This holiday season, I’ve decided to promote some of my writer friends and ask some of the questions that folks ask me. Today’s guest/victim is:
Jana Oliver has the perfect job—she listens to the voices in her head and then writes their stories. Her latest creation, BRIAR ROSE, is a dark steampunk retelling of Sleeping Beauty, complete with Hoodoo, a vengeful Civil War ghost, and metal magic.
In Jana’s young adult Demon Trappers series, Riley Blackthorne, Atlanta’s first girl Demon Trapper, takes on a host of Hellspawn and their diabolical masters. This multi award-winning series has spread across the globe, with editions in ten countries.
When she’s not daydreaming new stories, she can be found savoring a growing collection of single malt scotch and old books. Visitors are always welcome at her website: www.JanaOliver.com
At what age did you start writing or know that you wanted to write?
I started late – I was in my mid-forties.
Do you plot out your stories or just make it up as you go?
I do a little of both. Sometimes I can see the entirety of the story, sometimes not. Usually I sort of fog-walk my way through the first draft, then go back and put each scene into an Excel spreadsheet so I can get a better handle on the story.
Do you listen to music while you write and if so, what do you listen too?
Yes, I listen to music when I write because I need that stimulation. What I listen to depends on the book. I vary all over the map from Rock to Classical to Celtic bands. Each book has a playlist and I post them on Spotify for my readers. Here’s the one for the first Demon Trappers book: https://open.spotify.com/user/1220411649/playlist/0oqv2id7DYUDw4QcIl9zde
Which of your stories/books/works do you consider the best?
I am immensely proud of two of my works: the Demon Trappers series and the Time Rovers series. The first is the story of a teen taking on Hellspawn in Atlanta and the other is a time travel/alternate history story set in London during the Autumn of Terror (1888 – Jack the Ripper). Both have pushed me far out of my comfort zone as a writer and they’re my best work so far.
What is your latest project/release?
My latest release is MIND GAMES (Book #5 of the Demon Trappers). It came out last Halloween and since it’s all about demons, that was perfect.
Do you have any signings or appearances coming up?
I’ve cut way back on appearances and signings, mostly so I can write more books (grin). My next appearance is at Con Nooga in Chattanooga, TN (Feb. 19-21) http://www.connooga.com/
Is there a book or book series that you recommend to people?
As a devote lover of Urban Fantasy, I always recommend Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series. It’s set in a future Atlanta which is home to some pretty big bad monsters and Kate and the Curran (the Beast Lord of Atlanta) takes them all on. The series never flags.
How much of you is in your characters?
There is some of me in my characters. It’s hard to incorporate bits of yourself. An example: Jacynda Lassiter, my heroine in the Time Rovers series, has a few quirks. She hates being in a tunnel under water. I’m the same. Freaks me out. Still, I forced myself to walk from the south side of the Thames (London) to the north side in a Victorian Era tunnel just to experience the anxiety/fear. I don’t usually do that kind of thing, but it seemed right for the book. Obviously I survived. I still hate tunnels under water.
What genre do you prefer to write? To read?
I write across the genres so there’s not one favorite. As to my reading habits, I’m an omnivore. I adore Regency romances, love a gritty and badass Urban Fantasy and can thoroughly enjoy a classic British murder mystery.
Do you prefer writing short stories or novels? And why?
I prefer novels and the occasional novella. Short stories are actually harder as they have so little real estate in which to tell the story. I’ve written a few, but I just prefer a broader canvas.
Is Writer’s Block ever a problem for you? If so, how do you deal with it.
I don’t have Writer’s Block, per se. I do get stymied every now and then so I wander off and do something completely different: clean the cat box, do laundry, something dull. While I’m doing that mundane task my brain usually spins out the problem and then I go back to work on the book.
What 3 things do you feel every aspiring writer should know?
This job isn’t easy. It’s hard, then it gets harder. You have to have that fire in your gut to stick with it, but if you do the beauty of seeing your words being read by another is incredible. Not everyone is going to like your work. Build up your writer calluses now because the rejection is going to hurt.
Your ability to pen stories is a gift. Never let anyone take that from you.
Do you read reviews of your books? If so, have you ever engaged a reviewer over comments they’ve made?
It’s a no-no to engage with reviewers, but I have on a couple of occasions when I felt they really went over the line. I carefully pick my battles and 99.9% of the time I just walk away. Social Media can exacerbate conflict and the last thing I want is for my author rep to get nailed because someone didn’t like what I had to say.
You can find Jana at the links below:
Jana Oliver website: www.JanaOliver.com
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/janaoliver