It's another day to meet a great author!
And I'll admit I'm biased, because JD is a friend of mine. I recently read her book, Demon Kissed, and posted a review (you can find it in the archives). But that doesn't change the fact that I'm thrilled to have her here today!
J.D. Blackrose wrote The Summoner's Mark urban fantasy trilogy for Bell Bridge Books, consisting of Demon Kissed (coming out Feb. 28, 2022), Fae Crossed, and Hell Bound. She’s published The Soul Wars, The Devil’s Been Busy, and Zombie Cosmetologist novellas through Falstaff Books. She’s published short stories such as “Don’t Fool an Earth Witch,” in Mother’s Revenge, “The Book Burning,” in Curiosities, and “Poisoned by Sugar,” in Witches, Warriors, and Wise Women. Her short story, “The Ghost Train,” was published by Third Flatiron in their Spring 2019 Anthology and Best of 2019 Anthology. "Welcome, Death," appeared in the Jewish Book of Horror in Fall, 2020 as did “The Space Ark,” in the HOZ Journal of Speculative Fiction. Under the name Joelle M. Reizes, she co-wrote a children's Hannukah story entitled, "Courageous Candles."
Visit the author’s website. Read an excerpt.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first story when I was seven and told everyone I wanted to be a writer. They said I couldn’t be a writer so I told my family of scientists and science teachers that I wanted to be a physicist and they liked that. Of course, the idea of me being a physicist is laughable. I can’t do math without my fingers and toes.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I do some consulting and work from home along with my writing. I usually spend the morning on consulting, volunteering, or cleaning my house (which is endless because I have cats who shed all year round), and then write from noon onward.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like a lot of monitors. I have an iMac with an external monitor, plus I sidecar my ipad, and I have a laptop I use for zoom calls while writing, plus my phone. I use them all. And if I coulde have a massive monitor, I’d get one. The bigger, the more, the better, I say!
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I’m inspired by almost everything. The first line in Demon Kissed, “I was fat shamed by a fortune cookie,” is literally something I said out loud after reading an absurd and insulting fortune cookie from take-out Chinese. This is when I worked full-time in an office and my colleague laughed out loud when I said it, so I wrote it down, voila! It became the first line in a book.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote a lot of short stories as a child, teenager, and in college, but then I went to graduate school and all creative writing stopped. Stopped cold. Then I got married and the babies came and they ate my brain. So I didn’t start writing seriously, as in aiming for publication, until I was in my mid-40s, which is when I wrote my first book. That first book sits on the computer and will never be seen, but it was a solid first shot and I paid an editor to go through it and tell me everything I did wrong. Then I wrote the next one.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I volunteer at a local primary school library, which I enjoy. I learned that a person who shelves books is called a “page.” Isn’t that cool? My first job, outside of babysitting, was being a page in my elementary school’s library in sixth grade. I was so proud of being asked to do it. I had to pass a test on the Dewey Decimal system!
I also do a lot of yoga, and incorporate some of its teachings into my writing process. One example, is the idea that change comes at the edge. In yoga, you want to find the edge of a pose, one in which you aren’t in pain, but maybe are a tiny bit uncomfortable. That’s where growth happens. The same in writing. Submitting your stories is uncomfortable, but nothing good happens from keeping your writing secret. You have to eat a giant piece of uncomfortable cake (as opposed to humble pie) in order to learn and grow. I tell people to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
What does your family think of your writing?
They are super supportive of me doing it, although they don’t read it! My brother and my dad enjoy my stuff but my kids and husband don’t. It’s just not their thing, which is totally fine. My mom just finished Demon Kissed and told me she enjoyed it. The main thing is that they love that I’m doing it and following my dream. I couldn’t ask for more.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Build a writing habit. You don’t have to write every day but you should write most days. Find a time, find a place, and find a method that works for you to write consistently. Once you write consistently, you can write in a way that builds a story. Habitual writing equals better writing.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Pirating. Don’t steal books. It isn’t necessary. That’s what libraries are for, and if there is a book that doesn’t have a copy of what you want, ask them to get it. Most libraries will get at least a digital copy.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Not being patient. Writing consistently over time, coupled with learning about the industry, equals a career. The career may look different for each person, but when you add writing consistently to attending conferences to learning about advertising and promotion, you can get to a place where you feel like a real writer, but it takes all of those components.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
Demon Kissed is the first in a trilogy called the Summoner’s Mark Series. It was always conceived as the first of three books so while each book does stand alone, the three books comprise an overarching plot.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Remember that first book I mentioned earlier? The best money I ever spent was paying a talented editor to tear it plus my second novel apart. A bit of a soul crushing experience, but so beneficial. I mean, you just don’t know what you don’t know. Someone has to point it out to you. But when an editor tells you that your main character has as much agency as a potted plant, you may need a drink afterwards. Just don’t let it stop you. Take it on the chin and move on.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I was bullied in fourth grade. I actually pull from this experience in book three of the Summoner’s Mark Series, so everyone will get to read a version of what happened. The way I tell it in the book isn’t entirely accurate to the real story. I wasn’t physically beaten up, for example, but the gist is the same. The words the bully used injured me deeply. Deeply enough that I’m writing about it today.
What does literary success look like to you?
I’d like to be able to pay my bills with income from my writing, have a loyal readership of whatever size helps me achieve this goal, and I’d like to be a writer other writers respect. That is important to me, to have the respect of my peers.
What do you have coming next?
Demon Kissed is book one, Fae Crossed is book two, and Hell Bound is the third. Then, I am planning on writing a book about starting a writing career after age 40. I also have two short stories that may or may not be out by the time this interview is up. I’ll post about all of this stuff on my blog, http://www.slipperywords.com.
Thank you for having me!!