Thursday, July 25, 2013

Author Interview: Juli Caldwell

It's day four of the Blogger Book Fair, and today I interview Juli Caldwell, author of Psyched.

What inspired you to write this book?


My wandering mind. No, seriously! I graduated from college a little later in life (*cough* collegedropout*cough*). I’ve always been a writer, so I decided to finish what I started and get a degree in English. I can’t remember what class I was in at the time (probably linguistics or something similarly boring) and my main character arrived fully formed and all kinds of sassy in my head when I should have been listening to the lecture. I may or may not have started writing instead of taking notes!


Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?


I pull from all kinds of mythology to find my supporting cast—from the Apocrypha to African mythology. There’s not really much in Psyched that could be called traditional.


How did you choose your title?


I struggled with the title until about 2 weeks before Psyched came out. I settled on The Watchers or Portal Keeper early on, but as the story unfolded, it became clear that those names just didn’t fit how the story evolved as I wrote. The title, Psyched, is a word play on my main character Aisi’s psychic abilities.


Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.


I actually hired a cover artist and we were going back and forth but we hadn’t come up with a concept I felt captured the story. I was browsing through images on Deviant Art for some inspiration and found the image on my cover. I instantly fell in love. I contacted the artist and just asked what she might charge for use of her art, and I was surprised at how affordable she was. I recommend Morteque to any writer needing design services.


Did you self publish or publish traditionally and why?


I published my first title Beyond Perfection traditionally. Psyched is my second novel and first indie book. I like the freedom of self-pubbing, of developing the story based on where the characters want me to take them instead of worrying about putting in what my publisher thinks will sell or adding filler to get their desired word count. We give up a lot in terms of support for marketing when we self-pub, but it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make for a little more say in my story’s development.


What do you consider the most important part of a good story?


Strong female characters and witty dialog! I’m from the Jane Austen school of thought, where she doesn’t apologize for her intelligent and independent women. I look at Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice as a template of what a good story should have—wonderful, beautiful, flawed people, but still strong with just enough room to grow.


What is your writing process?


I wish I were organized enough to have a process! I keep notebooks, tucked in my purse or around the house. I keep them handy for when conversations or plot points pop into my head. Sometimes the ideas come when I sit down at the desk, sometimes I need a little caffeinated inspiration.


How long have you been writing?


I refuse to acknowledge my age in a public forum...but that long! Seems like forever. It always came naturally to me.


How did you get started writing?


Writing is how I process everything I see. I’ve just always done it, as long as I can remember, as an escape from reality.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?


Oh, I’m a total pantser! I respect the plotters but my brain won’t go there.


What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?


Hard to say. Writing is my escape. If I get frustrated with what I’m writing, I just walk away until the ideas start bubbling again.


What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?


Just walk away. If I try to force something for the sake of writing something, it’s never very good. Take a break, focus on something else, maybe free write something entirely different to move around the block.


What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?


Will it sound weird if I say it has to be quiet when I write? I work best late at night or when the kids are at school.


Who is your favorite author?


Jane Austen, JK Rowling, Lois Duncan, Mary Higgins Clark...too many to list! If I read a book, I generally love it. I do have some notable exceptions, a couple of books I actively hate, but I won’t drop names here because any author who gets people to read is the bees knees to me!


Who is your favorite character from a book?


Karen from The Third Eye by Lois Duncan. She’s the character most like the characters I try to write. I love how she’s so normal and so NOT normal all at once. That kind of person and the conflicts that come with this really speak to me. Elizabeth Bennett is up there, too, and Junie B. Jones. I know she’s in early chapter books, but that kid is just plain funny. Barbara Park did a great job writing that character!


What is your favorite book?


So many books, so little time...


Read anything good lately?


My own book? Haha...when you self-pub, you read it an awful lot, and that unfortunately doesn’t leave much time for other reading. The last thing I read for fun was The Poisonwood Bible, but it’s post-modern and I always struggle to read that style of writing. Really great premise, though, with strong characters and a unique storyline. I’ll probably read some Jane Austen or Edgar Allen Poe next time I pick up a book.


What do you like to do when you're not writing?


Chill out with my family. My kids seriously rock, and we have a great time together. They’re both readers and budding writers as well, so we talk books quite a bit. We hike. We play Uno. We like to travel together, and hit up amusement parks or take cruises.


What advice would you give an author just starting out?


People will tell you to write this or write that because it will sell. Decide where you want your writing to go, and do it. Don’t pay attention to algorithms on price points and ignore what everyone tells you about adverbs, and just write what you want. If you’re writing to sell something, there’s probably a home-based business that will make you more money. If you’re writing because you really have a great story to tell, tell it!


Have you had anything else published?


Beyond Perfection, my first novel, was released by Covenant Communications in 2005.


What's your next project?


I’m working on the sequel to Psyched I’m about five chapters into Freaked and having fun with old friends, introducing another major character from African mythology, and tying up loose ends left over from Psyched. After that I have a couple of other ideas, so I think I have enough going on in my head to keep me busy for a couple of years!
Cover Art by Morteque

You can find it on Amazon, Smashwords, and in paperback at CreateSpace

So far, great reviews for Psyched!

"This is one of those books you just can't put down. What I love about Psyched in addition to a great, spooky story is strong characters and narrative voice. Aisi is the most awesome chick, strong-willed, sassy, and deals with some crazy stuff happening with a spunkiness that I loved... Psyched is well-written, riveting, surprising and genre-busting. Teens will love this book, but it definitely has a more wide-ranging appeal."


"Aisi Turay is one awesome girl. She has power to see the in their souls...This is a great read, filled with suspense. I NEVER knew from one chapter to the next what was happening. It is well written and a very enjoyable...and a bit scary!"

Psyched is part ghost story, part suspense, part demon-hunting thriller, part budding romance.It's the story of a girl named Aisi who's doing her best to keep it together for her wreck of a family. She is smart, sassy, and sarcastic enough to keep things interesting. When she meets Vance on the single worst day of her life, she finds a guy who just might be the first person ever to get her, to believe in her, and to out-random her with bizarre observations at the worst possible moment. There's just something about him that she knows she can trust.

Together, Aisi and Vance wander through the memories of others to unlock the secrets of her past while battling a demon who wants to ensure she never finds what she's looking for. Aisi vanquishes demons all the time, but Malus Indolus is too strong. And he has plans for her...and her family.

Psyched is Juli's second novel, the first as an indie writer, and her first experiment with her true love as a reader: paranormal fiction. Her debut novel Beyond Perfection is also available.

You can find Juli on Twitter, Facebook,  and her blog.

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