Friday, January 18, 2013

Interview with Jean Murray



What inspired you to become an author?

My husband, honestly.  Yes, I will give him the credit this once J.

I picked up writing as a hobby in 2009, never thinking about publishing.  I just had these stories bouncing around in my head.  The need to express the stories on paper literally happened overnight.  I call it my awakening. It wasn’t until my husband read my first manuscript and said “you should publish this,” did I even consider the possibility.  Honestly, I didn’t think I had a chance in hell, so I went to my first RWA conference and took workshops through FF&P Chapter. If it wasn’t for my husband’s encouragement, I don’t think I would have ever considered submitting to a publisher.  My first book is dedicated to Paul.   
 
Do you have a specific writing style?

Fly by the seat of my pants! 

I tried plotting and outlining because everyone told me that’s what I should do, but honestly the well-constructed outlines would invariably end up in the trash.  I plot in my head and sit down and write.  I know where I want the characters to start and end.  I let them fill in the rest.  I love giving the characters control of the story.  They provide the greatest surprises. You never know what’s going to happen. 

Do you write in different genres?

I write both Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy.  The Key to the Cursed series is a nice mix of both.  I’d have a few SciFi ideas banging around in the old brain that I really need to be put on paper.  
  
If yes which is your favorite genre to write?

Paranormal romance is my absolute favorite.  The mix of super human powers, otherworldly creatures, love and romance is addictive.  I can’t get enough of it.  It is the one genre that is limitless.    

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

Soul Awakened is a powerful novel on several levels.  Yes, Kendra “awakens” Bakari from his cursed slumber, but his awakening is much deeper than that – soul altering.  He changes physically, and more importantly, emotionally.  

Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?

The first book in the series I didn’t title until it was complete.  Soul Reborn (current title) was once called The Lion’s Flower.  Okay don’t laugh, it was a placeholder of sorts for submission.  After the last edits, I asked my editor to brainstorm with me because the title needed a major overhaul.  I wanted all the books to have the same theme and because Egyptian mythology revolves around souls we decided that would be the best keyword throughout the series.  Thus, Soul Reborn, Soul Awakened, Soul Unbound, and Soul Unleashed were born.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The entire Key to the Cursed series has several themes that run through the plot and character arcs.  The tagline for the series is “Only the strongest love will unlock the souls of the Underworld.”  Essentially, with love anything is possible.  Soul Reborn’s theme revolves around forgiveness and second changes.  Soul Awakened’s theme is of hope and redemption. 

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

All of the above.

I’ve struggled with depression and suicide.  Not my own, but others around me. I never quite understood it until recently.  I had a roommate in college that overdosed in a suicidal gesture.  I remember being so angry with her.  Furious.  She had everything going for her, more than I did at the time.  I could not relate, but wanted to be there for her.  
  
I became a nurse to care for people in their time of need, but I couldn’t get my hands around this idea of “better off dead.”  In recent years, we lost a high school friend to suicide.  Such a tragic loss.  Being in the military, I knew folks suffering from PTSD.  To see someone in their acute crisis and then later after counseling, the transformation was amazing.  I realized after talking with so many, my frustration was the fact that I could not take their pain away and that they could not see what I saw—the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope for a life beyond depression and their right to be happy.   

Soul Awakened allowed me to write that journey.  The countless stories of despair and loss are bundled into this story, as well as my own in Kendra.        

I dedicated Soul Awakened to our American heroes: find their hope, hold onto it and never let it go.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

I’m working on the third book in the Key to the Cursed series, Soul Unbound.  Originally, there were only three books, but after Soul Awakened I had to redeem Bomani.  So, he got his own book. 

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

JR Ward tops the list.  She is not afraid to touch upon subjects that may make people uncomfortable.  Abuse, rape, addiction, homosexuality, BSDM, etc…  Relationships are not easy, and the  brothers and their shalens don’t have the easy road to happily ever after.  Relationships take work and her characters are no exception. It’s not flip the page and bang-- everything is okay. Her writing takes you on that journey. 

