Jennifer Priester is the author of The Mortal Realm Witch series for ages 1 – 8. The series currently consists of eleven books. Jennifer is both an author and an artist, so many of the illustrations in her book are her original works. She also owns the publishing company A&M Creations and is a huge animal lover as well as a big supporter of rescue pets.
I recently had a chance to ask Jennifer some questions about her work
Q. What is a Mortal Realm witch? How are mortal realm witches different from other witches? What do they contribute to the world?
A mortal realm witch is exactly as it sounds, a witch that lives in the Mortal Realm. The only difference between a Mortal Realm witch and a witch living in the Other Realm is that those in the Mortal Realm often get along better with mortals. Throughout history witches and mortals have often been enemies. Mortal Realm witches, having been living with mortals yet still being witches, are often, but not always
the ones trying to keep peace between witches and mortals. One other fun fact about Mortal Realm witches is that if you are a warlock living in the Mortal Realm, you are also considered to be a Mortal Realm witch. Witch is technical term for both witches and warlocks.
Q. Are you a Mortal Realm witch? If so, how long have you known that you are, or did you choose to be one?
I take on the countenance of a Mortal Realm witch only when I write. I chose to become a Mortal Realm Witch for the first time the summer after my sixth grade year.
Q. Can anyone be a mortal realm witch?
If you are a witch and live in this Realm, the Mortal Realm, then you are one. If a witch from the Mortal Realm moves to the Other Realm then they are no longer considered to be Mortal Realm witches. If you are a mortal and are given your magical powers from a witch, then for as long as you live in the Mortal Realm, you become a Mortal Realm Witch. Otherwise it is not possible, but just because you can't become a Mortal Realm Witch any other way, you can be a Mortal Realm magic user. Details on this can be found throughout the Mortal Realm Witch series.
Q. What is an anipal?
An anipal is basically any animal I am friends with. The term anipals fits, although is never used in any of my books. This is just a term I used on my website. Anipals do include pets. I usually define an anipal as animals I don't live with but am friends with. The anipals page on my website is basically a tribute page to the animals that have inspired books and characters in different stories. Each anipal on the page has a photo and a short description of who they are as well as what books and characters they have inspired.
Q. Do all mortal realm witches have a close connection to animals? Would you call them animal communicators – or can they only communicate with their inner circle of animals/anipals?
While the term anipal is never used in the book, witches do have them, and all witches, Mortal Realm or Other Realm, have very close connections to animals. In a way they are animal communicators because they can talk to any animal. Usually with Mortal Realm animals, they need to put a spell on the animal to give it the ability to talk because most witches can't understand animal speak any easier than mortals without the use of magic. Although some witches, such as my main series witch, DWW, is a protector witch. Protector witches have the ability to turn into a specific animal naturally, without the use of any magic. When in this form, which for DWW is a wolf, these witches can't be detected by witch hunters. Because of this, protector witches have the job of protecting the same type of animal that they can turn into. Because DWW can change into a wolf naturally, not only can she become one, but she can understand them whether she is in her wolf form or not. While witches like DWW have a lot of anipals, their closest ones are their familiars. A familiar is a talking animal that teaches a witch or warlock how to use magic. These animals are live in teachers and most of the time, witches and their familiars are best friends. DWW and her familiar; a Golden Retriever called Trillman are actually no exception to this although in the first book it may not seem this way. More about familiars will be able to be learned throughout the Mortal Realm Witch series, especially in the first series companion.
Q. What prompted you to begin a book series about mortal realm witches?
I actually had no plans on writing a series. After the first story in Book One: Mortal Meets Magic, I thought I was done. Somehow throughout that next school year, my thoughts kept wandering back to that story and I began imagining myself as DWW and wondering what it would be like to have witchcraft of my own. As I imagined these things I wrote them, and DWW's next stories got written based on my daydreams. The story behind the series is actually a little too long to add here, so anyone interested can learn the story on my blog here: http://animalsandmagic.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/unfinished-projects-do-we-ever-return-or-how-the-mortal-realm-witch-series-came-to-be/
There have been a few minor changes and additions to the series since, but it was completely up to date at the time I posted.
Q. Are all of the books in this series largely focused on animals?
I would say yes, a lot of them are focused on animals, whether they’re familiars, Other Realm creatures, pets, wolves, my witches in wolf form, or whatever, there are a lot of animals in the series, many of which have large roles throughout. Some of the animals with the biggest roles in the series are: Trillman (Golden Retriever), Max (Labrador Retriever), Brad (Black Panther/Black Cat from Book Three), The Fire Pack (Asantra's wolf pack in books four, companion 2, and book five), Screetche (Asantra's familiar, a Double X Bird), Star (Jack Russell Terrier), and others as well. Probably the least animal focused book in the series, is Trillman's Story, a free to read story here: http://www.mortalrealmwitch.com/extras/freetoreadstories.html The reason I consider it to be the least animal focused is because, although it is about Trillman, the story takes place back when Trillman was a human warlock living in the Mortal Realm. It is the story of how he became a familiar.
