Tag Archives: Joy V. Spicer

Interview with Joy V. Spicer

Say hello to Joy V. Spicer ! Last week I reviewed her most recent book, and now she’s the latest person to respond to my call for speculative fiction interview participants. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

‘The Enchanted Wood’. It had a huge tree called the Faraway Tree which reached up into the clouds. All sorts of magical folk lived in the tree and right at the top, different lands would cycle through, stopping for about a week, if I remember correctly, before moving on. If you were visiting any of those lands, you’d have to make sure you left in time or be stuck on it forever.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

I don’t really have one favourite, but if its measured by the number of books I have for any one author, then it would have to be Stephen King.

What do you like most about the genre(s) you read?

My go-to genre has always been fantasy, but I also read other genres, including horror, historical fiction, thrillers and westerns. I love the worldbuilding when done well, believable characters I can relate to, and beautiful wordplay. With horror, I much prefer subtle scares, the kind that leaves you unsettled for days afterwards, like ‘The Woman in Black’, and where the story is set somewhere so ordinary, you wouldn’t expect to find anything horrifying.

More and more authors seem to be writing cross-genre stories these days. How do you feel about this trend?

It’s an interesting one, with great potential but, again, only if it’s done well.

If you could name a pet after one character, which character would you choose? Why?

My sons named their rabbits Sonic (she was fast!) and Wolverine (dopey bunny did not live up to that name). The first cats we had were named Cinder and Ashe, after a couple of comic book characters. The cats we have now aren’t named after characters. If I had a horse (wishing, hoping), I’d choose Elessar, Aragorn’s royal name; I love the way it feels when it’s said.

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

The Walking Dead! With zero survival skills, I’d have been eaten on day one!

What fictional world would you want to visit?

Middle Earth. I’d divide my time between Rivendell for its ethereal beauty and zen-like atmosphere, and Hobbiton for the food and to spend time in a hobbit-hole.

Book cover for The Vagrant by Peter NewmanSharing spoilers with people who haven’t read the book or seen the film/show is a hot topic on Twitter and across many fandoms. How do you feel about sharing or overhearing spoilers?

This is more for films/shows than books. I’m not a big fan, especially when no warning is given. I don’t even watch more than one trailer for a film. But if a film/show has been out for a while and I haven’t watched it yet, the onus is on me to steer clear; near-impossible with social media being so immediate.

Which series do you think should be made into a TV show or film next?

I’m always wary of books being made into films. If I had to choose, I’d say ‘The Vagrant’, but only the first book in the trilogy, which I enjoyed immensely. Sadly, the second book did nothing for me, which meant I didn’t even bother with the third.

Which TV show or film do you think should be turned into a book?

‘Grimm’. I enjoyed the series so much. I think turning that into a book series would give more scope to go deeper in exploring the characters and lore than the medium of TV allowed.

Bonus Questions

Book cover for Joy V. Spicer's The Spellbound Spindle. There are roses entwined with the wordsWhat is the most unusual or interesting way you’ve come up with an idea for one of your creative works?

After I’d written my first book, I was convinced I didn’t have another book in me, so when the idea for my second book just popped into my head, it literally stopped me in my tracks. My subsequent projects are fairy tale retellings, like my third book, ‘The Spellbound Spindle’. I research (my most favourite part of writing!) the different variations of the tale, pick out key points then work on giving it a fresh twist.

Sometimes characters don’t do what their creators want them to do. If this has ever happened to you, how did you deal with it?

That’s something I’ve not experienced until now. Ready to start my next book, or so I thought, but I was really struggling. Until I realised this morning, the characters ‘want’ their status to be different! It is a strange feeling, realising the writer isn’t actually the omnipotent creator she thought she was.

What is your favourite trope?

To quote Stephen King, “ordinary people dealing with extraordinary situations”.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

Love triangles and insta-love. I’m positive love triangles don’t happen as often in real life as they seem to do in YA novels.

