Monday, January 28, 2013

Character Interview with Meghan and Cade!

Here it is!  The interview I included at the end of the Omnibus Edition.  Sorry I didn't post it sooner, but I wanted to give everyone a chance to finish reading Luathara first.  Enjoy!
-J.E. Johnson
Now that I have finished writing the Otherworld Trilogy, I thought it would be fun to interview the two main characters, Meghan Elam and Cade MacRoich.  They have been kind enough to sit down with me and answer a few questions for all of you.  Now, if you've not yet finished all three books in the series, I suggest you save this interview for later since there are some spoilers here.  However, if you don't mind such things, by all means, read on!

JEJ: I'll start with you Meghan, since the story is told from your point of view.  Did you ever imagine your life would be something worth reading about?

Meghan: Ha, no way.  Okay, maybe now I can understand why my life might be interesting, what with all that has happened to me in the past few years.  If you'd asked me before my seventeenth birthday though, I'd have looked at you like you were crazy.  Let's face it; my life was pretty dull before Cade showed up.

JEJ: Alright, that's a pretty honest answer.  Cade, I turn the questions over to you now.  How about your life?  You've been alive for a long time, just how old are you exactly and would the earlier part of your life make a good story?

Cade: Most of the events of my past are things I'd rather forget, though I can only imagine those experiences would make good material for an interesting tale.  When you have lived several thousand years (no, I'm not going to give you an exact number), a lot can, and will, happen to you.

JEJ: Yikes, you have lived for a long time.  Meghan, does it bother you knowing that Cade is so much older than you?

Meghan: I never really thought about it much, actually.  He doesn't look that much older than me, and I can tell you from personal experience that it has only made him a better, kinder and wiser person.

JEJ: Cade, what about you?  Do you worry about the differences in your ages?

Cade: I did at first, but the thing with being immortal is you can live for centuries before you find your soul mate.  I fully believe that's the case with Meghan and me.  It would have been wonderful to find her sooner, but back then I wasn't the person I am now, and I might not have seen how truly wonderful she is.

JEJ: Okay, I think I'll leave the personal questions for now and move on to something else.  This next question is for both of you.  Which of the faelah do you dislike the most?

Meghan: All of them are horrible, but I think the worst is the puca, especially when it came to Luathara and started speaking.  A close second is the Morrigan's Cumorrig, after she transformed them.  I'm just glad they aren't hunting us any longer.

Cade: I have to agree with Meghan on this one, especially considering my own personal experience with the Cumorrig.

JEJ: Do you think you'll ever have to deal with the Morrigan again?

Cade: Unfortunately, she will someday return to Eile, but we have a good thousand years or so before that happens.  We'll just have to remain vigilant and make sure she never grows that powerful again.

JEJ: And now for some more pleasant questions.  Meghan, why do you like twigrins so much?

Meghan (laughs): What's not to like?  I wish everyone could come to Eile and see them.  They're so cute!  Like stick figures come to life, but with more detail of course.  I'm still waiting to see them in the spring and I hope the ones Cade got me for the garden will get flowers on them.

JEJ: On that note, Cade has given you so many gifts: the twigrins, the mistletoe charm, the torque, Meridian . . . are you ever going to return the favor?

Cade (interrupts): She doesn't have to give me anything.  I already have everything I could want.

JEJ: I'm assuming you're referring to the fact that she accepted your proposal of marriage?

Cade (smiling): Yes.

Meghan: That doesn't mean I can't give him something.  I just haven't thought of the right gift yet.  But don't worry, when I do, it will be something good, I promise.

JEJ: You'll be sure to tell me Meghan when you figure it out, right?

Meghan (smiling): We'll see.

JEJ: Okay, new question, this one's for Cade.  It's clear your sister Enorah loves you very much, and Meghan as well.  Do you plan on inviting her to live with you in the castle at Luathara?

Cade: I'd love for Enorah to come live with us, but she is very attached to the wildren of the Weald.

JEJ: I noticed she seems to be a troubled soul, despite the happy-go-lucky front she gives us.  Is there a reason she seems sad at times, I mean, besides the fact that the Morrigan controlled your life for so long?

