Author Selah Janel Interview and $20.00 Amazon Gift Card Contest LIVE Here

In the Red by Selah JanelBBB: Tell us 3 things not in your bio we don’t know about you that might make us leery of befriending you. LOL

SJ: Weeell, if you really want to be freaked out right off the bat…I also work in the world of costumes and design, so I handle a lot of different materials and have gotten pretty good at making synthetic human skin out of latex. I try to hide my elitist geek side, it does come out…most recently someone made the mistake of asking me why I thought Nolan Batman movies were any different than the comics…let’s just say my reply was very long, very impassioned, and the other party will probably never make the mistake of talking about that with me ever again, heh. So yeah…if I really, really like something (especially comics, music, or stories), I will go on about it and debate it for a small eternity if allowed. I also have moments where I’m as far from tech-savvy as a human being can get. It’s not uncommon for me to burst out in a rant about how we should all just go back to living in caves because then I could actually keep up with everything and accomplish things faster.

BBB: What actors would you choose to play some of your characters if your book were made into a movie or a TV show?

SJ: I rarely go into writing a book or a story with the thought of an actor avatar, but after thinking it over once the story is done, I can usually come up with a few ideas. I absolutely love Joe Anderson in Across the Universe. I love that he can sing and handle a musical performance well, but also really get into the gritty emotion of a character. I can definitely see him as Jeremiah Kensington/J.K. Asmodeus. He could handle all aspects of the character and really bring a lot to the wild and really emotional aspects. I’d also really like to see Gene Simmons as Jack Scratch, the manager/devil-like character in the book. Not only does he have the physical differences I had in mind between Jeremiah and Jack, but he has a really intense, sly energy that is really right for the character. He directs attention really well and I think it would be a blast to see him in that kind of otherworldly role.

BBB: How do you keep track of your world building?

SJ:I take a lot of notes – sometimes in a document as I’m writing, sometimes on slips of paper, sometimes in separate documents. My brain works fast and at random times, so I really have to record stuff as I think of it. It also depends on how long an idea has been germinating and fermenting in my mind – I have notes on things that I’ve been developing for years and am just now starting to really sort out the structure and what I want to do with them. In the Red started as much more of a narrative short story – the second half of the book didn’t even exist in the original conception. As it evolved and as I realized that I had to not only ground things in the real world but keep things like the band’s history and what types of supernatural action I had going on straight and in order, it definitely came down to a lot of notes. Some details got changed every single day for a while until I was happy with the results.

BBB: Please tell us more about In the Red and the storyline that drives it.

SJ: It had started out as an idea to take some of the themes from the fairy tale ‘The Red Shoes’ by Hans Christian Andersen and modernize it, really run with it. It developed into a really odd, interesting urban fantasy story that ended up really striking a chord with me as I continued to develop it. Jeremiah Kensington is a Midwestern guy who feels stuck in all areas of his life. He wants out and he wants more than anything to be a rock star. Jack Scratch comes along and offers him everything he wants and more – all he has to do is sign a contract and change his image, including wearing a pair of red platforms. As Jeremiah goes along the platforms control more and more of his personality and he gets sucked further into Jack’s vision of the rock n’ roll lifestyle. He loses himself and makes some really bad choices that change his life permanently. The second half of the book is his attempt to not only figure out who he is and how to be human again, but ultimately decide if he even wants to go on. Jeremiah doesn’t necessarily fall because he’s in rock n’ roll – he loses himself because he never really had himself to begin with; he’s willing to compromise everything to get some version of what he thinks will make him happy. It’s definitely about the influence of these mysterious creatures and forces, but it’s also about the power of music, the power of what you believe in, and being able to move forward after being struck down. It’s got a little bit of everything and I hope it appeals to a lot of different types of people.

BBB: How many more books there be in this world?

SJ: At the moment, this is the only one. I’d like to revisit the world and I hope to sometime in the future. I think there’s definitely more to say there, but until I’m happy with an idea and have something that won’t just repeat the themes of In the Red, I won’t really work on it in earnest. It still occupies my thoughts, though, and I’m working on setting up a page on my blog where people can find tidbits about the world. That’s been an idea I’ve had for a few months and I’m still working on developing that.

BBB: Did you do any kind of research to determine the details of your characters lives / lifestyles?

SJ: Oh, yeah. The good thing is that I’m really into classic rock, hard rock, and some metal. As the first section of the book grew, though, I realized I needed to get more detailed and a little smarmier than I’d initially been willing to write. I’m relatively boring in comparison, which helped with the small-town bits, but there were definitely days that I had to do a little reading up on the party lifestyle and then get over my hesitations and dig deep to channel a Tommy Lee-type muse. I’ve been a singer and I’ve done performance work, but my experience has been drastically different than what Jeremiah goes through. Luckily I also have a lot of musician and performer friends who patiently subjected themselves to a lot of weird questions – not just on terminology and technique, but on what it feels like to play an instrument vs. standing there and singing, and the emotional aspect of music, too. I wanted to make sure the second half of the book held up and didn’t seem trite in comparison, so I grilled a lot of people. I also did a lot of research on different medical conditions and treatments, because the entire second part takes place within a hospital. For a while I was worried about not being technical enough, but I finally realized that the reader experiences most of the action through Jeremiah’s emotional reactions, so taking the story from that angle made it easier. I think what surprised me, though, was how emotional of a title it ended up being for me. While I’m way different person than Jeremiah and I’ve had way different life experiences, I definitely faced my own problems and tried to bring some of those anxieties to his personality. I didn’t go into the book thinking I was going to have to dig that deep, and I found myself exploring emotions and different situations that surprised and challenged me. I’m grateful for it, it definitely made me a better writer, but it wasn’t always an easy process.

