So, what reading material is on your bedside table right now?
WG: My notes for the sequel, the Search for Tzanáta, scribbled down late at night without the use of my reading glasses! I don’t read in bed anymore, because I like to read and eat cookies at the same time. The crumbs were driving me mad;)
SB: *Laughs!* Where would you say is the most comfortable place to read and eat cookies?
WG: On Avithos beach, Kefalonia. My comfy sofa isn’t a bad place to read, either.
SB: Is there anything you always try to avoid in life?
WG: Oh yes, I hate being told what to do. So it’s a good thing I’m self-employed!
SB: Oh, yes, I could see how that can be a problem! *laughs*
Do you ever have a bad hair day? It doesn’t look like it to me!
WG: Ha ha ha! You should see me when I am doing my monthly henna job! But it’s worth the effort;)
Besides writing, you also make jewellery inspired by ancient symbols and culture. Do you have a website we could visit to see this?
WG: Yes, it’s on http://www.inspiredbylegend.com
SB: How did you get into playing the Celtic Harp?
WG: I was actually inspired by Rom’s first love interest, who plays the harp. I was also inspired by the world’s best Dutch pagan folk band, Omnia. I was introduced to their music while I was writing Curse of the Tahiéra and I was hooked immediately!
SB: How soon will it be for your next book to be published? Yes, I want more!
WG: Yay:) I’m hoping to get it out this winter. I still have some exciting chapters to finish. And I have so many story ideas the whole story might turn into a trilogy!
SB: Fantastic. I do hope so. Finally, do you have an online home we can visit? If so, where can we find you?
WG: Yes, you’re welcome to visit my author site http://www.wendygillissen.com ! I also have homes on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/user/wendygillissen) where you can see me play the harp, Twitter (https://twitter.com/Fantasyharper #Fantasyharper @Fantasyharper), etc.etc.
SB: Thank you, Wendy.
WG: My pleasure! I enjoyed it a lot, especially the ‘silly’ questions. Thank you for interviewing me!
SB: Well, I do like quirky questions. 🙂 And you are most welcome! It has been a very enjoyable interview. Thanks again!
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