Kid: How did you get the idea for the series?
JR: The idea for Ragesong began to float around in my head a few years before I wrote book one. I've always loved music and fantasy, and I wanted a way to tie the two together. I wanted music to play a role, but I wanted to focus on swordplay and medieval violence. When I first came up with concept, Joraus and Swyf were slated to be two bumbling idiots named Grutnik and Yorken. All I knew was that they would turn into something cool when they entered their world and in ours they would be silly fairies, and that they would pass into our realm through organ pipes. I then shelved the idea for a few years to focus on other things. When I came back to it, I realized how much more of a role I wanted the Changelings to play in the grand scheme of the story. Joraus, Swyf, and Ragesong were born (though I did find a way to integrate Grutnik and Yorken later on, so look for them in Uprising).
Kid: What's your favorite character?
JR: I had such a tough time answering this question. I love them all. Each and every one of them seem so real to me. I've always loved Jake and his happy-go-lucky personality, but lately I find myself gravitating more to Sam. I discovered a lot more about her in Uprising, and I was so pleased with the way that her character developed. She is strong and passionate, fun and intelligent, and Jake is lucky to have a friend like her. As I write Retribution, I find that the pendulum is gradually swinging back to Jake. He is about to go through some tough things, and I am already sympathizing with him.
Kid: What's your favorite part in Awakening?
JR: This is like choosing which child you love most! I have narrowed it down to two. I loved it when Joraus found Swyf in the human world after being parted from her for more than 12 years and the energetic/silly/heartwarming reunion that ensued. I also love the Changeling battle when the group first arrives in Fermecia. I was so excited when that idea came to me and I was able to flesh it out. It was such a fun addition and it added a lot to the character of the Changelings.
Kid: What's your favorite part in Uprising?
JR: Again, there were many that I had to choose from, but I would have to say that I really liked when Sam met Shivarra and the following initiation (readers will know what I am talking about here). I also loved the final battle in Paxtra. It was intense and I felt like it brought the book to a close most appropriately, while at the same time setting the stage for Retribution.
Kid: If you could be one character from the series, who would it be and why?
JR: Jake, of course! Musical prodigy/Expert swordfighter/Videogame enthusiast? Plus his mom and dad are totally great (even if they are a little strict with the video game thing). He has the respect of a king, is known as "Klyle's Demon" by his enemies, and he is best friends with a deadeye archer and two creatures that can change into whatever animals they want. Who wouldn't like that combination???? Totally awesome!
Her review of the Ragesong series (not edited by me, and if you know me you know how this kills me):
I LOVE these books. I keep reading them over and over. I really like Sam she is my favorite character. I like archery too and it's fun to read about someone like me. Yorkin and Grutnik were really funny and Klyle and Shivarra are so cool. These books are great for people like me.
JR is just as enthusiastic about his writing in person as he seems in the interview with my littlest. I've read both books and the attention to detail is incredible. His characters are fleshed out with appropriate flaws and arcs that reach through the series, so we can see how these teenagers Sam and Jake grow through their experiences in Fermicia. His world building is really brilliant with vivid detail. The violence is video game level, with no bad language. It's a great clean read for anyone who loves high fantasy like Lord of the Rings. I have no problem recommending this series to readers 11 and up.
Check it out!
Also, here's a pic of me with the reviewer, because she's adorable.