Today’s interview is a special one as I literally stalked this author years ago and begged her to send me the ARC of her next book in the series or accept me as beta reader!
And so we began our friendship across the oceans, continents apart. I beta read her next books and I was so happy and honored by her trust!
You see JL Myers has a penmanship that immediately appealed to me. It just clicked. I don’t know if you have some favorite authors you think more people should know more about because they are “IT” for you but Jess is such author to me.
So I hope that reading her interview here below and reading the missing reviews of her Blood Bound series that I published today you’ll fall in love with her and give her books a chance because they are damn good!
And to help you to take a leap of faith I’m giving away one of her ebooks, your choice!
All you have to do is:
√comment with the book you’d like (see the gallery below);
√share this interview/giveaway on any media you’d like .
Giveaway running on FB and IG as well.
Random.org will choose a winner on 09/22 2PM
Books up for grab (one among them):
What Lies Inside: Review-> http://bewareofthereader.com/?p=2557
Made by Design: Review -> http://bewareofthereader.com/?p=2561
Web of Lies: Review -> http://bewareofthereader.com/?p=2565
Born to Die: Review -> http://bewareofthereader.com/?p=134
Fallen Angel: Review -> http://bewareofthereader.com/?p=883
Nerve Damage: Review -> http://bewareofthereader.com/?p=1921
First I want to say a big thank you for agreeing to answer my questions. I know you are very busy with your work, kids, family and the writing! I don’t know how you’re managing everything really. So thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
I would love to introduce you to future readers as I’m a Die Hard fan of your writing for some years now and I would love nothing more than seeing many people smitten with your stories like I am. So this is your chance as I’m certain readers would really love to know more about you, your writing process, inspiration, maybe the hard publishing battle?
I’m delighted to have the opportunity to ask you all these questions 😉
First let us know you better:
1) Tell us something about your personal history. You live in Australia were you born there? What was your childhood like? Running wild, climbing trees or city girl?
I was born in the four-seasons-in-one-day state of Victoria in Australia, and although I’ve been to some epic and breathtaking places throughout Europe, I was unfortunately too young to remember any of it. I’m sure it will be no surprise that one of the items on my bucket list is to revisit Europe, and the country, the Netherlands, that my family originated from.
My parents separated when I was four and finding normality was hard. I suffered terrible night terrors and even had to see a child psychologist for some time to try to help. Aside from these struggles, I was a total introvert. If not for my bestie, I probably never would have liked boys, worn skirts, or spent weekend after weekend playing make-believe games that consisted or princesses, princes, unicorns, mermaids and every other magical thing we could come up with. I have always loved ‘my time’ and was very happy entertaining myself when at home with books and magazines. Though I was kind of a tomboy, I was terribly unko. I hated sport with a passion (except for dancing and horse riding, which I had lessons for during odd weekends) and was really more a of a nerd. Math, computers, and books (the ones I picked myself—not the ones we had to read for school) were my favorite things.
2) Who was little Jess? The nerd? The party animal? Walking the line? What did you wanted to be as a kid? A singer? A bounty hunter? Did you always know you would write one day?
Since I’ve already covered a bit of this above, I’ll skip forward a few questions. My first love as a kid was animals. I loved them all. Small, big, loud, quiet, hairy, scaly…if my mom had let me have all the pets I’d wanted I would have been able to open a Zoo. When my mom would do grocery shopping, I would hang out with my younger brother in our local pet shop for the hour of so it took, and I loved every second. So, you can probably guess that I wanted to be a Veterinarian or a Zoologist. I had never dreamed of being a writer as a kid, though I did have a diary and spent much time writing in it and jotting down poems along with sketches as a kid. I guess it was later on that I showed more promise when it came to writing. In high school I would sketch some of the things that haunted me from my nightmares…and I would write. Sometimes it was poetry about life and everything I was scared of or struggling with. Other times I would create short stories from my horrific and vivid dreams. To this day I don’t know what caused my nightmares—sometimes I still have them—but I guess they were what started me writing, giving me an outlet to make what I’d seen in my head less personal and more like a story I’d heard or read.
3) First memory with a book or first memorable book?
My first memorable book(s) were anything and everything from R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. The books honestly freaked me out. My imagination was so clearly vivid that I could see everything I read as if it were real. And as I kid, I had trouble differentiating between fiction and what I thought/feared could be real.