BBB: Are you a plotser or a panster? or a Planster (a combo of both – lol)

SJ: I generally have a basic plot in mind and a definite end point. In the case of In the Red I had a narrative that went to the end of the first half of the book. When I realized it deserved to be expanded and fleshed out more, I had a definite ending image in my mind, but wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get there. It really took listening to the characters and how they’d changed and developed since I first thought up the story to fill in the blanks and make it work. At the end of the day I like to give things a little leeway because I never know what tangents will turn into great subplots or what asides will reveal shocking things about the characters to me. I totally had moments where I thought I had a clear idea and I was ready to drive the plot home and then something would pop into my head that would change everything up, but it was too good not to use. There was at least one character that was only vaguely mentioned in the original draft that has since become a pretty large and important part of the book. I suppose that makes me a Plantser, lol.

BBB: What types of creatures can readers expect in your world?

SJ: There are demons and people that are strongly hinted have been turned into demons or something ‘else’. For a while I leave it up to reader interpretation, but there very much are weird things and nothing is as it seems. As Jeremiah progresses in his journey you get to see more and more of what’s really going on. Plus when you combine demons with rock stars, you know you’re in for a fun time. The character of Jack Scratch, who fills the role of the devil character in the original ‘Red Shoes’ fairytale. He’s tempting but also repulsive, strong but for desperate reasons, and he is definitely a force to be reckoned with. There are some good guys, too, but I leave it up to the readers as to whether they think there are angels or something on the other spiritual end of the spectrum because in this book what spirituality is really depends on the individual character. There is also the pair of red shoes that tempts and somewhat possesses Jeremiah, leading him further into his role of J.K. Asmodeus and further along the path to damnation.

BBB: What’s coming up for you in 2012 and 2013?

SJ: I just released a holiday story with Mocha Memoirs Press in December, a mix of urban fantasy and chick lit titled Holly and Ivy. Right now I have work slated for a few anthologies that are still coming together and I’ve also got a piece scheduled to appear in The Realm Beyond’s issue 5. I’ve got some projects on the horizon and hope to have a few bigger things either coming out this year or at least being announced this year. It’s an exciting time and I’m really looking forward to what the year has to offer!

Read an excerpt of In the Red

Here: http://selahjanel.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/my-first-novel-is-here-presenting-in-the-red/

Author Bio:

Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that
fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town.

Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented
storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping
everything she learned didn’t hurt, either. She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror, but
can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the
unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane.

She has four e-books with No Boundaries Press, including the historical vampire story ‘Mooner’
and the contemporary short ‘The Other Man’. Her work has also been included in ‘The
MacGuffin’, ‘The Realm Beyond’, ‘Stories for Children Magazine’, and the upcoming Wicked
East Press anthology ‘Bedtime Stories for Girls’. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal,
her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.

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Learn more about Selah Janel below
Blog – http://www.selahjanel.wordpress.com
Fandom Scene Column – http://www.fandomfestblog.com/blogs/selah-janel
Facebook Author Page – http://www.facebook.com/authorSJ
Facebook Book Page – http://www.facebook.com/intherednovel
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5622096.Selah_Janel
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/SelahJanel

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116 comments

  1. What is your favorite paranormal tv series or movie?

    • I love a lot of different shows with paranormal elements – I’d even say they shaped my perspective growing up. One of my favorite things as a kid was waking up early on a Saturday and watching The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, lol. I also really ate up not only the gods and goddess elements of Xena and Hercules as a teen, but how that show really played with reality, time, and mythological elements. I get busy and behind with what’s current these days, but I’m just now really starting to get into Supernatural and loving their take on all sorts of different paranormal creatures and stories – plus the classic rock element doesn’t hurt, either ;)

  2. i havent read the book yet, but what aspects of your paranormal world building is different from what has been put out before. what truly unique aspects can we look forward to

    • Lynette, all I can speak of is how I compare to things I’m aware of or been influenced by, but that’s a great question! In terms of other fairy tale oriented fiction, I made the conscious choice to not reference that there were those elements going on in the story at all. The Red Shoes isn’t the most known story, anyway, so instead of really putting it up front and making the characters aware of the similarities, I chose instead to just go with some of the themes and archetypes from the story and really make it my own, push it into the realm of urban fantasy and let the characters develop into their own people instead of trying to adhere to a model.

      In terms of other straight paranormal work that’s out there today, I chose to play the elements as straight as possible. Is Jeremiah really seeing things or is it because of his drug activity? Is this stuff really going on or is he slowly going mad? There are one or two characters in the book that have experience in the paranormal realm, but I try not to use them as the knowledgeable character that suddenly kick starts everything into gear. Jeremiah eventually has people helping him, but at the end of the day he has to go through a lot of it on his own. There’s also a lot of his own personal issues coming up instead of him just fighting against an outside force. Plus, in terms of a deal with the devil story, I made it a point to go in a different direction with the resolution – sometimes there are way worse things than facing down ultimate evil.

