Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The guest today is J.E. Taylor

CJ: Hello, J.E. Taylor. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. We’re excited to have you here today!

JET: The pleasure is all mine! Thanks for having me.

Q: So, first of all, we want to know about your latest novel. What can you tell us about DARK RECKONING?
JET: My first book, DARK RECKONING was released on July 5, 2010, which also happened to be my birthday! Personally, I can’t think of a better birthday gift, can you? It’s available in e-book format through my publisher FIDO Publishing as well as on Amazon and Smashwords and several other e-book distributor sites.
In DARK RECKONING, a sadistic killer stalks the secluded college town of Brooksfield, New Hampshire. With bodies piling up and rumors of the murders being part of sacrificial hazing rituals, the FBI plants Special Agent Steve Williams in a fraternity and his investigation takes a ninety degree turn into the bizarre when he’s introduced to Jennifer, a clairvoyant co-ed who swears the killer isn’t human.
Cat Connor, author of KILLERBYTE and TERRORBYTE recently read DARK RECKONING and said: “I loved Dark Reckoning - always had a soft spot for demon type horror/thrillers and this is fabulous. Just the right mix of terror and calm so I didn't have a heart attack while reading -- but came close! Excellent read for anyone who loves horror and a good love story. “

Q: I think everyone would love to know what inspired this particular novel. Can you tell us about that?

JET: The seeds for this novel were actually planted when I was in college. I believe like other stories, it stemmed out of a nightmare and I actually typed close to a hundred pages on my electric typewriter (I’m dating myself) before school exams hit and I shelved the story. I resurrected it again in the early stages of my marriage but the time commitment necessary to finish a novel was not realistic at that time, so it again was shelved again. So come 2007 when my daughter asked me if I could do anything, what would it be - the easy most natural answer was write and publish a book.

The time commitment to write a novel hadn’t changed, but my life certainly had and I was at a point that it made sense to reach for my dream. My kids were old enough to be self-sufficient and my husband wasn’t as demanding of my time as he was when we were newlyweds (wink-wink). This was the first story that came to mind, but ended up being the fourth book I wrote. The first three demanded to be written first and then I pulled what was then titled Mirror Lake out of the drawer. At first look, it was rough and the plot wasn’t complex enough and the characters not developed but the basic premise of the novel hasn’t changed in all these years and I was able to craft what I believe is a compelling read. I hope readers feel the same!

Q: I’m dying to know more about the Main Characters of your novel. Can you give us a brief description of each?

JET: LOL - I love what Cat Connor said about Steve Williams - That Steve is quite the dish. Steve is an FBI agent that’s planted at the university to find out who is responsible for the disappearances and violent deaths surrounding the small town of Brooksfield New Hampshire. He’s young enough to be a convincing college student but experienced enough as an undercover agent to do the leg work. The greatest challenge he faces is the acceptance of supernatural events - which for someone so black and white, the shades of gray are unnerving.

And his biggest shade of gray is Jennifer Curtis. A self acclaimed clairvoyant, she is a curve ball he didn’t see coming. From their first meeting he is enamored with her -- drawn to an electrical current between them pulling him closer and closer even though he suspects she is in some way connected to the mystery surrounding Mirror Lake.

Q: Okay, I’m a huge fan of quotes taken from novels. Would you tell us one of your favorites quotes from DARK RECKONING?

“Next time you kiss me, you better make it last a hell of a lot longer than that.”

Q: A little about you. When did you decide to write your first novel?

JET: I wrote my first short story in eighth grade and ever since then, it’s been a dream of mine, but with high school, then college, then marriage and a job taking priority - it took close to thirty years from that first story to settle down and actually write a novel. As a matter of fact, after being given cart-blanc permission by my family in 2007, I wrote eight books in fifteen months - while still holding down a day job. The muse poured out at a pace I don’t think I could sustain, but then again, I had at least twenty years of stories pinging around my head. Since then, I’ve been editing and refining those magic eight along with dabbling on three others that will have to wait until my polishing is done. In between editing, I write short stories - and occasionally enter the monthly Backspace short story contest if the parameters float my boat.

Q: Do you have a system or particular ritual you do before/ during writing to keep the words flowing?

