1. What inspired you to write your first book?
My first novel-length book was Sunrise at Sunset, book one in the Sunset Vampire Series. I’d written short stories for most of my life, but the storyline and characters in Sunrise were so vivid, detailed, and complex that it made for a wonderful novel. The central characters, Katrina and Caleb, were so alive and in love that their story had to be told. As I’m currently writing the fourth book in the series, I’m finding that to still be true!
2. Will you be writing anymore YA books, if so what will they be about and how many? Will it be a series?
I have some ideas for additional YA books that I’ll probably write in the future, but I’ll have to wait and see how well Gwen Reaper is received before I’ll know whether or not my future YA novels will be published. In the publishing world, I’ve discovered that success breeds continued publishing. *grinning*
3. Do you have a specific writing style?
I wrote my first three Sunset Vampire novels from third-person omniscient, and I used italics to give readers insights into each main character’s thoughts. However, with my most recent endeavors, including Gwen Reaper, I’ve much more enjoyed the first-person writing style. It’s so much more intimate and you’re able to walk in a character’s skin, which is rather addictive to me as a writer.
4. Do you like being an author?
I absolutely, unequivocally LOVE being an author! I would rather write for a living than any other career, job, or endeavor that I could imagine. I recently tweeted that writing is the most rewarding, fulfilling, enjoyable, and enriching activity in my life. I’d die if I couldn’t be an author. However, I’d be much happier if I could afford to pay the bills and be an author full-time. Hopefully, someday… *crossing my fingers*
5. How did you come up with the titles for your YA books?
I enjoy plays on words, particularly puns, so I encourage book titles that reflect that. Ultimately, a title has to catch a reader’s eye, often requiring the use of words that are highly marketable.
6. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’m not keen on heavy-handed messages in my novels. But I will say that there are subtle messages conveyed as undercurrents in the storyline and character development. In Gwen Reaper, socially relevant topics such as bullying, self-esteem, drunk driving, prejudice and societal norms, the nature of life, and young love appear. Each has its place for personal reflection by the reader.
7. Are there places in this book that are real? (towns, schools, etc)
Absolutely. Gwen Reaper takes place in the very real town of Custer, South Dakota. The local Custer High School and their Wildcats are all very real. Other real points of interest and nearby towns are included in the storyline, as well. However, I didn’t use any of Custer’s actual town business names.
8. What books have most influenced your life most?
During my youth, I valued, and was greatly influenced by, the fantasy works of Katherine Kurtz, David Eddings, and Raymond E. Feist.
9. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
That’s easy! I would consider the fantasy author L. E. Modesitt, jr. to be a mentor. He’s an amazing author who has mastered the craft of writing and conveyed it in a beautiful, realistic manner.
10. What book are you reading now?
Currently, I’m reading Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine. It’s the fourth novel in her Morganville Vampires series.
11. Are there any new authors that have piqued your interest?
I was really impressed by E.L. James and her captivating Fifty Shades Trilogy. There’s also a new fantasy author named Tom Barczak, who has a real talent for writing using a classic fantasy writing style in his Evarun series.
12. What are your current projects?
I’m in the middle of writing the fourth novel in my Sunset Vampire Series, and I’m preparing to send the first novel in a new urban fantasy series to my editor. It’s titled Bringer of Fire and is scheduled for release this December.
13. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The Paranormal Romance Guild and its cadre of member authors has been an invaluable resource to me. They’re some of the most talented authors I know, and they’re very supportive and encouraging. I’m really proud to be a member of the Guild.
14. Do you see writing as a career?
Currently, writing is only a part-time career for me. Regrettably, I’m not yet established enough as an author to make a living writing full-time, but I’d love to!
15. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve been doing creative writing since I was in elementary school, so I guess you could say that it’s been a lifelong passion. I used to write short stories in fifth grade that my homeroom teacher would sometimes allow me to read to the class. That’s one of my earliest vivid memories of being a writer.
16. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure! Here’s a short excerpt from Gwen Reaper.
As I walked along the shoreline to get a better look back into the inlet, I saw a girl standing on a small section of beach on the other side of the inlet. She appeared to be about my age, and had long, dark hair and a cute body. It appeared that she was looking at a huge log lying partially out of the water.
