Archive for June, 2012
Jami Gray is the author of the urban fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles. The second book in the series will be released later this week. Read on to get to know her and the Kyn better.
When did you start writing?
On paper or in my head? The first time I decided to create my own character and re-write an existing story line was right after watching George Lucas’s Star Wars at a drive-in theater. At the time, it was a double feature with, I think, Cars—and not the Pixar one either. I wasn’t a big fan of Princess Leia, Luke was okay, but man did I dig Han Solo. I felt he needed a stronger partner so I came up with a female bounty hunter who could fight better than Luke and didn’t need rescuing like Leia. Sometime around junior high I started putting the voices running through my head on to paper. To this day, I truly believe that writing is what keeps me from having to model a white jacket with buckles.
Have you always written urban fantasy?
Nope…the very first story I ever started was back when I was thirteen. It was a young adult fantasy, similar to Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series. I have over two hundred handwritten pages tucked away that will never see the light of day. Okay, I take that back. I dragged it out to share with my critique group, the 7 Evil Dwarves, during one of our annual retreats, and we all had a good laugh over it. I tried my hand at romance, but couldn’t really dig into it. When I finally realized that Urban Fantasy was an actual genre, I was thrilled. For years I loved Anne McCaffrey, Terry Brooks, Lloyd Alexander, and Piers Anthony, so my stories tended to fall along the lines of “What if there was magic in the real world? What would that be like?” Voilà, I arrived at Urban Fantasy!
Your series, The Kyn Kronicles, feature Raine McCord as the main character. How many books are currently planned for the series?
I have a possibility of six to eight books planned for the series because I have always seen Raine’s story having a solid beginning-middle-end story arc. However, I’m finding that some of the secondary characters are piping up and demanding their own spotlight.
I’m currently working on the third book, Shadow’s Moon, which actually focuses on Xander Cade and Warrick Vidis, who you meet in Shadow’s Edge. You get to see more of them in Shadow’s Soul in June and they just wouldn’t leave me alone, so they are ending up with their own story. Never fear, Raine will be stopping in!
Book four will go back to Raine and Gavin. After Shadow’s Soul, I felt Raine deserved a bit of a break, so when Xander stepped up, I took her up on her offer!
The Kyn world is chalk full of really intriguing characters so occasional spin-offs maybe be lurking in the wings.
Can you tell us who the Kyn are?
The Kyn are a conglomerate of all the magical races divided into four Houses: the Fey, the Lycans, the Magi (witches and wizards), and the Amanusa (demons). They’ve existed since the very beginning and are the realities behind mortal stories of magic. As humanity moved into science and reasoning, the Kyn drifted into the background, content to stay in the shadows. Yet as things go, you can’t stay hidden forever and mortal governments became aware of their existence during the two World Wars. Hard to hide when your homelands are being torn apart. So, although the general human population hasn’t a clue, the powers that be do and they are more than happy to use and abuse that knowledge. For the Kyn, keeping their existence as quiet as possible is key, but they still feel an obligation to keep both mortals and Kyn safe from the monsters-both human and Kyn. Now as the world becomes smaller due to technology and information sharing, the veil of secrecy is slowly being eroded.
The best part of writing this book was getting to know Raine, those around her and the world she lived in. I’ve heard it from various writers, but never understood until it happened to me, but sometimes the writer has an end point in mind, but the characters take them in a completely different direction. Raine did that for me, numerous times. One of the most enjoyable things about writing is that I’m discovering the story as I go and it’s never boring!
Raine works for Taliesin Security as part of an elite team. Did you do any research on weapons or combat techniques to inform your writing of the action scenes?
I did. I kept waiting for the Men in Black to come knocking on my door due to my internet searches, especially on the weapons front. For me, it’s important to have the right tools for your intended outcome. On the fighting scenes, my research was much more hands on. My sons and I had been taking various forms of martial arts through-out the years, and when I was writing the final draft of Shadow’s Edge, I was fully immersed in Krav Maga. I loved it! Plus my instructor (ex-military, lifelong martial arts expert) was fabulous. My questions never seemed to throw him. I could ask him specific ways in which a knife could be used to kill if your intended victim was taller than you, if you were grabbed from behind, if you found yourself on your back on the ground, all of it, he was great. He was a great resource for how military groups operated as well. Plus he’d even partner with me as we re-enacted fight scenes a step at a time so I knew exactly what Raine would be seeing/feeling/experiencing. There’s nothing like a real life demo to get you heart rate skyrocketing. As far as I know he never made an anonymous phone call to the authorities about his demented student.
Although the Kyn tend to use claws, magic, and sharp edged weapons since guns tend not to be reliable around them, they aren’t out of the picture yet. This is my year to hit the shooting range to start checking out the wide world of firearms.
Oh yes, because what good’s a continuing story line if you don’t challenge your characters? Raine faces multiple challenges in Shadow’s Soul—a bigger, badder villain, some startling emotional revelations about herself and Gavin, only to begin realizing that the threat she thought she was facing, is a bit more daunting than she expected. My fictional worlds tend to mirror reality in that life is never neat. Instead life will throw you various challenges, then sit back and watch you clamor clumsily through them. Sometimes it will cut you a break so you can enjoy it, before doing it all over again, with more oomph.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Jami. Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?