Now about your journey as a writer:
4) You write incredible stories with solid and Machiavellian plots. Each time I fall on my behind with all the twists and turns I did not see coming but that make so much sense once they happen. Where did you learn to master that unique technique of yours? Aside from Beth Flynn who in a totally other genre is also a master at complicated and yet solid plots you’re a “one of a kind”. So did you follow writing courses? Were inspired by some other writer: fake it till you make it? Something else?
After I wrote my first novel, What Lies Inside, I continued to edit and clean it up without actually knowing what I needed to do but always feeling like it just wasn’t ready to put out into the world. Then a found a wonderful course on book revision, and that was the real beginning of becoming an author for me. Doing that course took my story, the one I’d poured my heart and soul into, and helped me to turn it into something that others would fall in love with—at least that is the hope! Since then, I have learned a lot about the process of writing and editing and have a very regimented progression of steps that I run through with each and every new story I decide to write from the many ideas that fill my notebooks. My first book was a write by the seat of my pants, figuring out what happens next as I wrote it, and it took the longest to take from draft to published novel. My writing process is much more structured now and, as a result, writing, editing and everything in-between continues to become a process that is faster and more efficient, helping me to put out new stories that are deep, meaningful, and have characters that are worth loving and hating.
5) About your plot again how do you proceed to write it? You had 5 books for Blood Bound did you story board? Just think about a rough draft and flesh it out later? Choose different outcomes and play darts to select one? What’s the trick?
I do have a mind map which incorporates many different themes, character types, locations, ideas, and a few things that are musts for me in every book I write. It is a colorful poster of bubbles with words in each that is up on my office wall. If I am ever in need of quick ideas or reminders, that is where I go and it has come in very handy in the past. Most of the time now I start with an idea for a plot, character, or an event. My muse (that clever little voice in the back of my mind) is very clever, although it doesn’t always have the best timing. Anyway, as soon as it hits me with something new and exciting, the wheels start spinning. If it’s an idea worth looking into, I will take notes as new ideas come to me, adding to the initial one that started my buzz. Before too long, I either have a post-it app full of colorful squares with notes, or a bunch of pages in my notebook that are filled with characters, a world in which they exist, and at the very least, a thin idea for what their main problem is and who stands in their way. Sometimes I have much more, with ideas for individual scenes laid out. My next step is to expand those ideas, figuring out what events need to happen at the start and what I want to happen at the end. Then its time for the fun part of figuring out how to get all my characters from A to B in an exciting, scary, romantic, and epic fashion. Before I am ready to sit down and actually start writing my first draft, I have a good number of scene ideas ready to go. Each one consists of characters in action in a meaningful way that will have a influence on the plot and drive the story forward. None of these steps are set in stone, and throughout the process I know there is always room for change and expansion as the story and all my characters really come to life.
Now about your books
6) Where did the idea for Blood Bound came from? A dream? A movie? Under the shower (I get most ideas when showering 😀 )? Something else?
To be honest, my idea for the Blood Bound Series was not as exciting as I’d like to claim it was. I was dealing with postnatal depression and needed an outlet after the birth of my first child. I’d started reading again after having a long break, and although I enjoyed the stories, I wanted something more personal that spoke to the changes and pain that I was dealing with. I decided then to write a story that I would want to read, that would speak to my pain and give me hope. The Blood Bound Series started out as only one book, with no intention to ever become published or made into a series. But as I continued to write, finding purpose and escape from my struggles, this little project of mine became something so much more. The story became real to me, as did my characters. After all, they were each a part of me and my life, a reflection of small and larger things that I was working through not just at the present but also in my past. Writing What Lies Inside was therapeutic and healing for me, giving me hope out of the darkness I’d fallen into. As I changed and healed with writing it, so did my outlook and intentions. The story and characters transformed, they came to life, and they had their own story to tell. By the end of What Lies Inside I knew this would be a marathon that I just had to run in. I was full of ideas and passion and the need to get it all out—in what I guessed would need another 3-4 books to do the story and the characters justice.
And there you have it.
My writing has continued to grow and flourish since the start. Now when I have quiet moments, when I’m not writing or reading or doing anything in particular, that is the time that new ideas come to me. My muse is clever, but she is also an attention hog. So when I’m quiet enough and open out, that is when she speaks to me. I now have notebooks full of ideas for storylines and characters, but unfortunately I am only one person. If there were 10 of me—I’m too much of a perfectionist to ever trust anyone to write for me—I’d knock out 10-20 books a year. Hmmm…maybe in the future when that special ray gun that clones people is made real 😉
7) How do you build your characters? Are some inspired by friends, neighbors or celebrities? Was it different from Blood Bound as you had to write about vampires, shifters, etc. than Nerve Damage with a “contemporary” girl? Who was the most challenging character to write about?