Then I realized that the ‘huge log’ had stubby legs and a snout!
The beast was easily twice her size and weight, and the hulking creature opened its mouth, revealing a long row of teeth. I was fairly sure that it was an alligator or crocodile. But instead of running away, the girl just stood before it, pointing her arm at it like a rod.
“Get away from it!” I called out in warning.
I grabbed a nearby piece of driftwood and started running toward her. Before I made it ten yards, the creature had thrashed its head and backed away from her, darting backward and disappearing into the water. The girl looked up with surprise to stare at me, and then disappeared into the trees at a dead run.
“Wait!” I yelled, running down the shoreline toward her.
When I got to where she’d been standing, all that I saw were tracks in the sand; both hers and the animal’s footprints. I grabbed my cell phone to take photos of the creature’s prints, but the lapping water had already partially obscured them, rendering the images relatively useless.
“What the hell was that all about?” I asked incredulously while scanning the trees, hoping that the girl might just be hiding nearby.
Unfortunately, she was gone.
And while I was hardly a reptile expert, I was sure that there weren’t supposed to be wild alligators skulking around South Dakota.
17. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Actually, my biggest challenge is trying to find spare time for writing. I can’t seem to free up as much time as I’d like to. Then again, I have to maintain a full-time career in order to pay the bills, as well. *chuckling* However, as far as the writing process is concerned, sometimes I’m challenged by intense fighting scenes to make sure that events are properly sequenced and conveyed in clear fashion to the reader. In my brain it’s like watching a movie playing, so imagine trying to turn a movie into a script instead of the other way around.
18. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite author is L.E. Modesitt, jr. I love his approach to fantasy novels and character development, including the remarkable manner in which he presents strong female characters in his novels. He’s an awesome writer!
19. Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Regrettably, no. I do most of my traveling via the Internet. I’d love to travel to locations that I write about, but most of them are far away from where I live. My wife and I have discussed making some trips in the not-too-distant future to places such as London.
20. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’d like to thank readers for being so kind and supportive of my work, and I encourage everyone to keep checking back on my website at jazprimo.com for new works that are periodically being released during the next twelve months or so. I’m diversifying my upcoming works in various genres and subgenres outside of vampires, so I’m hoping there will be something ranging from urban fantasy to paranormal romance to historical fantasy for readers to appreciate.
21. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
That’s an excellent question. In Gwen Reaper, the hardest part was fully immersing myself into the young adult mindset. My storyline was solid, but I had to make sure to keep the first-person voice focused as a teenager. Given that it’s been years since I was in high school, it’s a lot harder than I remembered! *grinning* But based upon feedback from beta readers, I think that readers will be really pleased with the results. *crossing my fingers*
22. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned a great deal about South Dakota, and I captured an interest in writing young adult literature that hadn’t been prevalent until writing this novel.
23. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Absolutely! Writers need to focus their energies on stories that they feel passionate about. Don’t try to write for what’s selling in the marketplace. Your heart won’t be in it, and the marketplace changes so quickly that you probably wouldn’t be able to complete your novel in time to take advantage of fleeting fads. Also, be sure to find an excellent editor for your work. It doesn’t matter how good or competent of an author you think you are, the services of a professional, unbiased editor are worth their weight in gold!
24. What were the challenges in bringing your books to life?
The biggest challenge has always been “time” and finding enough of it. *laughing* Beyond that, it’s so important to spend quality time developing the “world” or setting for my novel in order to make the environment believable and immersive to the reader. However, once I’ve accomplished that, it’s especially satisfying when readers respond positively.
*glancing at my watch*
Wow, is the interview over already? Time passes so quickly when you’re having fun!
Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed on Book Purses. It’s been such a pleasure to appear here, and I sincerely appreciate your hospitality. My thanks to your blog fans and readers for spending their time with me, as well.
I hope that readers will take a moment to look me up at one of the online locations listed below and check out Gwen Reaper, as well as my Sunset Vampire Series.
Website, Facebook, Amazon Author Page
Twitter: @jazprimo , Google+: +JazPrimo