• Featured Novel: 'Faelorehn' by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson


    Faelorehn is the first Fantasy novel of The Otherworld Trilogy by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson. The novel has an intriguing premise:

    Meghan Elam has been strange her entire life: her eyes have this odd habit of changing color and she sees and hears things no one else does. When the visions and voices in her head start to get worse, she is convinced that her parents will want to drag her off to another psychiatrist. That is, until the mysterious Cade MacRoich shows up out of nowhere with an explanation of his own.

    Cade brings her news of another realm where goblins and gnomes are the norm, a place where whispering spirits exist in the very earth, and a world where Meghan just might find the answers she has always sought.

    Interview with Jenna Elizabeth Johnson



    What themes are portrayed in your novel?

    Oh, there are several themes in Faelorehn, the most dominant being good versus evil, as well as themes of friendship, family and love. My use of Otherworldly creatures (both malevolent and benevolent) lend some magic and horror to the mix as well. With regards to meanings, I would have to admit that symbolism plays an important role as well, though some of the symbolism I use may only be obvious to those familiar with Celtic myth (Celtic enthusiasts may be able to guess at what might be happening later on down the line based on the characteristics of certain characters and even the animals that show up). As for messages, I hope to portray a more open and welcoming view towards paganism, a word that has engendered negative, and often misunderstood, connotations over the centuries. Although its presence isn't very strong in this first book, there is an underlying, spiritual connection to nature that was common among the ancient Celts. As for other messages? There is one other. Meghan, and even her youngest brother Aiden and the male protagonist, Cade, are outcasts among their peers. As a creative introvert, I know what it's like to float around the fringes of normal society and trying to fit in when I was too young to realize that it was okay to be different. I hope that Meghan and Cade can be an example for those who feel the same.


    Did you have to explain a lot about Celtic mythology in your books for the readers who are not familiar with the subject?

    I tried to give some basic details about Celtic mythology in Faelorehn, but not so much so that the myths overwhelm Meghan's story. Another thing I should mention is that although the fae element is very popular with regards to the paranormal genre, the material I'm drawing from centers more on the Tuatha De Danann and the gods and goddesses of the ancient Celts. I've read a few young adult and adult paranormal novels that focus on the Seelie and Unseelie (the light and dark fae), but my focus is more shifted towards the Irish lore pertaining to characters such as Lugh, the Morrigan and the Dagda. I hope that this approach encourages the reader to be both curious and satisfied with the results.

    Is there a romance involved in the plot? Tell us about that.

    There is a romance involved in the plot, though in the first book it is mostly suggested and mostly felt on Meghan's side (especially since we are only hearing her thoughts). Of course, this theme only intensifies as we get further into the series. Although I have written three books previous to the Otherworld Trilogy, this is the first time I've purposely set out to make romance a strong theme, a theme I plan on keeping for my future young adult and new adult novels.

    Tell us about the world of Faelorehn

    My novel is set primarily in our world, in my home town of Arroyo Grande, California to be exact. When I first started writing Faelorehn I considered renaming the town but not changing any of its features, but in the end I hoped that perhaps one day my books would be read and enjoyed by the locals and maybe even those who were somewhat familiar with the area. It is also my way of immortalizing a place that is, like many places around the world, constantly changing and growing. The Otherworld, or Eile, will play a bigger part later on in the series, and that is directly based on the Celtic Otherworld (or at least my interpretation of it). The ancient Celts believed in a world separated from our own and so my version of this Otherworld resembles Ireland and Scotland and contains elements found in many of the old Irish myths and legends. There are immortal gods and goddesses who live in this land, and much of the imagery and symbolism found in the old tales exist there as well.

    Did you base some of the characters in your story from the people of Arroyo Grande, California?

    Yes, Meghan's group of friends from high school (at least some of them) were inspired by my own friends from high school. Her two enemies are also loosely based on the people who often singled me out and were unkind to me. With regards to your question about Arroyo Grande, I most definitely include scenes that take place in well-known areas here in my hometown. In one part of the book, Meghan and her friends go to the Halcyon Store, an old post office that also doubles as a mystical gift shop. In another scene, Cade and Meghan go to Shell Beach, a favorite location of mine. Later, she and her friends visit the Arroyo Grande Village, a quaint section of our town that has been preserved to look the way it did in the mid 1900's. Finally, the swamp that Meghan sometimes travels through on her way to school is located within walking distance of my house. So far I have received one email from a local reader who picked up Faelorehn, not knowing it was set on the Central Coast. The reader immediately knew that I must be from the area because she recognized many of the locations I mentioned above. My goal is to develop a more local readership and hopefully get the readers of the Central Coast excited about the Otherworld Trilogy. I started this weekend by attending the Arroyo Grande Strawberry Festival, where I sold books and spoke to many of the people passing by. I had a very positive experience and people seemed both intrigued and happy to hear that there was a young adult paranormal series set in the area.

    What inspired you to write this novel?

    A few factors inspired the Otherworld Trilogy. Before writing these books, I was working on a middle grade series (which has currently been set aside), and at some point my other story ideas started pushing their way to the front of my mind. I had read Rick Riordan's Lightning Thief and started thinking about creating a young adult series that would capture the essence of Celtic mythology (since that particular branch of mythology isn't as popular as others). While I was in college I took several Celtic and Norse mythology classes and thought it would be a great challenge to somehow incorporate those into a paranormal series. What really got me working on the actual writing of the books, however, was Amanda Hocking's Switched. After reading her novel, and learning she was a very successful independent author, I was determined to go ahead with my project. Miss Hocking's novel incorporates the changeling myth in her books, a legend that is prevalent in the Norse tales I read in college.
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