Cade: That's Enorah's story to tell, but I will say she has experienced as much hardship in her life as I have.  I believe she is content in taking care of the children of the Weald, for now.  It keeps her mind and her heart occupied, though I hope someday she'll find a way to banish the demons from her past.

JEJ: Meghan, if I may ask, how are things going with your mother?

Meghan: So much better now.  We were both so stubborn and selfish with our own personal feelings before the war with the Morrigan, but I think we were hurting as well.  I'm pleased to say that I see her a lot more often now and I've been slowly learning more about my past and even a little about my father.

JEJ: Speaking of which, and if you feel comfortable discussing it, whatever happened to your father?

Meghan: As much as I'd like all the questions about my father to be answered, I feel my mother doesn't like to talk much about their last parting.  I think she's still pretty heart-broken, to tell you the truth.  I don't even know if he's still alive, but if he is, I hope that one day I'll get to meet him.

JEJ: How about Aiden?  Do you think he will heal from his ordeal with the Morrigan?

Meghan: Absolutely.  I know I've only really known Aiden as he was in the mortal world, but in the short time we spent together here in Eile, I could tell he was ready to embrace his new life as my Faelorehn brother.  In fact, Aiden's always been strong, even when something is worrying or scaring him.

JEJ: Are you looking forward to summers in Eile?

Meghan: Are you kidding?  I've already planned it out with my Mom and Danua.  Aiden will spend the first and last weeks of his summer vacation exclusively at Luathara, and I'll go and visit him in Erintara while he's there.  Cade's also promised to teach him how to ride and hunt faelah.

JEJ: So, there are still some faelah around then, even after you demolished the Morrigan.

Cade: There are plenty left, but they are not controlled by her will.  What that means is she was responsible for creating them, but she can no longer tell them what to do, and fortunately they aren't clever enough to band together like they did when she and Donn ruled over them.  Several of us, Faelorehn men and women who are willing, will be keeping them under control.  I know that Danua and the other Tuatha De plan on sending a few of us into the mortal world to take care of the strays there.

JEJ: Will you continue working as a faelah bounty hunter then?

Cade: I'd prefer to stay at Luathara and help keep the castle and its lands in running order.  That might include hunting down any of the faelah and other dangerous Otherworldly beasts that choose to harass us.  Of course, if I'm needed, I will go but only if Meghan will permit me.

JEJ: Meghan, would you be willing to let Cade keep up his old job?

Meghan: Only if he lets me go with him.  I'm much better at using my magic now and after all we've been through, I'm reluctant to let him out of my sight for very long.

JEJ: And how about your old friends and family in the mortal world?  Do you plan on visiting them?

Meghan: Cade and I are definitely going to visit them at least once a year around Christmas time.  That way I know Robyn, Tully, Will and Thomas will be home from college.  Mom and Dad have also insisted we stay with them and my brothers for at least a week when we are there, so I won't be completely cut off from my mortal family.

JEJ: Okay, one final question for the both of you.  I've had a few readers telling me they are sorry to see your story end.  Will we ever hear from the two of you again?

Cade: You're the author.  That's up to you, isn't it?

JEJ: Well, yes, I guess so.  But just because you were willing to give me your time before, doesn't mean you'll have any free time in the future, right?

Meghan: I'm sure you'll be hearing from us again, but for now Cade and I would like a little time to settle into our new life.

JEJ: Oh, I think we can all understand that.  Thank you, the both of you, for answering my questions.  I look forward to hearing from you again, whenever that might be!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Otherworld in the Mortal World - Episode One


A local cave, one I believe might just lead to
the Otherworld . . .

Recently, I came up with the crazy idea that it might be fun to go around my hometown and document all of the locations which make an appearance in the Otherworld books. I personally believe there is a lot of magic in this world that often goes unseen or unnoticed. How do I know this? Because of how easily the simple things can inspire a whole new world in my mind. For this first installment, I asked my friend Niño to come along with me while I explored one of the many hidden treasures along the Central Coast.