      My demons also like a lot of mind games – they show themselves, but it takes a long time for Jeremiah to figure out what’s going on, and they really enjoy taunting him with that. In a way it’s almost better if he’s oblivious, because then they instantly win. I don’t think I’m as inclined to stick to a straight “this is this creature and they’re related to this court and they’re evil because” formula. It’s all about exploring why these people would let in this type of evil, let themselves be transformed into these things.

  3. Can good characters do bad things and still be endearing? Is it acceptable for a protagonist to have a dark side and make mistakes? Dark side makes characters more human.

    • I’m glad you think so, Minna. :) I know I like being able to relate to characters and feel for them even if I don’t agree with their choices. I think we all like to hope that a person can work through things or use their darkness to become well-rounded.

  4. At what age did you start writing creatively and how were you most encouraged you to pursue it?

    • I’ve been writing and telling stories for fun ever since I was a little kid…I still remember in elementary school where we had to write stories for a school contest, and I kept getting corrections on mine and encouraged to rewrite it. At the time, handwriting wasn’t my strongest point and I didn’t want to work on the blasted thing anymore. I’ll never forget it – my mother actually came to school to encourage me to give it one more try, that sometimes things aren’t perfect right away and it’s worth sticking with it. That’s always stayed with me. I’ve written for myself for years and years, but a few years ago I finally decided to start trying to submit things again, to not put it off because I could be missing out on something that made me really happy. I’m really lucky to just a rock star group of friends who are always cheering for me. My family, too, is pretty great about letting me try what I’m interested in – I’m sure they don’t always understand what I’m working on, but it says something that they give me the freedom to do it without judgment.

  5. What is your favorite book you ever read? And did it have an effect on your writing style?

    • Oh, man…I love so many books. If I really, really, REALLY had to choose, I’d probably have to say Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. He is my all-time favorite author, and that book is so great at glorifying the little things; plus, it has subtle speculative elements that are worked into the plot so beautifully. It’s really a graceful book. I think that book reminded me that you don’t always have to focus on huge plot elements – these days everything seems to be bigger and better. Sometimes it’s good to look at how the little things effect characters or plot.

      Bradbury has definitely affected my writing in other ways – I still remember buying a copy of The October Country when I was working in the Outer Banks one summer. I stayed up half the night reading, and suddenly realized during the story The Wind that the imagery was so strong that I was actually mistaken into thinking there was a shrieking storm outside! Reading his work has made me focus on my characters’ emotions more; I don’t take any of their reactions for granted. I also started to play much more with descriptions after getting into his work.

      The other big influence is definitely Neil Gaiman. After reading Smoke and Mirrors and then Sandman…it was like a punch in the stomach (in a good way). I’d gotten depressed thinking that no one really cared about mythos or old stories anymore, and here was someone working in elements to all his books and it was all insanely fabulous! Reading him definitely made me try harder, and I like that he plays a lot of his work straight (there is definitely humor and cleverness, but it doesn’t ever get too cute or clever where it pulls you out of the story).

  6. Another Supernatural fan! I love the episode where Sam and Dean meet the Gods from different cultures.
    And since we are on the topic: What is your favorite episode of Supernatural?

    What was the best book you’ve read last year and did it give you some inspiration for your own stories?

    • (blush) oh man, to answer this well means you’ve stumbled upon my guilty secret – I’m restarting for the beginning because it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to watch a lot of it, and I’m really bad at just watching episodes randomly, so I’ve had to demote myself back to newbie status, lol. Knowing what it’s going to turn into, though, I can appreciate the first season a lot more than when I watched it as it aired years ago. I’ve also been on a Krampus kick this Christmas, and I remember the episode where they referenced that legend as being a good one :)

      Oh man…I’ve read so MANY good books last year! And of course now that you ask, my mind goes blank, lol. I read a lot of different genres and last spring I finally (finally, finally, FINALLY – I know…) sat down with some Stephen King that I’d realized I’d never read – Misery. For one, it’s so good at twisting those psychological screws and creating a claustrophobic atmosphere. I also like all the references to writing and how it affects Paul as the book moves on. Annie Wilkes is the ultimate fangirl gone wrong, and that is terrifying. The movie is great, too, but I was absolutely breathless reading the book. I don’t know that I’m anywhere near to creating that realistic or captivating a tone, but that type of writing, that level of work definitely makes me sit down and raise the bar on my own projects.

      I also tend to gravitate to cuddly or silly titles during the winter months, and this December I was getting caught up on the manga series Skip Beat! I have a soft spot for shojo manga, and this is one of my favorite series. All the twists and turns the characters go through, the crazy little things that turn up later and impact the plot. Reading manga has definitely affected how I structure my plot at times. I’m not as afraid to meander around before getting to the climactic scene. I’m not as afraid to explore inner aspects of characters, because that provides a lot of stuff that can come into play and be used in unusual ways.

      Although I will admit that Kyoko just plain cracks me up

  7. Do you have a favorite character in your book?

    • I think Daniella, Jeremiah’s sister is probably the most like me. She’s also made mistakes, but at the time of the book she’s developed into a well-rounded character who can be on her brother’s side and offer her own experiences. Plus she’s really strong-willed and outspoken, which I like. I suppose that says something about my temperament, lol.

