BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Friday, May 31, 2013

Interview with author James Ramsey & A Giveaway!

Pour yourself a drink and get comfy, today I'm interviewing urban fantasy author James Ramsey. Often accused of being lost in her own world, James spends most of her time at home with her husband and a menagerie of animals.

She blames her love of the written word entirely on her Grandfather who owned a bookstore, feeding her addiction regularly. Cutting her teeth on illustrated fairy tales she quickly moved on to Farley Mowatt and Lucy Maude Montgomery.

Proudly standing in line till after midnight for five of the seven Harry Potter books she was the only one there without a child.

Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, Anne Rice, Keri Arthur, Jean M. Auel, Dan Brown, Stephanie Laurens, Christopher Paolini, Stephenie Meyer, and Jane Austen represent just a fraction of the titles found in her personal library.

She is rarely found without a bag full of notebooks, iPods, and her Kindle.

Find James online:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Her new book, "Andromeda Rising" released yesterday. The first in a series, it's available at Smashwords in a variety of formats.  

Bea: Why Seattle? Do you think the story would work in another city or town?

James: When I first picked Seattle, it was largely due to it being the nearest US city. I'm from Canada , but I know most of my potential readers are going to be from the US. Picking an American city was probably the only concession to marketability I have made where the story is concerned.  

Seattle is only about two and a half hours from my house, so I have been there several times. Plus I love the feel of it. Some people are put off by the immense use of concrete and vertical architecture, but I love all the nooks and crannies. Driving through the city, it’s easy to get lost, and the coastal views are second to none, well except maybe Vancouver. 

Once I started writing the story, so many of the elements I needed/wanted were all there. And there were tons more that inspired me, from a real bridge troll to an underground city; tree caves and scattered islands; the birthplace of grunge and the coffee culture Starbucks created. Every time I turned around, I found out just how perfect the setting was.  

Would the story work in another city? Maybe, but I doubt it.

Bea: What draws you to the urban fantasy genre? Do you think you might ever try a different genre?

James: I have been reading fairy tales since before I could read. My grandfather owned a book store for the first twenty years of my life. Instead of toys, he gave me books. The most beautifully illustrated children’s books quickly turned into popular series. By the time I was in middle school, I was reading at a university level. 

And then there are cartoons. When my husband and I first moved in together, he was shocked when I got up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons. I loved the Smurfs, any of the Marvel or DC universe cartoons, Hasbro – you name it. Our first trip together was to Disneyland. I found it a crime that at twenty-eight he had never been to Disney.

Being drawn to the Urban Fantasy genre is a very short leap from all of these influences. When you grow up an only child, you learn to make up your own adventures. Wishing that the myths of the world were actually true, just sets fire to my imagination. 

I have written contemporary stories as well and do have a couple of them I am working on. Eventually they might see publication. I love them too, but the myths and legends of our world just make for a fun sandbox to play in. 

Bea: Who are some of your influences? Some of your favorite writers? 

James: I love the depth and imagery of Anne Rice, the complex histories of Tolkien, and the character development of Rowling. All of these writers captured my imagination. For sheer creativity and originality in the Urban Paranormal genre, I have a hard time thinking of anyone better than Kim Harrison. I mean really, a mutated strain of genetically altered tomatoes wipes out a third of the human population and forces the supernaturals to step in and save them? The fun she’s had with that plot point is endless. 

Bea: What prompted you to start writing? Would you continue to write if you were no longer published?

James: I have been writing stories since I was a child. After high school it kind of tapered off and was forgotten. College, marriage, work – it all got in the way, and there was so much great reading material out there that I didn’t feel the need to turn inward for entertainment. Then True Blood came out. The TV series led me to the books, and my imagination came alive. But I was hungry for more. Fan sites led to fanfiction, which led to Twilight fanfiction. The idea of twisting my favorite books, movies, and TV shows the way I wanted was seductive, but my writing skills were beyond rusty. It took me over a year of haunting the sites before I got up the nerve to post my own stuff. My posted material was well received and the readers were really supportive. I’ve learned so much and met so many amazing people through fanfiction that I could never have dreamed it would be possible. Many of them encouraged me to write my own story and my successes in that world gave me the confidence to do it. 

So yeah, I would still write if I wasn’t published. Writing is a creative, and at times therapeutic outlet, for my personality that has always been there. It will still be there even if no one wants to pay for it. 