Q. If your series on mortal realm witches could convey one or two key messages – what would they be?
I don't really know, I suppose there are some, but this isn't something I think about when I am writing and I am not even good at seeing these things in other people's work. I guess you would have to read the series and see what you could come up with. Now, if you were to ask my characters they would each tell you something different. Such as, my characters were recently interviewed. Some of which were asked to give advice to the readers. One character, my villain Sampson advised them not to tell anyone their plans if their goal is to take over the Realms. I think he would consider this to be an important series message. Asantra might tell you that she believes an important message in the series would be that the little things matter, as she learned the hard way. So, I think the messages in the series will vary greatly based on the reader. And since I mentioned it the interview schedule for my characters can be found here if anyone is interested: http://www.mortalrealmwitch.com/whatsnew.html
Q. What is the hardest thing about writing this series of books?
The hardest part has been developing the characters’ personalities. Because I rarely know who my characters are until I have written everything out, my characters actually develop throughout the course of the series rather than in the first book they appear. So, if you read about a character that is in more than one book of mine, companions and some not series books included (Some characters such as the superheroes, Black Cat, Chihuahua, The Star Power Puppy, and Wonder Wolf in the second companion, or the young animal psychics in Book Three, are actually characters from different books that aren't part of the Mortal Realm Witch series.). To really know who my characters are you would have to read them all as more about them is revealed over time. In some cases, such as DWW or Sampson, they are younger in Book One so they are still developing who they are. To some people the characters come across as underdeveloped, which would be the case if there were just one book, but because it is a series, I had the chance to learn who they are without restricting them to being anyone specific at the start.
Q. How has the public received the Mortal Realm witches series? Is this the response you hoped for? If not, what would you like to see?
Overall the public has liked book one, however a lot of people haven't understood its purpose. Most of the people who have given negative feedback have only read the first three stories, so their feedback is based on an initial impression of my characters, and if they were to continue beyond that point they would experience a critical turning point in which DWW hits her stride. This is where more action begins to come into the story. Some of the people have said the book is boring because there isn't enough action, but a few of these same people have also claimed to like the book which is a bit confusing. Most people have either liked or loved it and are anxiously awaiting the next one. One of my reviews also says the characters are underdeveloped, but I have only heard this once. I would really like it if more people could understand what I am doing with my series, but they would have to make the commitment to read all the books in order to do this. I would also like to see more of the people who have really liked the book reviewing it. I did hope people would like it, but I guess I expected it to have a better response based on the feedback I got from my original beta readers and book reviewers, who I know gave their honest responses prior to the books publishing, but strangely it's the ones that really like my book that I have no idea why they like it. More of these types of reviews would be great. Obviously the ones that really like it aren't missing the main goal of book one, which really is about learning about magic, as the title suggests. In Book One the reader is learning everything DWW learned. I almost feel like, for some people, I should have put a warning on the book saying: Warning! You will learn about magic! Maybe this would have alerted people that Book One does have more details, but if they don't know them, it may make the next books a little harder to understand.
Q. How has writing this series changed your life?
I don't know, I actually wonder if the writing changed my life or was writing the series my life? After all, I have been writing adventures for these characters since the summer after sixth grade, which was several years ago.
Q. What have you learned through the writing and promoting of this series that surprised you?
What surprised me most was learning where I could promote and sell books and where I couldn't. After writing my book I had expected bookstores and my local library to be the biggest help. I was wrong. The local independent bookstore had no interest in helping, not even if I supplied the book. The chain one; Barnes and Noble, was more helpful. Although my publisher, who is me, I own the publishing company A & M Moonlight Creations, would have to pay for a spot in the store and they couldn't let me do book signings or anything. They did offer some sales advice, the first suggestion was that it wouldn't make any sense for me to buy a spot in the store while people have no idea who I am because the book wouldn't be likely to sell even there, and having only one book at the time just made that worse.
My local library, although highly supportive of my book manager's book (according to her.), almost seemed to have no interest in mine. They said I could donate a copy and if it circulated then they might buy more. Even if I did donate, I would still have the same problem Barnes and Noble told me about. It wouldn't be very likely to circulate yet. So, while I did mean to get it to them at some point, my local library still doesn't have a copy of my book.