      I actually started out…not hating Jeremiah/J.K., but having an active dislike of him. I found him whiny, not proactive, and selfish. But as the story developed and expanded, I suddenly realized that his attitude isn’t that much different than any other person who has a dream but doesn’t know how to make it happen. And he’s a fairly…maybe not gullible type, but he’s willing to ignore a lot of red flags if it gets him what he wants. He becomes a person I really don’t care for when he transforms into J.K. Asmodeus, but there’s a frailty underneath that piqued my interest. By the time the second half of the book developed, I was cheering for him, really pulling for him…I started to really get that it wasn’t that he was a bad person, he actually hadn’t developed into a full personality until that point. So now I have a much bigger appreciation and even a love for that character.

      And Jack Scratch just amuses me…I can get away saying things through him and Baal that I could never bust out with in real life, so that’s refreshing. I also like that Jack has a certain desperation under the surface that isn’t visible right away. He’s a different kind of devil figure, and I have to admit that I’m pleased with the way he turned out.

  8. Thanks for the interview! What was your favorite scene to write in In the Red?

    • Lesley, I had a few scenes that were a lot of fun to write and still stick out in my mind as some of the ‘definitive’ moments writing the book. The first time Jeremiah gets the boots…that scene really didn’t change much from the very beginning. It’s this moment where you really get a feel that something else is going on, and he really doesn’t care. In that one moment, at least, he’s willing to trust this shady manager that may or may not be human. All he’s concerned about is his own fame, not realizing that he’s showing a lot of his own potential darkness, too.

      There’s also a scene that takes place later in a hotel bathroom between Jeremiah and his wife Andrea. At first she was just more of a side character, the token rocker wife, but that scene really gave me a view into her naivete and how far Jeremiah had plummeted. All he has to do is look down at his bare feet and see that there’s something wrong and something weird going on – he’s physically and mentally being changed by wearing these boots. Andrea’s reactions gave me the willies while writing it…they come from a very human place, but that scene…I’m really proud of it. It came out of nowhere and I’m really glad it did, because I think it helped bridge the first and second parts of the book nicely.

      I also really like the ending confrontation in the book. I was able to do things a little different – give things a nice little twist and play with all sides of Jeremiah. But I don’t want to give too much away ;)

      Great, great question! And I apologize for any weird typing…my cat is on me at the moment, trying to get a word in, lol.

  9. I think a good character is someone I can relate to, if I don’t find any traits that will appeal to me, then I won’t like the character as much. A good character is someone who leaves an impression on me.

    • Very true. As I’ve gotten older and read all sorts of different titles, I’m always amazed at the characters I gravitate to. I think as we get more experiences under our belts characters who have human elements, including flaws, start to appeal to us more.

  10. A good character can make mistakes, I personaly don’t really like too perfect characters. It depends on the mistake, though, if he/she goes serial killer without a reason(like alien invasion or zombies) that’s a deal breaker.

    • It is a fine line, isn’t it, Gala? I’ve definitely gotten off series when a character starts to become so flawed that there’s no way to relate to him/her anymore. I think it’s important to keep a fine line (depending on the character), and in this case although Jeremiah starts out selfish and takes a downturn into being fairly dark, he has to work through all of that in the second part of the book. He pretty much learns how to be himself, learns who he is while he’s trying to save himself from all the craziness around him.

  11. Was it a long hard road to get published and do you think that the success of other paranormal fiction made it any easier for your book to be well received and ultimately published?

    • Nicci – great, great question! I’m going to take it in reverse order :)

      First, yeah, I think because paranormal-themed books are hot, that does make it easier, but I think it also depends on what type of publishing you’re looking at and what you’re hoping for. A hot theme doesn’t always mean a great book, so there also needs to be a well-written product (good grammar, spelling, consistent plot, etc). It also depends where an author is submitting to: to get in at a big house publisher or agent isn’t always the same path as looking at smaller publishers. That being said, if the book isn’t well done, it doesn’t matter where you take it (I’ve been turned down by all levels of people equally for different projects). I do think that compared to ten or twenty years ago people are more willing to look at paranormal titles, though. The theme has infiltrated every aspect of entertainment, so it’s become seen as more legitimate subject matter than it was in the past.

      For me, personally, a lot of it was getting out of my own way and really trying. I’d devoted a lot of time to learning how to craft a story and improve myself, but I had to really steel myself and decide that getting published was a goal. I had a decent amount of material on my hard drive, so I began the constant task of trying to find good fits for it. I made it a point to try to submit something once a week if I could, and if I got a rejection letter I had 48 hours to a week to resubmit it somewhere else. Three rejections and I re-examined a story and re-edited it. Really, submitting is a lot like dating – I’ve heard a lot of good comments in rejection letters, where really the gist is that it’s more or less because it’s just not what a person is looking for. I tend to look at all avenues and talk to a lot of people about places they like and experiences they’ve had, and I’m willing to try different things. It isn’t an easy path by any means, but it’s something I’ve wanted and I’m not going to give up on something that makes me happy. To put it in perspective, I’ve had some awesome luck in the past year and a half. I’ve been in two magazines, an ezine, had five ebooks published, written a column for a convention. I have upcoming stories in three anthologies and a magazine and I’m waiting to hear about a few bigger projects. I also have a file that is twenty pages of nothing but notations of rejections – one LINE usually notates one rejection unless I have a lot of notes about the experience.

      What’s also important to remember is once you’ve got a contract, it’s not the end of things. It’s important to edit well, be prepared to promote yourself, and just plain keep a handle on your creation. It’s not something you just send out into the wild to fend for itself, if that makes sense.

