This week we’re getting to know Katy Huth Jones, author of the He Who Finds Mercy series, beginning with Mercy’s Prince, and many other fantasy novels. With dragons, monsters, magic, and more, fans of classic fantasy will love her books.
As second son of the King of Levathia, seventeen-year-old Valerian desires the quiet life of a scholarly monk. But when he fails to save his older brother in battle, Valerian must instead become crown prince.
While a traitorous knight schemes against him, Valerian meets Mercy, a pacifist Healer with whom he can speak mind-to-mind like the great dragons. Their bond emboldens Valerian to seek out the legendary dragons and ask for their help against the monsters who killed his brother.
Can Valerian survive the traitor’s assassins long enough to find the dragons? And if he does, can he convince them to lay aside their hatred of humans and help him save the land from destruction?
Katy Huth Jones grew up in a family where creative juices overflowed and made puddles to splash in. In addition to writing fantasy and historical fiction, Katy loves music, art, sewing, and dragons. She lives with her husband Keith in Fort Worth, Texas. Their two sons, whom she homeschooled, have flown the nest and live creative lives of their own. Best of all, she has survived cancer twice.
1. Tell us a little about you and what you’re working on.
I realized this year that I’m officially old, but I’m okay with that. It’s startling to look back from this summit of the journey and see everything I’ve done in my life: a wife for almost 40 years, a homeschool Mom for almost 25 years, and now Grandma to three precious children. I was a band director for 16 years, played in a symphony and a Revolutionary War fife & drum corps, and have written a couple million words or so since I started writing for publication in 1987 on a *gasp* typewriter! Right now I’m working on book one of a new YA fantasy series entitled Mercy’s Children. There will be five books, since my character Mercy has five children. The first one is Dolan’s Bride.
You As A Reader
2. When did you first fall in love with books?
I clearly remember that day in third grade when I started reading Charlotte’s Web and fell in love with the characters and the story. As a shy, sickly Army brat, I went to six elementary schools, and books became my best friends. I still have the original hardback my Grandmother gave me. It cost $3.50 in 1966.
3. What’s your favorite book from your childhood?
The one I reread the most was Swiss Family Robinson. That story ignited an adventurer’s heart in me, one I could only attain on paper.
4. Of the books you’ve read, which one changed you the most?
I read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was ten, and it completely changed my outlook on life. I discovered there was real suffering in the world, and I should never complain about anything else again.
5. What’s the last book you read and your current favorite?
The book I just finished was loaned to me by a friend. I read it so we could discuss it, but it’s not one I would have picked up on my own. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, a dystopian fantasy. My current favorite is much more difficult, since I’ve discovered several Indie fantasy writers in the last four years that I love. Probably Prince of Malorn by Annie Douglass Lima.
6. If you could meet any author, alive or dead, who would it be?
I wish I could meet Katherine Kurtz and talk about medieval stuff with her. She inspired me to write about the early Middle Ages with her heavily-researched Deryni fantasy series.
You As A Writer
7. When did you first know you were a writer?
I thought it was in the third grade, but after my mother died a couple years ago, I found several stories I’d written in second grade that she saved in a box and never told me! All of them were illustrated (I also wanted to be an illustrator), and one was even entitled “The Dragon Who Ate People.”
8. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? If so, what was it about?
The first story I remember writing was 37 pages long and illustrated, about Bambi the deer and his friends going to all the planets of the Solar System. Since I had just watched the Disney movie and also wanted to be an astronaut, I guess I combined the two. I found this story in Mom’s box, too, but I vividly remember my third grade teacher asking me to read it to the class at the end of the day, and she didn’t believe me that I had to go to the bathroom first, so I wet my pants in front of the class. It didn’t discourage me from writing more epic stories, though.
9. What has been the most difficult part of your writing journey? The best part?
The most difficult part has been when my successful nonfiction career was derailed by cancer at age forty-six. The chemo was so strong, it messed with my brain, and I could never get back into the groove of writing for magazines. It was the only time I actually made money as a writer. The best part, though, is how poetry and novels have literally poured out of me since then. It’s much more fun to write than nonfiction, even though it’s not profitable. The joy in writing is what it’s all about, for me. I’m just grateful I’m still around to write down all these stories crammed into my head!
10. Of all the writing advice you’ve received, what helped you the most?
When I first started writing, I thought I was “good enough” to be published, but it took me seven years and over six HUNDRED rejection letters before my first sale. The best advice I received was to never send out anything without first having another pair of eyes on it (or more). I’ve always made sure I was part of a critique group of serious writers to help me polish my drafts, and it has made all the difference.
11. Tell us about your current project and any others you’re working on.
After I finished my last fantasy series (He Who Finds Mercy) I thought I’d go back to an old manuscript I tried to write about twenty years ago, a clean romance about two band directors. But those characters weren’t talking to me. Then, in one day, my brain filled with characters and plot lines, and a rough outline of an entire new series poured out. Dolan is fifteen years old and King of Levathia, a land of dragons. Though he has a young brother as heir, his Regency Council is pressuring him to marry and have an heir of his own. I have a female antagonist for the first time, and she’s been interesting to write. She’s a creepy nobleman’s daughter who thinks she can use the “dark arts” to force the young king to choose her.
Fun Stuff About You
12. Besides writing and reading, what are some of your other interests?
I play multiple instruments (flute, piccolo, fife, and most band instruments, along with piano, guitar, and am learning harp), just for fun now since my health forced me to stop teaching and playing professionally. My favorite thing these days is to play with my grandchildren, and my husband and I are planning to go back to Prague in September for our 40th anniversary. I wish I could afford to travel more. I also have learned the long Lee-modified Yang form of Tai Chi well enough that I can teach it. It’s difficult to find students who are patient enough to learn the 108 moves, though, so I mostly do it by myself.
13. If you could become an instant expert at any one thing, what would it be and why?
I would LOVE to learn the sword form of Tai Chi. It’s probably the only way I could safely learn how to do anything with a sword! I used to want to learn how to play bagpipes, but I don’t think I have enough air now.
14. You’ve just won an all expenses paid trip to anywhere in the world. Where would you go?
Since I’ve already been to Prague once (which was my dream destination for years) then I’d have to say Scotland. If I ever got to visit, I wouldn’t want to leave, I’m sure!
15. How can people connect with you?
16. Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I’ll just pass along something I learned from author Jane Yolen after spending a weekend with her at a writer’s retreat: Write for love first, not money, because the love you put into your words makes them worth writing (and reading).
Thanks for telling us a little about you! Not only am I loving getting to know Valerian and Mercy, but your backlist is pretty impressive. I’m looking forward to meeting your other characters.
If you’re interested in Katy’s books, you can find the “He Who Finds Mercy” books at the links below.