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We're launching the Book Tour for THE SWORD IN HIS HAND by J.J. Fischer!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Author Interview

What inspired you to write The Sword in His Hand?

There’s a wonderful saying: “Reading is like breathing in, writing is like breathing out” (Pam Allyn). I think every writer first falls in love with stories, so much so that they reach a point where they just need to create stories of their own.

Stories do so much for us—they allow us to test out ideas, to teach and inspire and challenge, to work through our triumphs and our pains, and to explore what it is to be human. Fiction, in particular, does a wonderful job of reflecting truth. As a Christian, I also believe that all stories are a part of the ultimate Story—the redemption story God has been writing for us since the world began. Composing stories that reflect and honor this profound narrative is kind of like shining a light on a diamond. It only really illuminates one small part of a complex, multi-faceted whole, but in that moment, you catch a glimpse of life-changing truth. And capturing that moment in a story—there’s really nothing like it.

For me, writing is like a reflex. It’s an instinct and a creative impulse and a way of making sense of what’s happened to me. I wouldn’t say I’m deliriously happy when I write, but it’s definitely how I feel closest to God. It’s also a huge part of how I worship Him.

The Sword in His Hand will always be a bit special to me. It’s my debut novel, my first official foray into writing. I began writing it in 2006, when I was fourteen, during a family holiday around Australia. On the west coast, in a place called Jurien Bay, I had a dream about the opening scene. It contained pretty much every cliché known to man, and eventually found its way to the electronic trash can, but by that time I’d seriously caught the writing bug, and Sword was born. In the end, it became a little of everything: a creative outlet; a friend in hard times; a way of wrestling with doubts and questions about my faith.

Sometimes people ask, “Why fantasy?” Why not write crime or historical fiction or romance? But this is a no-brainer for me. Creating worlds—which are always rather paltry echoes of the world that God has created—reminds me of the fact that humans are made in the image of their Creator. Our God is a creative and inventive God, and human creativity is a reflection of divine creativity. I feel that I reflect His image when I’m weaving stories that reflect His truth. And yet, the more I write, the more I’m convinced that I’m not really creating but rearranging.

In that sense, world-building makes me feel terrifyingly small… and at the same time, deeply in awe of the God who didn’t just plonk landmarks on a map and call them things like “The Forbidden Forest” and “The Dark Lands”, but actually came up with all the building blocks in the first place. Incredible, right?

What do you love the most about this story?

Wonderful things come from terrible things, and that’s one of the key messages of Sword. We wrestle with darkness and despair, but there is always hope in Jesus. Sometimes I wince when I think about everything El and Torsten go through (when I was writing the sequel, my mum, who’d read the first book, would regularly ask me “How’s El doing today? Is she okay?”). And honestly, the end of Book 1 leaves everything in a pretty hopeless state.

But then comes Book 2, The Secret of Fire. And even though you don’t know how anything is going to get better, everything changes dramatically. Redemption comes from unexpected corners. Lives are restored. And I love that. I love that I can reflect the tiniest part of humanity’s own redemptive love story.

What challenged you about writing it?

Writing is hard work. It’s hard to create characters from scratch, to put yourself constantly in their shoes, to watch as they live and grow (and maybe even die). There’s a scene in Sword which still makes me shed tears each time I read it because it reflects my own struggles and grief. I’m deeply empathic, and so when something happens to a character, I sometimes feel as if it’s happening to me.

The flip side of that coin is that the act of writing is wonderfully cathartic; it definitely helps me to mature and process my own life. Writing is phenomenal therapy. It allows me to explore alternate points-of-view and to develop empathy with people whose shoes I wouldn’t normally inhabit, even to ask questions I may not have had the courage to ask within myself. It’s really a tremendous way to grow as a person.

I must admit, however, that I’m a little worried at times at how much I enjoy writing villains. I love a good redemptive character arc!

Which character do you most relate to and why?

All my characters have a little of me in them, but my main characters, Torsten and El, will always be special. In a way, they are both projections of my teenage self; two sides of the same coin, if you will. Torsten is loyal, passionate, and dangerously all-or-nothing; he’s a deeply skeptical person who doesn’t take things at face value. He asks hard questions and he’s not afraid of difficult answers. On the other hand, El is kind, idealistic, and compassionate. She’s a people-pleaser who’s ridden with doubts and crippled by past choices. She’s much braver than I would be in her circumstances, but I relate to her struggles with courage, as well as her desire to see the best in people.

Neither Torsten or El are complete in themselves; they not only need each other, but they need God. God essentially shows them that they are only ever made whole in Him. And I love that message. It’s the message that I first came to hear as a teenager, which essentially reconciled two very different sides of my own personality.

What do you hope readers will take with them after they’ve read it?

