R. J. Wade is a fiction writer and author of YA dystopian action adventure novel Aura. She also gives great interviews. Like this one.
First of all, congrats on the recent release of your novel, Aura. How have things been going?
Thank you! It has been going well. It’s such a strange feeling when you’ve been working away on something for so long to finally put it out into the world - I felt sick with nerves the day before publication, knowing that my book would be landing on the Kindles of my friends and family the next morning! The response has been great though and I’ve had some wonderful reviews. Making time for marketing the book as well as writing the next one is taking some getting used to. I’m really having to battle with the social media time suck and trying to resist the urge to check my notifications every five minutes!
Readers are already praising Aura for its "heart-stopping twists" and comment that they couldn't put it down. What devices do you like to employ/what helps you keep us guessing until the end?
I’m a massive fan of Shawn Coyne and the Story Grid so I'd like to think that studying that methodology has helped. It's a really useful tool for plotting out scenes and making sure that each scene has a value shift to keep the story moving forward. I also like to keep my chapters quite short to keep readers wanting to read a little more... and a little more!
Who are your influences?
My favourite author is Max Barry. I love his take on things, his ideas and his sense of humour. I also love Michael Crichton, Suzanne Collins, Malorie Blackman, S.J. Watson, Scott Westerfeld and Blake Crouch. I’m a fan of thrillers, YA and sci-fi and I tend to read in those genres.
What are your thoughts on the ebook revolution? How do you think going digital is changing the game for readers? Writers?
I think for readers and writers, digital has made the route to entry so much easier. Writers can get their words out into the world with the push of a button and readers can discover more books and authors than ever before. Books aren’t cheap and it's much easier to take a punt on a new author with a free book or a book that costs a couple of dollars to download. On the flip side, it means there are so many more books out there and it is harder to make your book visible. I was in a band before being a writer so I know the blessings and curses of digital all too well! I think curation is going to become more and more important in the coming years.
What's your process like?
I’m a plotter! I started out writing into the dark or ‘pantsing’ as they say but I quickly ended up writing myself into a corner and getting really stuck. I discovered K. Weiland's books on outlining and structure and became a plotter from that point on. I have a pin board and index cards and I use those to put the skeleton of the story together. Once I have the outline it doesn't mean that it is set in stone though, and I do deviate and re-plot as new ideas emerge. I write with Scrivener and I like to write first thing on a morning so that no matter what happens during the rest of the day, I know my writing is done. I try to get at least an hour of writing done before I go to work.
Do you begin a project with a theme in mind, or does it emerge for you as you go?
The theme emerged as I went along. I definitely needed to get to the end of the first draft to work out what it was I was getting at!
What do you think attracts readers to stories about Big Brother-type societies?
On some level I think the constrictions and rules in these kind of societies mirror how we often feel in real life - especially when we're younger. We feel we're not in control, we're powerless, we're unable to express ourselves... When the downtrodden hero takes a stand and tears down the evil dystopian regime, it gives us hope that we can take control and have agency in our own lives. I also think people are just generally really interested in where all of this technology and surveillance is going as it encroaches ever more into our lives.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
I would like them to know that I am very grateful to them for reading this far and they can sign up for my mailing list and get a FREE Aura Extras PDF featuring juicy exclusive content right here: www.RJWadeBooks.com/extras
Buy Aura here.
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Patrick Canning is the author of two novels: The Colonel and the Bee and Cryptofauna. If you're looking for an adventure on every page with a cast of interesting characters--look no further!
Readers praise Cryptofauna for its humor. To you, what’s the most important thing to keep in mind when writing humor? Do you prefer to build up to the joke or let the hilarity arise on its own?
Ideally, it would seem like the hilarity has arisen on its own, but hopefully it’s been crafted, and so a skill you can repeat. Forced humor (which, hopefully I’m not too guilty of) is definitely one of my least favorite things to come across in a book. It’s even somewhat mentioned in Cryptofauna: “Jim smiled politely. As was the case with many people, he’d always found the effort Oz employed to try and be funny was inversely related to how funny he was at any given moment. Humor was a cow on the railroad tracks or a catheter tube two sizes too big: trying to force it didn’t do anyone any favors.”
Has publishing affected your writing process? Any advice/insights you could give to fellow writers?
At the moment, I’m only self-published and indie-published, so I haven’t gone through the whole traditional publishing experience yet. I recently read some great advice from Henry Miller, so I’ll just pass that along in place of any ramblings I might have: “Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.” All great stuff.
In an interview you mention you came to novel writing through screenwriting. Are there any skills you picked up while screenwriting that have helped you in writing novels?
A good carryover from screenwriting is the demand that every scene (and really every word) have a purpose. Since screenplays are only around 120 pages, every space on the page is precious real estate, which encourages writing that does a lot with a little. Novels can certainly be more atmospheric and take their time to some degree, but unless the style is challenging the rule intentionally, I think a general attitude of brevity, or at least efficiency, is always good advice, especially for newer writers.
