Hello one and all! How are you today? I'm back and hope everyone is doing well and happy! It’s so great to be with all of you again. I just love the weekends, don’t you? Are you ready for the holiday season? I am.
Welcome back to my writing blog page where I try to share whatever I think may interest you. Today I interview another fellow author. I love meeting other authors and promoting them. It's so much fun. Why talk about myself when there are so many wonderful authors out there and everywhere waiting to share with us. With me this time is Multi-published author Jami Gray, as she discusses writing and her current book, Tangled In Shadows, which was released on September 15, 2015 from Black Opal Books.
(Interested in winning a free copy of one of Jami's books? Read on below.)***
Welcome, Jami and thanks so much for joining us here. You’ve lead such a well-traveled life. Shall we begin to learn more about you and your writing?
Jami: I managed to outrun the Fur Minxes and dodge the Prankster Duo, so I’m all yours, SJ!
SJ: (Laughs.) Good one, Jami. Love it. First off, Jami, I love your series, The Kyn Kronicles, and though, I’m sure you’ve probably been asked this before, how did you get the idea? Can you tell us a little bit of how the idea evolved?
Jami: I wish I could share some profound inspiration for the Kyn, 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 reacts 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 on.
As for the PSY-IV Teams: I’ve always been fascinated by the arena of psychic abilities, plus I may have a teeny-tiny bit of a conspiracy theorist residing in a small dark corner. I read a great deal outside of fiction, and one particular book, THE SEARCH FOR THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE by John D. Marks, which follows the history of behavioral science and the CIA, helped sparked the idea. After finishing that book, I moved on to THE PSYCHOPATH NEXT DOOR. Um, yeah, my research library of non-fiction titles would be scary to an outsider.
SJ: Definitely does. Please tell us about your newest release, Tangled In Shadows. Why short stories?
Jami: (laughs) It was a dare, given to me by one, maybe two, of my writing partners. Due to the fact I enjoy complex world building, I was whining worrying that short stories presented too many restrictions on my story telling abilities. They dared me to take these smaller stories I knew existed between the full-length novels and share them. I’m not one to back down, so I created Tangled In Shadows so readers could re-join Raine and Gavin outside of the books, and delve a little deeper into Ryuu Kern from Shadow’s Moon.
SJ: I’m so glad the dare worked out for you. You’ve written many books that make up two different series, one mostly Urban Fantasy with the Kyn Kronicles, the other Paranormal Romantic suspense. How extensive was your research for each one?
Jami: I’m a self-admitted research fiend. When I first sat down to write the Kyn Kronicles, my research focused on mythology, namely European mythology. Fascinating cast of characters over yonder. You think our modern day soap operas get convoluted? Try following family lines of the Greek, Romans, or Irish. Not to mention the Nordic folks who make genealogy a hot mess. Yet it’s a great place to start when you’re building a modern day world filled with the fantastical. Creating believable worlds for readers requires me to understand where our stories come from and why. Thanks to the Kyn, I got to delve into the psychological reasons behind werewolf stories, how historical man tried to explain away more “primal” instincts by giving his more frightening desires a physical presence—a slathering, maddened predator who hunts by the light of the moon and added it to my character motivation. When you’re able to meld the whys into a what if, you can create a character with depths to ponder.
As for the PSY-IV Teams, my research history will make Homeland Security sit up and take notice. I’ve meandered into everything from Sniper school, weaponry, most dangerous operating bases overseas, military strategy, psychic studies, psychological profiles, and diving into the depths of each branch of the US military. It’s scary and fun at the same time.
SJ: Fascinating, Jami. Wow! If you could turn one of your books into a film, which one would you choose and why?
Jami: (grins) I think either series would work well. The Kyn Kronicles strike me as a blend of Underworld and Supernatural, while the PSY-IV Teams is a cross of NCIS and Heroes. Depending on what kind of flick you’re looking for, either one would work.
SJ: Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from?
Jami: 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, 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.
So nowadays, my ideas tend to percolate from “what if” questions, and those are the most fun because they lead down some rather twisty roads.
SJ: What do you love most about being a writer? Least?
