Monday, September 3, 2012

Meet J.A. Garland - Fantasy Fiction Author

* Release Party for Book One: Instinct  *

J.A. Garland
Fantasy Fiction Author

      Welcome to my interview with this week's author! I'm so excited for you to meet this multi-talent woman who is so full of energy that she took my breath away reading about all she does!
     I’m going to let JA set this virtual location setting for you! This is how she describes it:  In wry contradiction to the perception of an always 'rainy Seattle', the sun is out full force. A group of college-aged kids laugh as they stroll in a tight bunch down the narrow street. As they pass by your café window, they jostle into one another playfully, healthy bodies and fresh faces exuding a careless happiness. Theirs is a stage you can't remember experiencing.
     Your bohemian café is located next to a dojo where fighters are working on their techniques. You can see them sweating away across the street, through the large dojo window. You've chosen a small table with two chairs at the far end of the café. Your chair faces the entry way. Whether by training or instinct, you've taken up a position that affords you the best view of those coming and going. You can never be too careful in your line of work.
     Thoughts suspend while a waitress sets down a whole-wheat roll, a pat of butter, and an absurdly large mug brimming with coffee, in front of you.

Deanna:  Welcome JA! I do love this little cafe! Great choice! Tell us a bit about yourself

JA:  I’m a full-time firefighter in the state of California, an addicted trail runner, a connoisseur of all things cheese puff, and an author for BURST Books. When I’m not slogging through the obstacles at a mud run, you can find me hunched over my computer unleashing demons, vampires and werewolves upon the world.

Deanna:  My husband is a retire firefighter captain so I understand the long hours you put in. I also had to laugh at your comment about facing the door anywhere you are in public. That's exactly what he does and if I forget, he makes me move so he's facing the door! LOL For an evening out, would it be dinner or a movie? What would the dinner be? What might the movie be?

JA:  Yes, I'm not much a club hopper anymore, LOL So, dinner and a movie it is. Dinner would be sushi and movie would be anything action. Think spy thriller and you've me.

Deanna:  What's your beverage of choice?

JA:  I'm not much for the spirits, and I've never liked ice tea. I'm a coffee or water type of girl.
Deanna:  What do you do to relax when you aren’t writing?

JA:  If you know anything about me, you know that I am a self professed cheese puff connoisseur. I spend a lot of time researching and sampling different types of cheesy goodness. Which leads me to my next favorite thing to do...running. Thank goodness, right, or else I would be a tank! I'm also very 'into' the P90X workout videos. I tried 'Insanity', but wasn't all that thrilled. It was all indoor cardio, and besides missing my trail runs, I lost a lot of strength from not lifting weights. So, I went back to running and P90X. It is the perfect balance!
Deanna:  Okay, I'm out of breath again! LOL Do you have to split your writing time between a day job?

JA:  Oh, yes! As a full-time firefighter, I work two 24 hour shifts, then two twelve hour shifts. I cannot write on shift, so at least two days are out, and I'm too exhausted after the two twelve hour shifts to be very creative. If I don't work mandatory overtime on my days off, then I can squeeze in some time here and there around family commitments.

Deanna:  I do remember those long shift hours he worked. Each week was different with the swing shifts. As authors, we’ve sometimes been accused of being several people. How many personalities live in your mind?

JA:  I think I've gotten everyone locked into their respective closets, but when I'm writing, I let each character out for good behavior.

Deanna:  How many plots do you include in one of your books?

JA:  Each story dictates how it's going to play out, but I find I have at least one main and then at least two sub-plots for the supporting characters.

Deanna:  Readers love to know how writers spend their day. Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

JA:  I am a dedicated morning person. I get up before the sun, around 5am. I then drink a carafe of coffee, I'm not joking, I have the blood pressure to show for it. LOL Then I go for a run. I run at least 6 days a week. My favorite place to run is at a nearby park. 500 acres of trails, I love it! When I run, I think about the next chapter of my current W.I.P. So by the time I get home, I am all ready to have at the computer. I peter out around noon, but get a second wind in the evening. Then I usually edit paragraphs I've already written, I don't add anything new.

Deanna:  What one thing would you pass on to new writers?

JA:  Don't give up. The great American novel won't write itself. There are a lot of great support groups out there, especially the romance guys and gals. They are the most helpful and encouraging group. Any question from craft to publishing to marketing--they have the answer--and are quick to respond. I belong to several groups, and the willingness of those 'cyber' friends to come to each other's aid is absolutely spectacular. Subscribe to as many as your email inbox can handle. They will help point you in the right directions.

Deanna:  I do enjoy helping new authors and introducing them to my readers who are hungry for new books! Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

JA:  The world is an exciting place, but wouldn't it be even more exciting if 'Otherkind' creatures existed? Like demons, werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters, etc? Instinct is book one in a series where Shadow creatures--paranormal beings refuse to fly under the humans radar--come out to play. The National Otherkind Administration (NOA) is responsible for overseeing human/Otherkind interactions. Utilizing Analysts, they collect information on the Shadows. If they believe an infraction of the Otherkind Agreements exists, they send in the Trackers. At the top of the food chain is the Otherkind Council. They act as judge and jury, and have become celebrities of sorts in the eyes of the Otherkind. My series follows several key players on both sides of the table. My books all share this common theme, or 'world.'

Deanna:  Wow! Readers, are you getting all this? What are the physical characteristics that you admire in a man?

JA:  Strength. Both physical and mental. They can be the strongest guy on the block, but time has a funny way of eroding that which we have so tediously built. So if they can't figure out the smartest way to overcome a problem, sans the muscle power, I'm not impressed.

Deanna:  So true! Tell us about your latest book and the type of reader if may appeal to.

