Judith Michael (J Victoria Michael) is a story-teller with an insatiable curiosity for other dimensions, time travel, and fantastical places. Her loves are music, mostly classical, and dance, from ballet to flamenco. Judith’s short stories have won various awards and have appeared in print and online. As a reader and writer she prefers long works; her GriffinSong Trilogy is scheduled for publication in 2020. Born and raised in New Zealand, her imagination is indelibly drawn in pristine landscapes and dotted with fantasy castles. Judith lives in Melbourne, sharing her home and her somewhat neglected garden with a bossy ginger cat.
What do you love about writing fantasy?
Time travel, imaginary places, and hidden talents. At some time in our lives we experience huge personal change – such as divorce or death – causing us to question who we are, what we believe. I might have written a more contemporary Australian drama for Irenya O’Neil’s journey, but other authors are better at that than me. I wanted my imagination to fly. I wanted to believe that human beings have talents as yet undiscovered, gifts that allow us to achieve things we thought were impossible. And I am fascinated by universal themes like other dimensions. I wanted Irenya to recreate herself.
What authors have inspired your writing journey?
Many. One of my favourites is Janny Wurts. Her stories are dense and finely detailed. She has a distinctive writing voice – it’s almost biblical and one I haven’t dared to try.
Are any of your characters and settings based on your own life experiences?
A tutor once said, “Write from the experiences you’ve had, and the ones you haven’t.” I might begin a character based on someone I know, but as the writing progresses, that character takes on a life of their own, which is probably a mixture of what I know and what I wish for!
What adventures can we expect your characters to take in the GriffinSong Trilogy?
Journeys will be emotional and physical, and range from the rewarding to heartbreaking. We don’t all get to survive as we’d like. Stories need some kind of grit. I have begun writing a sequel to the trilogy – one book, not too long, exploring Dar Orien and its inhabitants fifty years hence. How challenging was it for Irenya to convince the people, and did they agree with the epic changes she believed were necessary for the Gift to survive?
What is your biggest motivation for writing?
I have to explore, create, dream, and challenge my inner self. I can’t imagine not being able to write.
How many books have you written?
Four. The first was a trial, to see if I could do it – write a fantasy novel instead of puddling around with short stories. Within two weeks of finishing the novel, I started again, using the central character and the premise. I had no idea it would finish up as a trilogy.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?
The trilogy: wouldn’t have missed it for worlds. Giving birth is both fraught and exhilarating.
What advice would you give a young writer trying to get published?
Be a terrier. Get your teeth into the task and don’t let go. Assuming of course that you are fully prepared – hire a professional for a structural edit before you even think of submitting your work, even if you have to live on baked beans for a month or two.
What helps you when you hit writer’s block?
A blank page gives me nothing to work with. I keep trying, even if it’s rubbish. It eventually opens a channel to somewhere. That a-ha moment when I suddenly make a connection is worth every bit of the frustration.
Describe your writing style in three words.
Sensory. Descriptive storytelling.
A twentieth century woman is lost in a fantasy world with nothing but the clothes on her back and her innate humanity. This is the story of her compelling need to redefine herself.
When Irenya O’Neil suffers a panic attack and falls into the realm of Dar Orien, a world with a failed MageGate system, she finds herself unable to return home to her infant son – she is trapped in a nightmare that tests her sanity.
Confronted with evidence that she possesses a Gift of power, Irenya attempts to control her fledgling talent through music. This could be her ticket home. But Irenya becomes mired in the civil unrest that has befallen Dar Orien. Sickened by the bloodshed and fearful for her own safety, Irenya is desperate to find her way home.
The GriffinSong Trilogy will be published in 2020.