Just a huge “THANK YOU!” for having me here today and to your readers for being willing to take chances on new authors, readers have no idea how big of a role they play for writers. Let me share. A little while back I hit that wall that pops up every now and then. You know it, it’s that one that likes to smack you around and mock you for thinking that following your passion was a “good idea”. I was getting my butt handed to me by the aforementioned wall, when out of the blue, I received the best text from a reader. She was so sweet and so excited about the pending release date of Shadow’s Soul. And right behind her was another awesome reader who took time out of her very busy life to thank me for writing my book. Seriously? She was thanking me? I was humbled. She was the one who deserved the thanks. Readers are the greatest peeps out there, and so I don’t miss a chance to thank them for all their support. So, yeah—thank you!
Information about Jami Gray
Growing up on the Arizona-Mexico border, Jami Gray was adopted at the age of 14 and suddenly became the fifth eldest of 37 children. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and three minors-History, English, and Theater. Shortly after marrying her techie-geek hubby (who moonlighted as her best friend in high school) she completed a Masters in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix Oregon.
Now, years later, she’s back in the Southwest where she’s outnumbered in her own home by two Star Wars obsessed boys, one Star Wars obsessed husband, and an overly-friendly, 105-pound male lab. Writing is what saves her sanity.
Right now the oldest fiction submission in our queue is from May 11th. If you submitted to us prior to that and have not received a response chances are we didn’t get it. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out or submit again.
As for poetry submissions, it looks to me like the only poems that have been in the queue for more than a week are those Alexandra is holding for additional consideration.
Chris Lewis Carter stopped by to discuss his story “The Cord” and let us know what he’s been up to these days. I hope you enjoy the interview!
When did you first recognize yourself as a writer?
In fourth grade, when I begged one of my teachers to let me stand in front of the class and read my latest masterpiece. I forget what it was called, but it was about a little girl who was in the hospital, and I’m 99% positive that I ended a chapter with, “Then everything went black.” The weird part, though, is that I’m fairly certain this didn’t take place in english class. I think it was actually math. Looking back now, it was clear that even Ten-Year-Old-Chris was more interested in telling stories than solving equations.
What draws you to speculative fiction?
I think it’s because most speculative fiction strikes the perfect balance between “Anything Goes” and “Show Your Work.” By that, I mean it gives a writer the opportunity to let their imagination run wild, while at the same time allows them to ground their crazy ideas in some form of real-world fact. I’ve always found that the best stories are the ones that don’t just entertain, but also teach you something new. It doesn’t need to change your world view or anything, just slip you a little factoid of information that makes you say, “Huh… I didn’t know that.”
It’s like watching the TV show, “Fringe.” They’ll introduce a character who can make someone’s head explode just by looking at them, and then proceed to explain the ability by extrapolating on some basic science. But by the end of the explanation you’re always fully on board, like, “Hmm…well, I guess if sharks can smell blood up to a mile away… this makes sense, too!” I love that.
Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?
“Write what you know.” I’ve always felt that to be an incomplete expression. The real piece of advice should be, “Write what you know you love.” Take my story from Niteblade, for example. I’m by no means an authority on Cordyceps Fungi (although I’m sure a title like that would make me a hit at parties), but I fell in love with the idea. Besides, my good friend Google is always there to make sure I’ve got my facts straight. I mean, that’s kind of the point of writing fiction, isn’t it? To immerse yourself in the unfamiliar. If not, we’d all be writing technical manuals.
Your story, “The Cord”, appeared in the March 2012 issue of Niteblade. Is there a story behind how it came about?
My wife and I were watching an episode of the documentary series, Planet Earth, when they started a segment about Bullet Ants in the African jungle being infected by a parasitic fungus. The footage was simultaneously the most amazing and flat-out horrifying thing I had ever watched in my life, and by the end I had to pause the DVD to frantically jot down all of my ideas on what might happen if this was able to occur in humans. It was just one of those concepts that gets inside your head and says, “Okay, you’re doing something with this, and I’m not leaving until you do.” Then again, it might just be The Cord talking… Dun dun dun!
Oh, and I’ve managed to track down the Planet Earth segment on Youtube for your viewing pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuKjBIBBAL8 – sweet dreams! 🙂
I’m glad you’ve asked. Right now I’m in the final weeks of a kickstarter campaign for a new YA series called Camp Myth, which is about a summer camp for young mythological creatures. Each book will feature the main characters attempting to earn a merit badge based on such things as Phoenix Watching, Kraken Fishing, or Golem Building. It’s basically a combination of mythology and the Boy Scouts. If that sounds like something you or a family member would be interested in, you can visit: http://kck.st/JfqrpP to show your support. Thanks in advance to anyone who does! 🙂
Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?
Well, I’m also the lead writer for an upcoming video game called, “Rival Threads: Last Class Heroes,” an absolutely gorgeous RPG that will be released on iOS devices this summer. The guys and gals I’m working with at Studio Kontrabida are absolute superstars, and (speaking as a lifelong gamer) I guarantee this is going to be something special. You can find out more about the project at www.kontrabida.ca.
You can visit my website, www.chrislewiscarter.com for the latest news, interviews, and links to my available work.
Oh, and to anyone out there thinking about submitting work to Niteblade… DO IT! This is, without a doubt, one of the nicest, friendliest, most professional magazines that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. To everyone else, if you enjoy the content you read here, remember to keep showing your support. Lit mags aren’t in it for the big bucks. They’re a labour of love for all those involved, but they won’t be around to showcase the latest up-and-coming authors without a little fan generosity.
Thanks so much for having me here, Amber. This was a blast!