Kathie: Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for joining me on Fast Forward Friday today. I can’t wait for readers to meet Brida when THE LAST WINDWITCH is released on April 13/21 by HarperCollins. Can you give us a brief synopsis, please?
Jennifer: Thank you for the chance to chat! THE LAST WINDWITCH is about a hedgewitch’s apprentice named Brida who struggles with her uncooperative magic. After she encounters a herd of mythical stormhorses, she accidentally catches the attention of a wicked queen. While fleeing the queen’s Huntsman and his pack of Hounds and trying to escape the attention of Crow spies, Brida discovers the truth about her family, her magic, and her place in the world.
Kathie: This book was such a wonderful escape from reality, and I really felt as if I’d gone on a long journey when it was over. Did it take you quite a while to write it?
Jennifer: Well, to be honest I wrote it as an escape from reality for myself! Some of the ideas had been rattling around in my head for quite some time, but I was working on other things and just let them simmer. And then all at once I got horribly sick, my father-in-law passed away, and I had to put one of my beloved horses to sleep. It was one of the hardest years of my life. Sitting down to write Brida’s story felt like a chance to slip into another world of magic and hope, but I didn’t think anyone else would ever read it. I took my time, savoring every scene despite all the distractions of real life. The closer I came to the end, the harder it was for me to say goodbye to these characters – it definitely took a while for me to find the courage to actually finish it.
Kathie: I love your writing voice, and how you put so much detail into your setting and characters. Can you tell us about the inspiration for the stormhorses and their magic?
Jennifer: The stormhorses (and Brida’s pony, Burdock!) are directly inspired by my experiences with wild mustangs. I have adopted and gentled five wild horses and their unpredictable beauty and power always feels like magic to me. Once they’ve learned to trust me, they’re really not much different than any other horse. But that first touch, when they’re still wide-eyed and quick as the wind – there’s just nothing in the world like it. There’s something so elemental about them, so intimately and profoundly connected to the natural world, and that’s what made me think of the stormhorses. And Burdock is totally based on the antics of one of my mustangs named Ranger.
Kathie: It’s hard to pick a favorite supporting character, but I really loved Hush and the support she offered Brida. From which character did you learn the most?
Jennifer: Oh, this is a great question. I think every character taught me something slightly different. Bear taught me the value of constancy and courage. Bones taught me that heroes can be small and quick and overlooked, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hide strength. Hush proved that you don’t have to be loud to be heard, that everyone deserves the chance to express themselves, and that silencing someone is a terrible abuse of power. And of course Brida herself taught me that there’s no reason to force our talents to fit someone else’s pattern – we all have our own unexpected abilities, even if it takes courage to uncover them.
Kathie: What kind of research did you do for this story, and can you tell us one interesting thing you discovered?
Jennifer: Most of the research for this book was foundational – in large part it is based on folklore and ideas I’ve absorbed and adapted over a lifetime, or on my own knowledge of horses and animals. But I did look up “wheeled dog sleds” because I wanted a vehicle that the Hounds could pull through the woods even without snow. I knew that there were wheeled dog carts, of course, but that term didn’t fit the picture in my head. So I spent an amused afternoon watching videos of sled dog teams pulling wheeled dog sleds for training in the summer months and it was SO fun.
Kathie: To what sort of reader would you suggest I booktalk this story?
Jennifer: First, I would tell young readers not to be intimidated by the size of the book. It is long, but I think they’ll find that it isn’t hard to understand if they give it a chance, and they might enjoy the opportunity to go on a journey with Brida. But I think the readers who will really gravitate toward it are those craving an immersive adventure, who are maybe hungry for something more complex than younger middle grade books but who aren’t interested in or ready for the romance and reality of young adult stories. To me, it feels like an original fairytale that might appeal to kids who love magic, witches, and animals.
Kathie: I totally agree with you about it being a complex and immersive story. Do you have another book on which you’re working right now?
Jennifer: Yes! I’m currently working on something called Lark and the Wild Hunt, which shares similar themes about cooperation, the balance of power and the natural world, loyalty and courage. And it also includes magic horses, though these are quite different than the stormhorses!
Kathie: I can’t wait to hear more about it! Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?
Jennifer: I admit I’m not the best with social media, but I have a website at https://www.jenniferfrancesadam.com/ and I can be found on twitter at @JenFSAdam. I’m still trying to learn how to use instagram, but I’ve been having fun posting pictures of my current mare, my cats, and my works-in-progress. There I can be found at @jenniferfadam.
Kathie: Thanks so much for joining me today, Jennifer, and all the best with the release of The Last Windwitch.
Jennifer: Thank *you* for the great questions and the kind words about my book. I’m so excited to share Brida’s adventures with the world.
Jennifer Adam started writing stories when her grandmother showed her how to make books out of construction paper and staples. After living on both coasts, she married a farmer and settled down in the middle of the country. When she’s not riding her formerly wild mustang mare or paddling a kayak on a lake of swans, she’s probably hiking through trees or hiding in a library. Her house is full of books and cats and forgotten cups of tea. THE LAST WINDWITCH is her debut novel and she is represented by Sarah Landis at Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.