Exclusive Interview with Lisa Hendrix
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
This is always the hardest question!
I fell in love with romance years ago, thanks to Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Wolf and the Dove — which sounds like it should be about shapeshifters, but isn’t. After inhaling every historical romance I could get my hands on, I found myself imagining my own stories. Eventually I got the confidence to try to write one down.
But a few years later, I tried another one that sucked a lot less. And then I sold one, and haven’t looked back.
As for the details: I have a terrific computer nerd husband, two mostly-grown theater kids, a black cat, and a couple of fish. We all live in southern Oregon, where we broil in the summer and mold in the winter.
Can you tell us about the Immortal Brotherhood series?
In the mid-800s, a crew of Viking warriors was sent to find a rumored treasure. Unfortunately, the treasure was guarded by a powerful sorceress named Cwen, and when the Viking leader, Brand, killed her son in the ensuing battle, she spun a terrible, vengeful spell against him and his surviving men. She cursed them to be were-beasts, each man taking on the animal form of his spirit companion and shifting back and forth between man and beast at dawn and dusk. And to make them suffer even more, she made them immortal.
Each man is a different beast, and depending on the natural habits of their animal, some are human by day and beast by night, while the others are human by night and beast by day.
Will there be a werewolf novel in the future?
Absolutely. In fact, you’ll meet Jafri as a secondary character in Immortal Champion. His story is still a couple of books away, though.
Here is the full list of animals/men:
Eagle (Ivar/Ivo, Immortal Warrior)
Lion (Steinarr, Immortal Outlaw)
Bull (Gunnar, Immortal Champion, coming January 2011)
Stallion (Torvald, Immortal Defender, also coming in 2011)
Hart (similar to an elk, Kjell)
How does the Immortal Brotherhood series differ from other novels about shapeshifters?
Most paranormal romances seem to portray shape shifting as a positive thing. The shifters are often a separate species. They run in packs, shift at will, maintain their consciousness within the beast, and generally seem to enjoy their enhanced abilities or senses.
My concept harkens back to the more traditional, horror-story view of werewolves. They are cursed. Changing is involuntary and extremely painful. They retain limited or no awareness while in their animal forms, and since some of them are dangerous creatures, they run the risk of harming others. As a result, they tend to stay far away from people–even each other. They are the ultimate tortured heroes, as you can imagine, and lonely beyond comprehension. Really, really lonely…
Also, my warriors don’t live a thousand years and then all find love within a few months, or even a few years. It takes them centuries. Ivo’s story takes place in 1096/7, Steinarr’s in 1290, Gunnar’s in 1407-1415, and so on through the years, ending finally with Brand, who has to live until the present day. Poor Brand.
Where did you get the idea for this series?
Brand came to me full blown in a dream — a thousand+ year-old Viking warrior who was a bear, living in the modern world. I had to figure out how he’d gotten into that fix, so I started researching, and when I discovered the Viking concept of fylgjur, it all came together. A fylgja (the singular form of the word) is a companion spirit, a bit like a totem, which follows a person through his or her life. It usually appears as an animal, but when it appears as a woman, the person’s death is near.
Anyway, once I knew about fylgjur, I knew how Cwen had worked her curse. I sorted out the rest of the crew. By the time I sent the initial proposal to my editor, I had the synopsis and chapter for the first book, plus a concept synopsis for the entire series and one paragraph outlines of several of the books.
A lot has changed, though. When I started, I thought Brand was the key to the entire series. It turns out the whole thing belongs to that rascal Ari, who is a skald (poet/chronicler) and unwilling seer.
Ok, here’s a question I ask all authors I interview: I’ve noticed that most of the authors I follow on Twitter talk about the music they’re currently writing to. What kind of setting/atmosphere do you find most conducive to your writing?
Mostly something neutral. The music can’t have understandable lyrics (I sing along instead of writing) and for the most part needs to fade into the background. For the first three books in the series, I used a playlist I call “Medieval-ish.” Some of those tunes are genuinely medieval, but some just have the feel, like Windsor Castle’s Burning (from the album Keystone Passage, by David Michaels and Randy Mead). As I work on Immortal Defender, I’m using an Elizabethan playlist (Edward Martin, Art of the Lute in Renaissance France, and Sting’s John-Donne-inspired lute album, Songs from the Labyrinth, among many others).
However, I use music only if I’m working at home or someplace else quiet. If I’m working out in public, I mute the background music and chatter with a rainstorm loop. The sound of rain works as white noise and is what my warriors, out alone in the damp English forests, would be hearing much of the time.
For those who’ve read Immortal Warrior — Merwyn had her own tune: Ready for the Storm (by Déanta, from the Celtic folk album, Her Infinite Variety). I played it over and over, the chorus conjuring Merwyn’s spirit and courage perfectly as I wrote that tough scene near the end. Those who’ve read Warrior know which scene I’m talking about.
And in Immortal Champion, one of the songs Gunnar and Eleanor dance to is Estampie, as played by the Oxford Girls Choir Medieval Ensemble. You can find it and other free downloads of OGC music here (it’s the second Estampie under the “medieval” heading).
Who’s your favorite fictitious werewolf (other than your own)?
Well, I adore Lupin from the Harry Potter books, of course. But my first love is Tony Rivers, as played by Michael Landon in I Was a Teenage Werewolf (yes, that Michael Landon). He was a rebel-werewolf without a cause, turned from normal teenage angster into tortured werewolf angster by a shrink with mad scientist leanings. Everyone ends up dead, including Tony and some poor girl in the gym. So tragic. My friend Brenda and I used to stay up late on Friday nights to watch Creature Features (horror movies), and I’m pretty sure that’s where I met Tony the first time. Delicious.
If werewolves were discovered to exist today, do you think our society would accept them or try to destroy them?
Our society has enough trouble dealing with the relatively minor differences between human beings. If a werewolf turned up on Main Street, you can bet the silver bullets would be flying.
What is your favorite werewolf book/movie/show?
I don’t really have to pick just one, do I?
Movies: IWATW, as above and The Wolf Man with Lon Chaney Jr. (again with the Creature Features). For the lighter side of teen-shifting, I enjoy Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf. Camp classics, all.
In books, Vivian Arend writes some ultra-sexy werewolves — check out Wolf Games.
And for other animal shifters, I love Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series.
Tell our readers why they should check out your books – in 3 words: (bwahaha)
Hot. Hunky. Vikings.
or (if you count a URL as a single word…)
Excerpts at http://lisahendrix.com/books
And finally, what other projects are you currently working on? Any goodies we should watch out for?
It’s going to be all Immortal Brotherhood for a while. Like I said, each of the nine books is set in a different era. That means a lot of research before I can even start a book.
So be patient and each of the guys will have his turn. Brand last, of course. Poor Brand…
One of the writers for werewolves.com, as well as vampires.com.