As a lover of movies, what are your top three favorite and why?
Ooh, favorites are probably Rear Window, O Brother Where Art Thou?, and Heat. Those are three I can watch over and over again and only love more. Now I’m going to cheat and add more. Three empirically perfect movies: Silence of the Lambs, Spirited Away, Chinatown, and three that are too funny to leave out: Shaun of the Dead, Bad Santa, Wayne’s World.
Lynda Berry once said, “We don’t create a fantasy world to escape reality, we create it to be able to stay.” What are your thoughts?
Yes! Agree a billion percent (assuming I understand the quote anyway). The ability to escape reality is 100% essential for human life on Earth. People do it in a million different ways, and I think reading is one of the healthier and more rewarding options available.
As a storyteller yourself, do you believe the art of telling a story is a gift or is it a skill that can be learned?
This is a tough one. I think some people are more likely to be successful in certain fields, just based on innate talent. Will alone is probably enough to overcome any debt in natural ability, but would have to come with one hell of a focused goal and immaculate discipline. People seem to find success at the intersection of things they’re good at and things they enjoy. Plus hard work. So I guess it’s one of those confusing, triple intersections where there are lots of car accidents. Having said all that, I think practicing craft can improve absolutely anyone’s storytelling, no matter their starting point.
So here it comes—what’s next for you?
I have a domestic suspense novel that takes place in a Chicago suburb in the late 80’s, somewhat based on my own childhood. I’ve just started querying with that so I don’t know when it will be available, but hopefully months not years. Then I have three new books in various stages and a few shorts to finish up as well. I also have an upcoming dentist appointment so I’m off to floss, a.k.a. massacre my gums, so I can pretend I've been doing it all along.
Is there anything you would like readers to know?
I’m going to try and learn to cross-stitch so I can sew pictures of all the planets. If anyone has any tips, please let me know!
Check him out on Instagram and find his site here!
Photo Credit: Patrick Canning
DK Marie's a voracious reader. Her number one love is romance and devours any and all of its genres, but also enjoys thrillers, horror, and non-fiction. Basically, if there are words on a page and a spectacular story, she's diving in, heart and soul.
However, there's one thing she loves even more, and that's writing her own steamy contemporary romances. They're a mixture of heart, heat, and humor. Brimming with confident heroines and kind heroes, all living, loving, and lusting in and around her hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
When not falling in love with her characters, DK Marie is laughing, relaxing, and planning her next adventure with her family. Okay, and also drinking boatloads of coffee, chatting on social media, and dreaming about her next travel destination.
What was your first thought when you saw the cover for Fairy Tale Lies?
First thought: Holy crap! This is real! I’m going to be a published author (and I may have done a little happy dance). Then I was filled with extreme satisfaction. My publisher, Champagne Book Group, asked for detailed information on what I like and dislike in a book cover. Also, the descriptions of the main characters. They took it all into account, right down to Jacob’s blue eyes. Needless to say, I was smitten with the cover.
You've received a ton of praise on Goodreads and Amazon. Are you the kind of author to read about yourself online? How do you deal with criticism?
I have read the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. They are so important to an author, not only do they help with the algorithms within those sites, but they also assist readers in deciding if they're going to pick it up or not. So, I will check periodically to see my numbers. I will also use the reviews when posting on my social media accounts. You know, have a picture of my book along with a sentence from a review. Again, it shows possible readers that others, besides me, think Fairy Tale Lies is great.
Depends on the criticism. Say, someone bashes my book because they don’t like how a character acted or the storyline, I brush it aside. Writing is art. We don’t all like the same painting or photos, so I don’t expect everyone to enjoy my style of writing. If it is from my editor or beta readers, I consider it very seriously and decide if changes need to be made.
Do you ever feel vulnerable releasing steamy content to the public?
I did more so at the start of my writing career. I had to push aside the whole “What would X think?” thoughts. If I didn’t, I would freeze up and not write as I wished, create the stories I wanted to read. Many people love steamy romances, me included, and I am writing for them. I remember this and push the rest aside. Now, since releasing my book and sharing my sensual poetry online, I’ve gained more confidence, and have the whole attitude: You don’t like it, don’t read it.
Does your family read your writing?
Some of them do, and some don’t, but all of them support my career.
You said in your interview with Sam Hendricks (link below) that "love is found in the most unlikely places and doesn’t follow the pre-conceived notion that women were taught as little girls reading and watching Disney fairy tales." What would you say truly separates real life love from the Disney stories?