My characters start usually with an idea for what is important to them or what they have to fight for. They can be the first thing that starts to build a story for me, or they can come after a plot idea comes to light, then becoming the person I need to drive this new story idea forward. Though some physical traits may roughly resemble people I know, and I do admit I have used names of real people from my life, these small similarities are quickly overshadowed as each character becomes a real and individual person.
As for writing about vampires, shifters and then changing to a “contemporary” girl for Nerve Damage, the differences were only due to who they needed to be to fulfill the role I had cast. Their race, human or not, aside from causing conflict, didn’t really make writing them easier or harder. The real challenge is to get into the psyche of each character to portray who they are down to their thoughts, emotions, and actions, and then emulate that with every scene they appear in. Staying true to those things and not ‘breaking character’ is probably the most challenging thing to achieve, but when done well, it gives the reader someone that is real, that is worth caring for, sympathizing with, loving, hating, and even forgiving.
8) What parts did you leave out of Blood Bound’s story? And what changed from what you had planned at first? Why? What was the trigger?
I have a number of strong ideas that were left out of the Blood Bound Series. These were more so subplots that revolved around the others characters but were not directly related to Amelia and her story. I have some full scenes that were written and later cut from the final published versions because they were not necessary to deliver my ending, and if I’d kept and included them would have deterred the story from where it needed to go. Now, I could go into detail, but that would give too much away—because I do intend to write a number of spinoffs that will play out from a different character’s main point of view in each story. Once I finished the expansion of my Fallen Angel novella in to a full series, you’ll be hearing more from Kendrick, Raven, Dorian, and Vanessa…and maybe even a surprise character that is so secret I can’t even reveal their name.
9) About Nerve Damage: at the end of Blood Bound you told me you’ll write something easier but …it’s all but an easy peasy story! I was constantly at the edge of my seat. What was different in writing Nerve Damage? Was it easier or more difficult? Did my remarks when beta reading help you and how? Be honest it will give the readers an idea about how beta reader/author dynamic works or not 😉
Nerve Damage was not a simple story in its plot and character detail, I will totally agree with that. It is a story idea I came up with shortly after writing What Lies Inside, but being true to the genre and plan to complete a full series, it sat on the back burned for years. In that time I continued to have ideas for Nerve Damage and would write down my notes, always itching to start but knowing it wasn’t time.
When I finally got around to writing Nerve Damage, I must admit I was a little scared. Everything I’d published so far was paranormal/fantasy based with a strong emphasis on romance. This book was set to be everything they hadn’t been. I had no idea if what I had planned to write would be well received and liked, or if it would bomb. Still, I kept to my plan and wrote it, and here we are today.
So I guess the hardest part of Nerve Damage was overcoming my fears and insecurities that everyone would hate the book. Once I did that I did find that writing this story was easier than the Blood Bound Series. Despite its complexity and vastly different subject matter, having had years to ponder ideas really helped pull it all together. Not having to keep track of 500,000 words of backstory like I had to do with the Blood Bound Series also made the writing and editing as easier task. On top of those things, having great beta readers that were open to something totally different from me and were honest in their assessment of my story, characters, plot, and everything in-between helped me get this new project of mine from ‘I hope it’s ready’ to ‘Now it’s ready.’ Having their feedback also gave me confidence to believe that others would enjoy my newest story, and that even a percentage of my Blood Bound fans would find the read more than worthwhile.
10) I cried for your heroine and I could not read some parts of some scenes. Did you cry while writing these? What did you need to go through writing the torture scenes? Vodka? Chocolate? Hugs? How did you feel at the end of a writing day? How do you relax after a tiring day? Comfort food? Running? Craft with the kid?
I cried my eyes out with some of the scenes in Nerve Damage. The life these events took on in my mind were so real that that the characters and all they went through became real to me. I cried for the child that suffered so greatly and was so alone. In those scenes I was in her mind, seeing and sensing, reacting as the child would have. Those scenes from the child’s point of view were the hardest to write, and though I needed to play them out, I hated what she had to go through.
The torture scenes were the next hardest scenes to write. I used to watch horror movies as a teen, but I’ve found in the past ten years my ability to watch graphic violence has almost diminished entirely. I’m too visual, I find, and what I see sticks in my mind too vividly after the credits are long rolled. So, as you can guess, these scenes were a battle for me. I had a story I wanted to tell, and to do it justice I needed to be real and raw in what I let the antagonist act out. Through it all, there was one line that kept me true to my intentions for this story: Monsters aren’t born. They’re created.
