An Interview with Fantasy Novelist J.S. Chancellor

J.S. Chancellor's novel "Guardians of Legend Trilogy, Book One: Son of Ereubus" is set to be released with Rhemalda in November 2010.  The above picture is a concept sketch for the novel by Oliver Wetter of Fantasio Fine Arts.

1. What's your background with writing? What are your inspirations and passions?

Well, I suppose I should start with what I don't have--an English degree. I've been writing for years (I won the Young Georgia Writer's Award when I was 7), but I've never felt drawn to any sort of formal education in literature. I majored in psychology when I was in college and honestly, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Knowing why your characters do what they do is such a pivotal part of good fiction, that for me, it's worth the trade off.

I write mostly fantasy fiction, but there are a myriad of novel types hanging out in my head, so who knows. I don't judge the stories when they come, I just usher them to the waiting room and they go from there. I'm working on a horror novel right now that I'm excited about (Of Blood and Bone). It's really dark fantasy, but we'll call it horror for now.

2. Tell me about your upcoming novel.

Ah, my first born. Guardians of Legend Trilogy, Book One: Son of Ereubus (Coming November 2010). Guardians is at its heart, a love story. It fits the requirements for being High or Epic Fantasy, but there is a part of me that feels like wearing that title is a bit like a little girl wearing her mother's heels. You see, its a very simple story--complex characters--complex plot, but at the end of the day the story itself is classic good versus evil. Book one ends much in the same way Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring ends, which I suspect will make some readers unhappy, but I didn't have much choice in the matter (that story is one stubborn SOB). The trilogy is, frankly, one really big book that's been split up. There is a blurb for book one on my Facebook fanpage under the info tab, or you can look me up at Rhemalda publishing where you'll see a short snippet from the preface.

3. What is Rhemalda?

Rhemalda Publishing is a brand new publisher. They're located in Washington State. They specialize in Jane Austen adaptations, but Rhett Hoffmeister (president of the company) is a fan of fantasy and therefore I've been granted the privilege of being one of their first authors. As for what Rhemalda is as a title--your guess is as good as mine. I've yet to ask Rhett.

4. How has your experience been with Rhemalda? Did they do a decent job with the editing and did they provide good cover illustrations?

So far my experience has been wonderful. I mean this utterly. If there's any doubt, go read a few of my blog posts and you'll find that I don't accept anything at face value and I have a finely tuned BS detector (sorry to be crass, but I call a spade a spade). Rhemalda is all about producing quality novels and cultivating authors. Some publishers see you as just another author or worse yet, a single work. Rhemalda views its authors as family and treats them as such. They care, plain and simple. After signing the contract, I spoke at length
with Rhett himself about the direction of the project, cover art, etc. They do provide cover art and you can see Emma Hox's novel for an example, but I'm really particular when it comes to art because my mother is a career artist. Therefore, I've personally commissioned Oliver Wetter  to do the cover for book one and I have plans to use him for several more projects down the line. I've briefly been in touch with my assigned editor, Kara Klotz, but we haven't started the edit/revision process yet due to my request for one last author-driven edit.

5. What goes on on your blog? What purpose does it serve in terms of book promotion, etc?

The sole purpose of Welcome to the Asylum is to encourage other authors and explore the deeper levels of what being an author really means. A guided tour through the dredges of the writing life--if you will. I'll probably have a little bit of blatant promotion when we get closer to the launch in November, but as of now I have no plans of changing the current direction of the blog.

I had a hard time finding guidance and advice that was useful when I first started writing; so as I learn, I write it down and share it with the unwitting populace who wanders past my neck of the woods. If I had to pick a word that sums up my ambitions for the blog it would be: relevant. I want what I say to be poignant, meaningful and instigative. I've never cared much for apathy and it usually carries through in my blog posts.

6. Do you write many short stories? If so where do you publish them?

I always get this question. I don't write short stories at all. In fact, I rarely read them. I know, I know, all authors are supposed to have stacks of short stories and a laundry list of publications where their snippets may be found. I always go about doing things the hard way, and as it turns out, being a professional writer is no exception.

7. You mention that your upcoming novel has no elves or orcs, is that due to some sort of aversion to these types of characters or did you just not find a place for them in this book?

I wouldn't call it an aversion, so much as a...okay, no, maybe I do have an aversion. Watch me turn around and write a whole series with elves. Wouldn't that just be typical. The aversion stems from having read Tolkien and his predecessors. They did it right the first time, I see no reason to do it again.

8. What do you think is the main difference between fantasy written today and fantasy from 50 years ago?

Complexity of language aside, I think the biggest difference is that 50 years ago no one gave a damn about political correctness. Now, just about every fantasy author I manage to find will make certain that they aren't (even by accident) hurting someone's feelings, being too oppressive against women or leaving out minorities. This is fantasy for a reason folks. And unless your novel is a Utopia, then there will be the same ugly, unfair and unjust truths in your fictional world as there are in the real one. So why all the theatrics?

9. Anything else you want to share with us (feel free to broach any topic under the sun)?

That's a dangerous thing to ask me. My soapbox (since you did say anything under the sun) is how genre fiction has been labeled as 'less than' in comparison to 'literary fiction'. I think this is ignorant nonsense. You'd think our own would be a little more understanding, in light of how hard it is to get recognition as a fantasist, but no--you'll find the same elitist mentality in most national fantasy-fiction organizations. Once they've been given the golden ball, they forget the well they crawled out of. I can assure you of one thing in my career, if nothing else---I will never do this. I doubt I'll ever make it to that status as an author, but if there is anything in this world that gets under my skin, it's elitism.


  1. Chancellor's posts at Welcome to the Asylum are worth reading carefully, slowly, attentively. There's reason enough in them, and passion enough, to hope that her stories, when they arrive, will be as thoughtfully and as courageously crafted as her opinions and observations.

  2. I have had the opportunity to speak with J.S. Chancellor on several occasions. Chancellor is one of more thoughtful writers that I have crossed paths with and she can leave you inspired to write by her insight of the craft. I agree with her statement on political correctness. My fears that I would offend someone, or be to cliche kept me at first from plotting my own fantasy novel until a few months ago. I find that these things are what give Narnia, Middle-Earth, and Hyboria the depth that has made them popular, or hated through the years.

    But I cannot wait to read Chancellor's novel. The world needs new, fresh talent, and I feel J.S. Chancellor has plenty to offer.

    Thanks for the great interviews.