  12. Who is your favorite character in a book other than yours?

    • In the paranormal category, I really love Dream and Death in Gaiman’s The Sandman series. I love that an otherworldly character like Dream still has things to learn and has his problems. It took me reading that series a few times to really grasp it all, and it all really struck a chord. He has his faults and you want to throttle him sometimes, but you can also see where he’s coming from. He’s this mysterious being but there’s also something about him that you really want to get to know. You want to be around him, understand him, empathize with him…even if he’s a little scary, too.

      And Death…she’s just awesome. She’s so much fun, and I like the thought of such a huge concept being someone who’s friendly and loving in her own way. Plus I love the thought of Death as a woman. It’s a fabulous character.

      Non-paranormal, I really love Flavia DeLuce in Alan Bradley’s mystery series. She’s brilliant intellectually, but still acts like an eleven-year-old girl. Plus, she’s such a nut…I absolutely adore her!

  13. Who are some of your favorite paranormal authors?

    • Oh, man, let me think….I definitely love Neil Gaiman and I think some of Bradbury’s work could be classified as paranormal. I like the ideas that Jim Butcher comes up with in the Dresden Files, though I don’t always like the execution of them. Same with Charlaine Harris – awesome ideas, but there are some titles that just leave me a little cold. I’ve started reading Michael West lately, and I really like his blend of creatures or otherworldly forces with modern ideas; his titles are a lot of fun. Nancy A Collins – her Sonja Blue series is insane. The way she works all her different creatures and entities is amazing, though it isn’t a series for the faint of heart. I’m also a big fan of Clive Barker – not just his horror but his other titles more along the line of Imagica. The fact that he creates a mythos that huge is mind-blowing to me, and I like that as a male author he treats his female characters as well-developed beings and not cardboard fodder for whatever danger is lurking around.

  14. What makes a character a “good” character?

    A good character is someone I can relate to in some way. Someone I can understand and sympathize with.

  15. Can good characters do bad things and still be endearing?
    Yes, a good character can do bad things. Flaws in character and conflict between good and evil make a more human and interesting character.

  16. What makes a book an urban fantasy title?
    An urban fantasy title is a book that presents a conflict between humans and paranormals and is set in a modern city. Books by Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, and Laurel K. Hamilton fall into this category.

  17. Hi,

    apart from writing, what other creative outlets do you pursue?

    • Hi Mary!

      I work in costume design and construction, so I do a lot of sewing. I also like experimenting with different materials and how they work together, so I’ve started getting into more complex things like creatures or really intricate outfits. I’ve also worked as a performer and puppeteer (recently did a holiday puppet show about winter), and studied voice for about ten years in my teens and early twenties. I just plain love creating stuff, and I try to incorporate it into my life as much as possible! :)

  18. Favorite paranormal book ever?

    • Probably American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It was one of the few books where I didn’t see the ending coming at all, and I love how intricately the modern life of gods and goddesses was woven into the book. It was so seamlessly done – everything made perfect sense. Plus, all the little Midwestern eccentricities were nice touches. You really get pulled along for the ride from the start, and there are so many bizarre twists and turns – it’s just fabulous.

  19. In reading (or writing) what three main qualities must a character have?

    • For me, I like for a character to either have a definite backstory or definite reasons for their emotions. Even if we don’t know everything right away, you can usually tell when an author is making it up as they go along. That’s fine, but for a character’s decisions to make sense, at some point the past and how they handled it comes into play – I’m not a fan of the giant reveal all at once that becomes the climax of a story. I’d rather see the character grow and be battling their issues or what have you from the beginning – not have it just come out of nowhere.

      I think it’s also important for them to be vulnerable in some way – physically, emotionally, spiritually…there has to be a soft spot or hole, just like there usually is with regular people. That helps readers identify with the character; the character becomes more of a person and less of a guilty pleasure, self-insertion type thing.

      I also think a character should have the ability to change – granted, in some short fiction or more pulp-style or horror-style titles, this isn’t always necessary, but at least with the protagonist in a longer work it’s nice to see how they progress, and that they have that capability (either for better or worse). No one remains the same through the course of their life and I don’t want a character I read or write or care about to be that way, either. It may be comfortable and easy to identify them as “this person” but it gets boring.

  20. Can good characters do bad things and still be endearing? Is it acceptable for a protagonist to have a dark side and make mistakes?

    Is it acceptable for a protagonis to have a dark side and make mistakes… I say yes. It makes the protagist believable, someone a reader could relate with. No one in this world is perfect no matter what they say. So a perfect character in a book is illogical.

  21. What does urban fantasy mean to you? What makes a book an urban fantasy title?

    Urban settling with either paranormal happenings and/or magical. What usually divides this from paranormal romance.. the urban fantasy books tend to be about one main heroine/hero. There can be some romance elements but it does not define the plot.

  22. What movie or book (other than your own) are you most looking forward to in 2013?

    • Oh, Lisa, now you find out what a dork I am,lol..

      I am SO EXCITED for the Jurassic Park 3D release…I LOVE dinosaurs, saw the movie in theaters the first time around (and was young enough to be scared to death), and apparently feel the need to keep coming back for more. Absolutely cannot wait.

      As far as books, the one that springs to mind first is the prequel arc to the Sandman series that comes out in November. I did a dance when I found out Gaiman was going back to that world, and I’m really excited to see what he does with it.

  23. If you could live inside a literary world (including yours) what would it be? Would you assume a character’s life or would you be yourself? What role would you want there?

