Once.: Tales, Myths and Legends of Faerie by Ronel Janse van Vuuren
I'm excited to introduce all of you to Ronel, a talented writer and blogger I met during the A to Z challenge. Check out this interview. - J
1- Your book has debuted in English. What other languages is it in?
Afrikaans. It originally won a publishing competition in November 2017 and I’ve since published it in English – it took a while to learn everything I needed to know about being an indie publisher.
2-What five words represent your most notable characteristic or values? #In5Words
Dependability. Perseverance. Open-mindedness. Compassion. Environmentalism.
3- What ignited your passion for writing?
What if…? I love asking that question. It made sense to start writing it all down, truly seeing where a story could lead and perhaps entertain others, too.
4- Would you share a picture with us of your book in an interesting setting?
Of course. I’ve been playing around with pictures of books I’ve read for Instagram and came up with this one for both language editions of mine incorporating the Dark Fantasy elements of the book.
5- How do you research myths from all over the world?
I have a couple of folklore books that serve as a basis – my favourites being Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Folklore, Mythology, and Magic by Clade Lecouteux; The Forest in Folklore and Mythology by Alexander Porteous; Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology by Theresa Bane; Encyclopedia of Giants and Humanoids in Myth, Legend and Folklore by Theresa Bane; The Element Encyclopedia of Fairies by Lucy Cooper. I also consult The Poetic Edda; the sacred texts site that archives all ancient folklore and mythology texts; and the folklore and mythology site hosted by the University of Pittsburgh that lists, categorizes and hosts all folk texts imaginable.
You’d be amazed at what you can find when you start researching a specific subject. Google can be your friend – just verify your sources.
6- What are some of your short and long term writing goals?
In the next six months I want to finish the first book in my middle-grade Adventures of Saphira the Faery Dog series and get it published end of November 2018 (in English and Afrikaans), polish the young adult novel (in Afrikaans) for the Sanlam Youth Literature Prize competition and send it in before deadline, enter the Insecure Writer’s Support Group short story competition (details on that will be shared in September on their blog), and write the long fantasy short story requested by Reimaginings Books for an anthology they’re planning.
7- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?
Looking at Goodreads, I have several. (Which is awesome!) I even had a reader tell me in person how much they loved the book – and how much it made her cry. Turns out the themes of change and loss throughout the book, even though it’s all “make-believe”, has a powerful effect on readers.
8- What is your favorite book (by someone else), and what do you love most about that book?
I have so many favourites! Right now, “The Darkest Part of the Forest” by Holly Black is my favourite. I love how she used folklore and the reversal of roles (a girl is “the knight in shining armour” and she has to save her prince), the book has great diverse characters, it looks at the darkest part of our natures (which Dark Fantasy is all about, of course), and it’s a fast-paced story that keeps you guessing.
Click for my Goodreads review.
9- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?
It is my wish that each story helps the reader on their own journey, making them feel each emotion with each character, and ultimately leave them with hope. As for a particular scene? There are a few that capture different emotions… but I think the scene where a character punches someone out cold for her pet might be the best one.
10- What most helped you to improve your writing craft?
Reading a lot of books on the subject (and doing the exercises) and writing – a lot. It’s only by implementing the lessons learned in books that you get better.
Click for my Goodreads shelf of books that I've found useful!
That's awesome! I have a shelf like that too. Click for J's shelf of books on writing.
11- What's your favorite part of NaNoWriMo?
Letting go of fear (of failure, of wasting time, of whatever is bothering me at the moment) and just writing the story. It’s already plotted – just write! A bad page can always be rewritten.
12- What is one thing tourist are most often surprised to learn about South Africa?
That lions don’t actually wander the street, except after a rugby game featuring the Lions Rugby Team. Jokes aside, there are many wonderful and beautiful places to visit that tourists hardly ever see because they aren’t as widely advertised as the “safe” and expensive places. If you go exploring – keeping your wits about you and listening to your instincts – you can immerse yourself in our cultural diversity.
13- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?
Carina, one of my many “damsels/princesses” in this book, loves to eat fried worms for breakfast.
14- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? https://diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks
Some of my Fae characters cannot wield magic – which is almost unheard of in a society where even the smallest Pixie has magic. This causes the end of a relationship, a complete migration of this character’s family and friends who are like him to another realm, resulting in catastrophe for others. Another character is so viciously cursed that she has to live in isolation – and the guy who falls in love with the “normal” side of her has to learn to deal with her cursed side. There’s also a weird cultural/religious aspect to a specific family of Fae in one of the stories who has to marry a mortal to keep everyone safe.
