Sunday, May 2, 2010

BACKSTORY: The Story Behind HUNTED BY THE OTHERS, with Jess Haines

I’m excited to feature my literary agency sister, Jess Haines, who this week is debuting HUNTED BY THE OTHERS, the first book in her H&W Investigations series. It’s been praised as “fresh and snappy, dark and sexy,” by New York Times bestselling author Lara Adrian, who calls Haines “a talent to watch!” It’s also been deemed “a delightful romp of a book,” by New York Times bestselling author Angela Knight.

Of course, that comes as no surprise to me. I already knew she was an amazing talent. :-)

And a busy one. The former New Yorker who now makes her home in Los Angeles has two more Shiarra Waynest novels in progress, as well as a novella in the anthology NOCTURNAL, scheduled for release in September.

Congratulations, Jess!

What was the inspiration for this novel?

I’m a fan of cheesy horror movies. When Blade hit theaters in ’98, it inspired the creation of the character, Shiarra Waynest. She originally started out as a kick-ass, jaded vampire hunter. Go figure.

Over the years, I never forgot the idea for the character, but the bits and things I wrote that included her got put by the wayside. I worked on other stuff, life got in the way, etc. While working on a high fantasy novel, I realized that it was a struggle to write it and I’d been battling with it for far too long (2001 to 2008). That book was supposed to be my crowning achievement – which I later came to realize meant I was taking myself far too seriously. It wasn’t fun for me anymore. So I shelved the high fantasy and started writing something lighter, something funnier — something that didn’t feel like pulling teeth to get down on paper. HUNTED BY THE OTHERS was born!

What was your writing process?

I’m a pantser. All pants, all the time. Much to the occasional dismay of my editor…

How much time do you spend writing each week?

As much as possible. Never less than an hour; usually between two to four hours.

How do you get yourself in a writing frame of mind?

Sit my butt down in the chair, open up my word processor, and ignore the shiny internets and such that do their best to distract me.

What was the best advice you’ve received about writing?

Miss Snark said it best: “Quit obsessing. Write well.”

What is something you know now about writing or publishing in general that you wish you had known when you started?

That your agent and editor will not grow ten feet tall, spew fire, and/or bite your head off if you have questions or disagree with a suggestion they give about changing something in your work. They are (awesome) people who are there to help you make your novel the best it can be. They are not there to chew your magnum opus up and spit out something vaguely novel shaped at the other end — as long as you treat them with respect, and present any arguments logically, that is.

When they take on a novel, your success is their success. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or clarify if you need to.

How do you overcome writers block, or any rough patch as you’re working on a story?

I sulk about it for a bit. Then I get over it and work on something else for a while. It helps clear the air for me – and leads up to a lot of unfinished drafts! Usually once I’ve gotten whatever’s been bugging me out of my system (taking a couple days off, taking a walk, talking to somebody about it, jotting down that other idea that’s been dying to get out, etc), I’m good to go.

Do you work with a critique group?

I used to be involved in a critique group. Unfortunately, they split up, so I haven’t been working with them for a while. These days, I just have my beta readers to help me out. They do a fabulous job spotting everything from grammar and spelling to magically appearing pants. Yes, really.

While I’m talking about ‘em, I’d like to give a shout out – thanks Binah, Eve, Evi, Kristin and Jen! You guys rock my socks!

When your creative batteries run low, do you have any tricks or techniques for jump-starting them and staying motivated?

Coffee and chocolate. After a bit of both, I can do anything!

In all seriousness, when I spend time brainstorming with friends or immersing myself in a good book, it helps freshen things up and give me new ideas to work with.

What are five of your favorite novels?

Oh, man, that’s tough. There are so many I love! I’ll do one for each of my favorite genres (and one subgenre):

Urban Fantasy: DEAD WITCH WALKING, by Kim Harrison
Fantasy: THE ELVENBANE, by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey
Sci-Fi: BATTLEFIELD EARTH, by L. Ron Hubbard
Horror: THE TOMMYKNOCKERS, by Stephen King
Romance: THE SECRET, by Julie Garwood

What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?

To be honest, I’ve never read any. Unless you count dictionaries or books on grammar.

What books are currently on your to-be-read list?

My to-be-read pile is constantly changing. I keep a pretty decent list on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/jesshaines) – but right now, I’m in the middle of HUNTER’S MOON, by C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, and THE MAD SHIP, by Robin Hobb. Next up is DEMON POSSESSED, by Stacia Kane.

For more about Jess Haines and her books, visit http://www.jesshaines.com/.



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