JET: If I get stuck on some scene or don’t know where I’m going, I’ll table the story for the night - usually a good night’s sleep helps clarify points. If not, that’s when I switch to a short story. Other than that, I have no ritual or system and my writing space is in the middle of the family room, so I’m in the midst of the family action. The kids, the husband and the main television all compete for my attention - but when I’m in the writing zone, it all disappears and I step into the world I’m creating. I can do that when I read as well and my family has often said a tornado could hit when I’m in that space and I wouldn’t know it until I looked up from the computer at the rubble around me.

The one distraction I have to keep an eye on is networking sites. They can certainly pull me in and cut into my writing time. I’ve learned to keep the time there to a minimum when I’m writing. Editing is another beast all together. That’s when I need to take breaks but I still need to be better at curtailing this activity.

Q: What do you find the easiest part about writing? The hardest?

JET: Good question. Getting the story out of my head and onto the paper is the easy part for me. It’s the refining and editing and adding depth and emotion to it after the skeleton is built -- and my rough drafts are just that -- skeletons. I’m getting better at adding the layers as I write but the urgency to get the story out really takes over. Then it is working to get it into a publishable state that is much harder because it requires me to step back and view every sentence, every word, weighing whether it is necessary and if it is -- is it the right word. Does it give the impact I want? There have been entire scenes that I’ve cut because they really didn’t move the book forward at all and those decisions can be brutal. As writers, we love our words, but sometimes they don’t have any right to be in the story.

Q: We all know writers spend a great deal of time researching. Can you tell us one of the most interesting things you’ve discovered while doing research for your writing?

JET: For DARK RECKONING, I learned to shoot a gun. I figured if I was going to write about an FBI agent - I better know damn well how to handle a gun. A friend from work (yes, I have a day job too), was kind enough to take me to a shooting range with three different hand guns. He had a .22, a .40 and a .9mm. I have small hands so the one I had the most success with was the .22. I actually hit the bull’s-eye a couple times. With the .40 caliber, I hit the target within the outer rim of circles - all on the left side. I still don’t know what I was doing to pull left - but hey - not bad for a first timer. The 9mm was too powerful for me to handle and I think one round out of the box hit the target sheet - the rest, again went high and left. I’m sure with practice I could train my hand muscles not to pull left while I put pressure on the trigger, but I haven’t had the chance and with kids still in my house, we aren’t in the market for a hand gun. Not yet.

Another neat thing my sister sent to me was a forensics study guide which outlined the characteristics of blood splatters. She teaches high school forensics science and had all these neat but gross slide decks. Admittedly, I had a hard time looking at a severed throat, but I made myself study the picture and the contents of the slide show to understand what happens.

Q: If you could physically visit the world in any book, which book would it be and why?

JET: I haven’t got a clue. The first thing that popped into my head when I read this was A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court because I think it would be fun to meet Merlin and Sir Lancelot and King Arthur and see what medieval times were really like. Were knights in shining armor really as romantic as they are in fiction or were they just smelly men encased in armor clothing? ;)

Q: What one work of fiction do you think has made the biggest impact on your life? How?

JET: Hands down - the book that had the biggest impact on me was The Stand. Not only did it scare me in a way no other book had, it showed me the art of writing, of taking several plot lines and weaving them into a kick ass story. A story that moved me to tears, made me laugh, and gave me nightmares. In my opinion, it’s a masterpiece of complexity that flows effortlessly. It’s the level of storytelling I strive for.

Q: Last question before we wrap this interview up. Please finish this sentence in a way that best describes you, for us. “People would be surprised to know that I wear a size 2 shoe - yes size 2 KIDS shoe. It’s a bitch to find heels that fit without looking like a five-year-old trying to put on her mother’s high heels.”

CJ: Thank you, again for visiting with us, J.E. Taylor. I would invite all our guests to check out DARK RECKONING by J.E. Taylor on sale now at (LINK TO BOOK). Below is an excerpt from J.E. Taylor’s novel, DARK RECKONING. Please read on!

