Monday, October 27, 2014

Interview and Giveaway with Jennifer Oliver

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

I think that all authors tend to put a little of someone they know, or their own life experiences in to their writing. I contributed to a novel once where the character I was writing killed off her abusive ex-boyfriend. The guy was definitely based on a real-life ex of mine. ;)

In Haedyn’s Choice, I’d have to say that Haedyn’s struggle to accept who she is and to realize her own potential is influenced by my life experiences. Most teenagers and twenty-somethings are dealing with the pressures to fit in, to be “someone,” and seeking approval from peers and family members - heck, even from society at times. It’s tough to move beyond that and finally accept and love yourself for exactly who you are - flaws and all. It’s a journey, in my opinion. One of growth and acceptance. And Haedyn is definitely on that path.

2. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 

I’ve been very lucky in that I have a lot of author friends who willingly share their knowledge and wisdom. But if I had to choose just one, that would be C.C. MacKenzie, contemporary romance author of the Ludlow Hall series. She has helped me in so many ways. Just her sheer determination in all things is an inspiration to me.

3. What book are you reading now?

I am about half way through Private Deception by Tamara Ward. So far I really like it!

4. What books are in your to read pile? 

OMG - I’ve got SO MANY books in my to-read pile. I’ll name a few:
Paper Souls by Allie Burke, Angel of Death by Anna Erishkigal, Rainy Nights (Three novel set) by J.R. Rain, Delirium (Debt Collector 1) by Susan Kaye Quinn, The Passion of Patrick McNeill by Virginia Kantra, The Paranoraml (a 13 book box set!), Evidence of Trust by Stacey Joy Netzel… and the list goes on and on!

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

My main focus right now is Demon Rising, the second novel-length book in the Haedyn Chronicles. But I’m also working on a short story for my email subscribers, plotting a new paranormal series (the Luna Fairwater novellas) and tinkering with the idea of a paranormal romance.

6. Can you share a little of your current work with us? 

Sure! This is an excerpt from Lenore’s Secret, my most recent release.

Late October, 1458

The burning wood snapped and crackled inside the stone hearth. Red and orange flames beckoned Lenore to see what they had to offer. She turned from warming her hands and refused to look at the fire. She knew what the visions would show her if she let them. The same thing her dreams and tea leaves had been telling her for days. There was life in her womb.
Her mind balked at the idea as she wandered around her one room cottage twisting her long, auburn hair in knots. How could this be? There must be a mistake, it just wasn’t possible. But yet, here she was with a child growing in her belly.
She let out a heavy sigh and fell across her bed. The child was unexpected. Her plans hadn’t included her being pregnant, becoming a mother. Rubbing both hands over her cheeks, she let out a disgusted grunt and sat up.
Oh, for the love of the gods! She was the high priestess of her own coven and had the gift of prophecy. How had she not foretold this? And since when could demons procreate? They couldn’t. It was why she chose to be with this particular lover. Well, that and power.
As an original demon, Azazel had more than enough to spare. Plus, her loyalty had been rewarded time and again. Most especially when it came to moving up in the hierarchy of the Witches. Thanks to her demon lover’s guidance, now only one stood between her and her goal of reigning over her sisters in the craft. Yes, she’d chosen wisely when she allowed him to seduce her all those years ago.
But that didn’t mean she hadn’t worked hard or sacrificed more than enough to get to this point. There was no way she was going to let anything, or anyone, stand in her way. Her own mother had learned that lesson.
“Think Lenore, think,” she said and stood from the bed to pace again. Twisting her hair around her fingers, she sorted through a mountain of emotions and thoughts. Pregnant. Motherhood. What did she know about that? She had no experience with children, no training as a nursemaid. Not like other members of her coven.
Oh gods, her coven! The palms of her hand smacked her temples and she let her head fall forward. By the old laws, witches were only allowed to procreate with others of their kind. It was the surest way to keep the bloodlines strong. There wasn’t a coven in existence that would tolerate a union outside of their species, most especially one with a demon. Any witch who disobeyed was to be killed and the abomination which spawned from the mating would be sacrificed. And as high priestess, it was her duty to enforce such laws, not break them.
If they found out that she was with child… she didn’t want to think about what they would do to her. Tears burned her eyes, threatening to fall. She squeezed her eyes lids tight, refusing to succumb to the emotional whirlwind in her head.
Her stomach rolled and became queasy. Not, now. Please not now. The symptoms were getting worse and more frequent. She didn’t have time for this.
She stood still, closed her eyes, and waited for it to pass. Then she put a kettle of herbal tea over the fire. It was the only thing that settled her stomach these days. Dismissing her ailments, she continued to pace. She had to figure out how to deal with her coven, before they dealt with her.
There was no way she could stand against them alone. She needed an ally. Someone who was far more powerful than the witches; someone they feared.
Unfortunately, witches in general tended to be rather arrogant. They didn’t fear other supernatural beings. Not the lycans, not the vampires, not the Fae… Well, that one wasn’t quite true. There was one group of Fae who wrought fear into the hearts of her sisters – The People of the Wood.
Goose bumps rose on her skin and she gave a slight shudder. She’d heard tales of the People of the Wood since she was a child. Cloaked figures with no face and the ability to read minds, control the dead, and inflict horrific pain. But those were the threats mothers told their children to keep them in line. In her case, it worked. They’d appeared in her childhood nightmares more than once. This particular group of Fae were thought to be the oldest beings alive. Yet, no one she knew had ever seen them. It was said they lived in the Dead Forest by the base of the Old Mountain. The forest wasn’t really dead though. It got its name because no one ever came back from there alive. How much was embellished and how much was truth no one really knew. The only bit of real knowledge she had was they were immortal and powerful, and lived by their own laws. And no one, not even the Crone, was daring enough to challenge them.
She’d asked Azazel about them once. He’d laughed and said they were more of a nuisance than a threat. But then, he was an original demon, nothing scared him.
Lenore blinked and stopped pacing. That’s it! Why hadn’t she thought of him before? Azazel’s power was the tipping point for her becoming so strong. None of the other witches would challenge her as long as she served him. And an original demon was far more powerful than even a full coven of witches. Plus, he was the child’s father. Surely, he’d want to protect it.
Hmm, this pregnancy might not be so bad. It could actually improve her plans. After all, she was the second most powerful witch alive. It would only stand to reason that she pair with someone who could give her more. And who was better suited to do that than a demon? A child would only strengthen the bond between her and Azazel. Yes, a baby was exactly what she needed.
Being the mother of a demon’s child, well… she’d be like a queen. Their child would be powerful beyond compare. Then no one could stand against her. Or her… daughter? She caressed her belly and closed her eyes. Yes, she was right. She would soon have a daughter.
She pulled a stool closer to the fire. The nights were getting cooler and the old cottage had many drafts. It wouldn’t be suitable for birth, nor for a new babe. Though soon, she’d be in a large manor with her own servants to cater to her. And her child would receive the best of care. Azazel would be sure to see to that.
She smiled as she poured steaming liquid into her cup. She sipped her beverage, letting the warmth and the herbs ease her stomach’s discomfort. From her calculations, she’d only have to deal with the sickness for six more new moons. Then she’d present her daughter to her father, and to the world.
Relaxed now, she drained the last of her tea. Out of habit she looked at the bottom of the cup to see what the leaves would tell her this time. The satisfaction she’d felt only moments ago disappeared. The leaves held a warning; danger was near. She straightened, concern furrowing her brow. What kind of danger and for whom? She immediately stared into the flames before her.
Fear stole her breath straight from her lungs as images of from her childhood nightmares flashed before her eyes. Stretched and distorted faces with mouths like endless chasms flew at her from the fire. Wiry hands reaching out toward her made her shriek and jerk away.
She closed her eyes, ending her vision but goose bumps still resided along her skin. She didn’t understand. What did the People of the Wood have to do with anything? She rubbed her arms trying to shake off the chill that had surrounded her.
Maybe it was just her mind playing tricks. She had been thinking of them a little while ago. And she’d heard the pregnancy can affect a woman’s abilities. Yes, that had to be what was happening. She was tired and her imagination was running wild. That was all.
A loud bang made Lenore jump from her stool and look around. The broom had fallen. That meant an unwanted guest was soon to arrive. A shiver snaked up her spine. She swirled the leaves in her cup once more and then she looked at them again.
This time the message was clear. Death.

7. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

 I really enjoy the editing and revisions part of the process, but writing the first draft is tough for me. I keep wanting to edit and revise, and fix and change and even sometimes delete and start over! I really wish there was a way to connect my computer to my brain and just suck the story out of my head and onto the page. Unfortunately, they haven’t invented that yet.

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

No, I haven’t had to travel - yet. Most of my research is done through internet, movies, and books in my genre. I search for blogs or books on specific topics like spell casting, potions, angel hierarchy, that sort of thing. I do like to watch movies/TV shows to get inspiration and see how the plot comes together, world building, etc. I do the same with books I read. Much of my research right now has been on the craft of writing (plotting/character development and arcs) and of course, on marketing. 

Though, for one of my upcoming series (The Luna Fairwater novellas) I will have to talk with the FBI and police detectives to get some input on procedures and how they go about handling different cases. I am actually looking forward to that!

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read. A lot. Read books in your genre, and books that aren’t in your genre. Read for entertainment and reread those same books from the perspective of a writer looking for the plot, subplots, character arcs and structure. Read books on the craft of writing - James Scott Bell has some great ones, also Write. Publish. Repeat by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt. Always keep learning and trying to improve your skills. And always, always keep writing. 

Haedyn’s Choice
The Haedyn Chronicles
Book 1
Jennifer L. Oliver

Genre: Dark fantasy

Publisher: Small Escapes Publishing, LLC


Number of pages: 212 pages
Word Count: 54,000

Cover Artist: Jennifer L. Oliver

Book Description:

There’s always a choice.

Haedyn chooses to survive. As the last Unnamed, a species mistakenly created from angels and demons, she is an abomination to both the human and supernatural worlds. If survival means being the favorite servant of the demon Azazel, it’s a choice she can live with. Until she meets Lex.

Former investigative reporter, Lex Carter knows more than the average human - he saw his brother murdered by vampires. Now he’s dedicated his life to learning everything there is to know about monsters, how to kill them, and what happens to their victims. But when he’s kidnapped by a super-human albino who claims she's protecting him, he realizes that not all supernatural creatures are monsters and there may be one that's worth saving.

Together, they just might be able to discover the truth about Haedyn’s past and free her from Azazel’s bonds. But will she still choose to survive when it means risking the souls of those she loves?

Available at Amazon

About the Author:

During her many years of working at a daily newspaper, Jennifer L. Oliver honed her writing skills in secret. As an avid reader, she enjoys books that give her an entertaining and temporary escape from the ruckus of everyday life. Now, she hopes to bring the same enjoyment to others through her own work. 

Jennifer is the author of The Haedyn Chronicles, and other dark urban fantasy and paranormal thrillers. She is also a freelance proofreader and always looking for the opportunity to help other authors reach their publishing dreams.

Although she was born and raised in North Carolina, she now lives on Florida's gulf coast with her husband, two cats, and a Royal Bahamian Potcake dog who is more than half her size and thinks the world revolves around treats. When she's not writing, you can find her playing in the flower garden, giggling with her granddaughter, and enjoying time with her family and friends.


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Jennifer said...

Thank you so much for having me here today! This was great fun!