I first learned about a trail just beyond the city limits of San Luis Obispo on our local news, and when the reporter showed her viewers the waterfall and cave that accompanied it, I knew it would make a great addition to my Otherworld books. Currently, I'm trying to balance the writing of Cade's second POV novella, my fourth Oescienne novel, and a book that delves into Robyn's life after Meghan leaves for the Otherworld. Since Robyn's story needs a little more world building than the other two, I wanted to do a little exploring and make sure certain details added up in the book. Although a lot of my stories contain elements that I've created separately from the real world, with the Otherworld series my aim was, and still is, to incorporate as much of the mortal world as I can.
Part of the trail we climbed down.
Now, I can't give away too much of the plot for this latest Otherworld work in progress (for one thing, not all of it has presented itself yet, and second, I don't want to give anything away). What I can tell you is that Robyn will encounter Otherworldly things (not saying what or who . . . ), and that she'll be spending much of her time in the city of San Luis Obispo.

And at the bottom of that trail . . .
A cave!

Of course, this meant I needed a portal to the Otherworld located a little further north than the one in Meghan's old neighborhood. So after our sword fighting class this Sunday, Niño and I drove out to the trail head and made our way to the cave and the waterfall just next to it. I don't know the exact history of this cave, whether it was carved for a pipeline or if it was used in some old mining expedition, but what I do know is that it would make the perfect portal to the Otherworld (there has to be a dolmarehn buried in there somewhere . . .). In fact, a man who'd hiked to this same location with his two young sons asked if we knew what the cave was for.  Naturally, I responded that it was for getting to the Otherworld.  He didn't seem too convinced by my theory.

Yes!  I'm only a few steps away from entering the Otherworld!  I only hope that I'm not greeted by Cumorrig on the other side . . . Perhaps I should test out my theory of being Faelorehn another day ;)
After getting a few good camera shots from a short distance, I took off my shoes and followed my friend across the creek and up the slippery rocks leading to the cave. I'm glad I did this because I would have gotten my shoes soaked for sure. In order to enter the cave, I had to bypass some streams of water and to my slight chagrin, I didn't quite dodge them and I ended up getting the back of my shirt wet (fortunately we were having one of our 'Summer in January' days here on the Central Coast and the weather was perfect for splashing around in a waterfall).
Um, did I just hear something back there?
Once I was inside the cave, I felt a little uneasy, especially when my back was turned to the inside of the cave. I could have been attacked by a faelah at any moment . . . Niño felt the same way, though he decided to remain safely on the outside and closer to the mortal world.

Niño, is there something behind me?!
I'm not certain how far back the cave went (I didn't venture any further than a few feet in. I didn't want to risk the chance that I might be Faelorehn and get sucked through to the Otherworld without being properly prepared). Maybe someday I'll return and test that theory ;). For now I'll have to leave it up to my imagination (and yours) as to where the cave leads. One thing I know for certain, however: this cave and the waterfall next to it is definitely one of those magical, everyday places certain to give the imagination a good workout.

- J.E. Johnson

Here is a short clip of me talking a little bit about our outing.  And when I say a little bit, I mean it.  I'm not a big fan of speaking on camera, and I often shy away from such things.  However, I've decided it's something I should probably work on, so here is my first attempt at speaking about my books directly to you.  Yes, tis not the best (and it got a little cut off at the beginning, sorry!), but hopefully I'll improve over time :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Omnibus Extras and Faelorehn is FREE on Amazon!

Hello everyone,
     First, I'd like to announce that the ebook version of Faelorehn is now FREE from!  Lots of people have already discovered this and have been downloading their own copies.  Please feel free to take advantage of this opportunity and also to let all your friends know if you think that they might enjoy this trilogy.  I'm hoping this will help expand the Otherworld Trilogy's readership even further :).
    With that announcement over, here is one of the extras from the Omnibus Edition of the Otherworld Trilogy.  This particular excerpt is titled The Birth of a Trilogy and is just a commentary I wrote since this is the first trilogy I've actually completed (despite the fact that I've published three other books in a different series AND regardless of my desire to continue writing books that take place in the world of Eile . . .).
   With that being said, if you'd like to know a little more about how I came up with and created the stories for Faelorehn, Dolmarehn and Luathara, feel free to read on.  But just a word of warning, I do discuss a few aspects of Luathara that those of you who haven't read it yet might not want to know quite yet.  So, if you don't like spoilers, please wait and read this Omnibus extra after you've finished all three books.  For the rest of you, I hope you enjoy my rambling ;).
-J.E. Johnson

