Sunday, October 13, 2013

*Author Interview*
20 Questions with Jason T. Graves!!!

This year, I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to read and review a great series- The Noctivagas Chronicle.  The two books of the series, Blood Roses and Morning Stars, have quickly become some of my favorites, and are books I love to promote.  I rated them both 5 Roses, and they are just that- solid 5-Rose entertainment!

Are you curious about these wonderful books I've reviewed, and found so fabulous?  Awesome!  Here's some quick info about them, before we jump into the author interview!

Blood Roses
(The Noctivagas Chronicle, Book 1)

~Published: November 26th, 2012

~Length: 324 Pages

~Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy

Vampires aren’t real… right? If they were, Madeline and Marissa Owen would certainly be suspects: bone-white and night-loving—with a proclivity for super-rare steaks—the identical twins are poster-girls for the undead.

As if looking like teen-aged vampires didn’t cause enough drama, trouble erupts into their lives following a disastrous street fight and a brush with the law by Madeline's sister. The girls are forced to move from the diverse city of Austin, Texas to the quaint township of Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania—a move clearly designed to bore the aggressive, MMA-fighter Marissa into an early grave. 
However, their new lives prove to be anything but boring, as a series of shocking upheavals, unearthed lies, and outright dangers keep them thinking... and running for their lives. Ancient books, coded manuscripts, and evil enemies emerge, challenging the unique skills and inner-strengths of the girls—but can even all of this chaos prepare them for the arrival of real vampires?

Facing threats from multiple quarters, the girls must rely on each other to keep ahead of the rising storm … or be swept away by it.

~ 5/5 Roses ~

*See My Review here.*

Morning Stars
(The Noctivagas Chronicle, #2) 

~Published: Sept 17th, 2013

~Length: 228 Pages

~Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal

Vampires are real, as Marissa is delighted to discover, until she finds that drinking blood isn't all it's cracked up to be. And so it goes… Madeline uncovers new mysteries and makes new friends, while Marissa makes a mess of her life and doesn't stop to wonder what's going wrong.

In the Morgensterns’ world, Marlena appears to have recovered from her madness, but Madeline is skeptical. Wilhelm’s seeming need to manage every crisis is increasingly tested by Marissa's antics and difficulties, a trusted friend's spectacular act of betrayal, and the return of Corelis. And, to make matters worse, in the shadows, a darker foe is watching… and waiting.

The twins want to be normal teenagers, but strange events and people of indeterminable intent increasingly hem in their reality. And while Madeline and Marissa wonder if they can just live normal lives, the better question is: can they even survive the lives they're living?

~ 5/5 Roses ~

*See My Review here*

As great as these books are, the author behind them, Jason T. Graves, is just as interesting.

Jason T. Graves lives in North Carolina with his family and a menagerie of small, domestic animals. He takes his coffee black, and, when he is not conducting mysterious, mad-scientist experiments with his students, he writes mysterious and beautiful fiction.

~ Connect with Jason Online ~

Goodreads ~ Blog ~ Website ~ Twitter

I had the opportunity to interview Jason, and I'd like to share what we talked about.

~Rose:  Where did your idea/inspiration for this series come from?  

~Jason:  In late 2011, I had just defended my Master’s thesis in Molecular Genetics and Genomics and I committed myself to sitting down and writing a novel.  I have been writing short stories for over thirty years, but writing and re-writing the thesis had helped me develop the discipline to finish a longer work.  I have read and enjoyed many books in the vampire mythos, so—armed with that interest and my scientific background—I set out to write a more biologically plausible reason for their existence.  Beyond that, I try to incorporate a little real science into the story, as several of the characters are scientists, but not so much as to make people’s eyes glaze over.

I set the story in a pre-existing novelverse of mine (the characters of Ledane, Sabine, and August all existed before Blood Roses), but the characters that began speaking to me during my ‘dreamtime’ (the thinking and dreaming that I do before actually writing) were a pair of super pale identical twins who may or may not be vampires...  After that, the characters lined up pretty quickly, although some (Maelcom and Adrian) just appeared out of nowhere while I was writing.  I liked them, so I kept them around.

~Rose:  Are any of the characters based on you yourself?

~Jason:  Haha… well, yes and no.  I specifically try to NOT write myself into my stories, but there are elements of me in probably all of my characters, especially Wilhelm and Marissa.

~Rose:  Do you see this series going beyond the third book, or are you going to keep it a trilogy?

~Jason:  The series is definitely longer than a trilogy.  The story arc of The Noctivagas Chronicle covers several years, and is fairly extensive.  I have a lot of story to tell and character development to cover.  I think people will be surprised at just how deep this rabbit hole goes.

~Rose:  Were any parts of this series based on real life experiences, or is it all purely imaginary?

~Jason:  As any good writer will tell you, truth is stranger than fiction.  I incorporate many real life experiences into my stories, so be careful what you say to me!  Seriously, though, all the real stuff is fictionalized to protect the guilty.  The rest is just detritus from my weird brain.  It is sometimes frightening how much my subconscious is involved in writing my books… my conscious mind plays catch up, sometimes months after the fact.

~Rose:  What was your favorite part of this book to write?  What about Blood Roses?

