Jory will also drop by to answer questions, so I encourage you to leave comments. Jory has also graciously provided a signed copy of SPIDER-TOUCHED to be given away to one lucky commentator. Giveaway guidelines are at the end of the post.
Hope you all enjoy the interview. Welcome Jory!
SFG: SPIDER-TOUCHED has just been released. Could you start things off by telling us a little more about the book and the series?
Spider-Touched is the story of an enslaved angel whose memory and power are denied him, and a human who is more than she seems.
The series is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the supernaturals have emerged. It has an over-reaching arc of: A war is brewing between ancient, unseen enemies (angels and Djinn) for who will ultimately control Earth. The heroes and heroines who find love and want their own “happy ever after” in each book play a part in preparing for that war.
SFG: Who are the main characters in SPIDER-TOUCHED? How do you go about picking character names?
The heroine is Araña. The hero is Tir. Anytime I come across a name I like, I add it to a list I keep. That’s the first place I go when I need a name for an important character, including those who might one day have their own stories.
When nothing on my list seems to fit, then I hit baby-naming sites on the web. The name has to feel right to me. More than once I’ve changed the hero/heroine names as I got deeper into the story and learned more about them.
I tend to choose out-of-the-ordinary names because they don’t come with a lot of baggage as a result of knowing real people with those names. Tir’s name was on my list. Araña named herself (literally). Her name is Spanish for spider.
SFG: Your publisher bills SPIDER-TOUCHED as urban fantasy romance plus the setting is in a post-apocalyptic America which some might classify as science fiction. There has been a lot of discussion lately about the labeling of genre fiction especially urban fantasy versus paranormal romance. What do you have to say on the topic and where would you like your books placed in the bookstores?
I can see the need for labels. Booksellers have to know where to place a book on the shelves. But the trouble with labels, especially now, as more and more authors are writing stories blending genres, is that labels tend to be narrow and exclusive. Compounding the problem is that there is no way to reach every reader and provide them with specific and defining information. For instance, “Spider-Touched is a romance set in a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy world and contains erotic elements.” Pretty tough to fit that on the spine of a book.
Ultimately, I think time will sort this issue of genre labels out because existing labels will expand to include a wide range of possibilities and readers will come to see the labels as simply a place to start. One of the things I love about the romance audience is that on the whole, they are very flexible and willing to try new types of stories.
Ghostland and Spider-Touched are romances at their core. The story “resolution” is all about HEA for the hero and heroine as far as their relationship goes. So I’d definitely like to see them placed in the romance section. Even better if they are next to my Ellora’s Cave works so readers will know the sex is going to be dealt with straight-on.
SFG: I understand GHOSTLAND and SPIDER-TOUCHED share the same universe but are standalone stories. For someone that hasn’t read the books is it important as to the read order?
They don’t have to be read in order, though like any series, each story builds on and adds depth to the story world. There are supporting characters introduced in Ghostland who also appear in Spider-Touched, as well as places and concepts.
SFG: Tell us something about your research process and the choices you make when creating the story.
I would have to use the term “research” very loosely. The most honest answer is that I do the least amount of it possible in order to write the story I want to write. Sometimes I hit Wikipedia and get enough background facts to proceed—either before I start or when I’m at a place where I need to know more. Other times it might require delving into non-fiction books.
Story choices all come down to answering a series of questions—the biggest, and most important of which, at least for me, is the very first one: “Knowing that inspiration might take me to the 25% mark, but it’ll take hard work to get to The End, what set of characters, story premise, and setting can I get excited enough about to commit myself to?” The Berkley books have a target length of 100,000 words. Just thinking about it is enough to freeze my fingers and make it impossible to type.
I don’t plot in minutia, but these days the trigger event, midpoint scene, ordeal scene, black moment, and resolution all need to be fairly solid, giving me destinations along the way before I start writing. Then I basically ask myself “what if” and “what next”. Sometimes I stop at the first answer. Sometimes it takes a few of them before I hit one that feels right (or workable). I try not to over-analyze. Forward momentum is the most important thing. Once I get to The End and truly know the entire story, then I can go back and refine the individual scenes.