Real life is way more difficult. Lol. In all seriousness, I was referring to the older Disney fairy tales, where the women were passive, always waiting for a prince to save them. Even as a kid, I scoffed at this. I wanted to save myself. To be independent. I wanted to love a man for him and not what he could give me. Most girls and women today don’t want their power and happiness to be provided or obtained by a man. The woman I write for are the ones that want to find all this on their own, and fall in love with a man that enriches their life but doesn’t rule it. Anyway, recent Disney fairy tales are getting better. They have stronger female leads and more ethnicity, and the guy is part of the team. The man and woman are in charge of their Happily-Ever-Afters.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
I love it when the first draft is done. I no longer have to worry if I’ll finish the story or how long it will take. Instead, I get to read through it all, find what works and doesn’t, along with adding in the details that layer and enrich the story.
My favorite part writing each story is writing the dialogue and chemistry growing and igniting between the main characters.
Do you prefer writing poetry or prose?
Depends. On Twitter and Instagram, I prefer poetry over prose. I have friends that are fantastic with prose and flash-fiction, I struggle with it. Whereas, the words flow easier with poetry. This always surprises me because I’ve only been writing it for about a year. Plus, I find poetry has improved me as a writer, has helped me insert more emotion in my stories.
What was the greater challenge? Establishing your story with Fairy Tale Lies or continuing it with the sequel?
Definitely establishing Fairy Tale Lies. As I write each story, secondary characters begin shouting at me to have their story told, so I tell them. When it is their turn, I'm not starting from scratch, as I did with Jacob and Greta. In the books that follow, I already know a little bit about them, including a few of their wounds and flaws (which are both so important when writing character-driven stories). I am scheduled to write four books for this series, but two more characters are whispering for me to tell their story. We shall see if I tell them.
Your about me mentions an appreciation of theater. What are some of the best shows you've seen?
I am fortunate and have been ushering at a theater in Detroit for the last three years, so I’ve seen a lot of shows. My top five would be:
Phantom of the Opera (this is the first show I ever saw, back when I was a teenager, and it began my love affair with the theaters)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night
Book of Mormon
dThanks again to DK Marie for the awesome answers! Do yourself a favor and visit the following links below:
Her Official Website:
Her Publisher, Champagne Book Group:
Check out our page on Fairy Tale Lies for the Juniper Grove Book Tour!
Matt Horton is a fiction writer and author of the several books, including the Donovan Chase series, Missing Person, Warsaw, He's All That, and Legend of Prosperity Ranch. He also gives great interviews, like the one below:
What keeps me going is the true belief that I can and I should, even if nobody else believes in me. My vision is large and, at times, it seems that most people don’t understand that because they don’t know how much work it takes to be a writer. Being a writer is one of the loneliest, most dejecting “professions” unless you’re in the 1% that gets recognition for it. But you HAVE to keep writing. Keep talking. Keep sharing. Writing is something that I feel I have to do, even if I’m never famous or if it never becomes my primary source of income. I’m doing what I love so I’m living the dream.
On Facebook you've hinted that you're working on the fourth book in your Donovan Chase series. How has that been going? Care to share any details?
The fourth book has been slow. I’m working on several projects at the same time. There’s one original project called A Silent War which deals with domestic violence, and I’m working on the sequel to another original book (Warsaw) as well as the origin of one of the characters from the Donovan Chase series. That one is Blackhawk, which I referred to before. I’m a perfectionist, so I want anything that I put out there to be perfect, so the fourth may take a while but I’m really excited about the direction that it’s heading so far!
You've published at least ten books so far, which is incredible. When you're working on a project, what's your schedule like?
I’ve actually only done seven (I have a few which are only different formats but show on my page separately, which is unfortunate, but I don’t have much control over linking them. Amazon has been a HUGE learning process). But yes, it feels amazing to have my books out there.
When I’m working on a project, it can be chaotic, especially when I’m editing. I read everything over and over and over (and over) again. I work full time, I’m married, and a college student, so life is pretty hectic. But the thing is, you MAKE time for it. Sometimes writing inspiration can be hard to find (it took me six months on War Thr3e), or perhaps you’ve written yourself into a corner, but when it flows, you run with it, and generally just hope what you’re putting out there isn’t complete crap. I’m joking (mostly); I do feel like I have an idea of when something is good, though, because I know what types of stories I’d like to read.
Who are some of your influences? What have you read that has impacted you as a writer?
Ted Dekker. I LOVE his writing style. He was the one that inspired me to write. Actually, that’s wrong. I have a friend who is a screenplay writer and we’d send each other things back and forth over the years. I think I tried my hand at a screenplay first but then realized that it wasn’t good. But Ted Dekker’s style, man, and the way he contrasted light and darkness... killer. I always, always use the things that I write about to tell important truths, to show right vs. wrong (which some may argue because we all have different worldviews). I think it is a good platform to do so, but to do it in a fun, positive way while telling a story. I’m currently reading Thr3e by Dekker and I think that he is a great role model for Christian writers like myself.