The Birth of a Trilogy

The creation of the Otherworld Trilogy started about a year and a half ago, but in all honesty, it may have even begun earlier than that.  Although I can safely say my writing career officially took off some six years prior, I must admit that the stories I now bring to life on paper (or on screen for those digital readers among us) have been accumulating for years.  However, the decision to actually sit down and write the Otherworld Trilogy is a rather recent development, in the grand scheme of things.
So, what prompted this decision you might ask, to set my Oescienne series aside for a while and dive, head first, into an entirely new world?  Perhaps I simply needed a break from my other books and around that time I'd been reading quite a few novels in the young adult, paranormal genre.  Many of these tales dealt with vampires, werewolves and the Fae (in some form or another, since, let's face it, the old stories can be obscure at times), and I realized that some of these authors were independently published and doing quite well with their paranormal series.  Yet, that wasn't the only thing that encouraged me to begin Meghan's story.  I also happened to have a wealth of knowledge at my disposal that would act as a nice backbone for a young adult paranormal series of my own, and it was dying to be put to use.
In a sense, I guess one could call my time spent taking Celtic and Norse mythology classes in college (an enterprise most people looking to build a useful degree might consider a pointless waste of energy) as time well spent.  While reading and picking apart such epics as Beowulf, The Tain, and the Mabinogi, to name a few, I managed to accumulate quite a bit of useful information, mythologically speaking, of course.  From there, all I had to do was gather up what I'd learned from my studies and add a dash of modern, teenage angst.  Easy, right?  Okay, that's stretching it a bit.  Some aspects of creating this series could be considered less painful than others, but it was, by no means, a walk in the park.  For example, I knew I wanted to incorporate the Celtic pantheon (since this is a lesser known set of gods than say Roman, Egyptian or Greek), and I wished to set the story in my hometown.  Well, at least the mortal world aspect of it.  Wrapping it all together into something readers might find believable and entertaining was the tricky part.
The characters, surprisingly, arrived early on the scene and were quick to establish themselves in my head.  Meghan and Cade have been with me so long, I can't honestly remember sitting down and fleshing out all their little details.  What I can say is that I always wanted Meghan to be someone who didn't quite fit in; someone who was a little lost in herself and unsure of who she truly was.  Even in Luathara she is still struggling with her self-identity, and I believe this is a common trait among most of us, especially at that age.  It took me a while to figure out who I was, and even now I'm discovering new outlooks on life.
Now with Cade's character I wanted an ideal male that someone like Meghan could look up to and admire, not just some pretty face with lots of charm.  Yes, Cade seems perfect on the outside, but the real draw is everything he is fighting within himself.  He's the son of Eile's hated warrior queen and a hero of old, and he has his own special magic to contend with.  Although his riastrad proves helpful on many occasions, to him it's a curse.  But the most significant flaw in Cade is his inner guilt and tendency to blame himself for much of the hardship from his past.  He's a troubled soul, and in all the books I've read, the troubled souls were always the ones to draw me in.  I wanted Cade to have this internal battle so that it would balance his outer appearance and teach him that, with the right amount of time and the right person to care about him, he could eventually heal.
Meghan and Cade may have been their own individuals when they entered the story line, but Meghan's mortal family, however, was inspired by some close friends of mine and their children (they have one girl and several boys, so that's where Meghan got all her brothers).  One interesting thing I should mention is that Aiden, at the very beginning of this series, was never meant to be Meghan's blood brother.  In fact, it wasn't until I started writing the second book, Dolmarehn, that that little plot twist revealed itself to me.  Interesting how my Muse decided from the beginning that Aiden should have dark hair like Meghan . . .  It's as if she knew before me how the story was going to play out.  Good thing I went with my Muse's suggestion because Aiden's role in book three is rather significant, not to mention the fact that he'll be needing his own series further down the line.
Developing the Otherworld itself and all its wonders (and horrors) was another challenge (and a joy).  As you already know, I had a whole mythological system to borrow from, and I did my best to make good use of it.  Making Cade the son of Cuchulainn and the Morrigan helped stir the pot, or rather the cauldron, a little.  In The Tain, the Morrigan does try to distract Cuchulainn by any means possible, including seduction.  As far as I know, she fails to outsmart the Celtic hero, but I thought it would be a great plot point if I were to take that tale and bend it just a little.  After all, so many of our folk legends have been twisted over time, why not this one as well?
One thing I worried about while writing the Otherworld books was getting the gods and goddesses just right, especially since some of them (Danua, the Dagda, the Morrigan), play such significant roles.  For their development, I merely went on my gut instinct and tried to picture them as I had in all my classes over the years.  The Morrigan became the selfish, heartless, violent queen I always imagined, but she still retained the fae beauty of Eile.  Danua, in my mind, needed to be a harsh, strong ruler, but beneath it all she also had to have a caring heart since in these books she plays the role of a mother.  The Dagda, by far, is my favorite among the Tuatha De kings and queens with regards to this series.  With him, I pictured a giant, affable man who's hospitality and exuberance is impossible to resist.  He acts as a good anchor for Cade, and later for Meghan as well.
