If you’ve followed my site for very long, you know I love books and authors. And I’m especially fond of fantasy.
Although POISONOUS WHISPERS isn’t a traditional fantasy romance, it does have fantastical elements.
Today, I’ve invited author Jana Begovic to talk to you about her debut novel.
Jana, thanks for coming today. Reincarnation plays an important part in POISONOUS WHISPERS. How did you become interested in this idea?
Thank you, Sharon for your excellent questions and willingness to feature my novel. The first time I found myself mesmerized by the concept of reincarnation was when my uncle, who is a psychiatrist, told a story about a patient whom he’d hypnotized, and who under hypnosis started speaking in a language he couldn’t recognize. He recorded her and later discovered she was speaking ancient Greek even though she never studied any foreign language and had never visited Greece. My interest in the topic continued through my reading of books on Buddhism, but it culminated with my discovery of Dr. Brian Weiss’ books on past life regression therapy. His work was the main inspiration for Poisonous Whispers.
Jana, you are from Europe and this novel takes place in several European countries. Have you visited all the places in your novel?
The only place mentioned in my novel that I have not visited is Ireland. I have always felt drawn to that country, to its music, dance and lore, and it is an attraction I simply cannot explain. It is a seductive thought to think I may have lived there in one of my past lives.
Your settings are quite real. Readers want to know: is it difficult to translate the culture and ambiance of a place onto the page?
It is difficult to translate the culture and ambiance into fiction if you have not lived in that place. I believe the portrayal may stay somewhat superficial as there is so much invisible culture, which is difficult to convey unless it is a part of who we are.
When we first talked about your novel, you said it didn’t fit neatly into the romance genre. What would you say to compel readers of traditional romances to try out your novel?
I would say that most readers would agree that the universal themes of love, romance, loss, heartbreak, suffering etc. cannot and should not be confined within the rigidly defined boundaries of any genre. Readers want quality books, novels that will give them reading pleasure and perhaps, teach them something new, or make them reflect on their own life and experiences.
By breaking out of the traditional romance parameters my novel aims to offer a multi-layered story, with characters that are flawed, like we all are, characters that make bad and morally dubious choices, suffer profound heartbreak as consequence, and become better versions of themselves along the way.
I also believe very few readers are strictly devoted to one genre exclusively, and are willing to venture out and try something different. In short, I’d tell them, please give it a try, and I promise you will not be disappointed. Like ice cream, romance comes in many flavours, from commercial to literary, traditional to less traditional.
I decided to feature you here because I see this novel as a fantasy/paranormal romance (and I’m more about fantasy than romance around here). What elements of fantasy are present in this story? How would you interest fantasy readers in your novel?
Fantasy elements in Poisonous Whispers are the supernatural forces, or malevolent gods who play with the heroine’s fate across several incarnations. She hears their voices in her dreams and in a state of wakefulness and wonders if we humans are the objects gods use for their own amusement. In one of her past incarnations, the heroine also has special powers she uses to protect herself. Readers who are mostly interested in fantasy may not find enough of it in Poisonous Whispers, unless they consider reincarnation as part of fantasy.
You have an academic background. What inspired you to write a fiction novel?
I’ve always been intoxicated with the written word, and I’ve always been an avid reader. My decision to pursue literary studies was an easy and natural one. My writing attempts began in elementary school. I wrote a Western story, then a collection of poems and fables. I always wanted to write a novel, but never trusted my ability to write one.
My inspiration for writing novels comes mostly from the stories friends and acquaintances tell me. I am fascinated both by storytelling and human stories. For that reason, my novel is full of sub-plots.
There are many historical elements in your novel. Did you do research on those time periods? Why did you choose the times you did?
I researched the historical periods trying to reflect them as credibly as I could. For example, I researched witch trials in Ireland and opera in Italy. Because the novel describes past life incarnations, I selected the times in which the heroine could have lived before her current incarnation. I selected Ireland and England because I find both countries highly alluring, and I chose Italy because I’ve visited it many times and could never get enough of it. I’d like to mention that most of my research was spent on the psychology of adultery, which is one of the main themes of the book.
Now that you’ve published a novel, what’s next for your writing career? Any hints about what you’re working on now?
I have written two short stories and am writing a third one. I have started a sequel to Poisonous Whispers, in which I plan to show what happened from the perspective of other characters. Most of us have heard about the Rashomon effect, that is, everyone’ perception is subjective. In Poisonous Whispers the reader sees the events through the eyes of Leandra, the heroine. In the sequel, the male protagonists will give their account of the same events. I also plan to write another scholarly article based on a project I have been leading as part of my regular job.
Thanks so much, Jana.
Readers, do you have questions for Jana?