    • oh gosh…there are a few worlds I’m developing in that I wouldn’t mind living in, but I haven’t published those yet.

      I wouldn’t mind being in a world like that of the Chronicles of Narnia, where so much is possible and there’s a potential for adventure and exploring a big domain, a lot of different lands. Still, I’d be sad to live without rock music and a few other things.

      I was also a massive Star Wars fan as a teen, and wouldn’t mind that either, but I’m fairly picky and don’t know that I could tolerate any place in the expanded universe, lol.

      • If someone said there was a way to live in Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar. I would JUMP at the chance. I would love to live amongst the Shin’a'in, live as the Hawkbrothers and wear feathers in my hair, and or be or near a Herlad with their beautiful companions!

        Heck I wouldn’t mind living in Fearun (dnd) just so I can see an actual dark elf (drow)

        • Awesome! I think everyone has those worlds where they’re just itching to become a part of them. It’s the mark of great world-building and great writing, to get that feeling in people :)

  24. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

    • Hrrrrrm….I really love the Midwest, but I like exploring new places, too. I really love Poland and would love to go back there again. There are a lot of places I haven’t gotten to yet that I’d love to explore, so I’d probably opt for travelling around and seeing what there is to see, then settling down somewhere :)

  25. What makes a character a “good” character? Is it someone you can relate to, someone that is really far removed from regular people?

    the author makes the character a “good” character, as long as the character is true to the story, he’ll be a “good” character

  26. What does urban fantasy mean to you? What makes a book an urban fantasy title?

    to me it’s a fantasy that takes place in a bi city that I can recognize. generally there is not a lot of romance, which I’ve always though was a loss.

    • I’ll agree that plot/conflict usually dominates urban fantasy, but I’ve seen authors like Charlaine Harris work it in. While I’m sure she’s considered paranormal romance, I think it could really go either way since the world-developing is very much there. I think sometimes you have to dig for the romance, but I don’t feel like it should be cut out just because it’s an urban fantasy title, as long as it fits into the plot and world as a whole.

  27. Can good characters do bad things and still be endearing? Is it acceptable for a protagonist to have a dark side and make mistakes?

    Of course, good people can do bad things but that doesn’t necessarily make them
    bad people. In urban fantasy, if the protagonist doesn’t have a dark side, I think I’d feel cheated.

    • Love your reasoning for this. Makes perfect sense, and I agree – if there isn’t a protagonist that isn’t somewhat flawed in urban fantasy, then what’s the fun in that? :)

  28. Did you have a favourite book growing up?

    • Awesome question, Cheryl! I had a lot of favorites growing up! :) I really loved watching Reading Rainbow and getting a lot of great book suggestions from that show. Otherwise, when I got a little older I was in mad love with the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the book Heidi. I also liked a lot of titles by Tommy DePaola, Nancy Carlson, and Steven Kellog. I practically lived at the library during the summers as a kid!

  29. Hi! :) So, I’m guessing I’m not the first to ask it, but still will… a) did you have any aspirations to be a rock star, even if for 5 seconds? And hopefully something that hasn’t been asked yet… b) in the realm of costume design – is there some sort of costume, look, get up, makeup look that you would love to do, or thought off, just hoping the right occasion comes up to do it?

    Lois

    • And your question about bad guys – heck yeah, they can be endearing… well, I wouldn’t use that word for Darth Vader, but sure love that guy. See, most of us know the difference between the real world and any type of fiction – no, I would not want to meet Vader in a dark alley at night, nor would I willing join up with his cause. But fiction, ah, there, we can root for them, wish they were the victors – because in the end, so many times, they are created to be that way. :)

      Lois

    • Oh those are awesome questions, Lois, and I don’t recall anyone asking me those!

      In terms of being a rock star – oh, of course! I studied classical music and musical theatre, but I’d love the opportunity to rock out at some point, even if it was just to fulfill the fantasy. Who knows if I’d be any good at it, but I think everyone has a little bit of a rock star hidden deep within them. Even when I sew I always feel better if I’m blastin’ Zeppelin or AC/DC or Bowie or Def Leppard. :)

      As far as costuming, totally. I still really want to learn more about casting and molding and latex work – I’d really like to be able to do special effects style costuming at some point in my life. I love creature design and that sort of thing. I also really love the Japanese gothic lolita look, that really frilly, historical, idealized kind of look mixed with punk elements. I’d love to do something with that at some point. I also feel a little cheated that these days there aren’t many theatrical rockers – and if there are they use high-end designers to do their clothes. I think part of me is still biding my time to do a gown of some sort – I keep saying I’m going to do a variation of the dress in Labyrinth at some point, but I’ve never really taken up the challenge. Once of these days it’ll have to happen :)
      And superhero garb would be fun to re-vamp, as well…I’d love to play in the Gotham universe at some point. Pretty much there are a lot of worlds I’d love to play in and am just biding my time, LOL!

  30. Have you ever seen Warehouse 13 or Eureka? :D

    • Steph – not yet. My schedule gets really busy at certain times during the year, and writing gives me even more of a full plate, but I’m always looking for suggestions of different series to get into! I’ll definitely have to check those out! :) Thanks for the recommendations!

