Thursday, June 16, 2022

J. Lynn Else Interview - Lost Daughters of Avalon

Photo Content from J. Lynn Else

J. LYNN ELSE loves reading and writing about awesome women from antiquity. Besides history, she also gets nerdy with Star Wars, Star Trek, and MST3K. J. Lynn’s always had a flare for the dramatic, graduating college with a theater major and a dance minor. She’s self-published two historical fiction novels set in ancient Egypt, The Forgotten: Aten’s Last Queen and The Forgotten: Heir of the Heretic and one science fiction novella, Strangely Constructed Souls. Her novel, Descendants of Avalon, was released through Inklings Publishing May of 2018. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and two kids where her shelves are overrun with books, her kitchen is overrun with loose-leaf tea, and her workroom is overrun with Funko Pop figures. She enjoys sketching, reliving her 1990s by watching the latest X-Files episodes, honing her Fruit Ninja skills, and randomly busting out into song and dance. She believes in unicorns and practicing random acts of awesome.

Greatest thing you learned at school. 
In high school, I took a science fiction literature course. I think half the guys who took it thought we were just going to watch Star Wars (mind you, this was in the 1990s so we only had 3 movies). However, we read so many great stories that it really opened my eyes to worlds beyond Star Trek and Star Wars, which was the majority of what I was reading. Imagining what technology might be able to do in 5 years, 10 years, or 50 years (etc.) is exciting. Its drives us to learn more and find answers to questions. Sci-fi can also serve as a warning: what too much power or too much tech can do.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill? 
I’ve had my head in the clouds since elementary school. First it was acting and dancing. I did a little writing on the side. Nowadays as an older slower adult, it’s definitely writing and art. Being able to put my books on the same shelves as the Percy Jackson series or the Harry Potter series is quite a thrilling feeling.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
I actually had someone recognize me at a vendor event. I couldn’t believe it. She was excited to meet me and get a picture. It was like “Have I arrived?” Its only happened once, but it’s quite a thrill to find people excited about this world and these characters.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book? 
Tiktok. Seriously, I love watching bookish videos and creating videos.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes? 
In college, I read the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. It completely upended my outlook about the world. Suddenly, I had this new perspective on the people who were telling the stories that shaped our history. There really isn’t any plot or strong setting, it’s about the dialogue. While this type of storytelling shouldn’t work, it does for this one novel.

Can you tell us when you started LOST DAUGHTERS OF AVALON, how that came about? 
Growing up in the 80s and 90s, while a big fan of sci fi and fantasy, there weren’t a lot of female characters to identify with. The females typically lacked depth, didn’t have a lot of agency, or simply were there as a romantic interest. I wrote because I wanted greater depth of characters for young girls reading these genres so that they could picture themselves in these worlds.

I love fantasy stories and wanted to create my own. It started out with a magical land inside a wishing well. Eventually, the idea of blending some Arthurian aspects began to trickle into the plotline. What started with just the Lady of the Lake slowly began to encompass additional females from legend. Embracing my love of both history and fantasy truly brought the story to life. Lost Daughters of Avalon is book 2 of the Awakenings trilogy.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from LOST DAUGHTERS OF AVALON
I really enjoy the scenes where the four teens begin to use their powers. I wanted to create a tangible way that readers could feel the process along with the characters. It’s a process that’s both external and internal for the characters which helped them develop as the story progressed.

I also loved creating the wyrms in the story. They’re small dragons with long bodies and four short legs with scales the colors of sparkling jewels. Genie must convince them to give her an object which is sacred to them to help protect Avalon from a mysterious menace. I am proud of how the scene came out, and I hope to include the wyrms in future tales.

  • 1. The first Arthurian creature you meet in Lost Daughters is the Questing Beast.
  • 2. You’ll also get to meet a dragon.
  • 3. The wild horses have some special abilities too that I think readers will enjoy.
  • 4. Genie, Beth, Mei, and Whit will learn they have a connection to not only Avalon but also some of the people there as well.
  • 5. Each teen has a different elemental magic they must learn to harness.
  • 6. The Library of Ancients that the characters visit has a few surprises in store including secret passages and stubborn books that won’t open.
  • 7. In my story, the Fountain of Youth isn’t about restoring youth and beauty. In this book, a few select characters get to see its true power firsthand.
  • 8. A character we meet briefly in the book is named after my childhood favorite Minnesota Twins player from the 1980s. Let me know if you can spot it after reading the book!
  • 9. In each book of the series, the map of Avalon has a slight change to it based on the previous adventures.
  • 10. Nimue says, “Long ago, beasts were easily recognized. They took on the form of their intentions. Now beasts are much harder to see. You shouldn’t always trust your sight. Trust your magic.” You have been warned.
Meet the Characters
The book is about friendship, so here are the four main heroines of my trilogy:

Genie is one of our main voices in book 1, Descendants of Avalon. She knows a lot about Arthurian history and provides background on the different people they meet from King Arthur’s time to her friends, though not all of the information is true. History is defined by the writers after all, and many writers are not women. Genie doesn’t like heights, which poses a minor problem as many of the towns in Avalon are built up in the trees. Her last name, Eques, has a special meaning which she finds out along the way.

