SHADOW FOX, Dark Fantasy, Champagne Books, Dark Fantasy, October 2010
Jared Bruin doesn't know who he is. He remembers nothing of his early childhood before the age of seven when he was abandoned in a park in St. Louis, left in an unfamiliar world that terrified him. He knows only that he is driven to learn everything he can about swordplay and sixteenth-century combat.
Almost twenty years later, as he is battling a heroin addiction, suicidal tendencies and a violent affliction he doesn't understand, he is hired to teach swordplay to an enigmatic woman with secrets of her own, who somehow provides a link to his past.
Then a missing journal arrives that provides many answers to Jared's past, and in it another world is revealed, one of a Goddess, prophecies, elves, a devastating love triangle, and a war in desperate need of a hero.
Please describe your writing environment.
I'm in a small "computer room" that I share with my husband. His car- and motorcycle-racing photos compete with my portrait of Lord Byron and stills from our Shakespearean productions. It's rather disheveled in here, I'm afraid, with stacks of magazines and books everywhere.
Please tell us your latest news!
SHADOW FOX was recently nominated by Champagne Books as Novel of the Year for 2010! And the sequel, FOX RISING, is releasing April 4, 2011.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I might add a little more detail or tweak the writing style, but as far as material, no, I wouldn't change a thing.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Must I choose one? Sigh. I suppose it would have to be Phil Rickman (but I also love Guy Gavriel Kay, John Irving and Ian McEwan). I am a pushover for gothic horror, and Rickman, in my opinion, is the king of this genre. He has a fantastic way of building suspense and creating likable, realistic and flawed characters.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I tend to be a writing-style succubus. I am very susceptible in being influenced by whomever I am reading at the time. Which is good, because I usually try to read authors who have something to teach me. But I do have a few rules. I never change POVs without a scene or chapter break (omniscient POV really pisses me off), I avoid using adverbs in dialogue tags (he said/she said for the most part), and I never write in second person (You find yourself walking down a dark corridor. A torch guides your way...) - it's not a Choose Your Own Adventure book for crying out loud!
Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely!! I one book out now, two more on the way, and three titles being shopped by my agent. Eventually I think I can make enough to at least supplement my husband's income.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
In sixth grade, our teacher assigned a "novel" for each of us to write. It was the first time I was ever excited by an assignment, and I enjoyed it so much I knew I had to do it for the rest of my life.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
READ! There is no better way to improve your writing. But read things that are better than your own books, otherwise there is no chance for growth.
How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?
My husband is a great cheerleader but not a reader unfortunately. My mom is great, my dad is recently onboard now that I am actually published. They are all very proud, however.
Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?
I do transcription right now. I've worked in insurance and at a bookstore. For awhile I was simply a stay-at-home mom, which was great.
What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
I never outline. I usually start with an idea or character, and go from there. I enjoy discovering what's going to happen as I go.
Do you have a favorite object that is pertinent to your writing? If so what is it and please describe it.
Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing?
Green tea tablets, maybe read something to get me fired up.
What main genre do you write in?
Science Fiction / Fantasy
Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
I usually start with two to three characters in mind. The others develop as I go.
What's been the most challenging part of writing for you?
Right now it's finding time and energy to write while working a part-time job, being a mom, and doing marketing for my current release.
Who has been your best supporter? How have they been there for you?
I have had different supporters for different parts of the way. Just for getting the writing done, my mom and my husband have been very supportive. Once the books were done, my mom (again), and my best friend Julia have devoured everything I have written and keep asking for more. I also have a new cousin (by way of marriage), Will Evans, who is the reviewer for Darkiss Reads. He's been inexhaustible in getting the word out for SHADOW FOX.
Did you pick the title for your book? If it has been changed please tell us about the process.
Yes, it did. It changed a couple of times, but that was my doing. Originally it was called The Shadow of Prophecy, but a fantasy novel with that title came out a few years ago. I actually like Shadow Fox much better, and love the way I've worked it into every title in the trilogy. Neither my agent nor my publisher changed it.
Do you have an interesting quirk?
How much time do you have? Okay, the main one. I am Realistically Challenged. I have trouble staying grounded, staying focused, staying in the real world. I like my fantasy worlds. It makes for interesting driving.
Do you have any other author names? If so, what are they and what's different about what you write under each name.
No, just this one so far.
Do you like to mix genres?
Yes. I have four fantasy novels, one historical fiction, one mainstream and one sci-fi (which will never see the light of day).
What book are you reading now? What are your thoughts on it?
I'm reading "Charlotte and Emily" by Jude Morgan. He is an absolutely stunning writer. It's about the Bronte sisters, and I enjoy learning history through historical fiction. Assuming it's well-written, of course.
Tell us all about "The Call" or "The Email"!
My husband woke me up at 6:30 a.m. on December 9th. There was an email from Sharon that said, "Get your ass out of bed! Santa just left you a huge present under the tree!" I was floating all day.
What inspires your writing?
Other books, definitely. Sometimes films, and great music.
How many books do you plan on writing each year?
Right now I'll be lucky if I write one. If I can quit my job, between 2 and 3.
What are your hobbies?
Writing, reading...playing with my daughter. I enjoy Shakespeare and the performing arts.
Do you have any cool promo tricks you can share with other writers?
Loop chats and guest blogging -- there's no end to it and it's free!
What has surprised you about being a published writer?
How obsessive I am now about reviews and sales. And how much this is crippling my creativity.
How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
It depends. For fantasy, not that much. For historical fiction, A LOT. I learned some fascinating facts about Lord Byron and his daughter Ada. Who knew she is considered one of the founders of the modern computer?
Do you have any animals? Do they influence your writing?
I have Welsh Corgi. I have yet to use one in my books, but her energy has made it into foxes and wolves.
If a bookstore was putting up "Is Like" plaques, who would be listed as being like you?
My books have too much fantasy to put me with the dark paranormal romance gals, such as Laurel K. Hamilton, but not enough fantasy to put me with the likes of George R.R. Martin. I think I would leave booksellers scratching their heads.
Do you have a website recommendation for other writers?
It depends on their genre. I have directed other authors with my publisher and in my genre to Night Owls. I think it's a great resource for exposure.
What's your favorite drink?
Dr. Pepper! For beer I like Bass, and for wine a good cabernet.
How did you choose your publisher? What was the process?
My agent shopped SHADOW FOX around for about a year before Champagne Books signed on. Before that, there were several publishers who asked for revisions, and then refused to acknowledge said revisions. At least when Champagne asked for revisions, they actually looked at them and then offered a contract. It took nine months from the date of their offer to when the book released in ebook format.
Do you have an agent? If so who and please tell us about them.
Yes! I have a wonderful agent named Sharon Belcastro (www.belcastroagency.com). She enjoys urban fantasy, quirky novels and women's fiction. What I wasn't expecting was the wonderful friendship that blossomed during our work together. I should have listed her as one of my main supporters, for she is incredibly supportive. She teases me about my obsessiveness, and yet is always there to buffer the rejections when they come in. And I think she genuinely has enjoyed all of the novels I've sent her way, which makes her Number One in my book! While she's not in New York, she has great connections. One of my manuscripts is being passed around Penguin, Little, Brown, Random House and HarperCollins.
Ashley J. Barnard