Writing, publishing and promoting a real journey:
11) So far what was the most gratifying experience related to writing and publishing a book? In one word what was the feeling you experienced when you hit “publish” for the first time? First thought when you read your first review?
I think with each new book there is a sense of accomplishment that comes with it. Though at the same time hitting that “publish” button, at least in the beginning brings one word to mind: Fear. Fear that my best wasn’t good enough, and fear that all my hard work would be ridiculed and laughed at. That fear has lessened now (though not so much for my last book given its differences from everything else I’d written) , and generally I now feel relief when I hit the “publish” button. It’s a relief at having scaled another mountain without running out of oxygen at the top; of following through and completing what I set out to do.
My first thought when I read my first review was “Oh my God! Someone else loves what I wrote.” I still get that feeling with every new positive review I get regardless of which book it’s for. Knowing that what I am putting out there is appreciated and enjoyed it what keeps my writing every day and putting new books out as fast as I can—so keep them coming, fans!
12) How do you manage to work, raise your kids, take care of your family and still write deep and complex books? What’s your secret for aspiring writers? What would you do differently?
My life is a bit of a juggling act. I balance everyday house duties, playing with my 3 year old, doing the school drop off, and writing for four days a week. In that time I set minimum tasks when it comes to writing that I must get done. If I can do more, I often do. I’m a bit of a workaholic too. I get a good writing stretch in the mornings when my 3 year old is playing, and then another later on when she has her afternoon nap. Anything else, like emails, setting up promotions, online social book stuff, and research I fit in later in the afternoon or after dinner when everyone is settled. On the 5th work weekday I am in our company office on site, trying to squeeze a week’s worth of work into one day. Then there’s the weekend for catching up on everything I didn’t quite get around to completing during the week (like emails!!!) and trying to find a small break from the rush in-between cleaning, washing, shopping, and setting up for another week of writing, school, and work.
The secret I can share with you all is to never give up. Think about it; if you never give up you never fail. Whether you get from start to end quickly or slowly, so long as you keep on going to achieve your goals you can never lose.
What I have started to do differently is to expect less of myself when it comes to writing. I used to place almost impossible deadlines on myself and then work myself mindless until I was not much fun to be around. Now that I am more proficient in my processes, I try to give myself less time-consuming tasks to complete and friendlier deadlines. I am still getting heaps done, and I am still tired, but in a good why rather than that cranky ‘I’m so exhausted’ way. You only live once, so you should enjoy yourself while doing what you love.
13) Now tell me, face to face: what is your next project?
I think I already hinted at it above, but my next project is to expand my Fallen Angel novella into a 5 full-length book series. This short novella that gave an insight into Lucifer and the reason he was cast out of Heaven will now reveal in detail the events that led to his banishment. You will discover all that transpired between Lucifer and the ethereal female archangel, Gabriel, from the start, leading God to forsake his favorite angel. The series will continue on after that with three more books that will delve into Lucifer and Gabriel’s struggles to reclaim the love that was taken from them—without bringing about the destruction of Heaven, Earth, and Hell as we know it.
Time to have some fun!
14) Favorite book character/ book/author?
Zsadist from Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward, with a close second going to Death from Endless Knight by Kresley Cole
15) First kiss?
Some guy my bestie (the one I mentioned much earlier) forced me to kiss at her birthday party when we were 14. I was petrified and then mortified when it happened!
16) If I could for one day I would be …… (book, heroine, animal, celebrity ….)?
One day? No way. Make it a lifetime. And make me a vampire!
17) What would you buy with 1000 USD? Clothes? Perfume? Books? Something else?
Books, books, books, and maybe a stay away at a quiet retreat for a few nights where I can read them all. Hmmm…probably need more than $1000…
18) Your best recipe, the one your family can’t resist?
My lasagna. It’s gluten free with ‘made from scratch’ béchamel sauce and everyone loves it—or so they tell me.
19) The talent you wish you possessed?
Hmmmm…how about astral projection. I think that would be pretty amazing to be able to check on things without actually having to be there, to visit people, to spy…
On a personal note: I’m so happy I stalked you more than one year ago because I’ve discovered a wonderful person and a talented author. It’s always been a pleasure to read your books and I really wish this will help you 😉
Thanks, Sophie. I am so glad you stalked me too! You’re an integral part of my writing now and I very much appreciate the time you put into reading my latest stories and all the feedback you return. My books are made better because you, so thank you!
Thanks for reading!