Do you have to travel much to do research for your books? 

I actually traveled before I became a writer.  I’ve lived overseas while in the military and used military flights to travel all throughout Europe, even made it to Bahrain, Czech Republic and Republic of Georgia.  My experiences gave me a true appreciation of other cultures, impacted me as a writer and the very reason I write Egyptian mythology.  If you have never ventured out of the US, you must.  Keep an open mind and soak it all in. 

Who designed the cover of your latest book?

Taria Reed (http://www.tariar.com/ ) was the designer for Soul Awakened.  She did a fabulous job.  Honestly, she captured all the elements in one scene. 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

You never know unless you try

I was told by fellow writers if I wanted to publish an Egyptian based novel it would have to be historical.  The Key to the Cursed series is present day with an urban fantasy flare.  Okay, I was doing a bit of ground breaking, so I was a little nervous.  I delayed pitching and submitting Soul Reborn’s manuscript, mostly out of fear it wasn’t good enough or the publishers would see Egyptian and throw it in the trash.  I would have never known had I not taken those fateful steps towards publishing.  I did an online pitch, and although the editor was a little hesitant she asked for a full manuscript.  Twenty-four hours later I received a contract offer. 

What I’ve learned it’s not so much what you right, it’s how you write it. Write what you love. 





Soul Awakened
Key to the Cursed Series Book Two

Genre:  Dark Paranormal

Publisher:  Crescent Moon Press
Date of Publication:  January 15, 2013

ISBN:  978-1-937254-97-1                     
ASIN: 978-1-937254-98-8                    

Number of pages:  292
Word Count:  92,000

Cover Artist:  Taria A. Reed

Book Description:

LOVE FOR BLOOD OR HONOR

Kendra, an Egyptologist and demi-god in waiting, is the key to unlocking Bakari, the Egyptian God of Death, from his cursed slumber. Desperate to free him, she inadvertently binds herself to the god with a spell that only death will undo. To save Bakari from himself, she may have to sacrifice her innocence, and possibly her soul, before he becomes his family’s worst enemy.

HAUNTED BY SINS OF THE PAST

Bakari awakens to a world at war and a beautiful woman who has tethered his soul to hers. In the wake of his self-destruction Kendra is his only hope of salvation, but another has vowed to keep Bakari from the one thing he craves most-- his Parvana. His butterfly.

About the Author:

In her pursuit of a nursing degree, Jean Murray aspired to see the world and joined the Navy. At the end of 2011 she said a heart-breaking goodbye to her Navy family and retired after twenty years of military service. Although her dreams of writing full time have yet to come true, she continues her writing journey and draws inspiration from her travels abroad. She enjoys spending time with her family and of course, writing about the “Carrigan sisters and their mates, Gods of the Underworld,” to bring you the next installment of the Key to the Cursed series.




                      

Goodreads: 

Book Trailer Soul Reborn: http://youtu.be/smSJsJp5o74

a Rafflecopter giveaway

34 comments:

wickedromance said...

Thank you, Roxanne for having me here today in your realm.

Love it.

Jean
www.jean-murray.com
www.wickedromance.wordpress.com

books4me said...

Does your husband continue to read your books prior to editing?

Paul said...

I've read every book, although I do try to speed through the sex scenes. :) - Paul

Anne Consolacion said...

Hi Jean. What books are you currently reading?

Jean Murray said...

Hi Anne.

I just finished Tained by Lynn Rush and For the Love of Hades by Sasha Summers. Just loaded a YA novel, called January Black. It's a new release. Now to find the time to read it.

Jean

bn100 said...

What's your favorite place that you've traveled to?

Jean Murray said...

bn100,

Oh boy, that's a hard one. Each place was amazing, but one that really stands out for me is the Republic of Georgia. I spent awhile there for a military mission and got to know the people and culture. Theirs is such a hard-working, proud culture, rich in history. It was the most glamorous destination, but the countryside was beautiful and so were the hearts of its people.