~Jason:  Specifically in Morning Stars, the scene where the twins go to State College, PA to visit Jaz, a prequel character and friend of Marissa’s.  The scenes were very organic and easy to write, and I love the chemistry between Marissa and Jaz, and the fact that Madeline meets someone special.  Specifically in Blood Roses, the scene where Marlena spars with Marissa and then takes Madeline for a walk in the garden, because this marks the real point of departure from the relative normalcy the girls have known and begins their plunge into the weirdness to come.  Generally, in both books, I love writing the dialogue between the twins.  They have such a depth of love for each other and an easy, bantering way of talking, that the scenes are usually a joy to write.

~Rose:  Which of your characters would you like to meet in real life?

~Jason:  Wilhelm, Ledane, Maelcom, and (of course) Madeline and Marissa, although I suspect that Marissa would find me boring.

~Rose:  Is there a message or moral you'd like your readers to get from this story?

~Jason:  There are several—some more obvious than others.  Family is important, as is the need to be an individual, but there are deeper messages of faith in something greater than yourself and the need to be obedient to wiser minds, while still being true to your vision of self.  The rest I will let the reader discover.

~Rose:  What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your book to life?

~Jason:  To a large degree, for Blood Roses, it was simply convincing myself that I could write a cohesive, eighty-seven thousand word story that was interesting and entertaining.  BR required a fair amount of research on Catholic history, foreign languages, and European geography and history.  For Morning Stars, my greatest challenge was overcoming the inertia of having written a well-received novel and worrying that the second would not be as good.  I wrote BR in 25 weeks, whereas it took me over a year to finish the core writing of MS.  Granted, I wrote a novella, a novelette, and several short stories during that time, but still, writing MS was more laborious for me than writing BR had been.  Part of that struggle was definitely the need to keep the story straight, as it were, so I was constantly referring to my notes and back to BR to make sure the story line was consistent.

~Rose:  What would YOU like your readers to know about this book/series?

~Jason:  It defies expectations and resists easy categorization, and it is an entertaining if sometimes challenging read.  I am still surprised at how people respond to this series and what they take away from it—it is definitely a genre skipping story.  It has been read by people from 10 to 75 years of age, and has been nearly universally respected, if not loved, by those readers.

~Rose:  What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?  What has been the best compliment?

~Jason: The toughest criticism has been that my writing was good, but my characters sucked.  I try to write compelling, believable characters—real people, with warts and complications—so for someone to say my characters are weak is hard to swallow.  One of the best compliments was given by a friend who bought Blood Roses shortly after it was published.  I saw her a few weeks later, and she said, “Your book is really good!  I bought it because you’re my friend, but it really is a very good book!”  It’s that kind of surprise that I enjoy.  And your review of Morning Stars nearly brought me to happy tears!

~Rose:  How do you react to a negative review?

~Jason:  I thank the reviewer for their time and opinion, and evaluate whether what they said should inform my writing in the future.  I won’t change how I write just to accommodate one person’s whims or preferences, but some of the feedback that I got on Blood Roses from several readers and reviewers was that there was too much science in it and it felt at times like a classroom lecture.  I toned that down in Morning Stars.

~Rose: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

~Jason: I like to cook (and eat) and garden (although I lack the time now).  I have two active children, and coach youth soccer.  I also enjoy discovering new-to-me bands on YouTube because music is such an integral part of my writing process.

~Rose:  What were your favorite books to read as a kid?

~Jason:  Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman, The Hobbit and LotR, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Diamond Age stand out in my mind.

~Rose:  What does your family think of your writing?

~Jason:  They support it, especially now that I’ve shown it isn't just a ‘phase’ that I was going through, although they do sometimes resent the time that I have to spend in front of my laptop, especially now that I am working full time again and can’t write during the day.

~Rose:  What makes your writing environment the most comfortable and productive?

~Jason:  Music, music, music, a drink, and a comfy chair.  I can write just about anywhere (and I have), but I do most of my writing in my home office.

~Rose:  Do you prefer writing with a pen/pencil and paper, or typing on a laptop?

~Jason:  I write too slowly in longhand, so it would be maddening for me to have to write anything of any length using that method, although I enjoy writing longhand and use it extensively when I teach.  I was blessed by my high school guidance counselor who suggested that I take typing, as I can still touch type at 40+ words per minute.  I make a joke about this very topic, in Morning Stars, in a conversation between Marissa and Wilhelm.

~Rose:  Do you write with an outline for your books, or just write?

~Jason:  I write notes ahead of time, but mostly I just know the story arc and plotlines in my head.  It’s only later, when I need to keep things straight, that I begin writing down outlines and timelines.

~Rose:  What's your favorite drink while reading or writing?

~Jason:  I’m a big fan of water, especially when it comes in a bottle of beer, whiskey, or bourbon.  I also like tea.

~Rose:  Are you a morning person, or do you need a crowbar to get out of bed?

~Jason:  Ugh.  I hate getting up in the morning, but then I hate going to bed at night.  I’m strange.

~Rose:  What are your hopes for the next 5 years?

~Jason:  To be on the New York Times bestseller list, have contracts with a NY publishing house, and tour the world, of course ;)  I’m still amazed at how far I’ve come since I independently published Blood Roses eleven months ago.  I now have two novels, and novella, and a collection of short stories (I edited) out to great reviews and strong reader support, and I was recently signed by a mid-sized press.  I feel successful now, but there are definitely still mountains to climb.

Thank you for answering my questions Jason, it was great to learn more about you!!  I certainly hope you see all your hopes for the next 5 years come true! :)  I'm looking forward to the third book in the series!

Be sure to check out the links in this post to learn more about this epic series, and awesome author!!

~Interview Organized ByDesert Rose Reviews & Tours