 JA:  Lone wolf, Rory Archer, never failed a single mission. Now the hunted instead of the hunter, Rory unwinds a twisted trail leading back to Amber Arlington, a spirited Halfling tied to a world of Shadows. Bound to vows initially forged out of necessity, Rory and Amber's relationship surges into more than either of them bargained on. Scrambling to identify their attacker before joining the casualty list, Rory is faced with doing the unthinkable, or watching Amber become a slave for his species. 

Deanna:  Fantasy authors have to be #1 with their imaginations! Kudos to you! Tell us about Rory, the hero of your latest book.

JA:  Rory is a good guy, but he's had a tough time of things. All he wants is to do his job and forget about his childhood. The object of a botched assassination attempt, he's launched into a complicated world where the one person who holds the answers, will only share them at a heavy price...his complete trust.

Deanna:  Tell us about Amber, the heroine of your latest book.

JA:  Amber is a feisty woman who holds the key to Rory's problems. But her secrets are dark and deep, and she won't talk until he tells her about his past.

Deanna:  Do you prefer to read an E-book or print copy? And why?

JA:  I read mostly ebooks. I fought it, tooth and nail, but must admit that being able to instantly download a book is pretty darn cool. I'm converting my friends over one by one. Although, I must agree, for trade manuals and the real epic series you want to read over and over, it's probably best to have it in print. Other than that, I can't see the paperback advantage. Besides, we all need a little more room in our closets for the skeletons, right?

Deanna:  What are your favorite TV shows?

JA:  I've always enjoyed the SyFy channel, but after getting Apple TV for Christmas, I've become addicted. Haven, Sanctuary, Warehouse 13, I've been systematically working my way through all the episodes. Favorite show? Hands down, I have to go with The Walking Dead. Strangely, I'm not a big fan of zombie books, but I am a huge follower of the show. What a cliff hanger they left us with last season! I can't wait for them to come back, although, with every answer I'm sure there will be more questions, lol.

Deanna:  What are you passionate about these days?

JA:  Community involvement. With the economy as it is, it is more important than ever that people pitch in and help the programs the government can no longer afford to subsidize. Like, join a group who cleans up litter along your favorite bike path. With essential services being cut all over the place, entitlement has gone to the wayside. If you want something, be prepared to work to make it happen!

Deanna:  That's very true. Those who complain about what's happening around them need to get involved to help fix things. On to lighter topics, what would we find under your bed?

JA:  I'm a bit of a disaster preparedness freak. Under my bed you will find a pair of shoes for everyone in the family. (You never know in California when an earthquake will hit, and I want everyone to be ready to get out). I also have a small 'go kit' with flashlights, am/fm radio, water, food bars, blanket, spare car keys, etc. Besides that, just the usual assortment of dust bunnies.

Deanna:  I think the preparedness part comes from your firefighter background! What makes you happy?

JA:  Family, friends and keeping busy. Both my work and home families are extremely supportive of all my endeavors. I'm pretty darn lucky that way! I'm also lucky enough to be in good health. I've seen plenty of people lose theirs in the blink of an eye, so I never take it for granted. I'm active, I'm content, and I'm thankful!

Deanna:  What did you want to be when you grew up?

JA:  Well, a jet fighter pilot of course, doesn't everyone? Okay, so that was just a phase...following the movie Top Gun. Seriously, I wanted to be a writer from early on, but as life has a way of doing, it moved me in a different direction. Sure, becoming and being a firefighter is full of rewards. I love serving the public. But writing is a release--an addictive freedom. I am very lucky to enjoy two such different, and spectacular careers in one lifetime.

Deanna:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

JA:  Pajamas. I do my best work when I am wearing a pair of super comfy pajamas.

Deanna:  I love it! A work-at-home perk! Readers love to know what we do as we write. Describe your writing space.

JA:  My writing space is tidy, but I wouldn't call it entirely organized. I have a small desk that fits in my small bedroom. On it are two printers, one color, one black and white powerhouse. (Sentences read differently when they are printed, did you ever notice that? So I like to print them out to make sure it reads exactly how I intended). I also have a little divider/holder where I keep my hard copy working manuscripts. Sometimes it gets so full it tips over. LOL In addition, my writing area must be as quiet as possible. I used to listen to music when I wrote, then I realized that the emotion of the songs carried into my writing. Which can be a good and bad thing. Maybe I didn't want flowery and lovey when I was constructing that fight scene?

Deanna:  What kind of research do you do for your books?

JA:  I inhale everything I can get my hands on. Including sniper and surveillance books. My good and bad guys haven't managed to survive this long because they're idiots. They know how to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Deanna:  What part of a book has been the easiest to write? The hardest?

JA:  The plot is both the easiest and the hardest. Being type 'A', I sketch everything out to make sure I intertwine scenes and get that big black moment just right. The characters that carry the storyline come secondary. Sometimes, though, they don't like to play nice. They take that 'breath of life' and run amuck with my plot! I'd love for readers to stop by my sites. Thank you all for reading about me and I hope we connect again!

Twitter - @J_A_Garland

 Deanna:  JA, this was by far one of the best interviews I've posted! Thank you for being with us this week. Readers, leave a comment or question for JA so we can get some chatter going. Below is her contest and a picture of what's she's giving away! OMG! Earn more entries in Rafflecopter!

CONTEST:  Leave a comment for a chance to win this bag of goodies! Includes: a gift certificate for the ebook INSTINCT, monogrammed jelly belly tins and coffee mug, tote bag, Ana Banana zombie soap, keychain flashlight, magnetic "chip clip," jelly belly tins, fridge magnet, pen, Lula's chocolates, zombie soap and more!

a Rafflecopter giveaway