Robyn, Tully, Will and Thomas took a little more time to develop.  Thomas and Will are loosely based on a combination of my high school friends, and I suppose Tully and Robyn are as well, to some degree.  I wanted Meghan to have the kind of friends who would appreciate her, given that she is an odd duck, and these four, being outcasts themselves, are a good fit for her.  Michaela West and Adam Peders are also directly inspired by real-life people, people I considered my tormentors when I was Meghan's age.  I think almost everyone has at least one or two people they can remember from their teenage years who made their daily lives miserable.  Luckily for us authors, we can use this to our advantage in creating an antagonist or two to help our struggling protagonist build up his or her character.
The characters for my books were definitely central to the plot, but creating the setting for Eile and the creatures that live there was one of the most time-consuming aspects of writing this series.  In the old Irish myths, any white creature with red ears is believed to be from the Otherworld.  For some reason, imagining all the animals in Eile as white with red ears seemed rather dull, so alas, I turned those particular creatures into spirit guides and let all the other, everyday animals of Eile retain their more natural colors.  The faelah were another fun creation.  I know, they are horrible monsters, but trying to come up with a large variety of half-rotting, walking dead beasts was a delightful challenge.  I was always thinking about what the Morrigan would come up with next to send after Meghan and Cade.  As for the world of Eile itself and the dolmarehn that act as gateways, well, those are straight from the Celtic past.  The ancient Celts believed in otherworldly things and they also believed that there were ways to cross into their otherworld.  Bodies of water and caves were common passageways, and since Ireland is still littered with dolmens, stone constructs that look like gateways, I decided to incorporate them as my own passages throughout Eile.
Once the Otherworld had been sorted out, deciding on the mortal world setting was a bit more daunting for me.  In the beginning, after deciding Meghan's family would live in my hometown of Arroyo Grande, I struggled with the decision on whether or not I should use the actual town names in my surrounding area.  When it came down to it, however, I chose to keep the names as they are and to invent my own names for stores and schools and such.  This way, I could give the reader a sense of an actual place while still leaving them to guess and wonder about some of the locations I mention.  So the places Meghan and her friends frequent are real.  The small town of Arroyo Grande does have an old village, and the swinging bridge where the Morrigan attacks Meghan in raven form really exists.  As a child, I remember visiting the bridge and peering down at the creek far below.  The shop where Meghan finds the book on Celtic myth is a wonderful little old post office where the store's patrons can find an eclectic mix of mystical fare.  The campsite Meghan and Cade and her friends visit at Lopez Lake is an actual site as well.  In fact, when writing that chapter of Luathara, I got online and pulled up a map of the campground and made sure I found a spot that matched the description in the book.  Let's just say I can be a stickler for the details at times.  And finally, across the highway from my house is a swamp of sorts (well, a swamp by California standards at least), and if you hike in deep enough, you'll find a small ravine where old, dead eucalyptus trees crisscross to impede your path.  I haven't found the dolmarehn at the end yet, but I'm still holding out hope that it's there somewhere.  Why did I go to all that trouble to incorporate actual locations in a fantasy series?  I suspect it has something to do with my tendency to find at least a small amount of wonder in so many of the places I visit.  I simply wanted to bring that wonder and awe to life for my readers.
The one thing I feel I struggled with the most while working on this series was deciding whether I wanted to write it in first or third person perspective.  In the beginning, Meghan was doing the talking, but when some of my friends read over the manuscript, they encouraged me to switch back to third person.  I had already written three other books in a completely separate series, all of them from the third person perspective, so for a while I seriously considered returning Faelorehn to this style of writing.  Funny thing was, however, Meghan wouldn't let me.  For a good two months I fought against her character until finally I realized that it wasn't so much my story, but Meghan's, and she wanted to tell it her way.  That's the interesting thing I've learned as an author.  We don't so much create stories and write them, but rather, we are the conductors of some other entity's creation.  Sometimes that's the only way I can explain how I come up with my ideas.  Sure, I've invented plenty of my own thoughts and plot twists, but sometimes the dialogue and story line and a character's personality come to me out of the blue.
In conclusion, I must admit that this has been one exciting, demanding year with regards to my writing.  I can't even begin to describe how fulfilling it is to have finished a series and to know that there are readers out in the wide world somewhere who have really enjoyed what I've worked so hard to bring to life.  Yes, Meghan's (and Cade's) story is over for now, but once a new world full of new characters makes itself known to me, it never really goes away.  I look forward to returning to the Otherworld and continuing with the stories of some of my secondary characters, and I also hope to be bringing new realms and new adventures to life as well.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my books, and please, if you ever get a chance, swing by my website ( and see what extras I've got posted and also feel free to leave me a note, send me a message, or sign up for my author's newsletter for new book releases and news.  Until next time, may you always find a good book to keep you company, and as always, happy reading.
-J.E. Johnson

