J. J. Fischer’s writing dream began with the anthology of zoo animals she painstakingly wrote and illustrated at age five, to rather limited acclaim. Thankfully, her writing (but not her drawing) has improved since then. She is a clinically-trained psychologist but no, she cannot read your mind. When she isn’t killing defenseless house plants, pretending she can play the piano, eating peanut butter out of the jar, or memorizing funny film quotes, she and her husband David are attempting to prevent their warring pet chickens from forming factions and re-enacting Divergent. Honestly, it’s a miracle she finds the time to write any books.

In this interview, J.J. talks with us about her latest book, Lumen.

FF: What inspired the story in your book?
The Nightingale Trilogy is a fantasy transformation of Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved 1843 tale The Nightingale, with echoes of the myths of Hades and Persephone. I loved reading Hans Christian Andersen fairytales when I was younger (though some of those stories end very unhappily!)and when I re-discovered The Nightingale, I knew it was the perfect story to base my fantasy world on.

If you’ve never read The Nightingale, it’s worth diving into and it’s not a long story—it’s the tale of a nightingale who sings beautifully for the Emperor of China and is admired by all, only to be replaced with a mechanical, bejeweled substitute. Later on, when the substitute breaks and the Emperor lies dying, the flesh-and-blood bird returns and sings so beautifully that Death decides to spare the Emperor, and his kingdom is restored. The Emperor realizes what a great treasure he has possessed.

My trilogy features a post-apocalyptic society where people trade in memories of the world-that-was because they can no longer experience it for themselves. The main character, Sephone Winter, essentially is the nightingale—she’s the character who shows everyone how to keep hoping, even when things look very dark, and she cherishes the real in a world which is very much content with the imitation.

That idea, of course, has many parallels with our world today—we’re increasingly happy to live in simulated versions of reality rather than reality itself. There’s even a TV show here in Australia, Gogglebox, where we watch other people reacting to our favorite reality shows, and I think that’s so typical of the world we now live in. We’re much happier to observe and commentate (and criticize!) than to directly participate.

FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Sephone Winter, the female main character, is a young woman known as an alter (magically gifted person) who can edit memories with a single touch. She can extract positive memories from people so they can be re-experienced, and also selectively (though only temporarily) numb bad memories. She’s a pretty cool character, with iridescent white-blonde hair and a necklace that holds the secrets to her past.

The male main character is a young thane, Dorian Ashwood, whose wife and child were killed by a political rival. At the beginning of the series, he seeks out Sephone because he’s so devastated by his losses that he can’t move on—he wants to forget his family ever existed and that he was ever happy. He has secrets and mystery in abundance, and a pretty cool wolf companion named Jewel who has a magical ability to sense danger.

FF: Which character surprised you the most?
I was so surprised to like Cass, the third main character (who’s also featured on the cover of Lumen). He enters the story as a charming, witty, womanizing character in Calor, which I didn’t like…I’m not a fan of womanizing characters. But eventually he told me his story, and while he’s not going to have an easy time of his character arc (there WILL be consequences for his behavior), he’s actually become my favorite character in this story world.

FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
Humans have been making up stories for forever! Like C. S. Lewis said, stories are unique in their ability to steal past the “watchful dragons” of our hearts—the gatekeepers that prevent us from accepting truth in more traditional forms (sermons, etc.). Fantasy stories in particular make the familiar strange, so we’re seeing our world reflected back at us, but in a way that helps us see it like we’re seeing it for the very first time. And that allows truth to sink in. It’s no coincidence that the Bible is full of so many stories that teach us truth—including the story-parables told by Jesus Himself.

FF: What can readers expect from the rest of this series?
So many twists. The third book is going to rock your world. I think I counted four major plot twists. Don’t worry: everything is going to work out okay in the end. But we’re going to have a bit of fun before we get there.

FF: How do you get into the right frame of mind to write for your genre/audience?
I always make a habit of reading extensively in my genre (fantasy). You can’t write if you don’t also read! But I also love historical fiction and romance and even a good thriller/mystery/suspense from time to time. Regency romance has been a particular favorite of mine for a while now, so it’s no surprise that some of those themes occasionally find their way into my books.

FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
I really hope this book, and this series, convinces those who have lost their hope to hope again. Life can be devastatingly difficult, especially for those of us with Christian faith. In this world, we have trials and sufferings aplenty. But there’s still so much to hope for, and to cherish.

