Thank you so much for sharing your book with me and agreeing to do a Q&A for my readers.
Give us a quick summary of your book, Illusionary, the first book in your Young Adult science fiction series?
The gene pool has diverted to include humans with special abilities but those without were so fearful of the possibilities, enclosed all known “enhanced” into exiled communities. Nathalee is an 18 year Sage, or mentally enhanced human, whose gift of telepathy keeps her on the outskirts of their society. That is, until she’s approached to become part of an experimental enforcement team. She learns the hard way that not everyone wants to work together and that some seemingly random events may just have a more sinister cause.
In your book, our world has evolved and now includes enhanced humans. Did you have any inspiration from other books or movies to create this new world?
I didn’t pull from anything specifically, at least not consciously, though I will say that the end result has a little Divergent, Darkest Minds with some mystery and suspense vibes. Kind of like a cleaner, younger Jessica Jones.
Nathalee’s closest ally is a mute enhanced boy named Holden. It’s rare to see mute characters represented in YA books. How did Holden come to be?
The story took hold with only two elements known to me: Protagonist who was telepathic; leading man who was mute. The parameters of the story have evolved greatly from conception to completion. I thought about making it post apocalyptic for quite some time but eventually settled on an alternative present and a law enforcement edge.
I didn’t want ANY of my characters to be too strong, too perfect. Holden’s personality began evolving from that grain, though to find out more about the “why’s” you’d need to read the series. *wink wink*
In Illusionary, the world is full of warring factions. The Enhanced are warring with the non-enhanced and even among themselves. Do you intend for these tensions to have any parallels with our own world?
I did. My main subtext is: Fear is a tyrant. People, all people, do stupid things when in afraid. The unknown is a huge cause of fear in people and people make up societies and governments.
Your series is self-published. Many of our readers are in the process of deciding if self-published, small press or traditional publishing are best for them. Can you share with us your decision to self-publish and what the benefits have been for you?
One of my favorite things about being self-published is the community. Fellow authors, editors, bloggers, readers, designers, there is a great camaraderie among those I’ve had the pleasure to meet. I feel like part of a family, one which encompasses everyone who has a hand in bringing a story to life.
How long did it take you to get this book published, from its initial conception to the release date?
From first word to public eye, Illusionary took about a year to complete. I will say that a lot of that was spent building up my contacts and figuring out who I wanted to go with for each component.
What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome in completing your book?
My own nerves? Another hurdle I’m dealing with is a low budget. It’s amazing just how many components go into making a published work, and they all cost money.
What other books and authors inspire you?
Man, so many! I will say that I have a few authors who I have become great friends with and whom I adore. Their writings are AMAZING as well. A couple authors who write the types of stories I’d love to be lumped in with are Shannon Mayer and Dannika Dark. They write about bad-A female leads with mystery and a bit of law enforcement/military elements.
The next book in your series just came out. What can we expect in your next book and going forward?
The second installment goes more in depth about the team’s character and tags along on a case. The third installment will ratchet up the stakes even more. Minefield is opening its gates and fear, once again, is king.
How has your real life loves and passions affected your writing?
I have definitely woven my loves into these stories, the most notable being music and horses. I listen to music 24/7, it soothes my soul. I am one of those people who will cry to a song… I get goosebumps too. I hear that’s not the norm. *shrugs* It is for me. As for horses, I have been riding since my early teen years and just adore the big lugs. I considered mine friends and confidants and knew Nathalee needed something of the sort in her life to keep her sane.
Are any of your characters inspired by people you know in real life?
Not in any whole capacity. I’ve taken a few traits of people I know, Most of them probably coming from me, and melded them into the characters of my team.
What is the first book that made you cry?
Oh wow, hmmm, probably Black Beauty. I will forever see Ginger hanging lifelessly from the back of the cart. *tears up* Next question! *wipes eyes*
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Outside noise. If the hubs is watching TV or the kiddos are running amuck in general, I have a horrible time concentrating. I try to write when I’m alone but if that doesn’t happen, I make sure to have a good pair of earphones. Music is great for my muse, so much so that it’s right there on the pages.
I don’t know that I’ll ever be a fast writer but the fact that I am a wife and mother foremost definitely limits my available writing time.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers looking to publish their first novel?
Keep at it. Get advice that you trust and shop your services. Do not skip a step in the process, get an editor (or more than one), have test readers, tweak where needed and get a professional cover which conveys genre. It always helps to have a social media presence as well. It’s never too early to have people know who you are.
Practice makes perfect… or at least as near as we can get.
What is your favorite book to recommend to others?
Another of those questions that has too many answers, and has me asking follow up questions to narrow down my recommendations. I do tend to recommend Shannon Mayer, Dannika Dark, Jaymin Eve, Raye Wagner and Julie Hall among several others depending on the answers I receive.