It’s Friday! That means hopefully tomorrow I get to sleep in. It also means it’s time for another interview with an indie author. Today I have A.J. Colby, writer of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. You can find out more about A.J. at the writer’s website here: http://ajcolbyauthor.com/
1. So what made you want to write books?
My family has always been big on reading, with both of my parents encouraging us kids to read from an early age. When I was eleven years old the movie ‘Interview With The Vampire’ came out, and while my parents wouldn’t let me go see the movie they were happy to let me read the book. It’s the first real adult book I remember reading, and I was instantly hooked on both Anne Rice’s books and vampires in general. Something in Anne Rice’s writing spoke to me, and I knew without a doubt that one day I wanted to inspire the same feeling in my own readers. I spent the next twenty years starting and stopping projects that I hoped would become my first novel. The day before my 31st birthday I decided to try again, and 90 days later finished writing ‘Hunted.’
2. I understand you just released Book 1 of a new series, and Book 2 is coming out this fall. Tell me about the series.
The Riley Cray series is an urban fantasy series based in modern-day Colorado. I’ve been a fan of urban fantasy for years, but didn’t want to just regurgitate the same stories and mythos I’ve read over the years. I wanted to take the familiar tropes of vampires and werewolves and add my own spin to them. The first book is geared towards introducing the reader to Riley and some of the other characters who will feature prominently throughout the series, while the second book will begin to give the reader a glimpse of the world at large and how it differs from ours. In book 2 Riley gets drawn into the world of the vamps, who most certainly don’t sparkle in my world (unless maybe if they’re on fire!), and I reveal some more of the ways my versions of vamps and weres differ from what readers have seen before.
3. I have to admit that lately I’m liking serial killers more than vampires or werewolves. What made you decide to take this kind of spin on the genre?
I wanted to start off the series with a bang, and decided that I needed the main antagonist to be something truly horrifying, so I tried to think about what my main character, Riley, would find the most scary. She’s already suffered quite a lot in her fairly short life, but nothing had as much of an impact on her as her transformation into a werewolf. Sometimes monsters are the creature hiding under your bed, and sometimes they’re the charming guy sitting next to you on the bus. I wanted my bad guy to be a combination of both. I mean come on, what’s scarier than a serial killer werewolf?
4. Why do you think that paranormal romance appeals so much to readers today?
I don’t think that paranormal romance is all that much of a new thing really. We (readers) have been drawn to paranormal romance for a long time. I’d consider Dracula to be somewhat of a paranormal romance due to the relationship between the Count and Mina, which to me is the driving force behind the tale. Even Jane Eyre, and similar works, could almost be considered paranormal romance with their mysterious entities living hidden away in attics and wandering the moors. Is it a ghost, or a former mistress gone mad? While I do think the genre has grown in popularity, especially with works such as the Twilight Saga, Beautiful Creatures, etc. that appeal to a younger audience, I think it’s growth can also be attributed to the simple fact that it’s a lot more accessible through avenues such as the Kindle and Nook.
5. Who is your favorite writer, and why?
Do I have to pick just one? I’m not sure I could that! Anne Rice of course, it near the top of the list simply because she was my introduction to urban fantasy and first inspired me to write. Another favorite is Jim Butcher — I love the Dresden Files! Harry is delightfully sarcastic and a bit of a bumbling idiot at times. I’m always fond of the flawed hero, who’s not some invincible bad*ss but rather a regular guy who’s thrust into impossible situations and has to figure out how he’s going to get himself out, sometimes a little worse for wear. There’s nothing that becomes boring quicker than an invincible, perfect hero. I guess that’s why I’ve always liked Batman more than Superman. I’m also a fan of Jane Austen. My mum is an avid Austen fan and got me into her books several years ago. Since then I’ve enjoyed branching out into some of the Austen variations, especially the works by Elizabeth Aston. A newly discovered favorite is Hugh Howey, who is just a literary genius. I devoured Wool as though my life depended on it.
6. What project are you working on now?
I’ve got a couple projects in the works right now — a short story in the Riley Cray series, as well as books 2 (Bitten) and 3 (Marked). The short story, Midnight Mistletoe, will be coming out at the end of July, and Bitten will be released in the Fall.
7. Paranormal romance is supposed to be a little creepy. Have you ever had an experience that was frightening or creepy? If so, please share!
I don’t know if it counts as a creepy experience, but I often have very vivid dreams about serial killers hunting me and my friends/family. It’s a little disturbing to see some of the things my mind can come up with!
8. What advice do you have for other writers?
The simplest advice I could give is to just keep writing. I know everyone says it, and that it’s far easier said than done, but it really is the only way to succeed. I resented hearing it every time someone would tell me to just keep writing, but if I’d given up the first time it got a little hard I’d never have gotten to where I am now. If you can write during the hard times, when you just want to give up and pack it all in, you can write through anything.
My other piece of advice would be to not let jealousy get in the way of your own writing. So often, I see people become envious of someone else’s success, and it just makes me so sad. It’s hard enough being an indie author without having your fellow authors tear you down, or letting your own work suffer due to your jealousies of someone else. Communities such as Kboards are full of helpful information and inspiring success stories, but it’s also home to a lot of bitterness. Celebrate the success of your fellow authors and learn from their experiences.