Interview with Joyce Hertzoff

Multi-Genre Author

You have recently released the Ebook version of the fourth book in your series- would you like to tell us more about this, and the series in general?

The Crystal Odyssey series follows Nissa Day from Duke Alec’s manor, where she was a teenage girl who wanted to learn to use a sword and magic like the boys. Soon, she has to find her missing magic teacher. In book two, she set out with a group to find the source of two books the magic teacher had, and in the third book, on another journey across the sea to Fartek, where those books came from. Along the way she makes friends and is joined by her sister and two brothers. They learn about efforts to reinvent long-forgotten devices that were lost a thousand years earlier and why that happened. The fourth book in the series is about the journey home from Fartek. Of course, it’s not smooth sailing across the sea or an easy ride back to the Stronghold in Solwintor. The print version of the fourth novel, Homeward Bound, is now available.

Crystal Odyssey
Crystal Odyssey


Crystal Odyssey
Crystal Odyssey

Who would your three favourite authors be, but more importantly, why?

The first is Rumer Godden. She had a very distinctive voice for the narrators of each of her stories. One of my favorite recent books is Station Eleven and Emily St. John Mandel’s writing is magic to me. And I love the way N.K. Jemisin uses first, second and third person POVs. Amazing work. I could easily name a few more including Charlie N. Holmberg, Jeff Wheeler, Matthew Mather and Jasper J. Scott.

You write for children as well as adults- do you find it more difficult to write fiction for children? How is the process different?

The only difficulty is to keep the vocabulary appropriate for the ages I write for. Of course, I think some of what I’ve written could be classified as for middle grade students because the protagonist is in her teens, but the stories are appropriate for everyone. It’s tricky, especially because bookstores and Amazon want to categorize novels.

Staying with kids’ fiction for a moment, do you feel that illustrations are more important for the YA and middle-grade genres?

So far, I’ve only used illustrations for my middle-grade book, So You Want to be a Dragon. They worked for that. YA books, on the other hand, need a good cover but no other illustrations. As kids get older, they’re more interested in a good story than pictures.

I see you have a background in the sciences- how do you use this experience and knowledge in your writing? What are the challenges with working this into fiction, particularly fantasy fiction?

My science brain won’t allow me to write anything that isn’t scientifically correct, even the magic in my stories has to be as explainable as possible. This means I have to do quite a bit of research when it comes to areas I don’t know well.

You are conversant in many languages- do you use your linguistic skills to develop new languages or ways of speaking within your books?

I’d love to do that more than I have, actually. I throw in foreign words here and there, but mostly I get around it by ignoring language differences or including a means for everyone to understand each other. For example, in my Portal Adventure series, going through a portal allows the traveller to speak and understand the language on the other side. I understand the syntactical and grammatical rules of different languages, but coming up with words would be even harder than coming up with names for characters and places. In the Crystal Odyssey series, Nissa and her family speak Learic. When they first go to Solwintor and hear Solwinish spoken, it sounds enough different that they have to learn that language. The languages of Fartek are very different. I based one on Asian languages. They learned enough words in Fartekana, they could be understood by the natives.

Is there one single book in your life that stands out, or provided some kind of turning point, major change, or affected you so deeply in some way that it changed the course of your life?

Aside from the books by the authors I mentioned, I’m not sure which others to list. My shelf of favorite books isn’t as extensive as it would be if I hadn’t read many of them on Kindle.

Finally, what new projects do you have in the pipeline / on the horizon? Which are the most important works-in-progress right now?

I’m working on the sequel to A Bite of the Apple in my Portal Odyssey series. I need one more set of edits and then I’ll be ready to publish it. I also am working on a disaster series that starts with a train wreck but turns into a survival story that follows seven of the stranded passengers, as well as a series about a fourteen-year-old girl who is exiled from a town that was domed after fires and earthquakes to the west created hot winds carrying ash. She’s sent out into the wasteland. I can’t say more because that would be spoilers.