I also love Marie Lu. Her Legend series is AMAZING. She makes it seem so simplistic and you can just get lost in the worlds she’s created, I aspire to be like that. I’m working on the third book in the series currently.
On your Goodreads, you mention were working on spinoffs and origin stories. How did you go about choosing which character backstories you wanted to elaborate on? Did any of them surprise you?
Honestly, my sphere of projects I take on changes constantly. I have a very distant vision of a spin-off for a Donovan Chase character, but with the direction I’m going on the fourth installment, it might end up being better to tell it there.
As far as the origin stories, the two I have in mind so far are... The Legend of Prosperity Ranch (originally titled The Devil Lived Here), which I wrote right after Blackhawk. This one was loosely based on an experience I had in a boys’ rehab program in the mountains of Mexico when I was sixteen. I revised it to tell the story from the perspective of the two main characters, Mac Brenner and Maddox Hill (who is also a main character in Donovan Chase: Sandstorm and Exodus). The latter, I’ve already mentioned, Blackhawk, is the origin story is Deacon Fox and Gunnar Styles (who is in Exodus as well). I think it’s SO much fun, though! I’m able to reference these stories in the series, so if you’re reading them, you’ll have an idea of what to expect and where each character came from, so there’s no surprise. That way, also, I’m not “wasting” any project I’ve done that I believe has potential. It’s also a really good way to judge how far I’ve come as a writer. Blackhawk, I’m COMPLETELY not sure about currently but I’m in the process of re-writing it to see if it is good enough to put out there. So, we’ll see what happens.
What are some of your favorite spinoffs?
Hmmm... I honestly can’t think of any off the top of my head (sorry!) but I think of spin-off stories like movies, like Aquaman, or something. I think that they can either be well done (in cinema or in writing), or they can be TERRIBLE. That’s part of the reason why I’ve been a little stagnant in putting them out there. I want them to be done well and I want readers to enjoy what they’re reading. If I can bring someone to the point where they forget reality for even a few minutes, or perhaps, it causes them to think deeply on the important issues of life, I believe I’ve done my job.
What do you believe attracts readers to dystopian fiction? What do you think attracts writers?
My gosh. I think it is the complete open horizon of possibility there. I like it because it allows me to stretch my imagination beyond what may really be possible or what could happen. I think readers like heroes and villains and dystopian usually involves both, and they’re generally just fun stories to read.
I think authors are attracted to it for two reasons. 1) People want to read them, and 2) they’re fun to write!
For me, the Donovan Chase series was such a progression. Yes, there are elements of mind reading (or eye reading) in the first book and there’s some telekinesis (which I really don’t believe in, but was fun to write about), but I generally tried to keep it in the realm of what COULD actually happen (in America, and then the world)? Exodus was by far the most fun to write because I didn’t have limits. World War 3 already happened. The government is already corrupt. So what’s next? Donovan Chase is brainwashed and the face of a rebel movement. Obviously. ;) And it deals a bit with Biblical end times events, so it was very cool to be able to incorporate that in as a way of interjecting my faith into it (though I do that in everything I write, honestly).
For me, it’s just pure creativity.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
Honestly, just that it is a grueling, rewarding, beautiful process and I don’t know if that’s often appreciated. I don’t think people often recognize your work until you get big.
Social media, especially, can be the worst, and I’m thankful that I don’t base my self worth on what I write, what people think about what I post on social media about it (or how much), or how many likes a post will get on Facebook. In the end, it’s about what I love to do, the stories I want to tell, and (hopefully) the impact that it might have on another person.
Missing Person was my first foray into the subject of child abductions and I even was able to start a small fundraiser for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in the process, and it has been such a good, simple way to tell a story in a delicate way about a very serious issue and to shed light on some of the darkness in this world. Child abductions and sex trafficking are very real issues and they are subjects that I am very passionate about, aside from writing. This is reality for a LOT of people in this world and it is heartbreaking. I did a lot of research in writing this and some of these stories are just horrific. My current writing project (A Silent War) deals with domestic violence, and will most likely be released next year some time.
I’ve discovered, though, in regards to social media (yes, that was quite the rabbit hole), you have to be on it; that’s why I rejoined Instagram after a seven month hiatus. You simply have to keep talking, keep promoting your work, and the cool thing is that there are SO many supportive, like minded people on there (IG) who really help and encourage you along the way! I’ve, honestly, near given up on Facebook about my writing because I honestly believe that people would rather see memes, GIFs, and inspirational quotes (and that’s okay! Facebook isn’t what it was in 2007 when I joined it). All in all, social media is a necessary evil (haha), but I’ve found it can also be a good thing.
Last thing... reviews or star ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ratings on Amazon are CRUCIAL. If you’re a reader, and you’ve read a book, do the author a solid and give them a rating.
Find Matt Horton's books here.
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