With the release of her much-requested Pathfinder Tales novel Skinwalkers swiftly approaching, we thought we'd give Wendy N. Wagner a chance to talk about the book's genesis. Take it away, Wendy!
A few years ago, James Sutter asked me if I would write a short story for Pathfinder. I'd never played, but the world sounded amazing and like a good fit for me, so I dove into Golarion and tried very, very hard to come up with a character to have adventures there. I knew I'd have to create someone I could both like and really believe in, and I knew it wasn't going to be easy. But then Jendara, the hero of the short story "Mother Bears" and my upcoming novel, Skinwalkers, walked into my bathroom without even knocking.
That's exactly her style. Unlike most of the characters I've written, Jendara sprang into my mind fully formed. She just showed up with her handaxe and a belt pouch crammed full of the kinds of snacks and survival supplies that every traveling mom has to carry, and she perched on the edge of the bath tub (that's where I brainstorm, in the bath tub), and said "I can't be a pirate anymore, but being on the right side of the law ain't easy." Just like that, I knew that her family was gone and her husband had been murdered by another pirate and that this woman was going to have a hard time making a new life for herself. She was going to need me.
I feel very lucky that James believed in Jendara and gave me a chance to write her first story, but I feel even luckier that the Pathfinder community decided this tattooed, short-fused woman was somebody they liked, too. After "Mother Bears," there was a lot of positive feedback on the Paizo forum and places like Twitter. People reached out to me to let me know that they thought an ex-pirate single mother was pretty great—and that a novel about her would be just the kind of adventure they were looking for. It was a tremendous experience, and I am utterly thankful to the Pathfinder community for being so supportive and welcoming.
I loved writing Skinwalkers. There's a lot of scary and horrible stuff packed into its covers, but there's a lot of wonder and beauty, too. My fingers are crossed that when people see more of Jendara, they will continue to enjoy and believe in her.
As for me, since I wrapped up the novel, I've been enjoying a little time away from my larger-than-life creation. I've started playing Pathfinder, although I'm still a rank novice. I like it a lot—and my bumbling cleric character is a totally different kind of woman from Jendara. She at least knocks before barging into the bathroom.
Wendy N. Wagner Pathfinder Tales Author
Wendy N. Wagner's short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, The Lovecraft eZine, and anthologies like Armored and The Way of the Wizard. Skinwalkers is her first novel. Wendy is currently the Managing/Associate Editor of Lightspeed and Nightmare magazines, which means she now spends more time reading submissions than playing Pathfinder with her amazing family. You can keep up with her exploits at her website, winniewoohoo.com.