Thanks for asking,

Jean

Anne Consolacion said...

HI Jean. I read in another blog interview that you have 3 kids. 3 boys. How do you juggle your time? Reading, writing, taking care of the boys and the house, maybe cooking and everything else? Wow! You are a supermom! :)

Jean Murray said...

Hi Anne.

It is quite the juggling act. Sometimes things get dropped (not my kids, mind you :-). It never gets boring. LOL.

Thanks for sticking with the book tour. See you at the next stop.

Jean

Dorothy (xsecretxkeeperx) said...

Outlines. Ugh! The bane of my existence, I tell you! I with you. I find that outlines confine me too much to my original, bare-bones ideas and don't leave enough room for growth. Something I love about writing is when something in my story takes on a life of its own and develops far past what I had intended. So much so that when I read back over it a few months later, I think, "I wrote that? I couldn't have written that. It's AWESOME!" Has this every happened to you and what did you like about it?

wickedromance said...

Hi Dorothy.

I've experienced exactly what you described. My subconscious must work overtime when I write. I look back over what I've written I realize I've closed a loop, one I didn't even plan having in the story, but damn if it doesn't just cinch the whole thing. If I had planned it, it would have never worked out. I've also had those moments where I say, "when did I write that?"

It's hysterical and I love every minute of it.

Jean

Dorothy (xsecretxkeeperx) said...

Hahaha, the "when did I write that?" moments are great. And the loopholes! Gosh, the loopholes. It always leaves me with this odd conflicted feeling after something works out perfectly without my having put conscious effort into it. Part of me is saying, "Man, I'm good!" And the other part is shaking its head because I have no idea how I came up with half the stuff I did.

BookLady said...

Who are some of your favorite paranormal authors?

wickedromance said...

Hi BookLady.

Oh, my heart will always belong to Jacquelyn Frank. She introduced me to paranormal romance. I was so blown away. She inspired me to write.

I tend to lean to dark paranormal romance and have read quite a few books of JR Ward, Lara Adrian, Kresley Cole, and Larissa Ione.

Another series I've fallen in love with is Sasha Summers, Loves of Olympus. She is writing the gods' love stories. Medusa, Hades. I love her writing.

How about you?

Jean

Shannon Bereza said...

As an author do you ever have ideas to write in a completely different genre?
Also, I love that your husband was so encouraging and commented that he reads everything. Nothing like an amazing support system and source of strength.

Emily said...

I'm not sure if this has been asked, but is there any genre you absolutely will not write in?

Shannon Bereza said...

Is there an estimated date when Soul Unbound be published?

Shannon Bereza said...

I forgot to leave my email on my posts sbereza22(at)gmail(dot)com

wickedromance said...

Hi Shannon.

What a great question.

Right now, most of my books are paranormal or urban fantasy, but I do have a SciFi romance, and romantic suspense bouncing around in my head that I really need to get down on paper. I guess I could say I write in one genre and that is romance, but their are many subgenres under that category :-)

I dedicated my first book to Paul. He rocks.

Jean

wickedromance said...

Hi Emily.

Any genre I wouldn't write?

I'm true believer that writing comes from the heart. A novel without any romantic elements would not be something I could write. For me it is an essential element to any story -- can you tell I'm biased. LOL.

Jean

Jean Murray said...

I'm writing Soul Unbound right now. My hope is to have it out by the end of summer.

Watch for details on my website.
www.jean-murray.com

Jean

Shannon Bereza said...

First off, I am super excited that you are planning on having Soul Unbound out by the end of summer. Now my next question is: If you could recommend only one book for a person (not including your own) what would it be?
sbereza22(at)gmail(dot)com

wickedromance said...

Hi Shannon.

The first book that popped into my mind was the Lord of the Rings (first book). You have to admire an author that goes to the extent of writing his own language for his book. Tolkien is hands down the best world builder around.

Jean

Shannon Bereza said...

