This week we have author Jami Gray. Within the first sentence of the interview she had me laughing up a storm! I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did!
How long have you been writing?
Legitimately, as in, “Hey Honey, I’m bailing on you to go write, make sure the kids don’t leave bloodstains on the carpet while I’m out” type writing or just writing period? Actually, I began working on my first book at 14, however it will never see the light of day and will forever remain buried far, far underground. I trickled off from 18 to 25 (consider those the Lost Years) and put pen to paper in an effort to get the voices in my head to shut up at 26. After attending a variety of writing groups and craft courses, I got serious in my early 30’s. I started my first novel, SHADOW’S EDGE late in 2009 and it finished its metamorphosis (with help from my current critique group) in 2010, before finally hitting shelves in 2011.
Do you have a blueprint you follow when beginning a book?
When I first started my craft, I always had a clear idea of my main character, some vague plot and then felt confident in storming the paper gates. Unfortunately, that meant about half way through my characters started fighting back, and they could be downright nasty about things. Now my characters contain much more depth as I flesh out the why’s and how’s of who they are and what they’ll be so that tends to help create the plot and surrounding support cast. Although I call myself a Pantser (write by the seat of the pants), I have a secret skeleton outline to help guide my way.
Has your family ever read your books?
Some yes, some no. My husband, great supporter and huge reader knows my characters and world, but has yet to sit down and actually read the books. It’s okay though, because it helps when I bounce ideas of off him. They tend to come back at a completely different angle, one I never would have thought about. My mom and sisters have all ready my stuff. Which I try not to think about, especially with SHADOW’S SOUL as the sex scene is a bit intense. Really, there are some things your Mom shouldn’t know about.
Is there a message in your books for readers? If so what?
I hope so! I’m a firm believer that when life kicks you in the ass, you have two choices: whine about it or beat the ever-lovin’ daylights out of it until you’re able to achieve what you want. Personally, I go for option number two. I think every person has a kick-ass heroine/hero inside, whether they quietly pulverize fate or if they take on the capricious witch with guns blazin’, doesn’t matter. What matters is what you make of what you’re given.
Did you learn anything from writing your book? If so what?
You’re never to old to learn new things. I’ve been a voracious reader since I could string letters together. It was my escape hatch when life got difficult. When I sat down to write at 14, I mimicked those I loved most: Lloyd Alexander, Anne McCafferty, Terry Brooks, Andre Norton, and Susan Cooper. Yet, as I grew up and my stories became more my own, I took whatever craft course I could get into, just to learn new techniques, see different aspects of writing, and expand my own creative mind. And then I read even more: Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Shannon Butcher, Laurell Hamilton, Nalini Singh, Kevin Hearne, and the list continues to grow. I scrounged around in all different genres, getting a peek into what it was like to write something different. Writing is one craft where you are limitless as the creator.
Do you ever experience writers block and if so what helps you get past it?
If I ever meet a writer who hasn’t, I’m going to find out what their secret is. Writer’s Block and I are on first name basis. Even when you know where your story is going, there will be times where the smallest thing will trip you up, should they go after this person? Should they have a conversation here or will action serve you better? Sometimes it’s so intimidating you freeze up. When it’s that bad, I get up and walk away. I go do something completely different—laundry, grocery shopping, read, whatever so long as it’s not actively thinking about my problem. I’ve found this allows my Muse to chew it over and figure out what she needs to do next. Then she’ll send the solution slamming into my brain, generally when I’m mid-shampoo in the shower or just about to drift off into Morpheus’s arms. She’s a tease that way. Other times, I’ll try coming at a difficult scene from a different perspective, like another character’s POV, or put in a place holder and then work backwards. It looks like this: SOMETHING HAPPENS HERE GETS THEM TO ANA’S ABANDONED APT. Then I write the scene at Ana’s abandoned apartment. Somewhere in there, I’ve figured out what had to happened to get to that point. You have to get outside your normal zone and look at it from a totally different angle.
Back in high school, would you put yourself with the nerds, jocks, preppy, goth, or choose another group? Tell us why?
Nerds, no doubt. I was big in to Drama, hung out at the library at lunch, counted the Knights of Ni as best friends, and my real life BFF’s could quote the entire Monty Python Collection verbatim. We were goofy and we could pull of the “we don’t care what you think of us” vibe like no one’s business!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
WRITE. WRITE. WRITE. Whatever you do, finish that first novel/short story/poem and then keep going. Take what you learned the first time through, apply it, learn new things, finish current project, repeat.
Please tell us about your latest book release or the book you are currently working on.
Currently the third book of the Kyn Kronicles is under consideration and I’m just waiting to hear back. Hopefully soon. To help combat the urge to eat every chocolate covered anything within reach while I do, I’m currently working on a new Paranormal Romantic Suspense that has nothing to do with the Kyn, but it does include awesome new psychic abilities, pulse pounding action scenes, a kick ass heroine, and a drool worthy counterpart.
Growing up on the Arizona-Mexico border, Jami Gray was adopted at the age of 14 and suddenly became the fifth eldest of 37 children. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and three minors-History, English, and Theater. Shortly after marrying her techie-geek hubby (who moonlighted as her best friend in high school) she completed a Masters in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix Oregon. Now, years later, she’s back in the Southwest where she’s outnumbered in her own home by two Star Wars obsessed boys, one Star Wars obsessed husband, and an overly-friendly, 105-pound male lab. Writing is what saves her sanity.
You can find me at:
You can find all the buy links for SHADOW’S EDGE and SHADOW’S SOUL in all formats at: www.jamigray.com/books/
or at BLACK OPAL BOOKS: www.BlackOpalBooks.com
Blurb for Shadow’s Edge:
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…
It takes a monster to hunt one, and for Raine McCord, forged in the maelstrom of magic and science, she’s the one for the job. In a world where the supernatural live in a shadowy existence with the mundane, a series of disappearances and deaths threatens the secrecy of her kind and indicates someone knows the monsters are alive and kicking. Partnering up with the sexy and tantalizing Gavin Durand proves to be a challenge as dangerous as the prey she hunts.
When the trail points back to the foundation which warped Raine’s magic as a child, her torturous past raises its ugly head. Gavin and Raine sift through a maze of lies, murder and betrayal to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.
Some nightmares are born of love…
Raine McCord has no problem taking down the monsters of the world, it’s one of the reasons she’s so good at her job. So playing bodyguard to Cheveyo, head Magi of the Northwest, as he consults with the Southwest Kyn should be an easy assignment. Unfortunately, simple task turns into a nightmare when Cheveyo is kidnapped and Raine is left for dead by one of the Kyn’s most feared beings, a Soul Stealer.
The Stealer’s attack leaves lasting wounds, undermining Raine’s confidence as a warrior and damaging her unruly magic. Her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand. Compelled to face the emotions raging between them, they must embrace not only their stormy relationship but their evolving magic to escape the twisted threads of murder and betrayal to find Cheveyo.
As Raine and Gavin come together and begin to unravel the complex web of secrets and hidden vendettas haunting the Southwest Kyn, they discover unsettling new truths that threaten their very existence.