Friday, August 16, 2013

Know Your Hunt to Read Authors: J.M. Ney-Grimm

After a wonderful start to the KYHTRA series last week (thanks to Bruce Fottler again; you can see his interview here), Hunt to Read is proud to welcome another accomplished author into the spotlight this week: J.M. Ney-Grimm.

J.M. was one of HTR's first authors--she writes fantasy novels and stories set in her North-lands world (think David the Gnome meets Final Fantasy VII).

We talked with J.M. about her experience as a game designer, her North-lands universe, and which actress might have a leg up in her next movie adaptation. Enjoy!


Check Out (and Rate) J.M.'s Book on Hunt to Read:

Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us, J.M.! You certainly have a diverse background and set of skills, including some time as a designer at a game company. Tell us a little bit about that...

Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE) brought me on board because of my architecture degree. They needed more artists to create maps of Middle-earth and floor plans for castles! ICE was a small company, so opportunity abounded. I drew more dungeons and gryphon lairs than I can count, but I also learned how to design book interiors and wrote adventures about mer-people and unicorns. Dream job!

Have any of the skills from game design come in handy writing your stories?

Building the foundations for an exciting RPG adventure is nearly identical to dreaming up the foundations for a satisfying story. The setting must be realer than real, the motivations convincing and interesting, and the events absorbing. You could say that writing Middle-earth and Narnia RPG adventures taught me my trade as a fiction writer.

The world of the North-lands, where your stories are set, is unique for a lot of reasons. How did you come up with the concept for such a cool place?

It all started with my characters. First there was Kellor, cursed and crazy with it, trapped in darkness when I encountered him in my imagination. Then came Mandine, his even crazier step-mother. The question words how and why and where unearthed ever more of my world and its lands and people. Of course, the plot for my novel Troll-magic sprang from the old Norse folk tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon. I read the tale in a 1914 edition with gorgeous illustrations by Kay Nielson. His bizarre art nouveau landscapes inspired the northernmost of my North-lands: Silmaren. The ripples spread outward from there.

Be honest: have you ever thought of casting a Hollywood actor or actress in the role of one of your characters? Which  one and why?

Liv Tyler is my rainbow spirit in Rainbow’s Lodestone. Her portrayal of Arwen in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy captures exactly the otherworldly essence of my protagonist.

Who are some of your favorite writers/greatest literary influences?

I adore the work of Lois McMaster Bujold. Her world building, especially in The Curse of Chalion and The Sharing-knife, is sublime. And her characters! I want Dag and Fawn and Kareen and Cazaril for my best friends!

Robin McKinley is my other awe-inspiring role model. She builds a new world for each story, and I want to visit all of them. Plus Beauty and the Beast, my favorite fairy tale, was also hers. Her stories blend the lushness of fey dreams with characters who feel like they could be me.

The day – if it ever arrives – when a reader describes one of my stories as a blend of Bujold and McKinley will be my heaven on earth.

Let's talk a little bit about your new story, Skies of Navarys, which is featured on Hunt to Read. Can you tell us a bit about it without giving too much of the story away?

Skies of Navarys
was born from Rainbow’s Lodestone. In Rainbow, there run these lines: “It was anything but innocuous. There were three like it, rumored to have been forged by the master smiths of Navellys…artifacts preserved by the renegade Palijon Clisto who fled the disaster…”

I wanted to know more about those artifacts, the lodestones, and more about the rogue Clisto.

Along the way, I met Liliyah, an intuitive 13-year-old who studies energea, the basis of magic in my North-lands. And Mago, her school friend with a father prone to irrational rage.

I also discovered the first case of troll-disease, the “infection” that creates the trolls plaguing my North-lands. (They’re malicious impish Scandinavian-style trolls, not brutish and big Middle-earth ones.)

Plus airships! Nothing like a little steampunk--with energea instead of steam--to add interesting complications.

Rapid-fire time! If you could live in any fictional world, be it from novels, movies, or TV, what would you pick? (And no, you can't say the North-lands!)

Well, I do want to live in my North-lands. That’s part of why I write so many stories set in them. While I’m writing, I’m there. But my second choice would be…the world of Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones. Great story, and a charming locale after Conrad sets things straight!

Favorite brand of pizza?

Homemade! Sourdough crust, Mom’s tomato sauce (with no sugar, but lots of tarragon), pasture-raised sausage, and chevre for the cheese. Yum!

Cake or pie?

Neither! Homemade ice cream, using cream from Silky Cow Farm and local blackberries from the Horse & Buggy cooperative. More yum!

Dogs or cats?

We’ve adopted the cat next door! Sort of. Posselfoot rapidly discovered that we’re his servants and worshipers whenever the high priestess (our neighbor) travels out of town. Plus our front porch features the perfect shady spot in summer and a likewise perfect sunny spot in winter.

Thanks J.M.! Be sure to check out her new story, Skies of Navarys, on Hunt to Read. Here's also a link to her HTR profile if you want to check out her other books. And by all means, please leave J.M. some feedback; I know she appreciates it!

Happy Hunting!

D.J. Gelner is the Co-Founder and CEO of Hunt to Read. Contact him directly at


  1. Hey J. M.,

    Iron Crowne, huh? Loved them back in the day!

    I dig your covers. Definitely establishes a "brand." I also checked out your there a first story/novel to read in the set?

    All the best,

    A. J. Abbiati

  2. Thanks for the kind words, A.J. I wrote "Dawn Comes Early" and "Over the Misty Mountains Cold" (two Lord of the Rings adventures), Gethaena (a Shadow World adventure), plus a bunch of shorter stuff for Iron Crown.

    About my current fiction:

    The Lodestone Tales follow the lodestones (magical artifacts) across thousands of years, each story focusing on one group of people who come into contact with them.

    Skies of Navarys is the earliest story in the sequence, a novella recounting the events around the creation of the lodestones and focusing on Liliyah and Mago.

    The next story, about two brothers - Paitra and Tohma - in time of war, will be released this September.

    Rainbow's Lodestone and Star-drake (three and four) are sold bundled together. When you purchase either title, you get the other as a bonus story. They recount the events that transpire when the troll Gefnen wields a lodestone.

    The Hammarleeding stories form my other linked sequence.

    Sarvet's Wanderyar (a novella) is the first.

    Livli's Gift (a novel) follows Sarvet's daughter, Livli.

    A new short story in the series, Crossing the Naiad will be released this September.

    The Troll's Belt is a stand-alone short story.

    Troll-magic is a stand-alone novel.

    All these stories are set in my North-lands. (Although I do have plans to write some stories set in other milieus.)

    Thanks for visiting my blog. :) I hope you come by again.

    1. I'm sure I've run in one of the LoTR ones...if my memory were better I could tell you for sure!

      Thanks for the info! Just picked up Sarvet's at Amazon and added it to my to-read pile. Can't wait to dig in...

      Keep creatin'!

      --A.J. (Jim)

  3. Thanks, Jim! My best wishes for your enjoyment of Sarvet. :D