Jessica Majzner is an Indie author I met via Facebook. She kindly agreed to share her writing secrets with me. If you want to know what those secrets are, read on!
- Hi Jessica, it’s great to have you here. Can I ask you first what made you decide to be a writer and what age you were when you took that decision?
Hey Jack, while I’m not sure exactly what age I decided to be a writer, I do know that the seed was planted when one of my teachers encouraged me to write a book as a young girl
- For those of our readers who haven’t been introduced to your work, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Sure! Beyond the Veil is about Natalya, a seventeen year old vampire huntress that must protect her city, Valwood, from murderous vampires while trying to avert the war between her people and the werewolves. It explores the struggles of humans living in close proximity to vampires and werewolves, and delves into deeper themes such as man’s prejudices and his fears of the unknown.
- What market are you aiming for with your books – age range and so on?
I would classify it somewhere between YA and adult, with about 13 being the youngest age group that Beyond the Veil could be appropriate for. The book has some darker themes along with light swearing.
- I see that like me, you’re a horror writer. What drew you to this genre? Do you see yourself ever writing in any other genre?
Yes, Beyond the Veil definitely has some horror elements, although I would not classify it as strictly a horror novel. But I always thought vampires and werewolves should be monsters, instead of love interests, and that is what drew me to the horror genre. I would like to try my hand at romance, but I am not sure how well I could expand on that genre.
- How do you set about making up your stories? What’s the first thing you do?
Talk it out! I need a story outline (however thin) in my head before I can really start putting words to the page. Then I start with either a character or a scene, and build from there.
- Where do you take your inspiration from?
A meaningful movie or plot can always inspire me, but good instrumental music is the best. Anything by Ivan Torrent or Audiomachine is usually a surefire way to get me in a writing mood. The Sight was also a source of great inspiration, and it is one of my favorite books.
- To what extent do your plan your stories? Do you painstakingly write everything out as a plot or a plan before you begin, or do you make it all up as you go along, or something in between?
Definitely somewhere between. I can’t work with a rigid, meticulously planned outline, but the story can’t be too vague in my mind either.
- What’s the most important thing to you in the books you write? What I mean is, do you see them as plot-driven, or character driven or driven by something else? Can you explain that to us?
Beyond the Veil is a mixture of being plot driven as well as character driven, with equal attention given to both. But it is also more – I wanted to write a book that would make you think. Think about philosophy and truth, as well as morality and spirituality.
- What are the ingredients you think every good novel should have, and why?
One cup of character development
One cup of focused plot
Half a cup of tension
A dash of humor
And a sprinkle of brilliance should do it
- James Joyce spent 17 years (I think) writing ‘Finnegan’s Wake’; Shelley Harris took 5 years to write her novel ‘Jubilee’. How long does it take you – typically – to write a novel?
Beyond the Veil took me nine years of off and on again writing, but as that book is now available, I am going to try to write the sequel, a Veil of Stars, before the year’s end.
- When you finish a novel, what do you do next? Imagine you’ve just written the words ‘The End’. What happens then?
Time to get into the nitty gritty of editing! I print out the entire manuscript and start going through it line-by-line to start polishing it for the editor.
- How many novels have you written so far and are you working on one at present? If so, would you like to tell us something about it?
I have written one, Beyond the Veil, and I am currently working on the sequel J
- What is your writing routine if you have one? And when you answer that, could you also tell us if you have a preference for where you write and the conditions you write in?
I write during the day while my fiancé is at work. I am very fortunate to be doing this full time, and I take full advantage of the house being empty. I like working in the office best, but if it’s a nice day I like to sit in the back yard with the dogs and a notebook and write that way as well.
- If someone is reading this who has aspirations to be writer, what advice would you give to him or her?
It’s not easy! I used to think as long as inspiration hit me, I could write forever…not true! It takes a lot of discipline to just sit down and write a cohesive story. Sometimes you may not be totally in love with writing a particular scene, but it’s necessary, so you just have to sit down and do it.
- I’d like to ask you about your reading now. What authors and genres do you enjoy reading?
I’ve been reading a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz lately. I really like thriller/suspense and I also love fantasy novels.
