Living on the mid-Atlantic shore of the United States, Jay Veloso Batista is an author specializing in Historical Fantasy, short stories and adventure novels. A published author of technical manuals, role playing games and poetry, in 2019 Jay published the first of his Forerunner Series novels, ‘Thorfinn and the Witch’s Curse’ following the lives, loves, tragedies and successes of the Agneson clan in Viking Age Britain and Scandinavia circa 890. In 2020, Jay published the second novel in the series, ‘The Vardoger Boy’ and the third novel, ‘On Viking Seas’ was published in April of 2021.
The year 2021 brought accolades, as ‘The Witch’s Curse’ won both the Wishing Shelf Book Award for YA Fiction and the Readers’ Favorite Award for General Fantasy. Book 4 of the Series, ‘Kara, Shieldmaiden of Eire’ is set to be published in August 2022.
When not writing or working at his day job, Jay is an accomplished acrylic collage artist, a former president of the League of Milwaukee Artists, and is represented by galleries in the East and Midwestern US. After many years of traveling the globe for business, Jay now lives with his wife near the beach where they can kayak and swim in the ocean, eat Chesapeake blue crabs, drink craft beers and enjoy the mild winters of the eastern shore. He looks ahead to retirement to write and spend time with his grandchildren.
TBE: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us here at The Bookish Elf about your books. We loved the Forerunner series; it was thoroughly enjoyable. For people who haven’t read “The Forerunner” series, what is it about?
Jay Veloso Batista: Imagine Norse mythology and beliefs were real—the Forerunner Series follows the adventures of the Agneson Clan in the late 9th Century, the Viking Age, and the fantasy elements are all based on Scandinavian lore and actual beliefs of the period.
TBE: Can you share with us something about the books in the series?
Jay Veloso Batista: The book follows multiple individuals in the family, but the hero of the story is a boy who, through a tragic mistake becomes a “Vardoger” ghost of himself and can travel between the nine realms of Norse mythology.
TBE: What do you want people to know before they start reading the series?
Jay Veloso Batista: All the books rely on real historical events, real cultural practices, and if you like fantasy, the fantastic elements increase in each book until the entire story takes place in the land of elves and giants.
TBE: The richness and depth of the world draw people to the books – it’s a wide-scale view, but the world you created in the Forerunner series has a great deal of detail and specificity, too. Where do you draw all that detail from?
Jay Veloso Batista: The detail was drawn from current early medieval age scholarship, including a wonderful thesis on Viking weddings and a number of texts about mythological beasts and the “hidden folk” of Danish Folklore.
TBE: As a writer, what character or characters have surprised you the most over the course of the series?
Jay Veloso Batista: The middle children, Kara and Sorven, have surprised me the most—their stories are much more important to the entire series than I originally believed when I wrote book 1, ‘Thorfinn and the Witch’s Curse.’
TBE: What characters are the most fun for you to write?
Jay Veloso Batista: Raga, the 5th Century ghost who mentors young Throfinn.
TBE: And is there any character who’s a real drag to write?
Jay Veloso Batista: Not really, I enjoy them all.
TBE: Comparatively, who’s hard to get into that headspace?
Jay Veloso Batista: Kara Agnesdatter, a 14 year old tomboy who is the main character of the soon to be released book 4 was the hardest to “get right.”
TBE: When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
Jay Veloso Batista: I am a “plotter,” and yes, I map out the entire story and the character arcs before I begin. That framework allows me to manage the writing chore.
TBE: What do you enjoy about fantasy writing and why did you pick it?
Jay Veloso Batista: I truly enjoy stretching my imagination and finding new ways to work with and around the tropes of the genre. I think Fantasy has an innate strength in that it carries away the reader to another time, another place and still has the ability to emotionally impact an audience.
TBE: According to you, what is the most essential aspect about fantasy? The characters, the settings, or the magic/super-power structure?
Jay Veloso Batista: This series is an Historical fantasy, so the setting and “magic” is driven by our records of the period, actual historical events, the Norse and Icelandic Sagas, etc. The characters are the most essential part of my stories, because they bring the action and make the setting and magical elements to life.
TBE: When you were writing in the early days, were there other writers you consciously modelled your work on, writers you cherished?
Jay Veloso Batista: I am a voracious reader—especially the classics. I think the old adage that “to be a good writer one must be a good reader’ is very true, and I also believe one must read widely and across genres. While my work is compared to magnificent writers such as Cornwall and Martin, I am humbled by these comparisons and do admit I have read their works, as well as Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Hugo, and many modern writers as well.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Jay Veloso Batista: Book 4 of the Forerunner Series, ‘Kara, Shieldmaiden of Eire,’ will be released in August 2022 and it is an ambitious work, following the family as they are divided—Kara has run away to Dublin, Cub has escaped the Devon tin mines to Britany, Sorven is hiding from the law in the Welsh Mountains, and Thorfinn and his Uncle Karl are in Norway, preparing to join Harald ‘Tangelhair’ in his effort to unite the many petty kingdoms of the Northern Way.