I know I'm in my own little world, but it's OK.
They know me here...


Monday, May 2, 2011

Guest Author: Jess Granger

It's a real pleasure to introduce you to my special guest today. She's a fellow Berkley author who writes science fiction romance (her books make great reading - yes, this is a blatantly biased comment) and a member of the SFRB (Science Fiction Romance Brigade).

She's worked as a balloon artist in restaurants, rehabilitated injured hawks and owls as a volunteer at a raptor management center, traveled all over the country playing the trumpet in a band and wandered all over Europe to explore Germany, France, and Spain until finally settling down with wonderful husband to raise a couple of kids and a menagerie of animals.

Please welcome, Jess Granger!

When did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
I started writing stories at the age of eight.  My brother, at a the lofty age of ten, wrote a science fiction novel, at least about twenty pages of one.  I was in that stage where whatever he did, I was going to do it better.

I find it a little ironic that I broke into the publishing business with a Science Fiction Romance in light of my early beginnings. In high school I was infamous for writing romances in the back of my binder when I should have been listening to class discussions, so the urge was always there.

I didn't seriously pursue a career in publishing until just after I graduated from college with a literature degree. One of my roommates suggested it off the cuff.  It was one of those only half serious, "You should write a book," remarks, but the suggestion stuck.

Within the year I had completed my first novel.  I wrote four more after that, and none of those books will ever see the light of day.  Trust me, I'm doing the world a favor.

It took me nine years of honing my skills before I got "the call", then promptly gave birth to a little girl two days later.  I was hit by the happy truck that week.  Now I'm rolling along and about to branch out into the Young Adult market, so there are some exciting times ahead.

What sparks your creativity?
The craziest things inspire me.  Sometimes it is a random picture of something, as is the case with my new Young Adult novel.  For my Science Fiction, I wanted to go against the grain of several tropes in paranormal romance.  That led to some wild and entertaining characters.  I draw a lot of my inspiration from the natural world and classic myth.

Are you a panster or plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influence you most? What's your writing process from start to finish when writing a book?
I am one of these crazy plotter people that has not one, but four different outlines for every book I write, and each outline serves a different purpose. I have to have what I like to call "the bones" of my stories lined up before I start writing. I don't like the feeling of just letting my mind wander. I've found my mind can be a dangerous place and if I leave it to its own devices, I usually end up in a very creative ditch.

Normally I start with the spark of an idea and I stew on it for a bit. Then I try to develop characters influenced by this spark of creativity. I flesh them out and get to know them, then pull out their deepest darkest issues. I write these early ideas down, then set up the conflict of the story and write about four chapters just to see where the story goes and how the setting pans out.

At that point I call my critique partner and best friend and brainstorm the world a little, peppering myself with the question "why?" until the world becomes real and makes sense to me.

Then I start my outlining.  I have an old beat-up green binder. I sit down and just write out the story as if I were telling it around a campfire.  Scenes and bits of dialogue float out in this outline, and it is fascinating to read it after the book is complete. I then take that outline and clean it up, looking for plot holes and use that to write the book synopsis.

Once the synopsis is done, I take the original outline and break down the plot into chapters so I have a road map for the book. I don't tend to stray from that road map at all. It is something my editors and agent have found useful because they can rely on the fact that any early synopsis I turn in will actually represent the finished book.

Being a pantster/scener, your process fascinates me. I take my hat off to you for being able to plot so well (to be honest I'm a little envious!).

In a universe torn apart by civil war, a warrior and a slave must fight for their freedom, for their lives, and for a love that may destroy them both…
After five years behind enemy lines, Captain Cyani is ready to retire to her homeworld of Azra as one of the Elite — the celibate warrior sisterhood that rules the planet. But first she must complete one final mission to rescue her fellow Union soldiers. The last thing she expects to find is a prisoner, chained and beaten — but radiating feral power and an unbroken spirit…
Soren is a Byralen, an enigmatic people who possess a unique hormone that they use to bond with their mates — and that is sold as a sexual narcotic in the shadow trade. For years, he has endured torture at the hands of his captors as they leeched his very essence. The last thing he expects is to be freed from slavery by a beautiful warrior woman with radiant blue eyes.
Driven by her rigid sense of honor, Cyani frees Soren even though her life hinges upon the success of her mission. But after so many years in bondage, his hormones are so unbalanced that he will die if he does not bond with a woman. Can the lovely but distant warrior be the woman he needs to survive, or will the forbidden bond destroy them?