The first helpful place for promoting my book was my local Key Bank. Mine, and others, have allowed me to put up a sign with take away cards about my books, and my closest one has even allowed me to keep my sign up even while other companies are using the table. Although I have only sold a few books, and don't know what the buyers saw about my book and where they saw it, I don't know if this way of promoting is doing anything, but it is free so why not?
The next helpful place was at the Tack Shop of the local barn I ride at. I never asked her to put my book in her shop, instead she asked me if she could have some copies. This is now the only physical store where my book is available, but she has gotten lucky and sold a copy and so far everyone at the barn who has read the book has liked it so word is slowly spreading around there.
Schools have been helpful on and off. A few of them have bought books for the school library and some of my teachers and other people I know have bought my book. My guidance counselor at the one school borrowed a copy because he had an idea to promote it. I never heard back from him and he still has the book so, I'm not sure what's up with that. So, far only one school, my first grade school, has been my main source of negative feedback. I'm not sure why the people at that school aren't liking it, while my other schools are, but so far, from the feedback I have heard, everyone has liked it. They just haven’t finished the book because it is too detailed and had no plot line. Which is true, my book doesn't have a deep plot line like other books, rather the plot focuses on DWW's struggles to learn responsibility, and is the turning point. Unfortunately, the story of Wolf Magic, is where everyone stops so they never read to the best part.
The most successful place, for finding people who are highly supportive of my book, is actually a library. As surprised as I was that my own library took so little interest, the next library over was very interested. I have been going to this library for a long time so some of them knew about the book while I was working on it. Maybe this is why they were as interested as they were. Anyway, from the moment we first told them about the book being out they actually directly asked if I would donate a copy to them. The same day, the friends of the library system set things up so that I could sell my books during their book sales at each of the 4 library's. I have only gotten to do 2 of the 4 so far, but at each one I have had my own table or section of table right near the checkout for the books. And two of the friends who are there almost every day of the sale have read and really liked my book so whenever they see someone buying books that they think might be interested in mine, they mention it to them. They have sold some books for me, and this has become my main way to sell books. I also help during the sales a lot so that I am helping the library and not just selling my books.
Perhaps one of my biggest surprises when selling my book, was how many people were attracted to and bought my book because there is a Golden Retriever on the cover. I know this is something I do a lot, I see something on the cover and take an interest in the book, but I guess I didn't expect Trillman to be the selling point over any other character featured on the cover.
Q. What else should we know about this body of work you have created?
Book One's stories are meant to be read individually. Although connected, there is no huge plot as I mentioned earlier. Each story is told from a different characters’ point of view. Throughout the series the books and stories in them can be read in any sequence, but are still best when read in sequential order. It is highly possible, however, that Book One works better as a backstory than as the first book in the series. There is also a main theme that emerges throughout the series.
We had a holistic vet for my first dog, CeJaye. He went to her originally because he was allergic to some of the meds his vet wanted to put him on. My current dog, Taco will probably be seeing her soon, he is getting older now and developing some of the same problems. I have never met the holistic vet, but based on what I heard about CeJaye's reaction to her I think Taco would also like her. CeJaye was never known for liking strangers, or me on many occasions, but he liked this vet.
Jennifer Priester is both the author and an avid reader of fiction and nonfiction books about animals, the relationships between humans and animals, magic and the supernatural. She has written over 200 stories, all of which will eventually be published. Her first published work is the book series, Mortal Realm Witch for ages 8-adult. Besides reading and writing Jennifer likes to draw, she does all the drawings for her books with some help from a friend.
Jennifer has animals of my own, most of which are rescues; she also loves to spend time with other people's pets. She spends a lot of time on social network sites and is constantly updating Facebook and Twitter. She has a Facebook author page under the name of Jennifer Priester, and one under the name of her publishing company A & M Moonlight Creations. She also has an author blog on wordpress.com under the name of animalsandmagic. Jennifer’s books are available at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble online, but you can go to Barnes and Noble physical stores to get the book shipped to you or the store for free. Her books are currently only available in print format. The Mortal Realm Witch series has its own website: www.mortalrealmwitch.com.
The Mortal Realm Witch Series Books (Series and Companion books in release order and order they fit best in. eBooks are not defined in this way yet.)
Book One: Mortal Realm Witch: Learning About Magic
Book Two: Mortal Realm Witch: The Magic Continues
MRW C1 (Mortal Realm Witch Companion 1): Tales of Familiars: The First Mortal Realm Witch Series Companion
Book Three: Mortal Realm Witch: Realms Unite?