- How do you feel about short stories and flash fiction as opposed to novels?
I always prefer reading novels. I like to have a really rich build up of things and deep character development. As far as writing, I never really attempted writing a short story, I just jumped into the deep end with a novel.
- Who is your favourite author and why?
David Clement-Davies, I love his descriptive writing style and the way he personifies animals.
- If you were given a long prison sentence for a crime you didn’t do (obviously you didn’t do it – you’re not a criminal!) What three books would you take to pass away the time. (You’re not allowed to tell me you’d take books about the law!)
The Sight by David Clement-Davies
And then the 6th and 7th Harry Potter books. Because they’re long and would eat up some time!
- What do you like to do for recreation when you’re not writing?
I mostly hang out with my fiancé at home. We play video games, go on bike rides, hang out at the zoo (we love animals), and do other boring homebody stuff, lol!
- If you have a day job, what is it?
I actually quit my day job to pursue writing! I worked with dogs for about 7 years, and also had some office admin jobs, but now I’m a full time writer!
- Could you give us a brief author bio – like a thumbnail sketch of yourself in writing?
I’m a 26 year old author who has just released my debut novel, Beyond the Veil. It has always been my dream to share my story with the world. I really feel like I wrote the story I would want to read. I’m currently working on the sequel, A Veil of Stars. I live with my fiancé and two dogs, an American Eskimo named Shyla and a very talented Italian Greyhound mix named Hazel that reviews things!
- Please give us your contact details – website address, Amazon links, Facebook page(s) etc. so that our readers can get in touch if they want.
Here ya go:
Amazon: Beyond the Veil
Facebook: Beyond the Veil’s Facebook Page
- Finally, would you like to give us a sample from a book you’ve written? –
~ Chapter Four ~
Four werewolves were perched atop the roof of a tall building, overlooking the streets of Claw Haven. Their silhouettes stood powerfully against the light of the half moon, sweeping the gray hairs along their backs silver. Droplets of saliva glistened from the tips of their slavering fangs, and their glowing white eyes cut cruelly into the darkness, nearly turning it into day with their efficiency.
A pungent odor had reached them, and their muzzles curled into distasteful snarls. The scent was an unpleasant irritant to their sensitive noses; the rotting of death and ash mixed with fresh blood that failed to bring forth the lust of hunger. The scent heralded the arrival of their bitterest enemy and with it ramifications that hadn’t been invoked in over a century. The werewolves exchanged glances, their communication seamless and invisible to human eyes. As stealthily as they could, they leaped from one rooftop to the other, hoping to disguise their own scents and not rouse the vampire’s acute senses. They followed with caution, unwilling to throw themselves blindly into danger while they wondered about this strange proceeding.
It was not long before they scented Natalya. Her scent was a strange combination of the arrogance of the hunter, impeded by a slight tendril of fear that wafted deliciously towards their nostrils. She could not move quickly, crouched as she was against the buildings, her stake held out in front of her like a sword.
The smallest of the four werewolves strained forward, his tendons quivering with nervous energy. He was longing to leap at her, to take her throat. He remained where he was though, rooted to the spot by a glare from his elder. His ears were still pricked eagerly as his teachings competed with his instincts.
The oldest among them watched Natalya, not with hunger, as did his fellows, but with calculating intensity.
What shall we do? The question was projected from the smallest to the other three, and they looked now to the oldest for his answer, each quelling their own desire to kill the trespassing girl. Below them, Natalya rounded the corner. She was not yet alerted to their presence, and instinctively they followed her and her weapon’s movements with wary eyes. The metallic tang of the silver she carried in her arrows gave them respectful pause, and she passed below them unharmed.
Do? The elder asked sharply inside their heads. We shall do nothing without the Alpha. This is the beginning of strange times. A human and a vampire stand within the walls of Claw Haven for the first time in over a hundred years. Now we shall warn him.
The others growled in assent and with that the werewolves withdrew from the roof. As quietly as shadows, they melded back into the night as subtly as any true wolf pack.
(From ‘Beyond the Veil’ by Jessica Majzner)