Can you share a few fun facts about the geographic locations where your novels takes place?
I have the most fun with creating the settings for my Science Fiction Romances.  I like my romances dark and intense with a good dollop of adventure thrown in.

BEYOND THE SHADOWS moves through several alien worlds, and each one had to be carefully constructed.  I had to think about planetary resources, intergalactic trade, building materials, culture, and all sorts of things.  It was amazing.  I remember thinking about an arboreal culture that lives on small tropical islands.  I had to figure out what their traditional weapons would be made of, if there was no mining in these cultures at any point in their history.  I settled on hardened bone from some of the larger sea creatures in their world.

For my new YA (young adult) novel, I had to switch mental gears.  The story is a steampunk-inspired adventure that takes place in authentic mid-Victorian London.

I discovered just as much "world building" had to happen for the historically set novel as the futuristic one.  I had to look up things like the average speed of a horse trotting and the stamina of that animal over time to determine where to place the next plot point in my book, then I had to go into old maps of London and figure out where my characters would end up given the limitations of a horse.  I had fun researching what remains of Sherwood Forest as well as the Yorkshire moors.  Now I really want to go to England for real instead of the virtual tour.

Oh, you HAVE to do that trip - the UK is gorgeous and the history is amazing!

A man of deception. A woman of justice. Can their fragile trust be strong enough to prevent a war?
Commander Yara knows perfect leadership requires perfect control and discipline. She has spent years living without the distraction of caring for anything—or anyone. It’s a sacrifice she’s willing to make. Yara has honed herself into the perfect heir to the Azralen throne, but a bloody coup could destroy everything she’s worked so hard for. She must return home to prevent war. Unfortunately the only ship available belongs to an Earthlen trader with no regard for authority—especially hers.
Cyn is a rebel, driven to protect those suffering at the hands of the Elite leaders of Azra. Using his alias to manipulate the lovely but icy commander onto his ship, he has to keep her from Azra long enough to ignite the revolution. But when he awakens a vibrant and feeling woman beneath that icy exterior, he gets more than he bargained for—love. He must find a way to convince Yara to join him, before they get caught in a web of deception that could tear their world apart.

Do you have a pet that keeps you company when you write?  If so, write about him or her.  Has your pet taught you anything about writing?  If so, what?
I have a kitty named Maggie who likes to sit on my lap while I'm working on the computer.  Sometimes she poses like a statue on my desk, while other times she perches on top of my computer case.
If Maggie has taught me anything, it is to wear jeans while writing.  She has sharp claws and tends to knead my leg.  More than that, when Maggie is with me, I'm warm.  I don't begrudge this time sitting in a chilly basement when I have a purring cat on my lap with the plushest coat of mink-like fur.  She helps me remember to enjoy what I do, even when it is difficult or frustrating.

Ahh, another cat inspired author. I have 3 myself and all like to take turns keeping me company as I write (usually by tromping across the keyboard...grrrr!).

So, what's next for you? What are you working on?
The first book in The Chronicles of the Secret Order of Modern Amusementists will be out with Simon Pulse in fall of 2012, but in the meantime, I'm writing another romance.  This one is a paranormal shape-shifter book with a high fantasy feel.  I'm enjoying the story immensely, and I hope I can share it with you soon.

Jess, thank you for being a guest on my blog today. It's been a hoot learning more about you.
Kylie, thank you for having me.

If you'd like to know more about Jess or her books, check out her website.

Jess's books:


  1. Hi Jess, nice interview Kylie =)

    What is it with paranormal writers and cats?? lol!! Love the colours on your Maggie's face, go the pirate cat!!

    I too had a baby around the start of my writing career - crazy but exciting times =)

  2. Hey Mel, yeah, there has to be a link between the two - cats & the paranormal! LOL