Tavern Chat: J.E. Hannaford


Today I am delighted to be bringing the Tavern Chat back to the blog, albeit in a slightly abbreviated form due to scheduling conflicts on my end. And today, I am welcoming J.E. Hannaford the author of the Black Hind’s Wake Duology (The Skin & The Pact), and of the upcoming Gates of Hope which is the first book in theAulirean Gates trilogy.

As some of you may have seen, Gates of Hope has been hit by Amazon issues and lost it’s preorders, so please do keep checking either twitter or the author page on amazon for updates on the release and give this book all the love and support on it’s release. (I mean how can you resist, it has the best boy on the cover!)


Book Summary:

The Watcher shattered the Gates.

Now hope must arise from the shards.

Darin and Suriin enter the Black Palace of the So’Dal, at a time when monstrous Edgelands creatures return to the skies over Caldera.
After exhibiting magical traits thought lost, Darin is drawn into a secret society charged with keeping the Watcher’s secrets. Now he must balance learning to control his magic, caring for Star, his new companion, and finding a way to sustain the Howlers’ power for long enough to protect Caldera from the predatory creatures of the Edgelands.

Before she arrived at the Black Palace Suriin broke the ancient rules of the So’Dal to save the life of the person she loves the most. As her search for a cure delves deeper under the mountain, is there any price she won’t pay?

On the outer moon of Tebein, Elissa’s newly awakened magic will endanger her home and family. Now she must race to find help for those she leaves behind as she escapes those who want her, and all those like her, dead.

One wrong decision by any of them could return legends to life and end five hundred cycles of peace. Will they find the solutions they need in time?

In the acknowledgements you talk about Gates being your first work, back before The Black Hind’s Wake Duology. What has it been like returning to this project after working on and releasing a very different series? 

It’s been a little strange and quite emotional at times. My writing has come a long way, and there are a number of chapters in Gates of Hope which are on at least their tenth version, The story hasn’t changed, but the way its presented has. My writing skills are in a very different place than they were when I first built this world. It’s far less grey – at least outwardly. It’s also different writing entirely human protagonists. Gates is epic fantasy with very few things in it that are familiar to us, yet have to be familiar to the characters. So almost the opposite situation to The Skin.

And how different is it writing epic fantasy, than folklore, post-apocalyptic fantasy?

Ahh, now there’s a huge difference between world-building and world-researching with added fantasy. Aulirean Gates are wide ranging books, covering a continent on a planet in the Aulirean system plus its two moons, Mythos and Tebein. Aside from the scope of the world building, the plants and the animals needed to populate three plants is huge. There is a lot of hidden work behind the readers view that makes it work. The other big difference is in the tone. I am very deliberate in trying to create a lyrical tone in Black Hind’s wake, to help build the feeling through the selkie’s eyes.  In Gates of hope the characters and story required something simpler, that would carry the  different characters towards their destination with a little less sense of wonder. After all, this is their world, even if it is not quite as familiar as any of them first thought.

Have you gone about the process of publishing any differently this time around? And are there any lessons from publishing your first duology, that you would share with other writers?

Well, you say that as I fire-fight an Amazon linked drama. I aimed to finish much earlier, to get ARC out to reviewers earlier too. I would say, that having more time between finishing, and the sale date gives time for last minute changes, to be less last minute. That you need to trust that your readers are out there, even if you may take a little while to find them.

Where did the inspiration for Gates come from? Are there any books or writers specifically that you feel influenced it?

I was reading a lot of fantasy series that relied heavily on battles, lasting many books and fighting. Now I know there is a huge market fore that, but I was a little sword fought out. So I started to think about what I wanted to see in a book, what type of creatures and  relationships I felt I didn’t see enough of.  And so Staramine – who carries a little of two of my dogs in him, and the relationship between Suriin and her father were immediate additions for me. The addition of Elissa a woman around the age I was when I started to write this book was also a push back, in looking for older females.  I am not as conscious of authors who inspired Gates as I am with Black Hind, I think in part because I was trying to move away from a lot of what I was reading, whilst keeping somethings familiar enough to a reader.

Gates has some wonderful worldbuilding and critters in it. What was your favourite part of the world to write, and is there a particular element that you’re looking forward to the readers getting to know?

I adore the moonhounds, I want one. I also very much enjoy writing just about every environment on Tebein. Probably one of my favourite bits Is a part I can’t discuss for the spoilers it brings. But, it involves a boat journey.

There are three main POV characters – Suriin, Darin and Elissa. Which was the hardest to write and why? And who was your favourite to write?

Elissa was the easiest. She remains my least problematic character to write in book 2. Her route, and story is absolutely clear to me, bar a few small things I look forward to finding out. In many ways Darin has been the hardest. He has a very long road ahead of him, and establishing him as I wanted him to start out – to slowly let him grow into his own skin, without him feeling like everything happened to him, was a bigger challenge.

What does the future hold for you? Gates of Hope is obviously out this week but are there any other ideas you’re tossing around or projects you’re working on?

I’m about halfway through Gates of Regret, with the aim of having it out by the end of the year. I do have a small novella I’m quietly working on occasionally, and a joint project planned for later in the year with another author.

I’m always tossing around ideas for new Black Hind books too. There will be more in the future.

I know you’ve just been at Eastercon, but will you be at any other conventions this year for people wanting to grab books from you in person?

I will be at Bristol Con for definite. I’ll probably take a signing table rather than a dealer one there. Just look for the scales and the faint aroma of whisky and coffee trailing after me. 

[As a side note, you can also also order signed books and merch from her Ko-fi shop!]

What would be your beverage of choice in a Tavern?

Ahh, you read my mind. I suppose that would be a whisky, with a single cube of ice if its particularly peaty. What’s in my hip flask? Danzy Jones Welsh whisky liqueur.

Writer of words, builder of worlds. J E Hannaford is powered by coffee, dragons and whisky. She teaches Biology in the real world and invents fantasy beasts to populate her own.

‘I have always loved books. I was the kind of child who thought they were reading sneakily, while my parents tiptoed past the cracks of light from under my bedroom door. Nights passed in a blur of words as I vanished willingly into their pages, lost for days, only coming up for air to deal with the real world when it called.

My imagination has always been sparked by my cultural mythology. From the creatures of The Mabinogion to modern folk stories, I devoured them all. I have a natural affinity for dragons too, after all, every sunset is merely the Welsh Dragon calling me home.

I fell in love with biology too. Marine biology to be specific. The weird and wonderful animals on this world and the legacy and hints of its previous occupants are endlessly fascinating.

All these things – these dreams and fascinations – were bound to merge one day, finding their blending in the Black Hind’s Wake series. I invite you to submerge yourself in a world filled with characters I’d both want to meet, and be afraid to, with deep, dark places, hidden secrets and wondrous creatures. May my worlds and characters find a home in your heart, the way so many others live in mine.’

Social Media:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


A massive thank you to Jenny for taking the time to answer my questions, and if you need further encouragement to check out Gates of Hope you can find my review here.

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