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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Interview with Janice Hardy - The Shifter

Today I am posting an interview with Janice Hardy. She is the author of THE SHIFTER which is a very cool supernatural novel which has a sequel that will be out soon. Today she will tell us a little bit about her novel which you can purchase here and her journey to publication. Firstly can you tell us a little bit about THE SHIFTER?
THE SHIFTER is an adventure fantasy about Nya, a war orphan with the unique ability to heal by shifting pain from person to person. When her younger sister disappears, this ability turns out to be the only weapon she has to save her. She risks exposing her secret to the enemy forces occupying her city, because if they catch her, they'll use her as a weapon against her own people.
That sounds very intriguing! What is your writing background up until now?
I've always written, though I've never really published anything before the book. A couple of short stories in magazines no one ever heard of, but that's all.
What inspired your idea for THE SHIFTER? Years ago I was playing with common fantasy ideas, turning them on their heads to see if I could find a new angle on them. I started thinking about healing, and how healing rarely has consequences. That got me thinking about the darker side of healing, and how you might take something usually good, and make it evil. That led to the idea of buying and selling pain, and I began world building just to understand this world and these people. The story developed from there.
Why did you decide to expand into a series?
Originally it was a stand alone book, but as the story developed I saw that Nya's sister's disappearance was only a smart part of what was really going on, and there was a much bigger story lurking there. I made notes about the other books, but didn't write them since I had no idea if I'd sell the first book. My agent asked for synopses of books two and three when she was submitting, so I worked out some general plots based on my notes. I guess the real decision to expand it was when my editor said she'd buy all three (grin).
Do you have any specific daily writing routines you stick to?
When I'm on deadline I usually write every morning, since my most creative hours are between 7am and noon. But ideally, I like to write a few days in a row, then take a few days off so I don't get burnt out. When I have to write every day for a few weeks in a row, I don't want to be anywhere near a keyboard.
So now that you have published THE SHIFTER are you planning any more novels that we should be looking forward to?
Book two, BLUE FIRE comes out October 5, 2010. The third and last book of the series comes out October 2011. After that, I have five ideas fighting to be next, but the winner is most likely going to be a YA supernatural thriller I had 60% written when THE SHIFTER sold. It got set aside so I could write the next two books in the trilogy.
After you completed your first novel that you published how difficult was it for you to land an agent?
Remarkably easy. I sent out seven queries, and had one in-person pitch appointment (I attended a conference the same time I sent out the queries). I received four manuscript requests and three offers of representation. I went from pitch to signing with my agent in ten days. Had I not had three other books I couldn't sell, I'd have thought this whole writing thing was easy, but I knew better. It took a lot of work to finally get to this point.
You must have had a stellar query to get such great results! The moment you got a positive reply with an offer for representation, what were your initial thoughts?
Holy $%#@! over and over. Then I had to remind myself to breathe. Once I got myself under control, I remembered all the advice about contacting other agents who had your work, thinking over which you'd like to sign with, asking questions and all the things you're supposed to do. All three offers were from great agents, so I was lucky, but it was a hard choice. Maybe harder because they were all so good.
How many rejections did it take for you to finally land that agent?
For THE SHIFTER? Three. (one form reject, one "not for me but I'm sure you'll sell this," and one no repose). Oh wait, four, because one agent who asked for the full passed. But before this, about 60 on other books. Up until THE SHIFTER, I'd never even gotten a full request before, and had very few partial requests. In fact, my eventual agent turned me down before this book. Twice.
Would you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write a lot, read a lot, and learn what makes both a great story and a great book. Don't rush, and take the time to sharper your skills, because you'll need them to make it. And don't give up. It's common for your third or fourth book to be the one that sells, so if one book doesn't land anywhere, write another and try again.
Are you still with the same agent that you first landed?
Yeppers. Agent Kristin Nelson. She's fantastic.
Would you have done anything differently?
I don't think so. I made my mistakes on the first three books, so by the time I had the "right" book I was ready.

Well Janice, thank you so much for your time and your interview. I wish you luck with the next installments and will get around to read your novel which sounds really cool!
Check out and follow Janice's blog here (she shares lots of great advice for writers here) and visit her site here.


  1. I loved this interview:) And it actually made me want to pick up the book as well. I've been looking for a new fantasy read and this one sounds interesting. I also think I should take her advice on taking a few days off per week (or at least a day). When I feel burnt out I usually just push and everything that comes out that day is rubbish. Great interview!

  2. Thanks Loren and obviously thanks to Janice for doing the interview. I agree with you, you shouldn't puch out your writing when you are tired and don't have inspiration. Too bad I tend to do that too often lol.

  3. Jancie, as always, your comments are very encouraging. And your books sound awesome! I can't believe I haven't read Shifter yet. It's been on my reading list for a few months now. Must. Pick. It. Up. Now.

    And Ariel, I just wanted to say, your blog is gorgeous. I'm slightly jealous. :)

  4. Thanks Lydia :D LOL, The SHifter is one my list for to read books, when I go shopping for books next.

  5. I love janice and cant wait for her new books. She's got a great career ahead i think

  6. I think I might disable my Google reader. It's just too depressing to go to all these blogs and hear about all these great books, and know I can't buy them for a year or three... :(

    Great interview. It's always interesting to hear another positive story about the path to publication.