It's Monday the 13th. Let's make things a whole lot better by doing TWO posts today!
We have with us now J.C. Seal, author of the Angels and Demons trilogy.
Tell us a little bit about yourself first.
Oh … yes … I’m supposed to introduce myself.
I’m J.C. Seal. Well, the part of me that’s writing books, that is. I started writing in October 2018, so basically, I’m still a toddler.
I usually talk with my hands as well as my mouth, so you’ll see lots of emojis in my texts if you follow me on social media.
My boring, introverted other half is currently (2021) 49 years old, works as lab technician in cancer research, is married for 20 years now, has a 16-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old tomcat. We live in Germany, in a townhouse in the beautiful city of Freiburg. That’s close to Switzerland and France.
What else should you know about me? I’m a nerd, I’m left-handed and too short to reach the upper shelves when I go shopping. I’m good at remembering faces, but never ask me for a name … I won’t recall, except if it’s a character in a book :-)
If you want to know more about me and my writing, you can find me here:
All-in-One link to my books and social media: https://linktr.ee/JCSealBooks
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Rather late in life. It was in October 2018, spurred by a book I suddenly had the urge to write an addition to the ending. I sent it to the author, and she published my fan fiction story on Facebook and in her newsletter. That was the moment I realized that the stories inside me wanted to be shared with the world.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
For my Angels and Demons Trilogy, it all started with a dream, now found in chapter 15 and 16 of book one. The idea for Virgin’s Curse, my fourth novel in the Angels and Demons universe, came from a Portuguese friend. She told me about a locally known curse and dared me to turn it into a book. My short story There is no such Thing as Magic in the Quarantined boxed set has its origin in a writing prompt challenge. My newest two short stories Born from Fire – EMERGENCE and FAMILY TIES were recently published in the COVEN TALES anthology. They belong to a series of short stories, the Protector Witch Chronicles. Why did I write them? Because it’s an anthology about witches hosted by my author friend JA Stone, and I wanted to participate.
Once the story idea is in my head, there’s conventional research of course. For the Trilogy, I searched for fitting locations on Google Maps, read a lot about Angels, Demons and Greek Gods. Their names and abilities, how they looked, what they did. I used references from the Bible and other historical sources to get events and timelines right. But it’s still a work of fiction, with sometimes altered views on history. Still, readers told me they could imagine the events of the story to be true.
For Virgin’s Curse, I relied a lot on my friend to translate the scarce sources available on the curse, or to gather insights from the locals.
Other than that, sources of inspiration and information can be conversations I had or overheard, scenes I witnessed while shopping or drinking coffee with a friend … there are endless possibilities. If you walk through life with eyes and ears wide open, they’re impossible to ignore. When you listen to the song of life around you, you’ll invertedly start humming in tune.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Erratic. I don’t have a schedule at all. Last month, I helped publish COVEN TALES – I Confess, a witch-themed anthology. Eleven authors contributed, and a team of four, including me, did the editing and formatting. I hardly got to write during that time, there were just too many other things on my mind. But that’s all part of being an author. Not everything is just writing. These other things like editing, formatting, and publishing are also important. Sadly, I don’t have time all day, having to work for a living, too.
What does your family think of your writing?
My husband and daughter are supportive. My husband even tries to read my books. Not all that easy, because I’m from Germany, so our native language isn’t English. It means a lot that he’s trying, but I had to promise him to translate all my books to German some day.
The rest of the family is rather indifferent. I dreaded telling them at first, and after the trilogy was published, I gifted them a signed paperback. Of course, they told me they were proud of me, but never considered it as something special. More like they expected this to happen someday, a reaction that still puzzles me.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
To help YOU become a better writer? You must be joking. You are successful author already, while I am still a novice to the craft. But if you insist, here are some things I found out to be helpful.
Never stop learning but grow with the challenges.
Expand your knowledge in all aspects of the field, don’t be afraid to try new things.
Never leave your friends behind, we’re always stronger together.
Never expect more from others than you’re willing to give in return.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
As always, reviews are slow coming in. For Virgin’s Curse, I had a few author friends, bloggers and bookstagrammers read the ARC. The Instagram community is really supportive, and the positive feedback was overwhelming! I know that many of them still have it on their TBR, as I have their books, but it’s hard to balance writing and reading. I always try to review what I read now, something I never did before I started writing. Only then did I realize the importance of reviews and try my best to support my fellow authors.
The best feedback is of course the unexpected one, when you dare to check your reviews and see a new five-star, the reader telling you how much they enjoyed reading and that it was perfect … These moments always make me realize why I’m doing it. There’s nothing better than knowing you made someone happy 😊
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I definitely never thought about a career in writing. In real life, I’m a lab technician in cancer research. For most of my life, my interest was focused on science and technology, on logic and knowledge. Of course, I always loved to read, especially fiction and fantasy, but it never occurred to me to create art myself. For a long time, I was content to have stories inside my head. They didn’t belong to “real life” but were things better hidden from view. How often have I’ve been told I had a vivid imagination, and that I should focus on facts instead … study, make career … That didn’t work out too well. I always learned best by doing things, ending up doing practical science instead.
I never had a writing course, either, but just started typing, trying to learn everything by myself. Until I found my editor. At that moment, I realized this was more than just pastime fun. If I ever make the big bucks, I want to be a full-time author.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
I think, the most unethical practice is the price and publishing policy concerning indie books.