Beth is another of our main voices for book 1. She’s been captured by an evil wizard and is stuck in his dungeon. She’s a take-charge type of person and doesn’t back down from a challenge, like finding a way to escape. However, Beth has a secret she’s kept from her friends. She fears that if she reveals it, they won’t want to be her friend any longer. She already lost her father because of it.

Whit has a sweet, bubbly personality. She’s a dreamer but is also a bit sensitive. Her family recently found out her older brother went MIA while on duty overseas and is presumed dead. She struggles to cope with this. Whit finds healing in books 2 and 3 (Lost Daughters of Avalon and Destiny of Avalon) and makes a very unique, fire-breathing friend in those books.

Mei is loud and proud. She is never afraid to speak up in defense of her friends. Mei and her quick wit were so fun to write. She’s a Chinese American and is heavily influenced by a friend of mine. Mei’s story shines the most in book 3, Destiny of Avalon, as she goes toe to toe with an evil djinni intent on using her to change the past.

Your Journey to Publication
It started as a lonely journey as I began writing my novel set in ancient Egypt until I connected with a local writing community. Suddenly, I felt supported by fellow writers. They gave me advice and feedback on my projects. Its one thing to be excited about your own project. but when other people are excited about it? It gave me the confidence to self-publish.

A few years later, I was blessed to be invited into a fantastic group of women writers. Writing isn’t easy, but it is more enjoyable when shared with friends. Despite the fact we all write different genres, their insights are invaluable. Big thanks to friend and fellow writer, Meg Hafdahl, who introduced me to my current publisher, Inklings Publishing. They were just what I needed to develop and publish my Arthurian-inspired fantasy trilogy. Inklings connected me with a developmental editor who was fantastic and really pushed me. Currently with Inklings, I’m re-writing and illustrating a children book I originally wrote approximately 18 years ago when my kids were little.

Writing Behind the Scenes
When I pick names, typically they’re something from my life or something I think sounds cool. One character’s last name is my mother’s maiden name. Another last name in book 1 is my aunt and uncle’s last name. One of our main characters, Gene Kelly aka Genie, is named after the legendary tap dancer who inspired my own dancing style in my college years. Tabitha aka Beth was the name I wanted to give my daughter. My husband vetoed it, so I named a character in a book instead.

What is the first job you have had? 
Babysitting. I especially loved that there was a popular book series, The Baby-Sitter’s Club, about it and thought about creating my own club.

Best date you've ever had? 
My husband and I went to see Richard Marx in concert. We don’t agree on a lot of music, so this was fun to go watch together.

What's your most missed memory? 
Growing up, I remember weekends spent at my grandparent’s house. There was a lake nearby for swimming. Sometimes we’d pick vegetables from their garden. For birthdays, my grandma would bake a cake with coins inside covered in chocolate frosting. My grandpa, dad, sometimes my brother, and me would always play a round of gin rummy. This aspect of my life features in “Descendants of Avalon” and “Lost Daughters of Avalon.” I have one of my grandpa’s deck of cards out by his picture now.

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why? 
Katherine Hepburn. She was such a trailblazer for women and a glamorous Hollywood starlet. #girlpower

What is one unique thing are you afraid of? 
Robots. While R2 is one of my favorite Star Wars characters, actual robots can be reprogrammed. One minute, friend. The next, enemy? Look how many times they messed with Buzz Lightyear’s memory in the Toy Story movies! Maybe I’ve watched too much Battlestar Galactica or something. I can watch movies with them, but if one knocks on my door?

After not hearing anything from their knights in Avalon for weeks, the horrible Questing Beast breaks through into the world and attacks Genie, Beth, Mei, and Whit. Their magic stirs to stop the monster, but Beth’s attempts fail. Help from Avalon arrives just in time to remove the curse and reveal a woman inside the beast who claims to be Genie’s biological mother.

The four friends learn their knights had gone missing, along with one of Avalon’s queens, Viviane. An ancient evil runs amok in Avalon and the people blame the four friends, claiming they released Merlin to destroy their world. To clear their name and rescue their knights, the four friends must once again risk the dangers of Avalon.

Genie, Beth, Mei, and Whit must pull together and learn to combine their powers of air, water, earth, and fire to rebalance the world they might have thrown into chaos. If they fail, the worlds of Avalon and Earth could destabilize and end life as they know it.

You can purchase Lost Daughters of Avalon at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CHELSEA SEDOTI for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.