Jami: I’ll answer least thing first, because it’s easier for me. The worst thing I deal with as a writer is finally getting a solution to that scene/character motivation/plot line you’ve been hung up for EVER while you’re in the shower—with shampoo in your hair and knowing you have to jump out and write it down before you FORGET IT. This happens more than you want to know.
Best thing I love about being a writer—readers who take time out of their lives to pick up your stories, fall in love with them, and then actually share that experience with you. Writing is a solo endeavor, so when a reader tells me how much they enjoyed a story, it makes my entire week!
SJ: What writer inspired you most and how?
Jami: There isn’t just one, when I was younger I would get lost in the worlds of Lloyd Alexander and his Taran the Wanderer series, or Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series. As a teenager I found Terry Brooks’ Shannara books, Anne McCafferty’s Dragonriders of Pern books and Andre Norton’s Incarnations of Immortality. All of them wove such believable worlds which could suck you in and never let you go. I still have all of these on my bookshelves, tucked securely next to their newer companions of Hamilton, Butcher (both Mr. & Mrs.), Ward, Feehan, Murphy, Showalter, Kenyon, Estep, Andrews, Briggs and many, many others.
SJ: If you could give just one piece of important writing advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?
Jami: Write. Don’t talk about, don’t just imagine it, sit down and do it. Don’t listen to the latest “trends”, write the story that is burning a hole through your soul. That’s the one we’re going to want to read.
SJ: What is a favorite book you enjoyed reading and would recommend without hesitation? Why?
Jami: Oh wow, it’s hard to narrow down to just one. I tend to read in series, so I’m always jonesing for Christine Feehan’s Ghostwalkers series, or Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series or Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson’s series. But I have soooooo many authors I enjoy, the list could take up pages.
SJ: In closing, and without giving too much away, do you have any more projects in the immediate future? We’d love to hear about it.
Jami: (rubbing hands together with an evil smile) I’m in the middle of MARKED BY OBSESSION, the third book of the PSY-IV Teams, and the goal is to have it in to my editor by end of year. The second book, TOUCHED BY FATE, just completed first round of edits, so my fingers are crossed for an early 2016 release date. After Marked, well, my evil plan is to begin a third series of the post-apocalyptic romantic suspense variety. I recently took on a new day job, so my schedule is a bit stressful, but totally doable. Here’s to seeing if I still have a brain left by next summer so I can do the fifth book of the Kyn.
It all sounds so fascinating. Thank you so much, Jami, for allowing use to take some time out of your busy schedule and interview you about your writing. It’s been a pleasure. Keep writing.
Readers, take note you may purchase a copy of any of Jami’s books at on-line book stores: Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and from all major and Indie US book stores.
But before we go, it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t share the synopsis for Tangled In Shadows:
In a world of intrigue and shadows, tangling with the monsters can leave its mark… Step into the world of Jami Gray’s Kyn with this collection of short stories, and discover why readers are disappearing into this exciting, Urban Fantasy series. Wrapped In Shadows, .5 (previously published in Things That Go Bump For The Holidays) The magic of the holiday season can be hell… Elite Kyn, Gavin Durand and Raine McCord, are called in to investigate the aftermath of a Christmas engagement party gone horrifically wrong, only to face an unexpected gift. Submerged in Shadows, 1.5 Treasures from the deep come in all shapes and sizes… Forced on an unwanted vacation, Raine soon discovers that boredom is the least of her worries when danger washes ashore, bringing unexpected complications. Masked by Shadows, 2.5 Nothing is ever easy… For Gavin and Raine the job is simple, deliver a package to an interested party in New Orleans. Yet even the easiest job can mask unexpected challenges. Ensnared by Shadows, 3.5 Deception leaves a tangled web… Ryuu Kern, Motoki Pack’s Second, is no stranger to sticky situations, but when delectable Division Agent, Iliana Krychek, comes to him for help, it will take more than claws and teeth to untangle a deadly web of deceit.
Interested? Then here’s an excerpt from TANGLED IN SHADOWS Submerged In Shadows (The Kyn Kronicles 1.5). Read on and enjoy:
“You call this a vacation?”
“Until a few moments ago, yes.”