Bea: Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book? What was the inspiration for it?

James: I have already mentioned my successes in fanfiction. My very patient husband would sit there night after night and listen to me pound away on a keyboard and get excited over reviews and small interviews. He kept saying I needed to write my own story. It was encouragement that was echoed by several of my fanfiction readers. 

The inspiration for Andromeda Rising wasn’t an epiphany. It didn’t come to me fully formed out of a dream. Three years ago, I came up with the idea of a witch on the run from a group of misogynistic and fanatical zealots. Many of the themes that are in this book and the ones that are in progress came from political and philosophical discussions with my husband. Jocelyn has a couple of my characteristics and many of the morals I wish I did.

After two years of picking away at it, I still wasn’t happy. Then I realized that it was because the themes I was interweaving were too big for one book. There was no way I would be able to fit it all in without having to sacrifice all of the best parts.  Once I broke it down into three different plot lines with the possibility of a fourth, everything came together. Getting the courage to present what I had to a freelance editor friend was daunting. She was more than receptive and asked insightful questions that gave me the courage to consider publication. 

Bea: What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?

James: Kim Harrison’s books would probably be the closest. Her heroine and mine have similar jobs and live in similar cities. But that’s where the parallels end. In her series as in Charlaine Harris’ the human world is completely aware of the supernaturals among them. The conflicts in their plot lines revolve around the interactions between the two. There are very few humans in my book. Much of the plot is comprised of the ‘what if’ and ‘how is it possible’ of the concepts of supernaturals living alongside us in secret. The similarities of myths and legends from around the world, the similar architectures and beliefs of people separated by oceans – there has to be a common denominator. 

Bea: Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.

James: Honestly, the only thing I am reading these days revolves around research for upcoming books. Some of them are very dry like, The Dictionary of Mythology and the Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs.  Some are more interesting like Through the Faerie Glass which is Gaelic and Irish myths surrounding fairy lore, and One Percent: the Legend of the Outlaw Biker. I know that one doesn’t seem to fit, but that’s for me to know and my readers to find out about in the future. It’s actually a pretty interesting read.

Late at night when I’m tired and need to relax I do manage to sneak in some current and classic books. My Kindle is filled with the complete works of Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, Anne Rice, and Charlaine Harris. Tara Sivec’s Chocolate Lovers series is a fun read and always makes me laugh out loud. Lewis Carroll and Suzanne Collins. Laurell K Hamilton’s Meredith Gentry series is also there along with some excellently written fanfiction as well. 

Bea: You have an iPod and Kindle. Do you still read print books? What do you like about digital reading?

James: I will forever love print books. There is something about the smell of the paper, the feeling of the pages in your fingertips that cannot be replaced. Most of my favorites are on my shelf in hardcover, only to be duplicated on my Kindle. Some of them even occupy space on my iPod as an audiobook. 

But my Kindle enables me to carry a library with me in my purse. No matter what I’m in the mood for, I have it at the click of a button and don’t need an internet connection. That is a dream come true for a voracious reader. Plus it means I don’t have to cart three or four huge novels through an airport when I go on vacation only to finish them before the week is out. 

Bea: Why did you decide to have Jocelyn work for an investigative service instead having her own her own business?

James: The answer to this question comes up fairly quickly in Andromeda Rising. Jocelyn’s on the run. She needs to stay as far under the radar as she can because of the men that are chasing her. Because she doesn’t know what resources they have access to, it’s important not to leave a noticeable paper trail. As she says, she likes to blend in. If she owned her own business, it puts her at the forefront; she’s the face of the business. Her name is on the tax reports. Her face is on the advertising. Choosing to have her work for someone was a necessity. 

Bea: If you could be a character in a book, which one would it be, and what part would you play? (Romantic lead, sidekick, etc)

James: I would LOVE to be in Hogwarts! J.K. Rowling is a genius and her world is one I would literally kill to be in. I would definitely be a wisecracking sidekick. The sarcastic ‘I told you so’ friend that will do anything possible to help and support the lead, but who always has something to say along the way. I’m not as smart as Hermione, but I would definitely have had Harry’s back on all his adventures. 



James is giving away three autographed paperback copies of "Andromeda Rising". Click below to go to the rafflecopter widget and enter.



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