Jen: Please help me welcome Jess Granger to Book Talk. Jess, will you please share a short bio with us?
Jess: I grew up in the center of California with two brothers, two cats, and two dogs. I loved camping, going to the beach, and reading romances while camping or lying on the beach. I went on to college at the University of California at Davis, studied literature, German, and occasionally German literature. I developed a serious obsession with Shakespeare and Harry Potter, then settled into life as a military wife and mother.
Jen: Tell us about Beyond the Rain and where it’s available.
Jess: Beyond the Rain is the story of two people caught behind enemy lines of a dangerous war. She’s a warrior nun with a death sentence lingering over her head. He’s a tortured slave who had his blood leeched to make sexual narcotics for the shadow trade. As they travel from planet to planet, bringing them closer to their homes, they discover the power of freedom, of choices, and the terrible price that must be paid for both. Beyond the Rain is a Berkley Sensation release and is available at major booksellers and online retailers like Amazon.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Jess: The first thing I remember writing was a story about a princess who wanted to escape from her castle because her brother was being mean to her. I believe she tried to hide behind a tapestry at one point. I was eight.
I loved writing, and used to annoy my teacher in High School because I wrote stories like Red Rose the Pirate in the back of my binders. When I got “the call” for Beyond the Rain I was two days shy of giving birth to my second little one. I’m surprised that didn’t put me in labor immediately, actually. Within a week I had a beautiful little baby, a new agent, and a two book deal. Let’s just say I got hit with the happy truck that week.
Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Jess: Dark, emotional, and explosive.
Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Jess: I think I had to turn my pantser card in a while ago. I plot out my books. Okay, that’s an understatement. By the time I’m done with my preliminary writing I have a rough synopsis of the story, the formal synopsis of the story, a breakdown of the chapters of the story, and several notes on world building. When I work on my outlines, I focus on the structure and point of the story, then while writing, I really delve into the detail and emotion with everything I’ve got. It’s exhausting, but so far it’s working for me.
Jen: Do you have a specific time or place that you write?
Jess: I’m a night owl. I do my best work in that quiet time right after the kiddos finally go to bed. And while I do all my preliminary plotting in a beat-up old green spiral notebook, I do all my writing at my little writing desk in our office.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Jess: I actually did a lot of research to help build the four different worlds in Beyond the Rain. I drew a lot from classes I took on entomology, cultural anthropology, evolutionary biology, and psychology. (I tried a lot of weird things out in college) I also studied African weaver birds, talked to a couple of nurses on neurological problems and symptoms, and had some fun playing with the idea of pheromones and what they can do.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate the sale of your first book?
Jess: Well, I cried, but I was pregnant so you’ll have to forgive me. Heck, I probably would have cried anyway. Then I went to bed early. LOL. Sometime after the sale, (and birth) my husband and I shared a bottle of red wine we’d been saving since I started writing. It was about eleven years old, and it was wonderful.
Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Jess: I’d really like to do some steampunk, but I’m not entirely sure I can capture the atmosphere of that sort of story yet. I’d like to try. The one thing you probably won’t find is a vampire romance from me. I know people are gasping in shock right now, but I’ve got a serious phobia when it comes to anything that sucks blood. You should see me if a mosquito is in the room. Consequently, vampires and I don’t get along so well.
Jen: Do you become attached to your characters and have a hard time letting them go, or are you happy that their story is told and you can move on?
Jess: I love my characters. They are real to me, and I get very invested in them. By the time I’m done with a book, I’m excited about working with my new characters, and so I transition pretty well to the new story, but I love talking and writing about my other characters. I do try to keep the focus of each book solidly on one couple though. I don’t want my romantic arcs getting tangled with others, so in each book, there will be only two points of view, the hero and the heroine’s. I guess I can only focus on one couple at a time, but I find I prefer it that way. Old heroes and heroines might make an appearance here or there, because I love them and like to see them again.
Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? And if you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
Jess: That’s actually a really hard question, because I like history, and I don’t take the darker elements of history for granted. I think here and now is pretty darn good. I’d hate to go back in time and end up being fed to lions or catching the plague. My first thought was ancient Rome, but only if I had a lot of money. I’d like to see the Roman baths. I think I’d probably be more comfortable in Elizabethan England. I’d love to see an original Shakespeare play. If I had to take three things with me, they’d be mouthwash, my contacts, and probably my Complete Works of Shakespeare in the case I could trick him into an autograph.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Jess: As a former literature major, I love the classics. Frankenstein is probably my favorite book, along with Harry Potter and Shakespeare. To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men were very powerful. I also enjoyed Cannery Row which surprised me, because I’m usually interested in stories with more forward momentum in their plots.
As far as romance goes, I’m reading Beyond Heaving Bosoms, which is hysterical, insightful, and not for the faint of heart or easily offended. I’m also reading The Warlord’s Daughter by Susan Grant, and rereading The Accidental Demon Slayer.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Jess: The sequel for Beyond the Rain will be out in the Spring. It’s called Beyond the Shadows. It’s every bit as dark, sexy, and intense as the first book. I had a great time writing it. I’m plotting out a potential third book in the series, then depending on what is on the table when, I might spend a little time working on something else entirely, we’ll see.
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Jess: My main website is http://www.jessgranger.com. I’m trying to make it the hub for all my author news and promotion. I update the main page frequently with news, like the locations of giveaways, where you might find signed stock, and information on my releases. At the website you can find my bookshelf, which includes first chapter excerpts, and the fun stuff page is constantly evolving with more content, including the comprehensive collection of all the Ethel the Space Pirate posts from my blog.
http://jessgranger.blogspot.com is my Butterfly Blog. I post regular posts every week on Saturday, and continue the interactive adventure of Ethel the Space Pirate every other Wednesday. I enjoy interacting with people on the blog, so be sure to check it out for writing insights, or the pretty pictures from my butterfly garden.
I can also be found on MySpace and Facebook. I’m always looking for new friends. I’ll admit I pay more attention to Facebook. I enjoy the quizzes.
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Jess: Since I’m constantly looking for new ideas for fun things to include on my website, I guess my only question is, what are some of the coolest features you’ve seen on your favorite authors’ sites?
Thank you so much for inviting me for this amazing interview. I had a lot of fun.
Jen: Thank you Jess for stopping by and giving us a look into your writing. Readers, Jess is giving away a signed copy of Beyond the Rain to a random commenter. To enter the drawing, you need to leave a comment or question for Jess. Then you must either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org letting us know you’d like to be entered. The winner will be chosen on Sunday, August 9.