He didn’t bother to respond, but picked up the extra blanket from the second chair and sat down. The night was closing in, light fading away under the gathering storm clouds on the horizon, a chill with more teeth than bite rode the air, but what else could you expect in November. At least it wasn’t raining. Yet.
Taking another sip of tea, Raine McCord savored the delicate combination of chamomile and spice in hopes it would wash away the bitterness his presence wrought. He waited, his silence creating more pressure than being battered with questions. Ryan Mulcahy, CEO of Taliesin Security and head of the Northwest Kyn, knew how to work the non-verbal interrogation. She focused on the waves lapping the edges of rocky sand. “It’s quiet.”
And here, on Shaw Island nestled among the San Juan Islands in Washington, quiet was an understatement. No street lights glared, no busy streets rumbled, no bustle of shops distracted. Endless starry skies stretched above, while water whispered over sand and stone below. Between them, there was silence. With under three hundred residents, she didn’t worry about nosy neighbors or unexpected guests during her impromptu vacation. Well, except for the man currently sitting next to her, comfortable in his tailored slacks and pressed shirt sans tie. He didn’t fit here. Hell, she didn’t fit here, but she needed this after...Her mind shied away from the memories and the guilt.
“Not the vacation spot I expected,” he said.
Her lips twitched. She couldn’t help it, but to hide it she brought the mug to her lips and murmured, “Did you think I’d go to Hawaii or something?”
“Or something.” Quiet humor drifted in his voice.
“Yeah, sorry Uncle, that’s not really my style.” The moody waters surrounding the island matched her thoughts. Besides she was much more comfortable in the shadows. Hawaii would have required a bikini, something she didn’t own. “Surprised you made it out here.”
“Caught the last ferry in from Anacortes.”
The tension she fought so hard to lose came back in a heartbeat. For her maternal uncle to make an effort to come here did not bode well. Her hands tightened on her mug, and her jaw locked. It was difficult, but she managed to keep her voice level. “You can’t stay here.”
“Can’t leave until the morning ferry, and you choose the one spot without a hotel or B and B.”
Damn him. He was a master game player, one she had no hope of ever outmaneuvering. Why did she even try? She glared at him, but the effort was lost as he continued to stare out over the inky stain spreading across the waters. “Why are you here?” Each word escaped with a snap.
His head turned slowly until he faced her. The light spilling from the small cabin behind her and the last gasps of dusk brushed over his face, carving illusions of emotions she knew damn well he’d never show. “He’s coming back.”
Her heart stalled, then picked up a panicked pace. He was Gavin Durand, the man she led straight into a nightmare because she trusted the wrong person. A nightmare he was still fighting through.
“You need to be there when he arrives.”
Guilt rushed in and wrapped choking hands around her throat. Under it, shame coursed. She turned back to the water and brought her shaky mug to her lips. The incoming storm clouds crept closer. Winds nipped over the water and curled around her, leaving the tea’s warmth useless against the chill in her veins. When the cruel grip of memories eased, she choked out, “I’ve done enough to him. He won’t want me there.”
Fascinated like I was? Want to read more? Here’s the purchase links for your convenience for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at all on-line retailers and independent booksellers everywhere:
For more about Jami and her writing, remember to check out her website at:
***Win a copy of one of Jami's books. Leave a comment here on her interview during the month of November 2015 and you can win a copy of either Shadow's Edge or Hunted By the Past. Your choice. Two winners will be picked so take a chance. Nothing ventured. Nothing gained.
Of course, feel free to connect with Jami all over the internet, her social media links are as follows:
Black Opal Books: www.BlackOpalBooks.com
Muse It Up Publishing: http://museituppublishing.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JamiGrayUFWriter
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI
That’s it for this time. Thank you all for visiting with us. Until next month, every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey. One person, one voice can make a difference. Read a book. Review it. Share it. Pass it along.
S. J. Francis
Advocate for the underdog, and cat, et al.
In my debut novel, Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family." Available now from Black Opal Books and on-line retailers and indie booksellers.
“Some secrets should remain that way….”
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And now for some legal stuff: Copyright 2015 by S.J. Francis. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, S. J. Francis and the guest author and are meant to entertain, inform and enlighten, and intend to offend no one.