Lori J. Fitzgerald, the author of The Dragon’s Message and the Wood & Stone series, lives in New York with her fellow English Major husband and their two little bookworms. Medieval literature is her passion, and she wishes she could spend more time cosplaying at the Renaissance Faire and shouting “Huzzah” at jousts. She was a middle school English teacher for many years and was well-known for her dramatic readings of The Princess Bride. Lori is currently a Staff Writer for the website Once Upon A Fan, the popular fansite for ABC’s hit show Once Upon A Time. She is also attempting to make her little black rescue dog her familiar, but so far it’s not working. You can find her masquerading on Twitter as @MedievalLit, on Facebook as White Raven Writing, and on Goodreads as herself.
Hi Lori, welcome to our Fantasy Sci-Fi Network castle in the stars. We’re keen to discover all about you and your novels.
What was the defining event that made you start writing?
I read Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown when I was in 8th grade and it struck such a chord in my imagination that I wrote fan fiction based on it (not that I knew what fan fiction was back then – I just wanted to live in the world that Aerin did). I went on to fill two binders with various stories, character sketches, maps, poems, potion recipes, unicorn and dragon drawings, etc. for the next decade of my life. I still have those binders – they are my antidote for writer’s block! But when I went to college I became an English major and focused more on my teaching career, so writing took the back seat to teaching and then to children of my own.
Fast forward 20 – er, several – years later. The ABC TV show Once Upon a Time inspired me to create my own worlds again. The website Once Upon a Time Fans and all the writers, artists, and crafters I met in the extremely creative Oncer fandom encouraged me that my lifelong dream of publishing could become a reality. In particular, indie author Diane J. Reed (Twixt and the Robbin’ Hearts series) wrote to me words that are forever etched on my heart: “I truly believe that if such yearning is within you, then that’s your soul’s way of telling you the dream is within reach. Artistic hunger is sacred fire. And if you honor it, then the universe will open up a way for you.” Synchronicity definitely happens!
I love the fact that you switched careers to be a writer for the fan website Once Upon A Fan after watching and enjoying the show yourself. It sounds like a dream job.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently writing the novel-length third book in the Wood & Stone series, but in between I’m also working on blog posts and short stories. This is the first time I’m writing a novel, and I find that breaks to work on (and finish) smaller pieces really helps my creativity and focus (not to mention my fragile sense of accomplishment). I’m also compiling a paperback that will combine the first two novelettes of the Wood & Stone series (Love Lies Bleeding and Songs Within Stone, currently only available in e-book) with some exclusive short works.
What’s the story behind your book title?
So, here’s a secret: Love Lies Bleeding is actually a reference to a flower that plays a big part in the story, the amaranthus, which is a summer-blooming plant with cascades of red flowers. But – without giving away too much- it can also refer to something with the main character, Aislin. I love hidden meanings!
Have you used any real events or places as inspiration for your writing?
Most of my writing has Celtic and/or medieval flavor to it. Medieval literature is both my passion and my degree, so I am very comfortable in this type of setting (and I would gladly spend my entire summer at the Renaissance Faire, but alas, my children want to go the pool instead). One of my best trips ever was to England with my husband. We visited Glastonbury, Stonehenge, and Avebury, and those places, especially the Tor and Chalice Well, had a truly magical impact on me that fueled my penchant for sacred groves and standing stones in my writing.
Who are your five favorite authors?
Oh boy. Only 5? Robin McKinley (obviously), Ursula K. LeGuin, Charles DeLint (I went to Barnes and Nobles once a week in college just to get another book of his for I can’t tell you how long – or maybe I could if I counted my paperbacks…hold on…16. WOW! Four months!), Emily Bronte (surprise – I was an English teacher after all), Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (I count them together as one author). Oh, and Neil Gaiman of course. Although I have to say Naomi Novik’s Uprooted completely blew me away. It is the only book I have ever said that I wished I had written, and I can’t tell you how I have analyzed her writing craft piece by piece. I hope it wins the Hugo.
What is your favorite quote?
Once Upon a Time, Episode 1×17, Hat Trick
Jefferson/Mad Hatter: What’s a story? When you were in high school did you learn about the Civil War? How? Did you read about it, perchance in a book? How is that any less real than any other book?
Emma Swan: History books are based on history.
Jefferson: And story books are based on what? Imagination. Where does that come from? It has to come from somewhere. You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants some magical solution for their problem and everyone refuses to believe in magic…
Emma:…This is it. This is the real world.
Jefferson: A real world. How arrogant are you to think yours is the only one? There are infinite more. You have to open your mind. They touch one another, pressing up in a long line of lands, each just as real as the last. All have their own rules. Some have magic. Some don’t. And some need magic, like this one.
This quote echoes my belief in the magic of imagination and stories. I remember when I first saw this episode; I thought, “Yes, that’s exactly it. It has to come from somewhere – somewhere just as real as here.”
What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Reading and yoga. I grow herbs to use in cooking and to dry for sachets. I taught English for over a decade but stopped when my first child was born. I’m pretty busy with being a stay-at-home mom right now, so getting to bed at a decent time is also top on my list of enjoyment.
What’s your favorite pet?
Our daughter, who wants to be a vet, wore us down a few years ago and we adopted our first little black rescue dog, Soda Pop. He was a senior shih tzu with kidney disease (we found that out after we adopted him), and we only had him for a year before his kidneys failed but he stole our hearts. A few months ago we were lucky that the shelter who had Soda contacted us about a little puppy that was rescued from a puppy mill. So now we have our second black dog (so strange how that happened…maybe I should be writing spellbooks instead). Cocoa, a Yorkie mix, is my writing buddy; she is curled up on my lap as I type this. I want to train her as my familiar but we really need to get the potty training down pat first! My family and I are big supporters of rescuing animals from shelters. And don’t discount senior pets – they deserve loving, safe homes to retire in as well.
What’s your experience of the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network?
I’m so thrilled to be a part of the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network! It is such a positive, supportive group made up of authors whose enthusiasm for reading and writing in the speculative fiction genre knows no bounds. Thank you so much for the opportunity for an interview.
You are most welcome.
Quiz! (This is fun!!!)
Favorite Food: Pizza
Silliest Saying: Inconceivable!
Best Holiday Spot: It’s a toss-up between Disney World and Aruba.
Favorite Song at the Moment: Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac
Star Wars or Lord of the Rings: Star Wars, of course. I find your lack of faith disturbing. (How many times have you heard that one, Kasper?)
Best Superpower: My patience level. Especially in the morning before school.
Number One Thing to Do on My Bucket List: See one of my books on a shelf at a brick and mortar bookstore. I’m working on it. Thank goodness for my superpower.
I do love your superpower, Lori. Hang in there and we can’t wait to see your books in print too. Thanks a bunch to you and Cocoa for stopping by, you have been fun to talk to.
Interviewed by Kasper Beaumont, author of the Hunters of Reloria fantasy series. www.huntersofreloria.weebly.com
Amazon Author Page where you can find links to my books, videos, and more info: http://www.amazon.com/Lori-Fitzgerald/e/B00JO1M64Y
Check out my Sacred Groves and Writing series of blog posts about the Celtic Ogham Alphabet here: http://www.whiteravenwriting.blogspot.com/
Connect with me on Social Media here:
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