I’m sure there are a few things that I’ve used in the book that I’m not even aware of, but readers will notice.
For the most part, I don’t ask my characters if they’re green, blue or a fantastic shade of purple. I’ll add it if it’s relevant to the plot, but otherwise I think readers should be able to fill in their own details of what the characters look like. Besides, if I describe every character in detail all the guys will look like Ian Somerhalder/Ryan Reynolds/Jesse Williams/Chris Hemsworth depending on my mood. How boring! And if my characters don’t tell me who they’re attracted to/in love with, I’m not going to guess – that’s just rude. They’ll tell me when they’re ready for a next story.
15- Which character has your favorite Personality Contradiction?
Beira. She’s vicious and caring. I can’t wait to write more stories featuring her.
16- Does your book hold a mirror up to society, and in what way?
Yes. Mostly it looks at relationships – of all kinds – and our preconceptions of what they should be. It shows that you should do what is right for you, not necessarily society, and the cost if you don’t.
17- What do you enjoy most about the #AtoZchallenge for bloggers?
The rush of having to blog every day, visit and comment on various blogs, meeting new people and catching up with old friends.
18- Can you think of any small change in the world you could make to benefit hundreds of other authors or readers potentially?
By not offering my books for free, readers won’t fill up their e-readers with yet another book they won’t read “because it’s not good enough to be sold, so not good enough to read” which in turn will benefit them by having to spend expensive-coffee-money on a book they’ll actually read (value perceived is value achieved) and that will help other authors by creating sales of their books. I’ve heard a lot of other authors talk about this, but not doing. This has the potential of teaching a lesson: you have to give to get. (Maybe it has to do with my country’s current political climate, but I strongly believe that you cannot just take without compensation: someone had worked hard for that thing you want, so treat them fairly.)
19- As a reader, what most motivates you to buy a new book to read?
The cover in combination with the blurb. I’ve been burned by a great combo a few times with the actual story not fitting with either, but that’s still the number one way for me to find a new book to read. Just the other day I visited a bookstore without the intent to buy, just looking at covers, when one pulled me in so completely I had to buy it. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but I have high hopes.
20- How will you measure your publishing performance?
Probably by my fans. I’ve won awards for my writing before, but hearing from fans how much they love my stories is so much more satisfying than a trophy gathering dust.
21- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
After trying the traditional route for longer than I care to think about, hearing about so many good things happening to indie author friends and then winning the publishing competition with this collection, I had an A-ha! moment and knew that this was the way I should publish. I like to be in control of everything, so why not?
22- What's the best book marketing strategy you've come across?
Doing interviews about my latest release. It turns out that readers love to know more about the person behind the book.
😊 You just hit the heart of why I'm committed to the Debut Author Spotlight here at OA! 💘
23- What is one question or discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?
I’d really like to know what their views are on character description (question 14 about diversity in books): do they prefer filling in the details or do they want to know exactly what I mean when I say that Carina has “unruly curly hair”?
24- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
Damsels in distress, curses, echoes of faery tales and tragic love affairs swirl together in sixteen stories found in a dragon’s lair by a curious half-fae. Unexpected changes to reality causes more than one damsel to turn into a strong, independent woman who takes charge of her own life.
A collection of short stories about Faerie and the fae that live in the human realm. A few of the stories had won competitions and all of them had enchanted readers.
Learn their secrets and enter the realm of the fae…
ISBN EPUB: 978-0-6399476-2-4
ISBN Paperback: 978-0-6399476-3-1
Publication date: 23 May 2018
Available on most online retailers.
Also available in Afrikaans as “Eens…”.
Universal Book Links for Afrikaans and English versions of this book:
Mortals cannot perceive the veil unless they are invited to – or extremely gifted. For centuries, Man and Fae have been kept apart, for nothing good ever comes from them mixing. The collection of The Adventures of Saphira the Faery Dog is proof of this.
Still, there are magical creatures that side neither with Man nor Fae.
Dragons are such creatures. They hold the knowledge of both worlds. Some even collect it in the written word, keeping it safe in their lairs.
An inquisitive half-fae once broke into the lair of a dragon known to hoard books. The knowledge she found was too much to keep to herself…
Here are a few tales, myths and legends from Faerie. Some may sound remarkably similar to legends held by mortals, while others are… well… as otherworldly as the fae themselves.
Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.
Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.
All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon.
Connect with Ronel on:
Ronel the Mythmaker: https://ronelthemythmaker.wordpress.com/
Once.: Tales, Myths and Legends of Faerie by Ronel Janse van Vuuren