Joyce Reynolds-Ward is a speculative fiction writer who splits her time between Enterprise and Portland, Oregon. Her short stories have appeared in Well…It’s Your Cow, Children of a Different Sky, Steam. And Dragons, Allegory, River, and Fantasy Scroll Magazine, among others. Her books include Shadow Harvest, Alien Savvy, Netwalking Space, Pledges of Honor, Challenges of Honor, and Klone’s Stronghold. Projected 2019 book publications include Choices of Honor, Judgment of Honor, and Oregon Country. Joyce has edited two anthologies, Pulling Up Stakes (2018), and Whimsical Beasts (2019). Besides writing, Joyce enjoys reading, quilting, horses, skiing, and outdoor activities.
1.Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
I love stories, both reading and telling them. Fanfiction wasn’t a thing when I was a kid, but I used to tell myself stories about my favorite TV shows—The Name of the Game is the one that comes to mind first (a series featuring three revolving leads—a magazine publisher, a senior editor of one of his publications, and an investigative journalist for another publication) and some books (My Friend Flicka, The Black Stallion series, etc). I started writing at an early age because I wanted to tell my version of the stories I was reading.
Klone’s Stronghold was about three years in the making. It was inspired by sighting a road sign over a pass in Northeast Oregon’s Blue Mountains—Klone Lane. I immediately started thinking about Frankenstein’s Monster and what an excellent address Klone Lane would be for a mad scientist. Then I started thinking about Jane Eyre. The concept mutated from there.
2.What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
I came to science fiction and fantasy in my midteen years. I enjoy the freedom to explore big ideas in a different context from everyday life. For me, speculative fiction gives a lot of possibilities to look at tough concepts outside the boundaries of everyday life. Plus I can write a more equitable world than the one we live in—even in my works that have a male protagonist instead of my usual female leads. I have the freedom to say “So what if things happen this way?” instead of the constraints of this world.
3.Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
My main character, Reeni. When her sassy voice came to me I couldn’t help but run with it. She is one tough lady who overcame a challenging upbringing and disastrous marriage to strike out on her own. Going back to her abusive ex-husband or submitting to the will of her controlling parents, uncle, and former pastor are not options for her. Reeni is stronger than she realizes at first, but as time passes, she becomes more aware of her own strength.
4.If I were stuck in a room with your main character, what would we be doing?
Dancing! Singing! Having fun! Reeni loves jam band music and having a good time. But we might also be talking shop about the challenges of teaching slow-developing, long-lived cryptid construct students who don’t process information like humans. I think Reeni would have some interesting insights to share about teaching and learning.
5.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
Don’t hide that you are an ambitious young high school writer. That’s my biggest regret now that I am much older, because I think that more doors would have opened to me much sooner. I was sending stories to the big publishers in high school but I never said the magic words “I am a high school student.” Part of the choice I made then was an arrogance that I could compete with adults, and part of it was that I didn’t want to admit to being young. That would have made a huge difference, I think.
6.Let’s talk about tools. Do you have a word processor that you would tell us to use? Is there a certain computer that has become your favorite? What do you look for in a keyboard? What would you absolutely have to have if you were to sit down and write your next book?
I am absolutely a Mac girl, and I use Word. I used to use WordPerfect and miss many things about it, especially the Reveal Codes function which is much more thorough than the Word version. But Word has my heart because of the Track Changes function which pops up comments next to the text and does not use strikethrough (at least in my version).
Comfort is key for me. I use an old wired Mac keyboard because the wireless keyboard for my ancient iMac just was too lightweight. Ironically, the same keyboard in my MacBookPro works just fine.
I like my current laptop. I prefer a light but still substantial laptop. I wish that I could find another tablet like the old Asus I used to have, with a detachable keyboard. I took that tablet out to the woods and it not only had a great battery life but it was indestructible. Alas, the touch screen finally got too old to use easily and it just plain became obsolete.
For me, being able to take my computer out to the woods without worry is important. I am nervous about my MacBookPro in that respect, and I want a real keyboard, not a virtual one, that can be easily used on a lap or lap desk outside, which rules out many tablets. I can’t work very well with a touch screen because I do go back and edit what I write a LOT (even Facebook posts!), and I want a wired mouse. Right now I just don’t see what I would use available anywhere, alas.
7.Describe your workplace.
I have several places where I write. My office is in the smallest bedroom in our house, with a small north-facing window that gives me a view of sky and the top of our Jeffrey Pine tree. I often set up a card table when I’m plotting and blocking out a book so I can spread out, or I set up an easel with a roll of paper to brainstorm.
I will also write on my front porch on summer and fall mornings. I have a lovely view of the Wallowa Mountains (in Northeastern Oregon, USA) and our quiet street. It’s a Craftsman-type porch and it’s a great place especially when I am brainstorming. I can look over at our bird feeder while thinking and watch our birds.
But I will also often write out in the woods while my husband cuts wood, or just hang out there. Right now I am sitting on the back deck of Wallowa Lake Lodge while attending Summer Fishtrap Writers’ Conference, listening to performances from the Youth Showcase.
8.You have a chance to hang out with any literary character for one day. Who would it be and what would you do?
Cordelia Vorkosigan from Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan books. Of course, we’d go shopping! Heads of our enemies not included…. Seriously, I think I could learn a bit about weaponry from the good Captain. Maybe I’d come away with a good sword cane.
9.If we reach beyond the written word into visual media, and you could choose how your story is consumed, would you want a television show, a movie series, or anime to tell the story of the book and the world it takes place in?
I think that Klone’s Stronghold would translate well into a movie series. I’ve yet to see an anime portrayal that would do justice to Reeni’s characteristics. A short-term TV series might work as well.
10.Do you have any regrets about the story you told? Would you make any changes to its telling or did you capture exactly what you were looking for?
I am really happy with Klone’s Stronghold. I think any changes I would make would be to bring Reeni’s family more into the book, along with more details about her life with Karl. I would want to show more of the abusive Christian fundamentalist upbringing she endured, and why her parents left Hinduism to become Pentecostals. I know why they did it—escaping their genetic heritage—but I don’t know that I really did enough with it. I’d also expand the skeevy history of Pastor Ananda. I wanted to relate his forced conversion of electric elementals to some of the ugly stuff done to people of diverse sexualities to force them back into society’s traditional mold. I’d also bring out Reeni’s bisexuality more. And we would see more of Grandma Deva (who I suspect is the source of a LOT of Reeni’s sassiness). I would also bring out more of the setting.
11.What are the things you’re most proud of in this book or series?
Can I just say that I love my lead character? Seriously. Reeni is a badass but also sensitive. She fights for her students, even if it threatens the job she needs to escape her abusive ex. She fights back and fights for those she loves. She is capable of quick diagnosis and remediation of her special education students.
12.What element of this story can we expect in your future work?
The tension between various supernaturals and the opposition of fundamentalist Christianity toward supernaturals may play a part in future work. This loosely fits into another, unpublished world I’ve been puttering around with, but haven’t gone too far along into. I have a tentative sequel in mind, with Reeni ending up serving as a mentor and rescuer to others who are going through similar issues that she did.
13.Do you have a celebration that you embark on when you finish a book, be it a release party, a trophy, or even a shot of whiskey?
I’m more likely to go do something fun outside, whether it’s riding my horse, hiking with my husband, or going on a cruise. My writing process tends to be intense and tightly focused (deadlines center around things my husband wants to do such as travel, or conventions, or other events that will take me away from a work in progress).
Find Joyce Reynolds-Ward online:
Main website (her blog)