Twenty-eight-year-old San Francisco native, Allie Taylor, knows she's got issues, but she at least thought she was human. Against a gritty and original backdrop of a modern-day
populated by a second race of beings, Allie is forced to come to grips with being a member of an enslaved yet deeply powerful race, the members of which believe that Allie has come to free them from enslavement by humanity. With her guide and bodyguard, Revik, a mysterious and deadly seer who appears to help her, Allie is forced to deal with who she really is...or end up a slave like the rest of her race. San Francisco
Welcome JC! Thanks so much for taking time to be here today. Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
I think in terms of favorites from my own books, I still have to pick Revik. A somewhat cantankerous but warm-hearted seer with a propensity to go a bit emotionally unstable and kill a lot of people due to childhood trauma, he's the first character I think I ever wrote about who seemed almost like a real person to me. On some levels he's a quiet intellectual type, in others, more of a flamboyant courter of danger, I love his complexity if nothing else, and I definitely don't credit myself for that, not in any true sense, anyway. He seemed to come out fully-formed somehow...and then proceeded to harangue me to write the Allie's War books, and then harangue me when I didn't get them right in the first few iterations as I learned to write novels. I got a big brain dump on his whole backstory and history, years before they appear in the series itself (some of which doesn't actually show up and/or become relevant until Book 4 in the current version). Generally, he's a big pain in my rear, but I find him to be a lovely non-human overall, and essentially a very decent person who, while deeply flawed, tries his best to do the right thing, and not only for himself..
Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?
Yes. Definitely, yes. I've been extremely lucky to have met a number of very experienced and generous pro writers, some of whom have written upwards of 90-100 novels, have won multiple awards under multiple pen names, etc. The two at the top of that list are Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, two award-winning authors (and husband and wife team) who run workshops out on the Oregon Coast for professional writers. I can't even catalogue how much I've learned from the two of them and the other pro writers who attend those courses. I also had the good fortune to meet Ray Bradbury at a formative point in my writing career, who gave me fantastic advice, and I've gotten really great help and advice at conventions and online from more writers than I can name here.
What do you think makes a good story?
Honestly, I think that depends a lot of the reader. For me, as both a writer and a reader, I tend to like big ideas, big themes, big stakes and very true-to-life and complex characters who struggle with real issues. It probably puts me solidly in the more epic and far-sweeping camp, in terms of types of books, but I'm actually pretty eclectic in my own reading tastes. However, one thing I've found to be true...I personally don't really enjoying reading stuff that's too cynical or depressing. I don't mind dark in my stories, even a fair bit of it, but I need light there, too, and I need there to be people on both sides of that fence, even if they are constant conflict. I'm not personally crazy about some of the trends I've seen in books where there's no one to root for, where everyone is pretty much just out for themselves or is so deeply unlikable that I don't really care what happens to them. I don't find that particularly 'realistic' personally...just cynical. It hasn't been my experience with human beings at all.
What are you passionate about these days?
This might sound weird, but as I get older, I'm getting more and more passionate about individual human rights. I really think as a society (meaning a global one, not just locally), we need to start treating all people as being equally valuable and important. I think we miss the boat when we lump people into groups a lot of the time, even if we think we're doing it to help them. Living in India has opened my eyes to that a lot for some reason, how important each individual person on the planet is, no matter how "insiginificant" they might seem from a more Western perspective, with its emphasis on celebrities and "success" and whatever else. I mean, a lot of people in the world judge success as whether or not they managed to get their family enough to eat that day. It's really changes the way you see things, when you're surrounded by that. So I'm trying harder these days to help people out, at least when I can...not only with money, but just by treating them as a valued member of the human race.
Have you attended a high school reunion? What did you learn?
Oh, wow. Yes. I did once, my ten-year reunion. I admit, I was dragged there reluctantly by an old friend, and I'm pretty sure once was enough, but I'm still really glad I went. It was really interesting to see who had changed and who had stayed the same. I particularly found it fascinating that at a certain point in the evening, the crowd split almost evenly down the middle. On one side, you had the people who were raging drunk and hitting on all of the people I guess they didn't score with when they were eighteen. On the other side, you had a bunch of tables full of the rest of us, many of whom were happily married and had families and were just sitting around and catching up. Every now and then the two crowds would bump into one another...like when a drunk woman landed in my lap and I had to help her to the bathroom, or when conversations merged and intersected long enough to get really confusing...but really, it was almost like two different parties sharing the same small space. Sociologically speaking, it was really kind of fascinating. But I had some really great conversations that night, both with old friends and with people I'd barely known while in high school itself. It was pretty cool to see who was happy with their lives and who wasn't and why. But hey, we weren't even 30 yet, so really, a bit of chaos is to be expected.
Tell us about your current release.
Really, I have two that came out fairly recently, and within a week of one another. Sometimes it just works that way, in terms of publishing schedules. One was the next book in my Allie's War series, which is urban fantasy/paranormal romance; it is called Knight: Allie's War, Book Five. In this installment, Allie and Revik are reunited and in New York, facing new enemies and some old ones, even as more is revealed about some of the key players. There's also a brand new romantic relationship in this one that kind of took me by surprise, in part because it ended up being a much bigger part of the book than I'd originally anticipated.
The other book I released at the end of June was the second installment of my young adult dystopian/science fiction series called The Slave Girl Chronicles: Part II, "The Royals." I'm enjoying this series a lot, too. It's about a teenaged girl who lives in a version of Earth that has been conquered by an alien race, and what happens to her after she ends up a slave in their royal palace.
What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?
Like most unpredictable trades or arts, a sense of humor is pretty critical. Both genuine confidence and an ability to not take oneself too seriously also seem pretty key to me. Unless you're one of the lucky lotto winners (and really, not even then), you can't be too allergic to hard work, either.
I might be a bit unusual in that I actually both like and have lived in both places (although only very briefly in LA). If I had to live in one now, though, I'd pick LA (you can all stop your booing and hissing now, so I can explain why). I'm weirdly fond of the Hollywood, bungalow-type lifestyle, and I'd have fun wandering movie sets at Universal when I needed inspiration. I also really like filmmaking and screenwriting in general, and I think it's more important to be near LA for filmmaking currently than it is to be near New York for publishing anymore. I also like the beach, dislike humidity and have a ton of friends in SoCal. Of course, this assumes that I would not be required to commute and/or drive at all during rush hour. Preferrably, I'd be able to walk to a lot of places, or ride a skateboard...and only drive when I needed to get out of town or make a mad rush to the ocean, and really, not even then.
JC Andrijeski has published novels, novellas, serials, graphic novels and short stories, as well as nonfiction essays and articles, including the Allie’s War series and The Slave Girl Chronicles. Her short fiction runs from humorous to apocalyptic, and her nonfiction articles cover subjects from graffiti art, meditation, psychology, journalism, politics and history. JC currently lives and writes full time at the foot of the Himalayas in
, a location she drew on a fair bit in writing the Allie's War books. Please visit JC's blog at http://jcandrijeski.blogspot.com. India
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