Author Interview: E.J. Wenstrom
Today I am interviewing fantasy author E.J. Wenstrom. Her debut novel, MUD, hit shelves in March 2015, and she has a new release, the prequel novella RAIN.
In your novella, RAIN, and novel, MUD, you have taken familiar creatures like angels, and not-so-familiar creatures such as golems, and woven them into a brand new mythology that is unique to the world you have created. Where did you draw inspiration when creating this whole new system of gods, goddesses, and first creatures?
You know, it all started with Adem, the golem. I wanted to avoid anything “trendy,” so I was deliberately staying away from things like vampires and werewolves, and went looking through online monster encyclopedias to find something fresh. When I came across golems, Adem just started telling me his story.
From there, it all started coming together out of necessity. I knew Adem was going into the Underworld, so I needed to figure out why. Angels, I figured, can’t cross over into that realm. It all just built out as I needed it to. I don’t know if real logic applies, but it definitely had its own sort of internal logic.
The same for the gods and the whole history of the realms. I knew this middle realm Adem was in was totally devastated and torn apart, because that’s just where he was. It took a little digging and what-if-ing to figure out the history with the gods and the wars and the rebel First Creatures trying to overthrow them.
I grew up reading a lot of Greek mythology, so that heavily influenced this. I also grew up Christian, so I had a strong foundation there (thus the three gods for the trilogy) and since golems come from Jewish folklore, those stories came into play too, particularly with golems’ tendency to spiral out of control and turn agains the the communities they’re supposed to create.
So I suppose it all came down a little bit of seeking it out, helped along by the voices in my head, the stories already stuffed in my head over the years, and ultimately, the ability to just choose what served the story best.
Watching Nia’s mental/emotional descent from a girl who is simply seeking comfort and relief, into a “witch” is as tragic as it is entertaining. Personally, I loved it. Why did you decide on this particular story for your novella?
Yeah, you know, she started out as just this lonely person who was a bit neglected by her family and her community. I did not expect her to become so terrible.
I was about 3/4 through the first draft and I thought, oh man, this Nia, she is just the worst. But as her creator I mean that in as loving a way as possible, I really do. And then my editor pointed out in her comments, You realize how terrible this character is, right? You did this on purpose? And I was like, yep, she is.
But it started to make me a little nervous about how Nia might be received by readers. I remember how Amy from Gone Girls got slammed for not being likable. I think unlikeable female characters are important, and personally I tend to really love them, but they get a rough reception a lot of the time.
But really, to defy the gods so brazenly, to decide that what you want is so much more important, it takes a certain darkness. And when you start to cling the powerful magic she comes to possess, that comes at a price. That does something to you. And that is a price Nia definitely pays. Willingly, I think.
Do you have a favorite character?
Oh, what a mean question. But yeah, of course I do :)
Adem has a very special place in my heart, and he probably always will, just because he was the first character I created. That poor guy just can’t catch a break.
But in RAIN, I also really love Bastus. He’s problematic in some ways (he IS a demon, after all) but I’ve got a soft spot for him.
About EJ Wenstrom
E. J. Wenstrom is a fantasy and science fiction author living in Cape Canaveral, FL. Her first release was the dystopian fantasy novel Mud, When she’s not writing fiction, E. J. drinks coffee, runs, and has long conversations with her dog. Ray Bradbury is her hero.