**AUTHOR PEEK** Interview with Author, Jami Gray
Before we get started talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living (if you’re not a fulltime writer) what hobbies you have, etc. Whatever you’d like to share.
Let me see if I can expand beyond the ‘I was born, grew up, and here I am’ status. I hit the world on an Air force base on the southeast coast and within twelve months had move to the Northwest, where I remained until age six. Then it was southward bound to drier climes. I bounced around the Southwest until age twelve when I became the fifth eldest in a very, very large family (think double digits for kid amount). After graduating high school, I did the college thing for so long friends and family thought I’d be a professional student. I’ll admit there were days when I thought the same thing. In my late twenties I married by best bud from high school after we reconnected. We tried living back in the Northwest but it was way too damp so we ended back down in the desert where we now live with our two boys and a lab who doubles as a mini-pony. Yes, I do have a job that pays the bills on top of writing, but lucky for me, it’s a position that allows me to telecommute.
1. How did you get started writing?
I was eight and had just returned from watching Star Wars at the drive-in theater (yes, the one where you park the car and the clumsy speaker hangs on your window). When I went to bed that night, I spent a couple of hours re-writing the story so Han Solo would have a kick ass female to be with instead of the whiny Princess Leia. I started writing fiction in earnest as a freshman in high school. Back in the dark ages, typing on an actual typewriter was a required class. My parents had invested in an electric typewriter so the six of us in high school could practice our typing skills. Needless to say, I would hover over siblings until they finished then I would commandeer the typewriter for my own nefarious purposes. By the time I began to pack for college at eighteen, I had almost 200 pages of YA fantasy novel done. And no, it will never, ever, see the light of day again. After that, writing was something I had to do.
2. What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Urban Fantasy with a darker edge and yep, romantic elements. I grew up on stories of magic in everyday life. For the longest time I really believed my freckles were directly related to the brownies who were sneaking in kisses while I slept. I grew up on Disney stories, and then moved on to Star Trek and other sci-fi books. I hit high school and started sneaking my mom’s romance novels out of the house (sorry, mom!) to help supplement my book habit in-between the fantasy and murder-mysteries I was able to snag from the school library. I headed out into the big bad world at 18, and as I stumbled through the maze of life, I discovered my characters were suddenly becoming harder to hurt (emotionally and physically). I’m sure a therapist would have a field day with this, but needless to say my reading needs changed as well. I started hunting down books where the heroine didn’t always need the hero to ride to her rescue. Sometimes it was more satisfying if she rumbled up to his rescue on her Harley.
3. What is your favorite part of writing?
Creating characters. I’ve heard a hundred times that every story ever written has already been set to paper. My response, meh! Maybe the basic story outline—hero vs. evil, boy meets girl—but you set a strong, multi-layered character, complete with flaws and strengths in a well crafted universe and that story will leave others in the dust. The more complex and real you can make your character, the more they become real to your readers. The best part of writing is when your characters take you down roads you didn’t even know existed.
4. What is your least favorite part of writing?
Pitching in person. Doesn’t matter if it’s an editor, agent or my next door neighbor, trying to creatively explain my book verbally is difficult. My work around is to write out various pitches or blurbs so I’m not caught flatfooted when I’m asked, “So, what’s your book about?” Even though I’ve spent years doing theater, I still stutter when I’m not prepared. Maybe it’s being introverted, or maybe it’s being OCD, but either way I find myself doing mental rehearsals of what to say in case I’m faced with this situation.
5. Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
I wish I could share some profound inspiration, but yeah…no. I always knew magic would be a key component of my world crafting. One of the greatest mind benders for me has always been how would our world react to the existence of magic? How well could the everyday populace handle the reality of werewolves, vamps, necromancers, demons, witches, and every other story ever told? And because life has a darker side and the Grimm Brothers never met Walt Disney, what would those in power do to harness such abilities for their own advantages? So I knew Raine McCord, my main character for Shadow’s Edge, had to be intimately acquainted with the pros and cons of the reality of magic. She’s part of the magical world, but thanks to some human scientists who just couldn’t resist playing god, she’s a bit more than even she expects. I was adopted at 14, so I find my main characters tend to come with some baggage and Raine’s not any different. Since I firmly believe that you have two choices when life starts putting you through the wringer, stand up or fall down, my women (and men) tend to stand up, even if they’re weaving on their feet, faces bruised and battered, they’re up, so bring it.
6. What is it that makes your writing different from all the others in your genre?
I think I’d have to put it at plot twists. With the amount that I read, I don’t ever want my plots or villains to be predictable. I try to throw my readers for a loop, even if the villain is obvious, the reasons behind it aren’t. It’s not always easy but it keeps the tension high and the reader guessing and that’s one of the best things I think you can do as a writer.
7. Are you an avid reader? When you do read someone else’s writing, what is your favorite genre?
I’m an avid reader and will devour any well written story so long as it sucks me into their world. I’ve read it all (and I’m not ashamed to admit it!). High fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance (from sweet to bodice rippers to erotica to paranormal), military thrillers, mysteries of all sorts, and my current favorite—Urban Fantasy. There are many conversations out there about writers reading what they write, and why you should or shouldn’t do it. For me, I enjoy reading in my genre, but I still mix in others, just to spice it up. It allows me to visit fantastic worlds others have created and discover new voices and perspectives.
8. Tell us about your next book & when is it being published?
Currently I’m working on the third book in my Kyn Kronicles. Where the first two books (Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Soul) focused on Raine McCord, this third book revolves around Xander Cade and Warrick Vidis, the Alpha of the Northwest Lycans. As much fun as it is to tag along with Raine and her bloody exploits, Xander and Warrick’s story needed to be told. My characters can be pretty demanding about their time in the spotlight. I don’t have a set release date yet for Shadow’s Moon, but its coming!
Links to Jami Gray’s website, blog, books, etc.
Shadow’s Edge: Book 1 of the Kyn Kronicles and Shadow’s Soul: Book 2 of the Kyn Kronicles are available now in paperback and eBook format.
You can find Jami at:
Buy Link: www.BlackOpalBooks.com
Assc. Blog: www.7EvilDwarves.wordpress.com
BE SURE TO COME BACK to read more about Jami and her releases, SHADOW’S EDGE and SHADOW’S SOUL, on Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench! A Double Feature!