Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fantasy Creatures with Janalyn Voigt

Welcome fantasy author Janalyn Voigt to discuss her world of Faerhaven and the creatures who populate it. We hope this gives you an idea of creating rich creatures, fantasy or otherwise, in your own work.
The Not-Quite-Safe Fantasy Creatures of Tales of Faeraven
By Janalyn Voigt

Escape with me into a land where wild cats pace in forest shadow, long-tailed birds perch in strongwood trees, and horses spread graceful wings against the sky. Elderland sprang from my imaginings to form the world within the pages of DawnSinger and now Wayfarer, the first two books in my epic fantasy trilogy, Tales of Faeraven. I know my way around this place, but watch yourself. There are creatures of beauty here but also monsters. 
I will serve as interpreter and guide, for I understand Flecht, the wingabeast we ride. He is one of the winged horses trained for use by the high guard. His wild cousins in the impassable mountains elude capture to this day. At times they soar across the night sky. It is then that Flecht suffers strange yearnings to taste of freedom but only sometimes, for since his birth in the stables at the high hold of Faeraven he has known no other life. He wouldn’t welcome your pity, though. His bond of loyalty with Kai, the rider who loaned him to us, is something special.
It’s early morning, a time when welkes, birds of prey with leathery black wings, fly out from roosts inside a crumbling mountain. We should be far enough west to avoid them, for they don’t like to venture above the desert where smaller but fiercer birds called pyreks wait to attack any prey on sight. And prey, to a pyrek, is anything that moves. Fortunately, they don’t stray far from the desert or Elderland would be a far more terrifying place.
Fear of pyreks is why the company of protectors for Shae, DawnSinger’s heroine, took a roundabout route, traveling south before turning eastward. In one of Shae’s first experiences of the canyonlands, an ungainly whirlight with white feathers startled her by keeping pace alongside the wingabeast she rode. Whirlights are friendly birds with large beaks for harvesting fish from streams, but they are large and she had never seen one before.
Another bird of Elderland, this one rarer, is the kaeroc, the long-tailed bird of fantasy I mentioned in the beginning of our journey. Seeing one by chance (the only possibility since they are all wild) lightens the spirits. They are pure white and beautiful in flight. Kaerocs roost in high places like strongwood trees or in perches within ruined buildings. Any discussion of the birds of Elderland should not omit wingens and flitlings, and flamelings, small but colorful woodland birds that are a common sight in gardens and along waterways as they burst chattering from trees. All of these birds have been domesticated and can be kept in cages, flamelings in particular.
Many birds inhabit the forest where we’ve stopped to take lunch, but we should leave off describing them to discuss creatures of more immediate interest. I refer to jaggercats and shaycats, the most fearful denizens. Jaggercats are far larger and can do far more damage with their claws and teeth when they drop from an overhanging tree branch onto an unsuspecting victim. However, even a smaller  shaycat can wound to kill. Don’t worry, though. I’ve checked our meadow and as far as I can tell, it’s safe. Of course, we can’t always know when a bruin might want our lunch. It’s best to eat quickly so we can resume our journey. But even as we climb into Flecht’s saddle once more, a high-stepping stag enters the meadow and I hold Flecht back as we drink in the sight as it gazes at us from dark eyes. Elk dwell here, too, but won’t show themselves readily. We can count ourselves blessed for a glimpse of the stag.
I remember caution and urge Flecht into flight. As the great wings beat downward and the wingabeast launches upward, it occurs to me that I have not told you of the enchantment-spinning waevens  that leave poisoned wounds, the specters said to dwell in an ancient battlefield, or the shadow-wraiths that run at you wearing the faces of your own regrets. Ah, but the greatest enemy we face is not any of these.
The wind of our passing rushes across us as Flecht spirals into the sky. I turn the wingabeast’s head toward the high hold of Faeraven where we will be welcomed with a feast. There are other creatures in Elderland than the ones I’ve discussed. Hopefully you will visit again and learn of them.

About Janalyn Voigt
As children, my older brother and I would beg my father for bedtime stories, and he would give  them.  His deep voice rumbled against my ear at his chest as he unfolded stories of exotic places like Oz and Neverland. My imagination carried on with the tales even after he closed the book for the night. When eventually he stopped reading stories, I began creating my own.
Within a few years I’d become storyteller of my neighborhood. The other children would gather in a circle on our lawn while I invented stories to entertain them. No one, including myself, thought of this as anything unusual. It wasn’t until my sixth-grade teacher pointed out my ability to spin a tale that I and my parents took note. This is how at the age of twelve I decided to become a novelist. At it turns out, the fulfillment of that dream took a few more years than planned. 
Find out more about Janalyn, her closet writing office, and her books at the author website for Janalyn Voigt

DawnSinger: A headstrong young princess and the guardian sworn to protect her fly on winged horses to the Gate of Life above the Well of Light in a desperate bid to release the DawnKing, and the salvation he offers, into a divided land. Will they each learn in time that sometimes victory comes only through surrender?

WayFarer: When an untried youth ascends to the high throne of Faeraven, his mistakes tear kingdoms apart and allow just one chance at redemption. He must humble himself before the man he banished.

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  1. Aw, stuff like this is what makes me wish I wrote fantasy! Great post. Thanks for sharing, Janalyn!

  2. I love fantasy creatures and a list like this really invites readers into your world.