Book Four: The Adventures of DWW2
MRW C2: Tales of Young Asantra: The Second Mortal Realm Witch Series Companion
Book Five: Mortal Realm Witch 5 (title not defined yet)
MRW C3: Tales of Other Realm Creatures: The Third Mortal Realm Witch Series Companion
The Mortal Realm Witch Guide to Other Realm Creatures
eBook 1: Allura's First Magical Discovery
eBook 2: Trillman's Tales
eBook 3: Ally & DWW
Website comic book style video: Mortal Realm Witch Presents: Ally & Air Raid in: Book Light
My Other Books:
Short Story Collections (named):
Heroes United: A Collection of Superhero Stories. (This book features mostly stories about animal superhero's, although there are some human ones as well. This one has several stories inspired by my favorite anipals. For some reason my favorites often become superheroes.)
Short Story Collections (unnamed)
A collection of animal adventure stories. (Some of my favorite stories that I have ever written are in this collection.)
A collection of cat and horse stories. (In this one is a horse character called; Nightmare who's personality is made up of three horses I knew and one of the only stories where the anipals are not mentioned on my website. One reason is that I don't have photos of them, and the other is that they don't exactly fit the term of anipal.)
A collection of dog stories. (One of the stories inspired by my Chihuahua, Taco, is in this one.)
A collection of random animal stories. (this includes stories about animals such as: a ferret, a kangaroo, an ostrich, a wolf pack, a dog and a cat, a hybrid animal, and others.)
A collection of magical and supernatural stories. (This one also might include some sci-fi)
A collection of Christmas stories.
More books made up of connecting short stories:
The Dogs That Saved the World
Back to the Wild (stories of different animals being returned to the wild after having lived in captivity.)
The Young Animal Psychics
"Good Luck" Animal Shelter (a book of different animal rescue stories where every animal has a secret.)
My comic book/graphic novel:
Spider and Jackal (A story inspired by the relationship between my two dogs, back when I had two of them. Some stories in this one actually happened, some are variations of things they did, and others are pure fiction, but all were inspired by my crazy dogs. My rabbits also got a place in this book.)
My nonfiction books:
My Pets and Their Lives (Every pet I have ever owned and their full life stories. I have been keeping it up to date so that it will be as current as possible once published.)
Animals in the Shelters (A book inspired by the first rescue pet I ever owned, the mixed breed bunny, Oreo. This book is about animal cruelty and animal rescue. The goal is to not just inform but help rescue animals get adopted. Besides facts I have included in it many real life success stories about rescue pets, a few failed adoptions with the stories behind them and reasons it didn't work out, as well as shelter stories from when I worked at the shelter. Once this book is published, I will be giving part of the profits to animal rescue.)
Just Dreaming: The Dreams I Had and the Stories They Became (This one besides talking about the origin of several of my published, or what will be published books at the time this one is out, also will include some stories that will be exclusive to this book. In this book will be the dreams as they originally happened, what the dreams meant, then for the exclusives, the full story as I wrote it.)
My Collaboration Story:
The Battle of Ebulon.
The Battle of Ebulon is a collaboration story I have been working on with other authors, in which is serving as a free promotion for the authors of the book. Each author chose characters from their books to join in this battle. Each author's section will be able to be read as an individual short story, but is a full length novel. Characters from across the Mortal Realm Witch series and Heroes United will be in my part of the book. The Battle of Ebulon will be free on Smash words. My part takes place after the final book in the Mortal Realm Witch main series (Book Five) and after Heroes United, but it was designed so that anyone can read it before reading any of my books, as that was the point of the collaboration.
My next series:
Animal World is a couple of book series will be fictional stories featuring true facts about animals. The aim of this series is to educate readers about animals and their lives in a fun and entertaining way. In total the Animal World series will feature over 250 animals in 41 books. The series will be split into three parts: Animal World, Animal World Super Editions, and a split off series: Animal World: Endangered.
The first Animal World series will have 22 regular books, and 5 super editions.
The split off series: Animal World: Endangered, will have 14 books and will focus exclusively on endangered species.
At the end of each book will also be a nonfiction section featuring some facts about each of the animals in the book as well as a nonfiction introduction in the beginning to introduce the biome, or common thing each animal has in the book. For example, the one book in the Animal World series will be about animals that live in the Alpine, so in the beginning, a nonfiction intro to the Alpine environments with information such as the locations they are found in and the animals that live in them, will be presented before the stories that are in the book. Then in the ending nonfiction section I will go into more detail about the animals in the stories which will feature both facts I used in the story, as well as some other facts that I find interesting about the animals.
If there is anything else you want to know, based on this email or my answers to the interview questions, let me know.
Causes Robin Donovan Supports
I am on the board of the Alzheimer's of the Midlands
Hearts United for Animals