Curbing curiosities, or an interview with Jae Waller author of The Call of the Rift: Flight (and a giveaway)


call of the rift flight

The Call of the Rift: Flight (The Call of the Rift #1)

By: Jae Waller

Publisher: ECW Press

Publication Date: April 3rd, 2018

A rebellious heroine faces a colonial world coming unstitched in Jae Waller’s stunning debut fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Kateiko doesn’t want to be Rin anymore — not if it means sacrificing lives to protect the dead. Her only way out is to join another tribe, a one-way trek through the coastal rainforest. Killing a colonial soldier in the woods isn’t part of the plan. Neither is spending the winter with Tiernan, an immigrant who keeps a sword with his carpentry tools. His log cabin leaks and his stories about other worlds raise more questions than they answer.

Then the air spirit Suriel, long thought dormant, resurrects a war. For Kateiko, protecting other tribes in her confederacy is atonement. For Tiernan, war is a return to the military life he’s desperate to forget.

Leaving Tiernan means losing the one man Kateiko trusts. Staying with him means abandoning colonists to a death sentence. In a region tainted by prejudice and on the brink of civil war, she has to decide what’s worth dying — or killing — for.

First of all, thank you so much for hosting me on your blog!


1) What is on your desk or where you write? What do you need to write? Do you have a writer’s survival kit?

Practical things on my desk: computer, drawing tablet, notebook with story maps and diagrams. Knick-knacks: a moose figurine, a penguin plushy, a koala keychain, and a replica of Professor McGonagall’s wand.

I need three things to write: Scrivener, music (usually metal or folk), and no distractions. I mainly write at home, but if I had a portable survival kit, it’d contain noise-cancelling headphones and a thermos of iced coffee. Maybe horse blinders to keep me focused.

2) A book goes through a lot of different versions and rounds of editing before it’s complete.  What are some “fun facts” or behind the scenes info you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book?

  1. In my original outline, the protagonist Kateiko deliberately arranged for someone to be killed. My writing professor wisely said it’d be hard to keep Kateiko sympathetic afterward, so that plot point got a total overhaul
  2. My outline didn’t contain Kateiko’s friend Airedain. On a whim I stuck a playful, cocky drummer into a scene, and he was fun enough to keep bringing back.
  3. There’s a fourth culture hidden in the book, a mashup of Celtic druids and Scottish Jacobites. I didn’t have room to properly reveal them until later in the series.
  4. Surprisingly, once I was in editing mode, I don’t think I deleted any scenes. The manuscript got longer.

3) Do you have a special story or an innocuous thought that grew into something bigger that is behind your inspiration for THE CALL OF THE RIFT: FLIGHT?

It was a looooong process, haha. I attended universities that are at the forefront of First Nations studies in Canada, so I was surrounded by revivals of indigenous language and culture, as well as a strong current of activism. That was the zeitgeist. All that percolated in my mind for years, but there were two semesters of particular importance:

-In 2009, for Canadian Literature, I read Monkey Beach by Haisla/Heiltsuk author Eden Robinson. It was the first time I’d read a novel set in my province. It felt like reading about an old friend. I’d been struggling with my creative work, and gradually realized I needed to turn closer to home.

-In 2012 I studied Northwest Coast drawing under a Haida/Nisga’a woodcarver, and Aboriginal art under a Kanien’kehaka multimedia artist and DJ. They taught me about combining traditional and modern art forms, especially as a tool for change, which influenced my anachronistic approach to Flight that blends alternative youth culture with pioneer-era colonialism. Alt-history is like looking at the past, present, and future through a kaleidoscope.

4) What research did you do while planning your novel?

Oh, tons! I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so I drew on personal experience, but some of what I “knew” was wrong. Like, my family grew tomatoes and carrots, but tomatoes came from South America and carrots came from Persia. So I had to figure out which plants and animals are native to the region, and what Norse and Mediterranean settlers would’ve grown or raised there.

17th-century stuff I researched: weapons, sailing ships, diseases, medicine, clothing, occupations, architecture, food preservation, farm-to-people ratios. Random other stuff: Italian, Norwegian, and Gaelic phonetics; travel speeds through coastal rainforest; decomposition of dead bodies on land and in water. Occasionally I got my scientific-minded siblings to help with calculations.

I also wanted to keep in tune with indigenous creators, so I followed some on Twitter, read the American Indians in Children’s Literature blog, listened to First Nations hip-hop and EDM (A Tribe Called Red calls it powwow-step), watched indigenous film, etc.

Whenever possible I did research in person, which was hard while living overseas, but there are a lot of parallels between colonialism in Australia and Canada. So I talked with Australian Aboriginal artists, visited an 18th-century prison where England sent convicts, befriended a guy who’s done Viking re-enactments in Scandinavia – stuff like that.

5) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble?

Airedain’s my favourite. He’s cocky and fun, but also sensitive and complex. I think it helped that his character was unplanned and developed organically. Back home I was friends with a few Native guys in our local hardcore/metal scene, so Airedain partly draws on them.

Marijka, another of Kateiko’s friends, probably gave me the most trouble. It took awhile to grasp her personality. She’s very calm and self-contained, so she doesn’t have those outbursts of emotion that other characters reveal themselves through.

6) If you could ask a character of your choice from THE CALL OF THE RIFT: FLIGHT one question what would it be?

I’d ask Tiernan if there’s ever a chance he could call this place home. We’re both migrants who moved around the world, so I relate to his sense of displacement.

7) What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?

Ooh, tough question. All my favourite scenes are spoilers! So, I’ll say the scene where Kateiko and Tiernan confess things under the Aurora Borealis. It’s short, but it’s intense and gentle and painful all at once, combining a strong character moment with strong atmosphere.

8) Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book? Or a scene that made you very emotional?

I had trouble with the major battle near the end. Half my reason for writing a book full of political drama was to dodge choreographing fight scenes, but of course that didn’t work! I wound up diagramming the battleground on paper, and made a list of everything that needed to happen so I could sequence it properly. It was much more structured than my usual drafting style.

9) What are the top five things we should know as a reader before starting CALL OF THE RIFT: FLIGHT (about the main character, their love interest, the antagonist, their world/home town, their situation, etc)

-Since international readers probably aren’t familiar with the Pacific Northwest, I’ll note that none of the indigenous tribes, languages, characters, places, and rituals or other spiritual elements in the novel are real, though there are clear parallels to our world.

-The colonists are allusions to real groups that landed in Canada: Sverbians are based off Vikings who settled in Newfoundland circa 1000 AD, and Ferish are based off Spanish conquistadors who explored western Canada likely as early as the 1500s.

-Magic is a broad, complex force in this world. Every race can use magic, but they have vastly different views on it and the spirit world.

-There is romance (people frequently ask me this) but it doesn’t play out how you probably expect. *eyebrow wiggle*

-It’s got some mature content by YA standards, so I recommend it for readers 14 and up.

Jae Waller grew up in a lumber town in northern British Columbia. She has a joint B.F.A. in creative writing and fine art from the University of Northern British Columbia and Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Now living in Melbourne, Australia, she works as a novelist and freelance artist.

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway, and more were provided by ECW Press.

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