We authors put hours upon hours into writing, then pay for professional editing only to self-publish in the end because the chance to get accepted by a publishing house is below 1%. To have a slight chance for readers actually buying the book, we keep the margin as low as possible, because eBooks have to be cheap.
People go to Starbucks to buy a coffee for $7.99 without a second thought, but buying a book for $2.99? No way, that’s much too expensive. Nobody sees the time and effort behind writing a book, and the publishing industry sees no need to support indies by making these facts public. No, you can even return an eBook months later and get a refund, claiming you didn’t like it. You can’t return the coffee you already drank, either, just because it didn’t taste as expected. Why be able to return a book you already read, then?
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
Good question. I think, a big ego might help with marketing, but other than that, no! If you’re too full of yourself, you won’t accept advice or critique. For example, authors should read the reviews for their books. They should try to understand the reader’s PoV and accept that others might see things differently.
Nobody is perfect, and we don’t have to be. How can we write interesting characters, flawed, broken, with secrets and pain and guilt weighing them down, if we haven’t experienced these things ourselves? If we think we’re perfect, it will mirror in our characters. Perfect, polished, and utterly boring.
So, yes, a big ego would hurt more than it would help. Maybe that’s the reason most of us are introverts. Endless hours of writing, editing, re-writing and self-doubt just aren’t for people with a big ego.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Janina Carol (J.C.) Seal is a pseudonym. When I started writing, I decided to keep my family out of this public life that comes with it, like giving interviews or showing my face on social media. The name is not randomly chosen though. Janina Carol is an anagram of my given names, while Seal is the translation of my husband’s grandparents’ last name. When I created JC, I tried to keep the two identities apart, but the lines have blurred since then. JC isn’t just a name. She’s my English-speaking part. My less introverted half. I had to renew my identity card a few weeks ago, and J.C. Seal is now officially registered as my pseudonym.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m friends with many other authors now, but let’s pick the two most important to mention by name:
My first author friend is Hargrove Perth. She’s my editor’s daughter, and they both taught me so much about writing, I’ll be forever in their debt. If I hadn’t met these two, I don’t know whether I’d still write, or if I’d given up after the first book.
My most important author friend right now is Stephen Goss. We connected while writing for the same book collaboration. We became friends, and now read first drafts for each other. Whatever we correct or comment, we’re scrupulously honest. That affords a huge amount of trust on both sides. Trust we built over the last two years. We complement each other in our abilities, and in addition to working together, I also enjoy our friendly banter.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I prefer it when the books connect to each other. Even if Virgin’s Curse can be read as a standalone, it’s still part of the Angels and Demons universe, with recurring characters from the Angels and Demons Trilogy as well as newly introduced ones. It’s so much fun to expand the universe with each book, to let the community of characters grow, to add to the insights into their world, their abilities and desires, their struggles, and joys.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
So far, only two real people were inspirations for my characters. They know who they are 😊 and they know how much I appreciate having them in my life.
What’s the best way to market your books?
Ha ha ha! If you ever find out, please tell me. I haven’t got a clue. Nothing I tried seems to work, and I don’t have the money to pay for marketing. I guess that leaves me with hope and prayers …
FANTASTIC! Thanks so much for dropping by, and now let's sell some of your books!
International link for the Angels and Demons Trilogy: https://books2read.com/u/bPX69j
BLURB: What would you do if a world that has given you nothing but pain and condemnation suddenly needs your help? What would you do if your life is turned upside down in the blink of an eye? What would you do if you’re the only one able to change fate? Would you close your eyes and deaden your senses to block out the plea for help, or would you stand up, forgive those who wronged you, and be the hero you were meant to be!?
International link for Virgin’s Curse: https://books2read.com/u/3ye8r6
BLURB: Cursed in her teens, Elena Cadaval has led a secluded, lonely life, dedicated to finding a cure to her aliment. She studied History and Archaeology, always hoping she might discover the source of the curse one day. When she gets offered the Professorship for Archaeology at the University in Athens, she meets her assistant, the mysterious Cas Timaeus. While he tries to help her unravel the curse, she gets drawn into a world beyond her imagination … Will his support help her unravel the mystery surrounding the curse, or will Cas’s own, shocking secrets shatter her beliefs and send her to her doom?
Link for COVEN TALES: I Confess anthology: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09K63CWP8
BLURB: With an international cast of talented authors, poets, and artists, Coven Tales: I Confess, is a mind-bending non-stop thrill ride.
These are tales founded in historical horrors, legends and myths, magical worlds, and the paranormal. We find romance and despair, triumph, and loss, within stories crafted to move your heart and make you want more. Witchcraft, earth magic, fantastic creatures, and horrifying monsters, have followed humankind’s path from the beginning. It’s time to hear their tales ….
Here is the beginning of BORN FROM FIRE ~ EMERGENCE ~ (The Protector Witch Chronicles, part one):
Ten years ago, I had been burned, broken, and on the verge of death, with a chance of survival that bordered on nonexistent. Against all odds, I pulled through. In fact, after changing my name I thrived, building my career as a psychologist for victims of all kinds of abuse based on the experience of that crucial day. I understood what they were going through. When I looked into their eyes, it was almost like looking into their heads. I had been there myself and carried my scars with pride. Never once had I looked back at that fateful Halloween when my old life burned to ashes.
Until he entered my office for his first appointment.