Friday, February 24, 2012

Author Interview - Jolea M. Harrison

I'm happy to welcome Jolea M. Harrison today.  Author of the Guardians of the Word, Jolea sat down with me to discuss Chosen, the first book in this series.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: Thanks for having me on your blog! First, I’m a mother of two, manager of my 200-year-old farmhouse second, and writer overall. All three are what’s most important to me. I have one kid in college and another learning to drive, so there are challenges, but it’s all good. I’m a glass half full sort of person. I believe the key to success is persistence.

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: Since I was about 12, creatively, not just for school, but writing stories for myself. Have always loved it.

Q: What is Chosen about?

A: Chosen is the story of a young man, Dynan Telaerin, coming to terms with who he is along the path to adulthood.  It’s a story of what happens when we don’t pay attention to the lessons of history and it’s a story of love’s ability to conquer all. The setting is extreme, in purgatory, and tests the characters abilities to endure against very bad odds.

Q: How did you come up with the plot?

A: The series evolved over time. I don’t outline. I like to let things happen and see where they go. Usually, I’ll have the basics – beginning, middle and end worked out, but almost everything in between is up for grabs. I was writing what used to be the first book in the series, (called the Guardians of the Word), and something happened that changed the whole thing. It was maybe a paragraph and I thought, hold it, I’m writing too much back story. I should write about all of this instead. That’s how Myth came about (now book 2). Then again, as I neared the end of the series, I had another idea that required more explanation than a paragraph would allow, and that’s how Chosen came into being. So basically I started in the middle and worked outward in both directions until I found the beginning and end. I don’t recommend this method to anyone, since you have to finish the entire series before you publish. Eight books later, I’m glad I did, but it’s not for everyone to write that way.

Q: Tell us about Dynan Telaerin.

A: He doesn’t have a typical life. He has huge responsibilities and a lot of people he doesn’t want to let down. His father is King. Dynan is Heir to the Throne and not too crazy about the idea. He’s sixteen and would rather chase girls than battle demons and hellhounds. He’s a telepath and it turns out there’s more to that than being able to talk silently to his twin brother.

Q: What do you feel sets your book apart from others of the same genre?

A: I feel like I’ve been able to bring the elements of several genres and meld them together in a believable fashion. There are strong elements of science fiction in the stories. The society is technologically advanced. There are space ships and super computers and laser rifles, but because this society is caught in a kind of time warp, they can only advance so much before they end up destroyed again. The fantasy element comes through the use of telepathy and all the places the mind can reach. At the beginning of Chosen, the side of good is barely able to keep up with containing the extreme evil, embodied by a demon, that seeks to escape and then subjugate the world to its will. One of my telepaths, through the power of his mind, is able to shape shift into a dragon. The possibilities there are endless and fun to play with. Lastly, there’s a touch of the paranormal since the story takes place in the afterlife, or in between life and death. There are ghosts, good and bad.

Q: Did you have any specific goals when writing Chosen? Any themes or ideas or concepts that you wanted to get across to the audience?
A: I really just wanted to tell a good story, no lofty goals or morality to impart, though there are high ideals throughout. Good vs. evil. Innocence against corruption. Who succeeds and who succumbs? Do the bad guys start out bad from the start? Is there redemption? Stuff like that kind of just happened.

Q: How long did it take you to write Chosen? Did you hire any outside help such as a cover artist or editor?

A: Chosen was the most difficult of them all to write. It’s the foundation for all the rest that follow so I guess that’s fitting. I’ve had a huge amount of help and assistance over the years in the editorial department, lots of eyes going over the pages to find the problems and help me correct them. I think I finally have an almost completely clean copy of Chosen available. I do my own cover artwork. I’ve been fooling around with photography manipulation for years. Now it’s a bit more serious. Over the last six months I’ve learned a lot about making good covers and I’ve been happy with the results.

Q: Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing aspirations? How do they support you?

A: My family. My sister was one of the first people to read Chosen and then give me some great encouragement. My kids put up with me being kind of ‘out there’ on occasion if I’m thinking about the storyline, and they’re trying to talk to me. They get it. Friends too. Lots of people. Folks who’ve read the book and then have gone on to actively promote it because they like it so much. That’s a real thrill and means more to me than I can express.

Q: As I'm sure you know, many readers like to find their favorite authors on social networking websites like Facebook and twitter. Do you have any social network links you'd like to share?

A: And I’m on all of them! A few years ago, I was completely anti-internet. Wouldn’t let people post my picture, or really mention my name. Now, I’m google-able. That is completely freaky to me. Anyway here are the links:

Q: What do you think of the changes taking place in the publishing industry?  With authors gaining more control over the creation and distribution of their work, what do you think readers stand to gain/lose?

A: I think these are amazing times to be a writer and a reader. There are many more avenues open for writers to take toward publication. The Big 6 aren’t the gatekeepers anymore. Better yet, agents aren’t the gatekeepers either. At the same time, it’s up to writers to make sure their work is in the best possible shape it can be before they hit the publish button.

For readers, there are vast, new and intriguing stories out there now that weren’t being published before. I think readers are going to enjoy the new world order of digital publication quite a lot. They’re already learning to be discerning shoppers, sampling the wares prior to purchase which is the same thing you do standing in a bookstore, perusing the pages of a book you picked out. Now it’s done digitally. As a reader, I always download the sample, and I take a gander at the reviews.

Q:  Where can readers find your work?

A: You can peruse my books at the following fine online bookstores:

Barnes and Noble:
Chosen is for the moment free at all online outlets.

Q: And just for fun, favorite movie or television series?

A: My favorite movie is Lord of the Rings, followed by Star Wars as a close second. Go figure!

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me!  Hope to hear more from you in the future!

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