The world has always been full of counterfeit things, like the artificial bird in Andersen’s tale. They sound good, they look good, but they’re smoke and mirrors. They don’t satisfy. They aren’t the real thing. I hope this series reminds readers of the goodness of real truth and beauty—ultimately reflected in the beauty of the Gospel. I hope it makes you long for the Author of your soul, the only One who can satisfy your deepest needs and longings. He’s the ultimate Nightingale!

FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
Even in the Christian world, fantasy can be a hard sell. Some Christians believe that anything remotely fantasy-ish can only be dabbling in the occult, which is expressly forbidden in the Bible. As such, the audience for Christian fantasy can be small. That’s tough, especially since I think fantasy is a genre uniquely suited for sharing amazing Christian truths. But I think this is changing slowly, which is encouraging!

FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
Oh, so many! One of the first Christian fiction books I read as a teen was Francine Rivers’ A Voice in the Wind, the first instalment of her Mark of the Lion trilogy, followed by her best-selling literary statement of faith, Redeeming Love. Sometime after that, I read Catherine Marshall’s Christy on the recommendation of a friend, which profoundly influenced my attitude to suffering. Since then, I’ve been drawn in by the stories of a whole host of Christian authors: Frank E. Peretti, John White, Tamera Alexander, Joanna Davidson Politano, Tracy Higley, Lindsay A. Franklin, Morgan L. Busse, Cathy McCrumb, Sara Davison, Sharon Hinck, Nadine Brandes, Kristen Young, Ashley Bustamante, and Megan Schaulis. Their creativity and heart for the Gospel just blow me away.

FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
Just like our faith/world view bleeds into all our interactions with others (and sometimes our conversations), my Christian faith influences every one of my stories. It influences what I write (stories that feed/nourish the soul) and what I don’t write (stories that gratify lust or pride, or glorify sin).

The subject matter of my stories is often a reflection of the things I’ve wrestled with personally, e.g., the problem of suffering. Throughout my twenties and early thirties, I’ve had extensive struggles with acute and chronic illness, my husband had cancer two years ago, and we’re now grappling with infertility as a result of his chemo. So when I write about hope, I can guarantee that no word on that page was penned blithely!

One of the best parts of being a writer is that I get to project these struggles onto fictional characters (mwaha!) and make them ask the questions I’m struggling with (amazingly, sometimes they come up with answers). It’s very therapeutic. But I think it’s also helpful for my faith as well. And sometimes my stories speak back to me, reminding me of particular truths in hard times, reminding me to press on and persevere. So they’re my ministry, but they also minister to me. It’s my dearest wish and hope that they’re a blessing to you, wherever you’re at right now, and that these stories of mine speak truth and hope into your life. Thanks for reading!

The Nightingale Trilogy Series #2
J. J. Fischer
Enclave Publishing
Genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: December 5, 2023

ISBN-13: ‎979-8886050820

Book Summary:
What if erasing the past cost more than you were willing to pay?

Having narrowly escaped their enemies, Sephone, Dorian, and Cass continue their search for the elusive Silvertongue, the only one with knowledge of the Reliquary’s whereabouts. But time is running out for Sephone, and with Dorian accused of high treason, the quest takes on a new urgency.

As secrets from each of their pasts drive a wedge between them, Sephone invests all her hopes in finding her homeland, Lethe—where her family may yet be alive. But nothing about Lethe is as she expects, and disappointment, betrayal, and danger await her at every turn.

When the truth about the Reliquary’s curse comes to light, the fragile bonds between the unlikely companions are tested like never before. Meanwhile, Dorian faces a terrible choice: to save the life of one who is beginning to mean more to him than the past he’s so desperate to forget, or to save his beloved Caldera from dangers outside and within.


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About The Author

J.J. is married to David, and together they make their home a couple of hours’ north of Sydney, Australia, in the beautiful region of Lake Macquarie. Jasmine began writing her first novel at age fourteen and completed her Bachelor degree in English Literature and Creative Writing in 2012. Also a qualified psychologist with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in clinical psychology, Jasmine’s dream is to write stories that weave together her love for Jesus, her passion for mental health, and her struggles with chronic illness. When tempted away from the keyboard, Jasmine enjoys devouring books, dabbling in floristry, playing the piano, doting on her pet chickens, and wishing it rained more often.