Hello dear readers!
Today, I´m back with another author interview. This time, J.A. Pitts, author of the Urban Fantasy debut novel “Black Blade Blues” has stopped by Reading on the Dark Side to answer the endless list of questions I had for him.
Here´s the blurb for Blck Blade Blues (from goodreads):
“Sarah Beauhall has more on her plate than most twentysomethings: day job as a blacksmith, night job as a props manager for low-budget movies, and her free time is spent fighting in a medieval reenactment group. After the lead actor breaks Sarah’s favorite, one-of-a-kind sword, one of the extras, who claims to be a dwarf, offers to help repair the blade. And that’s when things start to get weird.
Could the sword really be magic, as the “dwarf” claims? Are dragons really living among us as shapeshifters?
As if things weren’t surreal enough, Sarah’s girlfriend Katie breaks out the dreaded phrase…“I love you.” Her life falls apart; Sarah hits rock bottom. At this moment, when she has lost everything she once prized, one of the dragons makes a move.
Sarah will have to decide if she can reject what is safe and become the heroine who is needed to save her world.”
Not doesn´t that sound fantastic? There are so many reasons for this book to be awesome: I love Norse mythology, strong female leads, Dan Dos Santos (who has made the cover), dwarves, dragons… Well, you get it. Also, I was really intrigued when I read that the main character is lesbian.
If you want to know how I liked the book, check back in a few days for my review.
But now, without any further babbling, please welcome J.A. Pitts!
Black Blade Blues is about finding your way in the world and accepting things as they are. It's about growing into the person we are meant to be, even when we have no clue what that means.
Can you name the key ingredients of your book?
Humor, adventure, heart, fear
Why write Urban Fantasy or Fantasy, depending on what you would categorize Black Blade Blues?
I've always loved fantasy, and some of my favorite books these days are Urban Fantasy. But, I was trying to write something that the experienced reader may have not seen.
Your book is highly influenced by Norse mythology. What fascinates you so much about it that you decided to base your book on it?
First, I'd not seen much Norse mythology in fiction, and I've always loved the stories and how they've worked their way into our every day lives. Even three days of the week are named after Norse gods. Friday (Freya), Thursday (Thor), Wednesday (Odin). And I didn't want to write another vampire or werewolf book. While there are some amazing books out there, with good authors behind them, I wanted to do something different. The way the Norse gods interacted fairly regularly with the world around them, and with all their foibles and failures, it just seemed like a good cast to play with.
I imagine that writing a book that is also about blacksmithing and reenacting demands to do quite a lot of research. How did you do your research, meet with real blacksmiths and people who reenact or did you do most of your research online?
All of the above. Read books, online research and visited a live blacksmithy. Also, I have friends who are reenactors. Good folks to bounce things off of.
You write your book not only from a female POV, your main charater is also a lesbian or rather someone who is uncertain of her sexual orientation. What exactly inspired you to create this specific character?
I have had a lot of very strong women in my life, some of them who just happen to be in love with other women. They've taught me a lot about life and I felt it was important to give some of that back.
Were you ever afraid that your book would be shunned because of the main character being lesbian?
Absolutely. Some people can't see beyond an issue, and will let it color all aspects of their lives. I understand I won't reach every reader, but I felt I had to be honest with the story and let it be what it was meant to be. If someone doesn't like it, that's a matter of taste. I'm sure I'll grow as a writer, and hopefully, I'll break through to some of the folks who have built up their walls.
Was it easy for you to write from a woman´s POV?
I wouldn't say easy. I had to be very careful with how I thought about things. We make assumptions in our daily lives, and I needed to make sure and challange as many of those as I could. Frankly, we all need love, we all struggle with our inner demons. Most of that is the same for men and women. I just needed to focus my lens on issues the way Sarah would see them, and then trust my first readers to help me when I hit a blind spot.
On your homepage I read that your life was influenced a great deal by strong women. Would you say that this is something that now has an influence on your writing?
Absolutely. Mentors, friends, peers and especially my wife. They influence me every single day. And that's the beauty of writing for me. It's influenced by my life in general, colored by the events and people I encounter every day.
Would you say that your mood influences your writing and the story?
Most definitely. Sometimes, I can't even write if I'm in the wrong mood. Just can't find the words. I use music to help influence that. Different music helps evoke different moods which I use in the stories I write. I have a soundtrack I play for different types of scenes, fast & hard metal for some, mellow for others.
Do/Did your characters surprise you sometimes or did you have the story strictly planned ahead?