I think the best stories are the ones that change us. The ones where we close the book and walk away, but we cannot help but be irrevocably changed—transformed, even. I’ve read numerous books, but I continually come back to the stories that provoke deep emotion from me. The stories that frustrate and inspire and challenge and encourage me, that maybe even rock the foundations of my comfortable world.

Perhaps it’s too ambitious a goal, but I really hope that every one of my stories impacts my readers in some way. My faith is the cornerstone of my life—without it, I would not be the person I am today—and so faith is really what colors my stories. Many books indelibly imprint on the mind—and fewer still make their mark on the heart—but I also want to write fiction that feeds the soul. My books celebrate hope, courage, love, and perseverance in the midst of suffering, violence, oppression, and hatred. They feature characters who seek to triumph in the midst of adversity and struggle.

It has recently become fashionable to have a “life verse”—a Bible verse that speaks into a significant part of one's life. If I had to choose, my “life verse” is Psalm 42:7: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me." As a character in my second book muses—inspired by this very verse—the deep in us is only an echo of the depth of God. I could write my entire life and not uncover even a little corner of the richness of the Author of life. But to reflect that depth is my calling, and it is my honest delight to honor it.

What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?

Anyone who knows me well is familiar with my obsessions: Jesus, writing and reading books, floristry, and chickens. I’ve dabbled in martial arts, soccer, and basketball, though I could never be mistaken for an athlete. I love music and sometimes I swap my keyboard for another keyboard—that is, a piano.

I’m originally a clinically-trained psychologist, so I’m passionate about all things mental health, and I frequently blog about my struggles with chronic illness (I was recently diagnosed with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome/Disease). Catching up with family and friends is my most common pastime—that, and obsessively checking the weather app for a forecast of rain. It never rains enough for my Anglophile soul.

The Sword in His Hand
(The Darcentaria Duology #1)
By J.J. Fischer
Christian Historical Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 496 Pages
February 9, 2021 by Ambassador International

“One is an opportunity. Two is a threat. Three is an invasion.”

For hundreds of years, strange things have been washing up on the shores of Darcentaria. But when a young foreign woman named El is found unconscious on the beach amidst the burning wreckage of a strange metal craft, the villagers of Odessa are immediately suspicious—is she an agent of the Dalriadan Empire, their cruel oppressors for as long as they can remember? Or does she come from the Outside, the vast and legendary lands beyond their borders from which no man or woman alive has ever returned?

Torsten Eiselher, a talented young swordsman, has spent the last nine years of his life wrongfully imprisoned by his uncle, the Empire’s ruler. Betrayed and deceived at every turn, Torsten has survived by keeping a firm grip on his sword—and by staying well away from anything to do with the Outside. But when his young sister is murdered, Torsten finds himself irrevocably drawn to El despite her Outsider heritage—and he begins to question everything he has been told about her world.

Intrigued by the existence of a powerful and dangerously advanced world within his reach, the Empire’s ruler, Jurien Arminius, launches a hunt for El and the two Outsiders that arrived with her—the ones who could help him win his war against Torsten and the rebellion that threatens to topple his Empire.

Suddenly, Torsten is forced to choose between defeating his long-term enemy or saving the woman he has come to love . . .

(Affiliate links included.)

Tour Schedule

July 12th:
#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog
Sadie's Spotlight
Wishful Endings
July 13th:
Uplifting Reads
Lady Hawkeye
July 14th:
Rockin' Book Reviews
Hearts & Scribbles
July 15th:
A Baker's Perpsective
July 16th:
Library Lady's Kid Lit
Teatime and Books
Pause for Tales
Rincon de Joss

Other Books in the Series

The Secret of Fire
(The Darcentaria Duology #2)
By J.J. Fischer
Christian Historical Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 352 Pages
July 13, 2021 by Ambassador International

Only one can save them.

The Rebellion has fallen.

The door to the Outside has been opened.

And the one who opened it—Jurien Arminius—is now the most powerful man in Darcentaria.

But everything they have known is about to change forever.

Separated by Arminius but fighting to get back to each other, El and Torsten encounter unlikely allies that reveal stunning truths about each other, the Outside, and the very beginnings of Darcentaria itself.

(Affiliate links included.)

About the Author

Jasmine (J.J. Fischer) is living proof that it is possible to be addicted to tea and coffee simultaneously. Both made it possible for her to complete her Bachelor degree in English Literature and Creative Writing in 2012.

Jasmine is married to David, and together they are the proud owner-parents of five warring pet chickens who tolerate each others' existence—most days. When tempted away from the keyboard, she enjoys reading, thinking about lasagna almost as often as Garfield the cat, and working towards her black belt in karate. She vows to one day write the perfect fight scene. Jasmine makes her home near Sydney, Australia, where most animals want to kill you and drop bears enforce a daily reign of terror. If you're reading this, please send help.

Tour Giveaway

One winner will receive print copies of The Sword in His Hand and The Secret Fire, a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card and a $5 discount code to Ambassador International's store (US only)

Ends July 21, 2021

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