  31. Hi, I was wondering if you’ve ever based a character in one of your stories off of someone you knew in real life?

    • Bethany,

      I try really hard not to use anybody wholesale. I definitely pay attention to people’s quirks and work them in, but I don’t know that there’s any one character that’s totally based on someone I know. At times if I’m stuck or just starting to plan a character I may think in very loose terms in terms of who would play them, but they always change totally away from how that person is. Plus, I also throw in a lot of my own quirks and anxieties into my characters, too. I definitely pay attention to people, but I tend to blend things up to keep it interesting.

  32. I got to say I find that you can make material like skin kinda cool not creepy. Wait now that makes me creepy. :) Special effects artist and people who do costuming like you do have always just fascinated me. I grew up just loving horror movies. I will definitely be checking out your books now! Thanks!
    -Amber

    • Amber – believe me, there are days when I remember what I do for a living and I wonder about myself :) But really, when you’re trying to make something like skin right, you’re so intent on getting the texture right, dealing with the smell of the latex, and working against time and humidity to get it to set up right, believe me – it becomes less creepy, lol. So glad to hear you’ll be checking out my books! Hope you enjoy them! :D

  33. How many stories are running around in your head at one time? Or are you only able to focus on the one you are working on?

    • I definitely have a lot of ideas hounding me at any given point. I’ve had to learn that some take more development and time than others, that it’s okay to not be doing everything RIGHT NOW. That being said, I definitely can focus on what’s in front of me, but when I’m commuting or cleaning or doing sewing projects, if there’s time where my mind can wander, I will definitely be thinking ahead to other stories and ideas, usually the next one or two things on my plate. I definitely can focus, but I like being able to have something to look forward to, and I’m definitely the type that has to pre-write or think ahead of how I want to approach something. It tends to make really structured stories (like for anthologies and some magazine calls) harder for me than just letting me go off on an idea for a book or my own shorter works. I love doing those things, though, because I feel like they make me stretch and grow. Eventually I’d like to be one of those authors that can write in all sorts of genres, so it’s good practice for that…although it can get very frustrating sometimes :)

      I think on my list of short fiction ideas I counted like ten or twelve different storylines the other day, and I have three or four big projects in my head at any given time. It’s a crowded place, lol.

  34. Can good characters do bad things and still be endearing? Is it acceptable for a protagonist to have a dark side and make mistakes?

    - Yes to both. It makes them more interesting and real

  35. Skip beat is a great series! Do you have a favorite manga series?

    • Skip Beat is probably my tied for my favorite with Boys Over Flowers – I love how both meander and take the time to explore all the personalities involved. Plus, although there are emotional and sweet undercurrents, they aren’t sappy and the female protagonists are really complicated. I also like the story of Fruits Basket, especially once things really kick into gear after vol. 10 or so. There are some brilliant twists in the manga that the anime doesn’t capture. I’d definitely put that story up against a lot of novels I’ve read!

  36. what is your favorite charakter from your books?

    • Lyra, of the things I’ve had published so far, I’m very fond of the cast of In the Red, and I also really love the two main characters in Holly and Ivy. It’s hard to choose just one – I feel like I’ve discovered different things with each character and they all have their high and low points. I didn’t like Jeremiah Kensington at first, but he’s grown to have a special place in my heart once I finally understood what his journey really was. I also wrote a short piece for The Realm Beyond last year in the voice of a really independent princess who ran off with a dragon – she definitely cracks me up, both because of her headstrong nature and because of her humor.

  37. Did you have a favorite book or series as a kid, that you’ve reread?

    • Probably The Little House series or Heidi – I still read them if I’m stressed or having trouble sleeping. Both have some great messages about forging ahead in the face of adversity. I also really love anything by Beatrix Potter – I’ve read a few collections to pieces over the years :)

  38. What was your favorite childhood book?

    • Whatever I was reading at the time, lol. I really loved a lot of the Reading Rainbow titles like The Rain on Kapiti Plain, Mama Don’t Allow, Abyoyo, Meanwhile Back at the Ranch, and many others. As I got older I went through a BSC phase and I really loved the book Hatchet as a preteen. Gary Paulsen talked at my school and it was so amazing to see him so invested in his life and in his stories. That’s definitely stuck with me.

  39. Have you ever written fan fiction? For what fandom?

    • I did for a while, a long time ago, but I prefer to focus on original stuff nowadays. It’s one of those things that I used to be attached to, but as I grew into my own person and own ideas, I realized that developing my own stories was more important to me. And as a published author now, I have a little bit of a different opinion on the subject than I did back then. I’ve known a lot of brilliant writers who wrote fanfic or started out as fanfic writers.

  40. Who has influenced you the most?

    • Susan,

      Author-wise, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, and Madeline L’Engle are huge influences. I’m drawn to them because reading them it feels like there are people in the world who think in similar terms, which is nice. It’s not that I necessarily want to write exactly like them, but they inspire me to try harder and go further. Their fiction is so transporting, it’s amazing.

      In general, my mom is probably my biggest life influence. She’s a strong lady, very independent, and a creative force in her own right. She’s definitely infused a large sense of tenacity in me, and a sense of real-world pragmatism blended with creativity. I definitely would not be the person I am if it wasn’t for her. She’s always been amazingly supportive, but also willing to take a step back and let me figure things out myself(especially as an artist or creative person).