Monday, January 7, 2013

Map of Eile

Hello readers,

I've spent the last two weeks getting Luathara ready for publication and also formatting the Otherworld Trilogy Omnibus Edition.  Like I said in my last post, I'll hold off on some of the other Omnibus extras for now, but I will, however, share the map of Eile with you.  This map is a bit different from my other maps, in that I took pictures of a painting I made some years back, then used text boxes in Word to splice it all together.  After I had the base, I cut and pasted sections of previous maps and drew up some symbols for the dolmarehn and the castles and such.  Anyways, I know maps aren't absolutely crucial, but I hope you all enjoy this one nonetheless.

-J.E. Johnson

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Otherworld Omnibus is here!

This is just a quick post to tell all of you about the release of the Otherworld Trilogy, Omnibus Edition!  It is available from and, and will be up on soon.  I think most of you have already purchased the other books separately, and yes there are extras in this one, but don't fret, I'll be posting them here one at a time.  I probably won't post the interview with Meghan and Cade or my commentary on the series itself for another couple of weeks or so (I want to give everyone a chance to read Luathara since there are some spoilers in those extras), but I plan on putting the map up early next week.
Here's the blurb I included with the Omnibus Edition in case anyone is interested:
This Omnibus Edition includes the entire Otherworld Trilogy, as well as a commentary from the author, an interview with the main characters, a map of Eile, and a short story from the author's other series, The Legend of Oescienne.

Books in the Otherworld Trilogy:
Faelorehn - Book One
Dolmarehn - Book Two
Luathara - Book Three

Meghan Elam's life may not have been perfect, but at least it was somewhere just outside the realm of normal. Of course, it only gets worse when Cade MacRoich shows up and saves her from a pack of bloodthirsty monsters. And Cade doesn't stop after playing the part of the redeeming hero. He informs Meghan that she is not human, but Faelorehn and immortal. With the help of her mysterious rescuer, Meghan gradually learns who she truly is and that danger waits for her around every corner, danger that only grows when she ventures into the Otherworld. Between a vindictive goddess nipping at her heals and a mother who has been keeping secrets from her, Meghan must learn her new place in a magical and terrifying world, a world she is now very much a part of.
Also, I want to let you guys know that I've priced Faelorehn for free on and I've let Amazon know that it's at that price (so hopefully they'll change it soon!).  Feel free to let your friends know!
-J.E. Johnson