1. Tell me about your books
My first novel series, The Forerunner Series, combines my fascination for history, fantasy adventures and broad themes such as “Coming of Age,” “Survival and Courage,” and “Love.” I chose the end of the 9th Century in the Viking Age because historically there are several major events in a short period of time. I did not what to write stories where the main character is “the one” and this period allowed me to portray a family of characters as bit players against a broader historical backdrop. Also, there is a lot of archaeological data emerging about the Medieval Viking Age, their Norse religious beliefs, and their day-to-day lifestyles that can inform the works with nuance and detail. In my first book “Thorfinn and the Witch’s Curse,” there is a big wedding scene at the end, and I attempted to make the preparation and ceremony as realistic as possible based on current scholarship. Get the local little customs right, eh? The Scandinavian invaders of pre-English Britain believed in the Norse Gods and nine realms, but they also held beliefs about witches, astral travel, and ghosts of living people, such as the “vardoger” a ghost of a living person who like a reverse “déjà vu” actually precedes an individual into a room.
I also write non-fiction books on technology subjects based on my work experience as well as role-playing games and poetry.
2. When and how did you start writing?
As a teenager I started writing, some short stories, poetry and songs (doggerel) and I outlined and wrote most of a science fiction novel, which was set aside and is woefully outdated today. I received my university degree in English Composition and rapidly learned that in the business world the ability to write cogent and coherent prose is highly prized. In some of my business roles I actually “ghost authored” the company blogs, articles, and marketing materials.
3. What inspired you to write your current books?
In 1995, we visited the “Jorvik Viking Tour” in York, which gave me an idea for the setting for my novels. About the same time, I came across an article describing “weird ghosts around the world” and the Scandinavian vardoger was listed, and I thought, isn’t that interesting? I wonder how a person could be turned into a vardoger? And how would it change their life? What if it was a child? These questions led to the first novel, which I am proud to say has won two international book awards.
4. How does a story begin for you? Is it an idea, a conversation, a title, or an image?
Images play a strong role in my story craft. When I am writing I often have a particular scene in mind for an event, and I push the characters around until the scene is both believable and happens as I envisioned it. The final scene in “Thorfinn and the Witch’s Curse” where the ghostly Thorfinn lifts his uncle’s sword to wake him and save his life, was the original image in my head. It’s funny to say that an entire novel was written to get to that climatic final scene, but that is indeed the case for book 1 of the Forerunner Series.
5. Did you plan out your series or are you taking it one book at a time?
I am a plotter—in fact, so far, I have plotted out 6 novels in the Forerunner Series. Why? I like to drop in small references that become major plot item in a later work. An example is in Book 1 where Thorfinn finds and keeps a small blue salamander that slipped into the “realm between realms” from Jotunheim, the Frost Giant world. In book 3, in an act of desperation, Thorfinn releases his tiny pet into our world, Midgard, and surprise, he has been keeping a dragon in his pocket for the past year! For my stories, relative “size” and the flow of time are different for each of the nine realms.
6. What was your favourite research activity you have done for a book?
While I enjoy investigation the historical events of Danelaw England and the wider Viking Age world, one of my favourite study efforts was understanding the history and operations of medieval tin mines in Devon. In book 2 the eldest son of the Agneson clan was defeated and captured in the Battle of Ethandun (Eddington) by the forces of Alfred of Wessex and sold into slavery in the tin mines. I wanted to make this part of Book 3 as realistic and accurate as possible.
7. What do you consider your greatest writing accomplishment? And which was your biggest challenge?
My biggest accomplishment has been the two international book awards for my first novel, Thorfinn. This book was selected for the UK-based 2020 Wishing Shelf Book Awards Bronze Medal in YA fiction, and the US-based 2021 Readers’ Favourites Bronze Medal in General Fantasy. Lots of bronze for little “Finn!”
My biggest challenge has been finding time to write. I am stretched thin between my full-time job, family issues, exercising to maintain my health, house upkeep chores and the promotional activities required for an independent author to be successful. Finding time to shut down real world demands and focus on a fantasy world has been difficult.
8. What would you do if you didn’t write?
As a restless person, I would paint—I like acrylic painting and collage work, and I am active in the local art league. I posted some pictures of my artwork on my woefully outdated website, www.jayvelosobatista.com.
9. What are your current projects? What should we be looking out for?
Book 4 of the Forerunner Series is titled “Kara, Shieldmaiden of Eire” an ambitious extension of the tale and well underway—I hope to release it in summer 2022, and it sets up book 5 which is plotted to be almost completely a fantasy novel, taking place in Jotunheim, Asgard and the wider Norse universe with Dark Elves, giants, trolls and Norse Gods. In addition, I have plotted out a stand-alone novel in a modern day setting here on the Chesapeake Bay, tentatively titled “The Great Delmarva Pots War.” It is a (hopefully) funny, comedy of errors “love” story, set in my backyard here at the shore. I may try to publish this story through the traditional route or self-publish under a separate pen name to not dilute my “fantasy” author marketing efforts.
10. What advice would you give other writers?
Read the Classics! Even if you are an Indie author and helping others with ARCs or trying to know your genre and current tropes, you need to be exposed to the masters of language and poetry. If you are a new writer, before you hit that publish key, get some trusted fellow writers to give you an honest review, not a “paid” or a traded review, where the critical input will really help you grow as an author.
11. What is your ultimate dream as a writer?
My dream is to have a shelf of “accomplishments” to leave as a legacy for my grandchildren to remember me. I would like to finish the historical fantasy series and have a few stand-alone novels. And it would be wonderful to option my books for a movie, although I am not interested in writing for the cinema—they can hire professional script writers for the adaptations!
Jay Veloso Batista has written and published for decades, including role-playing games, poetry, short stories, business non-fiction books and novels. Jay holds a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University (Ohio) in English Composition and a Masters degree from Ohio University. His work reflects his love of history and obscure facts as well as cinematography and grand adventures. He lives at the "DELMARVA" Mid-Atlantic shore in Ocean View, Delaware, the first state: A location rich in history, blue crabs and craft beer, the local state and national parks afford the best bird-watching on the Eastern Shore of the United States and lots of opportunity to hike and kayak. A frequent business traveler around the world, Jay and his wife are happy to spend their free time with their children and grandchildren.
Author of the Forerunner Series, available at Amazon here
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