Today I am thrilled to welcome author Jordan L. Hawk to Joyfully Jay. Jordan is here to talk about Deosil, the 11th and final book their amazing Whyborne & Griffin series. I am an uber fan of this series, so I am thrilled Jordan has joined us today to answer some of my questions about the book and the series. Please join me in giving Jordan a big welcome!
Thank you so much! It’s lovely to be here, as always.
I am so excited to have you here today to talk about Deosil, the 11thand final book in your amazing Whyborne & Griffin series. Before we get too far, can you tell folks a little bit about the final story and what to expect?
My main goal when writing Deosil was to craft a book where, when the reader turns the final page, they do so with a feeling of satisfaction. Endings matter tremendously, and I spent a lot of time thinking about series (in all sorts of media, not just books) that did it right, and that did it wrong. Why did the endings that left me eager to re-read (or re-listen, or re-play) work, and why did the ones that retroactively ruined the entire series fail?
As part of that, interspersed with the action and danger, I tried to make sure I put in plenty of character moments, especially between what I think of as “the core four” characters. To acknowledge their journey and all the lovely bonds between them, because that’s what I would want as a reader. And I spent a lot of time thinking about the theme of the series, which is family (especially found family) and trying to bring everything together in a satisfying fashion.
Of course, there’s also plenty of monsters (some of them the aforementioned family) and mayhem, so if anyone is only reading for the action, have no fear.
I will admit, as excited as I am for this book, it is also bittersweet, as I am not ready for this to be the end! How are you feeling as you get ready to wrap up this series?
Deosil took me much longer to write than I’d anticipated, in part because of the pressure I put on myself (gotta stick the landing!), and I think in part because it’s also bittersweet for me. Whyborne & Griffin have been a huge part of my life for the past seven years, and I’ll miss them a lot.
What made you decide that now was the time to end the story? Did you always know it would wrap at this point? Or did this just feel like the right time to close things out?
As you’ve probably already gathered, I have very strong opinions about the value of ending stories. Some series can go on longer than others, but the best ones go out on a high note instead of slowly losing momentum. I very much wanted to find that high note.
As for when to end it, I mostly let the story take me there. I’m trying to remember when I first realized it would fit into 11 volumes—probably around Maelstrom (book 7). I knew that the last book would center around the battle with the masters, so it was just a matter of knowing what else I wanted to address (Griffin’s parents, Stanford, the Endicotts) and how to weave it all into one tapestry.
Whyborne & Griffin is an incredibly long running series (the first book was published back in 2012) and is one of those beloved series that so many people seem to have read and loved. Did you ever expect it would have this type of longevity and reader enthusiasm? When did you know you were on to something with these books?
When I wrote Widdershins, I truly believed only a handful of people would read it. It encompassed a whole host of marketing “don’ts”: it had no clear genre (paranormal historical wasn’t really a thing then), the hero starts off as a doormat, it was first person, etc. Times have changed, but back then all of those were on the lists of “things readers (supposedly) hate.” According to accepted wisdom, a book needed a definite genre, an alpha hero, third person, and for god’s sake no historicals!
But it was one of those books I just had to write. I told myself I’d write Widdershins, and then yes, I’d write one more to follow up, but NO MORE! After that, I’d stick to things that other people actually wanted to read.
Widdershins released in December 2012 to very little fanfare. It sold a few copies, but it wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire, which was as expected. But then in late January/early February, something weird started happening. All the sudden, it was…selling? And selling better than anything else I’d done? What the heck?
To say I was shocked would be an understatement. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who was interested in the magical and romantic adventures of an introvert nerd! Fortunately, I was already working on Threshold by that time, so I could keep the momentum going. I think I really knew I was onto something at GRL 2013 in Atlanta, when I had my first reader meetup. People were just so excited and happy and into the series, it blew me away. I’d never expected such a reception to Whyborne & Griffin, and that GRL remains among my fondest memories.
One of my favorite things about this series is watching Whyborne and Griffin grow, both as characters and in their relationship. Whyborne, in particular, is fascinating because he has grown and changed so much over the series. Did you know where you wanted these guys to go from the start, or has it developed as the series continued?
Both, to an extent. When I first started out, again I was only expecting to get two books worth, so though I had an idea of where I wanted Whyborne to go I hadn’t really followed it very far. Once I realized I could keep going, Whyborne’s journey became more clear to me, as did Griffin’s. The series is ultimately about finding the family who loves you for yourself, and that acceptance is what lets Whyborne come out of his shell and figure out who he really is, what his strengths and weaknesses really are. And the same for Griffin, and even Christine and Iskander.
One of the standouts about this series for me are the incredible side characters. As you know, I am obsessed with Christine (she is my total book girl crush). You also have such strong female characters in Whyborne’s mother and sister, and even his secretary has been a surprise in how she has grown. Can you talk more about writing strong female characters, particularly in a story featuring two male leads?
Given the era the series is set in, when I started planning Widdershins one of the big questions was “How do I make this not be a total sausage fest?” Thus Christine was born. She would have needed to be someone who was very outspoken and determined to have her way, given the time, and that also made her the perfect counterpoint for Whyborne. They’re best friends, but their approach to life and solving problems is very, very different.
In general, though, it wasn’t hard to incorporate women into the series. Women make up over half the population, and have always been active in public as well as private life (despite the unfortunate myth that women in the past didn’t do anything but stay at home and pop out babies). Griffin would have worked with female detectives when he was with the Pinkertons, and some of the farms in the area he grew up in would have been owned and managed by women as well.
I think the big thing, though, is simply that all the women are treated as people. So at the beginning of the series, Heliabel Whyborne is physically very frail, and it would have been easy for Whyborne to withhold the truth about magic and the horrors in the world from her “for her own good.” Certainly her husband and oldest son had been doing that to her for years. But just because she is a woman with a chronic, disabling illness, she’s still an adult. Whyborne tells her about sorcery, and monsters, and even teaches her spells, because it would have been incredibly patronizing of him to do otherwise.
I know that you have a lot going on with other books and series. Now that Whyborne & Griffin is wrapping up, can you tell us what else you are working on?
I’ve just sent the next SPECTR novella to my editor. Next on the schedule is Hexmaster, the fifth Hexworld book, which will wrap up the Witch Police storyline (there will be more Hexworld books after, however).
If my readers want to learn more about you or your work, where can they find you?
- Website: http://www.jordanlhawk.com
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/jordanlhawk
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jordanlhawkauthor/
- Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/jordanlhawk
I also have a very active Facebook Fan Group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/561187640725170/
Thank you so much for talking to us today about this wonderful series!
Thank you so much for having me!
Whyborne, Griffin, and their friends have faced down cultists, monsters, and sorcerers. But their greatest challenge is now upon them.
On the return voyage from Balefire Manor, Whyborne receives the worst news possible: Widdershins has fallen before the onslaught of the Fideles and their servants. There’s still time to stop the return of the Masters, but that window grows shorter by the hour.
Together with Christine and Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must reach Widdershins to face the ultimate test—and decide the fate of the world, once and for all.