      In terms of creative influences, I really adore Jim Henson. He was such a pioneer, not just in terms of puppetry, but in terms of storytelling. I really admire a person who can blend together their own interests and use them to form a new medium and take it in different directions. I’m also very, very much influenced by David Bowie. I love that he can’t be boxed in by one style or talent, and that he can pull knowledge and things that interest him from ten million different places and blend them into something completely different. He’s savvy, intelligent, and willing to do something different…and keep doing something different. That takes not only a great artistic sense, but a real strength to stick to your guns, too.

  41. What is your favorite animal, and does it ever play a role in your books?

    • Julie,

      I really love cats and wolves – as of yet I haven’t been able to incorporate them into any of my fiction, but I do have a few ideas that are on the horizon. It’s definitely something that’s on my mind. :)

  42. Do you have a book your looking forward to most in 2013?

    • Maria, I’m really looking forward to the Sandman prequel series by Neil Gaiman. I fell in love with the original series when I stumbled upon it at the library, so I’m really stoked to see what he does with the characters in the Endless.

      I’m also all about anything that Alan Bradley writes in the Flavia de Luce series. I just picked up the Christmas title in the series and am really, really excited to start reading – it’s my carrot for when I get through my to do list! :)

  43. what stared you to become a author?

    • Stacey,

      I don’t know that there was any given point where I decided to be an author. I grew up with a big imagination, playing a lot of outlandish games and coming up with adventures for my toys. At some point I just started writing those down, and relished writing contests and assignments in school. As I grew older I got more into theatre, but I think I assumed I just wasn’t good enough to get published. A few years ago I realized that I had all of these finished and unfinished works on my hard drive and that by not taking a chance and submitting them I was denying myself something that would make me really happy. So I got to it – submitting something every week and not giving myself more than a week to resubmit things if they got rejected. I saw a lot of rejection, but I also started getting acceptances and advice on how to make my work better. I’m really, really glad I took the chance on myself. :)

  44. will there be more adventures in the future with these same characters?

    • Mark,

      At this point, I’m not sure. I’m not against it, but I don’t have anything planned at the moment either. If I did go back to this world, I don’t know that I’d plan out a direct sequel with Jeremiah, because I kind of like leaving his ending a little ambiguous. I’d have to really think of a great way to do it if I picked up right where this book leaves off. However, I’m not against playing in the world again and doing some other things, but it probably won’t be for a while.

  45. A good character is someone that is intriguing, you can relate to and also you care about.

  46. Urban fantasy to me means paranormal action/detective story with some romance in an urban setting. Also, it’s definitely not YA.

  47. It’s possible for a main character to have a dark side, because everyone has it. As long as the character is not really evil, it’s Ok.

    • Very cool, and the bit about evil is interesting. One thing I learned while writing this book is that evil sometimes comes across as being very human, or at least starting for reasons that humans may relate to.

  48. Do you go to conventions like reader/writer or multi media like Dragoncon in Atlanta?

    • I do! I love cons! So far, I know I’ll be at Fandomfest in Louisville at the end of July – it’ll be my second year there and there’s SO much great stuff. The literary track is shaping up to be amazing and there are a lot of fun things planned. I’ve been to different horror cons just to go, but as an author I’m slowly trying to expand my reach and do a few more this year. I haven’t fully planned my schedule, but I’m working on it! :)

  49. I think that what makes a good character is someone that I can relate too. They should be smart, easy going, and kinda snarky lol. and someone who is not a weak, whiny individual. I can’t stand anything worse that an stupid, weak ,whiny character.

    • Very cool, and I agree. It’s good for a character to at least have strength in his or her convictions, even if they’re not the best or wrong. If they’re whiny, I at least like for them to grow and develop (hopefully pretty quickly, lol)

  50. I’d just like to say that I love all of the responses to the interview questions and the questions/conversations left by the readers.

  51. Hi there. I’m a little late to the party, but better late than never! I saw you said you gravitate to fantasy and horror. Have you written any zombies?

    • Welcome, Joani!

      I haven’t yet, but I do have a few zombie ideas I’m playing with and developing, so I hope to have something in that scheme of things at some point soon. I prefer vampires and lovecraft-type themes, but I’ve started gravitating to zombies lately. I love World War Z and I’ve started reading the Walking Dead comics, and I definitely think I could bring something new to the genre.

  52. Do you or have you considered featuring one of your books for free for a day on kindle to entice those of us new to your storytelling into reading your stories?

    • Amber, I haven’t as of yet and it’s something I’d have to work out with my publishers, but I do have a free read available on my publisher’s website. It should be able to be downloaded in the mobi/kindle format. It’s a shorter piece, but it would give you and everyone else a fun free tidbit and an idea of how I write. You can find that piece at this link: http://noboundariespressstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=4&products_id=189

      • TY Selah for responding to our posts. It’s so incredible that an author takes the time to answer humble fans and strangers queries. Sorry to gush but you are the first author I’ve written to who actually responded and not only responded but had such delightful repose and helpful advice. Thankyou for the link to your free piece. Bigtime hugs to you! Thankyou!

  53. I think a good character is one who touches your heart in a special way if by good you mean a character that is likeable in a story. Even if they aren’t human they need to have some human foilible that a reader can relate to. I think that an urban fantasy is something that takes place in the real world during modern times. Something that could happen to someone in some place recognizable or “real.” I find that a character with a dark streak is actually more appealing to me. I don’t want a goody goody hero or protagonist they are so boring and one dimensional. Like Superman. Sure hes iconic but he leave no room for the reader to grow with the character to agonize over their decisions and ultimately admire or hate the character with passion.

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