SFG: Do you have a long-term plan or goal for this story universe? What happens next?
If I took no detours to give important, but minor, characters I’ve introduced in the first two books their own stories, or to explore some of the other worlds within this story world (the vampire world for instance, or that of the Founding Families of Oakland), I could probably wrap the series up in six or seven books. A lot is going to depend on what happens with the first three books and whether there is a large enough audience for Berkley to want more of them.
Shapeshifters are the focus of the next book, my current WIP. The setting shifts between the Were brothels in the Oakland red zone (where Outcasts survive by prostituting themselves) and the world of the pure Weres who live in no-humans-allowed territories.
After that…I’d write a story focusing on the world of the Fallen Angels, and the daughter of one of them who is a Finder.
SFG: What other projects are you working on that you would like to tell us about?
At the moment I’m working on the third book for Berkley. The heroine is a gifted healer introduced in Spider-Touched. The hero is a jaguar shapeshifter. I’m really, really excited about how this is shaping up.
SFG: You’ve published a number of erotic romances with Ellora’s Cave. What are your favourites and are there any tie-ins to this new series? What made you shift in this new genre direction?
I’ve got thirty published stories with EC and hope to get at least one more turned in this year. There are four on-going series, a couple of trilogies, and then some stand-alones. It’s hard to pick a favorite because each of them represents something different, but important, to me. Binding Krista got my foot in the door at EC by giving me direct access to an editor (though it was initially rejected, then went on to become one of my best selling books after I adjusted my premise by adding wings to my heroes from another planet). Trace’s Psychic is my first published book with EC, while Calista’s Men arrived fully formed and had me racing to get the scenes typed in as fast as they came and before they were lost. Lyrael’s Sacrifice allowed me to experiment with the Djinn, though there are no tie-ins between any of my EC works and those for Berkley.
I still love writing erotic romance and don’t see myself quitting. But I want to be able to do more world building and to explore questions and realities that don’t necessarily lend themselves to the erotic romance genre. Urban fantasy romance is a natural progression for me. It allows me to combine paranormal, romantic, fantasy and erotic elements, all the things I enjoy both as a reader and a writer, into a single story form.
SFG: What books/genres do you read when you have the chance? Any must read authors or series?
I’m eclectic in my tastes. There are middle grade and YA authors who are auto-buys for me, as well as romance, mystery, sci-fi, and fantasy (epic, dark and urban) writers. Just to hit a few of them: Robert Crais, Terry Pratchett, Carl Haissen, J.D. Robb’s In Death series, Michelle Sagara’s Cast In series. Nalini Singh, Justine Musk, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Melissa Marr, Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Retrieval Artist series, PJ Tracy.
SFG: What music, TV series or films do you like and do any of them influence your work?
I don’t watch a lot of TV since the choice usually comes down to that or spending the last couple hours of my day reading. There are a few shows I’m hooked on though: Lie To Me, CSI (NY and Las Vegas, I’ve given up on Miami), World Poker Tour, So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol, but only after they get through the audition and weeding-out process, American football, if the Oakland Raiders or San Francisco 49ers are playing.
As far as music goes, I’m just coming out of a twelve year Country phase. Mostly I find myself listening to Rock/Pop stations at the moment. I wouldn’t say either music or TV influence my work, though occasionally they spark an idea for a scene.
SFG: If you could be any paranormal creature. Which one would you be and why?
Djinn, as defined in the Ghostland and Spider-Touched story world. They can take any form or no form, and depending on what House they belong to, have special abilities.
Thank you for being here today Jory and I am looking forward to the next Ghostland World book. But first I need to get to my copy of GHOSTLAND read :)
- Leave a comment, or question about the book, the series, writing or urban fantasy in general, to be entered into the draw to win a signed copy of SPIDER-TOUCHED.
- A name will be drawn at random.
- Giveaway runs until Midnight, August 18. I'll announce the winners next Wednesday.
- For an extra entry, blog about the Interview & Giveaway and leave the link in the comments.