Photo of author Joy V. Spicer. She is smiling in it. About JoyOriginally from Malaysia, I’ve lived more than half my life in the UK. I started writing as a way to alleviate the boredom of work, hiding my notebook by the till, before realising how much I enjoy creating stories. My two sons still live with me and they make me proud and inspire me (sometimes make me jealous!) with their prodigious imaginations.

You can read more from me on Twitter and my blog

Once Upon a Time: A Review of The Raven and Other Tales

 

Title: The Raven and Other Tales

Author: Joy V. Spicer

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: 2019

Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical

Length: 132 pages

Source: I received a free copy from Joy

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: A raven appears on a cold winter’s night. An old woman helps a stranger find his way home. A young girl encounters a bad-tempered dwarf. Enter within, where magic is found alongside the ordinary, and things aren’t always what they seem. Where curiosity leads to a nightmare. Where ashes have the power to transform. And where stolen mortals are doomed to be forever lost in the forest.

Review:

This is a collection of ten short stories that are all firmly rooted in the fantasy genre. One of the coolest things Joy did with them was to briefly explain where her ideas for them came from after the conclusion of each story. I always enjoy learning where writers find inspiration for their work, so I was excited to have a sentence or two of explanation before beginning the next tale.

The most effective way I’ve found to review anthologies like this one is to pick about three of the stories in them that most accurately represent the over-arching themes and writing style in my opinion, describe their plots in a spoiler-free sentence or two, and then share my impressions of them. If any of these mini-reviews grab your attention, I’d heartily recommend checking out the whole book.

The Forest of the Others

Grace’s father and younger brother had wandered into a mysterious, forbidden forest and never come home again in “The Forest of the Others.” Three years after their disappearances, Grace ignored her mother’s warning to stay away from those trees and went into the forest to see if she could find out what happen to them.

I sure would have liked to see better communication between Grace and her mom. These woods were such an irresistible place in this universe that I think Grace would have still gone into them even if her mother had been more clear about how dangerous they were. It felt a little odd to me for someone who had already lost two relatives to what should have been an innocuous patch of land to be so vague about what she thought happened to them or why Grace should never break this rule.

This is something I’m saying as someone who loved everything else about this story. The dialogue was fresh and crisp. Grace’s character development was handled wonderfully. Her experiences in the woods made me shudder, although I’ll leave it up to future readers to discover why. The world-building was really nicely done, too, especially when it came to the mixture of emotions Grace had about the forest she wasn’t supposed to visit. All I needed was for Grace to know exactly why that area was forbidden before she decided to break that rule anyway.

Stranger at the Crossroads

Some of the tales in this collection were so short and filled with plot twists that I need to be pretty careful what I say about them for fear of wandering into spoiler territory.  “Stranger at the Crossroads” was one of them. In it, a woman who was walking down the road with her donkey met a stranger who wasn’t at all what he appeared to be.

Does this sound like a mystery or possibly something from the horror genre? Well, it wasn’t. The main character was such a brave and kind soul that her reaction to the unnerving stranger at the crossroads was as pleasantly surprising as it was creative. I enjoyed this entire anthology, but I must say that she was my favourite character of them all. I couldn’t have asked for a better protagonist on that particular day and in that specific time and place.

An Unlikely Friendship

In “An Unlikely Friendship,” a young girl named Meg met a grumpy dwarf in the middle of the woods one day while she was out searching for edible plants to feed her family. Meg’s friendship with Nev, the dwarf, was unexpected but a nice distraction from the grinding poverty she, her widowed mother, and two older sisters had struggled with for years.  Yes, this story was one of the ones mentioned in the blurb!

Meg’s personality was nicely written. She’d been taught to be kind to everyone she met. That’s a common trope in the fantasy and fairy tale genres, so I won’t go into much detail about it here. What was refreshing about this particular take on that lesson was how Meg reacted when it appeared that her kindness was not only going to be taken for granted but could very well lead her into a worse predicament than she’d been in when she was only poor and hungry.

This is the sort of twist to a genre that makes me want to come back for more.