I outline my novels, so I'm rarely surprised by the end, but sometimes, like with Honeyed Words, I find the characters have pushed me off the prescribed path and demand I pay attention to something I was obviously missing. This has derailed me for days at a time until I finally figured out what the white-noise was all about. I think it makes for a much better novel. I don't always take those surprises, but I always consider them carefully.
Can you share something about your current project(s)?
Right now I'm outlining the third book in this series. When I started writing Black Blade Blues, I had a decent idea what the first 3 books were all about. It wasn't until I finished book 2, did I realize I have book 3 all wrong. It's probably going to be book 4 or 5 in the series. Right now, book 3 is going to be something I need to answer a few puzzles unfinished in the first two books. More battles, more danger, and of course, more romance. Sarah is starting to find her footing and I'm pretty excited about it all.
A question that I am always curious about (but could be kind of personal) is: are your characters based on people you really know or maybe even a little bit about yourself or are they all purely fictional?
Well, I don't think you can be a writer without putting some of yourself in your characters. I won't say which parts. :) At this point, I have not put any of my friends or anyone real into my books. But I've promised a few people that I'd add them into one of the upcoming books and let them live or die as they want. Need folks for battles, and I'm going to let my friends get in there and defend their home-town. Alas, that will probably be pushed into book 4. I'm still debating. I'll know for sure when I finish the outline.
How did you chose the names of the characters in your book? Do they have a special meaning?
I'm fairly careful with the names I choose. One of the things I worry about is having names that are too close, too alike, so the reader gets the characters confused. When I'm dealing with different heritages, I like to look up names that are appropriate, delve into the meaning of those names and use the ones that I think fit the personality of the character.
What do you like most about being an author? And what annoys you?
I love when people read the things I write and really get what I'm saying. I enjoy entertaining people, and getting them to think about the things I find interesting. I think the only thing I find annoying is that I can't be a full-time writer. One day, hopefully.
Did you ever have a writer´s block? If so, what did you do to deal with it?
I'm rarely blocked. I have little tricks I use, like putting on certain albums which get me right into my writer's space. When I'm just totally blocked, and can't find my way, I'll brainstorm with a close friend, or better yet my wife. Then, as a fail-safe, I'll go work out, make myself really tired so the voices that are blocking me are too tired to interfere.
Tell us something about your favourites:
Favourite authors? Tolkien was my first true love. Now I'm reading Ken Scholes, Diana Rowland, S.M.Stirling, Brenda Cooper, Carrie Vaughn, Kat Richardson, Jim Butcher, Patty Briggs. Mostly Urban Fantasy, but I'm a sucker for post-apocolypse stories.
favourite paranormal creature? Dragons.
favourite all time hero/heroine? Sam Gamgee from the Lord of the Rings. He was the real hero of the series.favourite all time villain? The problem with villains is that they are either so nebulous that you never really understand them, or they get defeated in a single book, so they are overwhelmed by the next villian and the next. I like how J. K. Rowling built Lord Voldemort into a force to be reckoned with. Either him, or perhaps, the Black Knight in Monty Python's The Holy Grail.
Which one do you prefer, book or e-reader? Definitely book. I worked in a bookstore when I was a teenager, and I still love the smell of books -- the tactile experience will always win out for me.
favourite distraction? Right, Dragon Age: Origins on the XBox
Is there a book you love above all? One that had a great influence on you or your life? The Lord of the Rings. I've read it dozens of times. I even read it outloud to my wife when she was pregnant with our son. It has had a major impact on how I view literature and story.
Was being an author something you´ve always wanted or did it just happen?
I wanted to be a writer as soon as I read Runaway Robot by Lester Del Ray. I started writing when I was in third grade and have never really stopped since. I've always known I'd be a professional writer, I just didn't have the right path for the longest time.
Is there any question you´ve always wanted to be asked? And if so, what would be the answer?
I an think of two.
1) Q:Would you be willing to have your novel picked by Oprah for her book club (A: um, yes)
2) Q: If you could have dinner with any other author who would you pick (A: J. K. Rowling, as long as I could bring my family)
A question that is inspired by another interview I did with an author: If you would be Superman, what would be your cryptonite?
Television. It shuts my brain off. I'll stop talking mid-sentence if there's a television on in the room. I really try to avoid it as much as possible.
S. M. Stirling just released his new book. I'll buy it and hold it for when I finish book 3 in my series.
And finally: Is there anything you want to say to your/my readers?
Thanks for giving me this chance to share a little about myself. I hope you like the book. Feel free to contact me through my website. I try to answer every message sent to me. It's just exciting and gratifying when people like my work.
Thanks so much for doing this Interview! It was a great pleasure and honor for me and I´d be more than happy if you´d come back anytime soon!
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