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were some of the first books I read that gave me my love for reading. I just got my 13 year old son to read the Hobbit and he loved it especially since he saw the movies, now we have to go see The Hobbit since he finished the book.

Shannon Bereza said...

Do you ever get writers block and if so, what do you do to get your writing mojo going again?

Shannon Bereza said...

If you had to choose between a print book and an electronic book which would you choose? For me there really is no comparison because I love that smell of a paperback and the feel of the pages but on the other hand I love the convenience of an electronic book. I run my battery down on my phone all the time because I'm busy reading books on it all day. If I am ever waiting in a line anywhere you will likely see me reading on my phone and trying to corral my kids all at the same time.

wickedromance said...

Hi Shannon.

What a great way to introduce reading to your kids. I might have to reread the Hobbit before I go see the movie. I have to say from Lord of the Rings books to movies the director did a pretty awesome job. I wasn't disappointed. I'm always up in the air about reading a book before a movie or the other way around.

Writer's block? For the most part no, but I do have times where I'll write a scene and hate it. I put it away for a few days and go back and reread. Often I find that I actually love it and it just needs some minor changes. Sometimes it's a challenge to get into the character's head. Bomani and I are wrestling over how he is going to behave in book 3. I'm sure we will come to a mutual understanding:-)

Print or electronic? I'm with you on this one. I love the convenience of my kindle, but there is something about having that print book in your hands that can't be beat. I'm torn on this one. I rarely get to a bookstore these days (3 boys in a bookstore - not a good idea), so I love feeding my immediate wants and needs on my kindle.

Great questions.

Jean

wickedromance said...

Hi Shannon.

What a great way to introduce reading to your kids. I might have to reread the Hobbit before I go see the movie. I have to say from Lord of the Rings books to movies the director did a pretty awesome job. I wasn't disappointed. I'm always up in the air about reading a book before a movie or the other way around.

Writer's block? For the most part no, but I do have times where I'll write a scene and hate it. I put it away for a few days and go back and reread. Often I find that I actually love it and it just needs some minor changes. Sometimes it's a challenge to get into the character's head. Bomani and I are wrestling over how he is going to behave in book 3. I'm sure we will come to a mutual understanding:-)

Print or electronic? I'm with you on this one. I love the convenience of my kindle, but there is something about having that print book in your hands that can't be beat. I'm torn on this one. I rarely get to a bookstore these days (3 boys in a bookstore - not a good idea), so I love feeding my immediate wants and needs on my kindle.

Great questions.

Jean

Shannon Bereza said...

I know what you mean about kids in a bookstore. I have twin 3 year olds and they love to go to Barnes and Noble with me but unfortunately they want every book on every shelf. It is not easy to drag them out of the store. I'm sensing some readers in the future.

wickedromance said...

We went to B&N this past weekend. Yes, we walked out with books, but I couldn't get them out of the toy section. Since when does a bookstore carry electronic toys? I think I know the reason why because we left with three HEX bugs and three books.

LOL.

Thank you everyone for stopping by. This was the best book tour ever :-)

Jean Murray
www.jean-murray.com

Anne Consolacion said...

"Sometimes things get dropped (not my kids, mind you :-)"

That gave me a chuckle! Haha! Do you read them stories or do you make things up until they fall asleep?

wickedromance said...

Hi Anne.

We do both, actually. The made up stories are some of the funniest.

Jean

Shannon Bereza said...

I have been following this book tour since the very beginning and I have loved reading all the posts and the comments. My question is have you been surprised, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, or just plain excited about the reactions you have gotten from this blog tour? Seeing all the entries on the Rafflecopter is awesome! I have tweeted and told all my friends to buy this series because I love it myself.

Shannon Bereza said...

My question is for both Jean and her husband. Since your husband reads all your work is it harder to deal with criticism from him or from readers? When he gives you feedback do you feel as though it is more constructive versus reading reviews from readers. sbereza22(at)gmail(dot)com