Steve caught her and looked around frantically. “Wake up.” He softly tapped her cheeks. “Come on, baby, wake up.” Repeating the words he said two years ago drove panic into his voice. He glanced at the tub and back at Jennifer. “Jesus, wake up!” He shook her more violently than he intended.
Jennifer snapped her eyes open. The fear in his expression brought her around with lightning speed. “I’m awake,” she said as he wrapped his arms around her, squeezing her against him. “I’m awake.” She looked around the room. The vision ebbed into her foggy memory. “You’re crushing me.”
Steve pulled away. He touched her face and sat back against the door jamb, watching as she blinked away the cobwebs. “What was that?” he asked when he was certain his voice wouldn’t shake.
“I saw her.”
Steve’s eyebrows creased, etching skepticism in his rugged features. “What are you talking about?”
“There were candles and she had a glass of wine.” She glanced at him. “Lavender scented candles, and a bottle of prescription pills. She emptied it with the wine.” Jennifer looked at the tub. “It was filled so the water was over her body, but not to the rim. There was a good four to five inches between the water line and the lip of the tub.” She took a deep breath and looked at her wrists, tracing the path of the razor blade. “She cut her wrists the long way and put the razor on the edge of the tub.” Jennifer closed her eyes. “And she was crying.” When she opened her eyes and looked at Steve, she was sorry she had gone into such detail.
Steve stood and slowly moved away from Jennifer. She had described the room exactly as he had found it, as he found Peggy. He wanted to believe her, he really did, but his life was based on fact and tangible evidence and this was as far from tangible as it got. A high pitch whine drowned the sound of his breathing and he reached for the door jamb, the air sharp, suffocating. He needed fresh air and he turned and walked out the door.
Jennifer followed him, her legs still wobbly even when they reached the end of the dock.
Steve glared at her. “What the hell are you doing? Do you think this will make me feel better?”
Jennifer stepped back.
“This isn’t a joke.” He grabbed her, digging his fingers into her arm. “It isn’t something to mock like you just did.” He jutted his chin toward the cottage.
“Let go!” The anger flared in her as well. “I saw what I saw, now let go!” She screamed and pushed at the same time.
His foot slipped on the edge of the dock and he lost his balance, falling back first into the lake, dragging her with him. The chill in the water slapped him back in control and he hauled himself onto the end of the dock, his wet clothing clinging to him, wringing an icy shiver from his bones.
Jennifer swam to the edge and he offered her his hand but she slapped it away. “I can get out by myself.” She pulled herself up next to him.
A few minutes of strained silence went by and then Steve started to chuckle. Shaking his head slowly from side to side in disbelief, the hysterics took hold. He gripped the edge of the deck shaking with his head hung over as the laughter belted out of him.
Jennifer watched, breaking into a smile, but she didn’t allow herself to laugh with him. She looked at the sparkling water, waiting for him to settle down.
“What are you, a fucking clairvoyant?” he asked.

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  1. Great interview.

    I liked that visit a book question, oh there are sooo many worlds I'd like to visit, lol

  2. Congratulations on the release of your book! *clap clap clap clap clap!*

    Our journeys sound similar:

    You said, "I wrote my first short story in eighth grade and ever since then, it’s been a dream of mine, but with high school, then college, then marriage and a job taking priority - it took close to thirty years from that first story to settle down and actually write a novel."

    I wrote a short story that won first place in 8th grade, and then it was about 30 years before I was able to seriously write again . . .

    Loved the interview !

  3. Thank you - CJ did a fabulous job with the well thought out questions. :)

  4. I know exactly what you mean by the skeleton. I think of my revisions as layering in muscle, skin, then dressing and make-up for a finished beauty. Does that sound morbid for a romance novel?
    Wonderful interview!

  5. Looks like the last (LINK TO BOOK) wasn't completed - my bad. You can find links to both the e-book and print book here:

    Hope the rest of your hump day goes wonderfully smooth!

  6. Amber - To me that sounds perfectly reasonable for any novel. :)

  7. Just have one question...When you give us a quote about a long kiss...who's doing the kissing...hate to think it's the horror character...LOL

    Enjoyed learning about your book and yourself...but really, size 2...geesh!

  8. LOL - no it isn't the "horror character" and yep - size 2. For the longest time it was a royal pain in the butt to find anything that looked adult. At least now a days the kids are finally wearing things that can cross over. But just once I'd love to find a comfortable pair of loafers that fit. :)