Literaturschock: Could you tell your German fans something about yourself? (family, hobbies and so on)

Joanne Bertin: About a year ago my then-fiance and I bought a small farm. In between remodeling the new house and our old one so that we could sell it, we got married this past May. While we haven't had the time to do much with the farm, I hope that one day we can get a couple of dairy goats (I used to work on a dairy goat farm) and maybe even a couple of horses. Right now our ferrets are enough animals for us.

I don't really have any hobbies as such; I am trying to learn how to play the harp (after building one from a kit) and I enjoy silversmithing when I have the time. I'm also planning on starting a big vegetable garden this spring. Hopefully the woodchuck will decide to leave before then...

Literaturschock: What was the one event in your life that told you "I'm going to be a writer?"

Joanne Bertin: There wasn't really one "event" as such. From the time I was little, I wanted to be a writer. Took me a long, long time to get there and a lot of false starts, but when it finally happened--well, sometimes I *still* don't believe it!

Literaturschock: What did you feel when your first book was published?

Joanne Bertin: Stunned. Ecstatic. I swear that it was about three weeks before my feet touched the ground again. I just kept smiling.

Literaturschock: Where did you get your ideas about these wonderful Dragonlords?

Joanne Bertin:The idea for the universe came from a drawing I did in school back in about 1970 or 1971. I started making up stories about most of the people in the drawing, all except one person. I had no idea who he was. Then, in November of 1989, he showed up in a dream and that's when I realized that his name was Linden and that he was a Dragonlord.

Literaturschock: Which of your novels do you like most?

Joanne Bertin: Hmm - I've only got two out so far, but I suspect that THE LAST DRAGONLORD will always have a special place in my heart because it's the first

Literaturschock: Do you have a favourite character?

Joanne Bertin: Linden. He was the catalyst that opened up the world for me--though I also have a sneaking affection for Lleld simply because she's Lady Mayhem.

Literaturschock: Were you allowed to design the cover and title by yourself?

Joanne Bertin: Your average author has no say whatsover in the cover design; I'm not sure if even the biggest authors can dictate what goes on a cover, though they may be consulted and may be allowed to make suggestions. I consider myself incredibly lucky that Tor Books went with Bob Eggleton as the artist for the covers of the American editions of my books. (The American, English, German, and Polish editions of the first novel had the same cover art.) The German version of DRAGON AND PHOENIX, the second novel, is different, probably because it was split into two books. I had no idea what the art there would look like until I saw my author copies!

I've gotten to pick the titles for the American editions. The German titles for the two volumes of DRAGON AND PHOENIX were chosen by the editors in Germany.

Literaturschock: Are you in close contact with your fans?

Joanne Bertin: I go to science fiction and fantasy conventions where anyone who wants to can come up and talk to me if they like; remember, I'm pretty new and most people don't recognize my name or my face the way they would with someone like Anne McCaffrey or Katherine Kurtz. And people can send email to me from my website--maybe now that I'm not renovating two houses in addition to my day job I'll even be able to answer more of it! I'm really far behind.

Literaturschock: You are currently writing on "Bard's Oath" the third novel about the Dragonlords. Are you able to tell us the date of publication and what the story is about?

Joanne Bertin: Sorry, I have no idea when it will be published. I'm still working on it.

I can't tell you *too* much about it or you won't want to read it after all, but I will say this: it involves a harp and the set-up for it is in the second book. A theme behind it is how something beautiful can be twisted into something terrible in the wrong hands.

Literaturschock: Do you want to continue writing novels about the Dragonlords? Or do you plan to write about something else?

Joanne Bertin: I think there are enough tales in the Dragonlord universe to keep me busy for quite some time. Perhaps, if I can ever quit my day job and write full time, I'd have the time to develope other worlds and societies.

Literaturschock: Do you have any special methods to plan a new book (which)? How does your normal working day look like?

Joanne Bertin: No, no really special methods. I've got a pretty good idea now about the universe, and sometimes the stories blossom out out of what's gone before or are triggered by something I've read or a remark I've heard.

As I mentioned before, I still work a regular day job. A lot of writers do. I go to work like anyone else, but during my coffee breaks and lunch, I disappear into the bookstacks (I work in a library) with my laptop and write. If at all possible, I write more when I get home and whatver chores need doing are finished with.

Literaturschock: How long did it take you to write "The last Dragonlords"?

Joanne Bertin: I spent five years writing and re-writing THE LAST DRAGONLORD until I felt it was the best I could make it. But I'd spent the twenty years before it developing the universe.

Literaturschock: A man like Linden does not exist in real life, but was there a real life model for him?

Joanne Bertin: My husband Sam; he's the world's biggest sweetheart. Doesn't look a thing like Linden, but they have the same good heart.

Literaturschock: Now about your ferrets: Are you planning to integrate your ferrets in "Bard's Oath"?

Joanne Bertin: My ferret Trouble appears in BARD'S OATH, in fact. Another ferret, Havoc, is mentioned; she's dead now, but she was Sam's special ferret.

At the time I wrote DRAGON AND PHOENIX, we'd had six ferrets all told (though not at the same time). They're the ferret mages who appear in Linden's dream: Tam Lin Smurfbane, Nikki, Chaos, Havoc, Total Disaster (T.D. for short), and Mayhem. Tam is the ferret who talks to Linden, and, if you ever see an American edition of the books, Mayhem is the ferret in the picture with me. (We needed someone photogenic for the picture after all...) Alas, all of them are dead now, and all are still missed.

Literaturschock: How many ferrets do you have?

Joanne Bertin: Right now we have three; they're Trouble, Problem, and Snowball

Literaturschock: What were your experiences in finding a publisher?

Joanne Bertin: When my first book was finished, I sent it to an editor I knew at one publisher. On the strength of their interest, I got an agent. When my agent and that publisher couldn't agree on terms, Shawna (my agent) contacted other publishers and came to agreement with Tor Books.

So I really had very little to do after the initial step. I'm also incredibly lucky at how easy it went, what with getting my first book accepted right off and all. I sometimes still think it's a dream; I go into bookstores and think that "Wow, that can't really be *my* book. Must be someone with the same name." It still makes me smile.

Literaturschock: What were the differences in working on the sequel compared to working on the first book?

Joanne Bertin: With the first book, there was no pressure. I wrote when I wanted and took as much time as I wanted. No such luck with the second one!

Literaturschock: Do you have a favorite writer or book?

Joanne Bertin: No one favorite author or book, though there are books or authors that I can always pick up and read again and again, or whose newest book I'm on the lookout for whenever I go to a bookstore. In no particular order a (very) few of them are: J.R.R. Tolkien, Rudyard Kipling, Judith Tarr, Lois McMaster Bujold, Ellis Peters, Elizabeth Peters, J.K. Rowling. Some are fantasy writers, some aren't. I like a range of stuff to read.

Oddly enough, when I'm deep into writing a book, I can't read fantasy. It's as if I have to stay away from it or I'll overdose.

Literaturschock: Thank you so much, Joanne! I really appreciate your taking the time to let me interview you.

Joanne Bertin: Thank *you* for choosing me for an interview! I've had fun.

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