A Conversation with Joni Parker, author of The Seaward Isle Saga
Joni Parker was born in Chicago, Illinois, but left the windy city at an early age when her family moved to Japan. Upon return to the United States, her family moved to Phoenix, Arizona where she graduated from Camelback High School and began college. However within months, Joni quit college and joined the Navy where she became a Photographer’s Mate. After 3 years in the Navy, she returned to college and got married. She got a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and an MBA before she returned to the Navy. As a Commissioned Officer, Joni attended the US Army Command and General Staff College, completing a Master of Military Arts and Sciences Degree. She retired from the Navy with over 22 years of service and spent several years traveling the United States in a motorhome with her husband. When he died unexpectedly, Joni returned to work for the federal government in a civil service job. Five years ago, she started writing and retired once more to devote more time to her new passion. She currently lives in Texas.
Her latest fantasy books are The Black Elf of Seaward Isle, Tangled Omens and Blood Mission.
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Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Joni! Can you tell us where you are from?
I live in Texas, but I was born in Chicago. I retired from the U.S. Navy with 22 years of service and spent a lot of time moving around the country. After my husband passed away, I visited my stepdaughter in Texas and she encouraged me to apply for a job where she worked. I got it and retired from it to devote more time to my new passion—writing.
Q: How did you come up with your title?
The Seaward Isle Saga is the name of my trilogy and originates from the name of the island where the three books and bonus story are set. The title of the first book, The Black Elf of Seaward Isle comes from the prophecy of Aqua, the Witch of Winden who predicted that only the Black Elf had the power to kill a wizard. My main character, Alex, has no idea that she would fit the bill, but she vows to kill the wizard who killed her parents and becomes a soldier to learn how.
The title in the second book, Tangled Omens came about when Alex has her fortune read while she’s in the market, but finds it mysteriously entangled with the omen of the pirate spy known as the Horseman.
Blood Mission was named after a ceremonial assignment process used by the Elves when they assign a dangerous mission. They seal it with their blood. In this book, Alex thwarts an assassination attempt on her cousin, Prince Darin of the Water Elves, and he assigns her a Blood Mission to find and kill them.
Finally, I wrote a bonus estory called The Island Game: The Inside Story of Seaward Isle. Olivia Richards is an American free lance journalist who is stranded on the island with her husband. This story documents her survival as well as explains some of the history and unusual features of the island. It was designed to introduce the reader to the island as well as be a teaser for the series.
Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your covers and who designed them?
My publisher, Teresa Kennedy and her husband, Andrew Early, designed them. The backdrop on the cover for The Black Elf of Seaward Isle is the line of storms around Seaward Isle. The island itself isn’t stormy, but storms encircle the island preventing any escape.
The cover for Tangled Omens has the Ace of Clubs, which is one of the cards drawn when Alex gets her fortune read and represents the Black Elf.
Blood Mission’s cover represents the struggle Alex has in finding her quarry, like wandering through a forest.
The cover for The Island Game has journalist Olivia Richard’s wrecked ship as well as an old manual typewriter, which she uses to type out her investigative report.
Q: Can you tell us something about your books that would make me run out and buy it?
As you know, the Elves in Middle Earth left during the Lord of the Rings. What you don’t know is that this was over ten thousand years ago and they were moving to Eledon where Seaward Isle is located.
Q: Are there any messages in your books that you want the reader to know about?
I didn’t intend to write a book with a message, but they pop up anyway. I was always quite insecure when I was younger, but accomplished a lot in life as I grew up. I want other young women to know that they can accomplish anything, like Alex and me.
Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?
In The Black Elf of Seaward Isle, my favorite chapter was 19, The Elfin Blade, which was a challenge among soldiers to obtain a special blade. I had to come up with all the tests that would make sense to a soldier with a touch of something magical. It was great fun and a challenge for me to write.
I chose chapter 15, Confession in Tangled Omens because it included a real surprise as I wrote. My main character, Alex was having a routine discussion with her best friend, Lila who revealed a deep, dark secret that I didn’t know.
In Blood Mission, my favorite chapter was 25, Safe from Dragons. It’s the first time Alex allowed herself to grieve for her parents so it was more emotional than anything I had written before. It also helped me personally as I am still grieving for the loss of my parents and my husband.
Finally, chapter 1 of The Island Game was my favorite because I didn’t have any chapters in it when I wrote it. This story came together quickly and flowed from beginning to end. My editor/publisher chopped it up and after I saw what she did, it made sense. I still love the opening line.
Q: Why did you feel you had to write this series?
The story was taking over my brain and started to interfere with my life. I needed to write it down so I took an old computer and began typing away. It was such a relief when I was done.
Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?
I dye my hair to hide all the silver highlights. It irritates my older sister when people ask if I’m her daughter.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would love to visit Ireland. It just seems like a magical place.
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?
I am definitely a morning person. I wake up around 5:30 every morning without an alarm.
Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?
My sister had dreams of writing, but never finished her book. She doesn’t like to rewrite. On the other hand, I love to rewrite and I often feel an extra spark of creativity come through after the basics are already on paper.
Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?
Yes, I was and still am. I think you can tell from my books that I dream on. As a matter of fact, it’s how I develop many of my stories, and I use my bed as my think tank when I get bogged down.
Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?
I’d love to have a best seller.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?
You can visit my website is http://www.theblackelf.com. Like my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJoniParker. Follow me on twitter @ParkerJoni.