Hey there, glad to see you back again!
Ready to face another Monday?
No? Not yet?
Good! Then let's stall together.
I have J.R. Lancaster sitting down with me. J.R. Lancaster is a published journalist, Editor and CEO of Musings & Company Creative Agency. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and children. J.R. is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University and possesses an MFA in Creative Writing and Teaching Degree in English. She has a passion for writing that is only rivaled by her love of reading. In her spare time, you can find her outside with her family or behind the pages of a book. Connect with J.R. on Twitter @jrlauthor or Instagram @authorj.r.lancaster.
A book you’re looking forward to release (by someone else)? The countdown is on for ZERO DAYS by Ruth Ware. I read every book she puts out without fail. I love the dark and grittiness of her writing.
A book that pleasantly surprised you? Ahhh this is a good one! I have been all over Kindle Vella lately to try debut and serial authors and found this amazing retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs called MIRROR ON THE WALL by Lari Writer. I never really pick up retellings because I like reading something new but wow! This is such a good twist that I can’t seem to put it down. I’m always stalking her story for the next episode.
Coffee, tea, or cacao? It really depends on the day. I love coffee in the mornings when I need something strong but love tea in the afternoons.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? As soon as I hit 16-years-old and everyone around me was thinking about careers and serious life choices while I was indulging in fantasy novels and movies. I remember there was one day I was being teased by my friends about “needing to grow up” and thinking I would much rather hold on to my imagination.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? I would love to say I have a source of some sort but really, I just feel the pull of the characters that pop in my head. From there, I just run with it. There is a certain story that feels personal to them and that’s the one I tell.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? Chaotic and spotty. I have ADD so I work in spurts. It’s never the same amount of time. Hahaha There are times I will look at the clock and realize I’ve been writing for hours and other times I get distracted with everything going on around me.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? Yep, I have to have the house ‘in order.’ It throws off my whole vibe if I feel like my house needs cleaned or there are things out of place. Which is a nightmare some days since I have kids.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Anything and everything. My world revolves around my mood and I tend to go whichever way the wind blows me. That means you might find me in the garden, fishing, in the woods, hiking, doing yard work or playing basketball with my kids and husband.
Is there a trope you find yourself going back to in multiple works? Or one you avoid? Not so much a trope as an overall theme. Everything I write seems to have an element of mystery. For instance, I am plotting a YA novel that wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with the mystery genre but here we are, and I don’t even know who did at this point.
What does your family think of your writing? They are very proud and supportive. I found they respect my time, love to hear my ideas and do most of the marketing for me. I am a very lucky lady.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? That going in without a plan isn’t as easy to wing and life itself! I like to go with the flow when it comes to being a planner because in normal things I do that has always worked for me. But when I tried to do that with this novel, I found myself in trouble. I couldn’t remember details, or what someone was in the process of doing not to mention forgetting characters names. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they? I would say, try all the things to see what works for you. Just not all at once. You will find your process and rhythm but that takes time. Remember, that just because you go about it differently doesn't mean you’re doing it wrong. With that in mind, suggestions are just that, a suggestion. It’s up to you decide what stays and that can apply to your process, writing, learning a new technique or even the words on the page.
What is your writing Kryptonite? The fact that I am a procrastinator and if I can put it off, I certainly will. But, at least I’m consistent.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? I try to blend the two. I don’t want to disappoint in some regards but I don’t want to mirror anyone either. So, you will get your ending but it will come with a twist.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly? I do. Maybe that is the perfect person to write a character that feels that way. Because some people are that way naturally that means there are readers out there who can relate to that type of writing. Every single author won’t be a cookie cutter fit for every reader. But, your readers are still out there. Go find them.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? It made me look at how I track key information. I stress the word key, here, because I will never be a full on plotter. I can’t do it. But, I will also never try to pants my way through a novel again.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Right now I have two unpublished pieces and five half-finished or started novels. I like options.
What do you have coming next? Up next is an an anthology that I wrote a short story for (coming very soon!) and then a YA duology in the fantasy/speculative genres! Keep an eye out for it.
Basil Billingsly has dedicated more than ten years to flying under the radar of everyone in Badger's Hollow.
He employs Mrs. Greene to do his bidding while he sets to work with clients far from prying eyes in the Village. He answers to no one and there isn't a soul alive that relies on him either. Everything was perfect, until it wasn't.
Now, a decade later, the killer has struck again, and Basil is forced to revisit the unsolved murder of his mother. Torn between love and lies, Basil must sort out his feelings before it’s too late. Old habits die hard, will he break them to save his friends, or will solitude call him home?
Excerpt from "Someone's Always Watching"
When silence finally fell upon the neighborhood, it seemed to come so slowly that I hardly noticed. A knock sounded at the door, sending my heart through my chest. I stood still for a moment, hoping that whoever was on the side might give up and go away. Thump, thump, thump…
I gently cracked the door open just enough to see the man from earlier staring back at me. His dark eyes were encased in dark circles and puffed up to look worn and heavy. He had disheveled and messy hair, only adding to his rumpled appearance. Yet, there was an air of kindness about him that even a blind man could pick up on.
“Hello. The name’s Detective Sergeant Thornhill. Dowden Thornhill,” he said, as he pulled a leather badge from his pocket. “I was wondering if I might come inside and have a word with you?”
“Actually, now’s not a good time. What is this about?” I replied.
“I promise this will only take a minute. It’s rather important, actually. However, I would prefer that we talk in private. You understand.” Dowden stood his ground, leaving me no other way about it. I opened the door and let him in.
“Thank you. Quite a nice place you’ve got here. Is there a lady of the house? I might need to ask her a few questions as well.”
I noticed him craning his neck to peer into the dining room. I contemplated whether he realized I felt his questions were rude. I noted his empty ring finger. Hypocrite.
“No. It’s just me who lives here.” I pulled at my vest even though it didn’t need straightening.
“Oh, I see. I didn’t catch your name,” He said as he made his way around the sitting room looking at all the photos on display. Disgusted, I watched, feeling vulnerable as he touched all the beautiful things that now sat lifeless and collecting dust. Does he feel like this glimpse into my life, my past life no less, will help him get to know me better? I wonder if he knows who I am. It’s obvious he isn’t from around here as I’ve lived here my whole life and don’t recall ever meeting him.
I eyed him as he walked toward the sofa and casually took a seat. What possessed a person to do that? I would much rather prefer he not make himself at home. But, being that he was an officer of the law, I held my tongue.
“May I call you Basil?”
I nodded, “If you must.”
I moved across the room to adjust the pictures he left off-center, paying special attention to the one of my mother holding me as an infant. A sour feeling exposed itself as I wondered if my past would make its way into our conversation.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes, I don’t like… I mean… er... It’s been a rather long time since I have had proper visitors. I like to keep to myself.” I turned to face him. “Forgive me. Where are my manners? Would you care for a cup of tea?”
“Ah, I see. No, thank you. Why don’t you have a seat?”
I couldn’t read the look on his face. But I will do anything to speed up our time together. I took my seat in my mother’s tattered checkered chair by the fireplace. It was her favorite place to read, no matter the time of day. Though, I did not know the irony that would come into play when he revealed his reasons for darkening my doorstep.