This week I wanted to do something special. To really concentrate on one thing and give a tour of one author’s life instead of posting sporadic book related things. Luckily Jan Raymond, author of Pha Yul trilogy, volunteered to be my first victim…errr…guest…so, Jan, welcome to my virtual couch!
Tell us a something about yourself?
I’m a single mother. I have two gorgeous daughters, Aishwarya and Nayantara. I live in Chennai, which is in South India. I’ve done my Masters in Psychology (so maybe, it’s you who should be on the virtual couch :)) I’ve always read a lot and ideas for books have been rolling around in my head forever, but it’s always been something that I’ll get around to at some point in my life.
Oh-oh…I have to be careful what I say, now…or else I might in deed end up on your couch! What is or are the genres of your book or books?
Funnily, I was planning to write a fantasy, but apparently it’s now a sci-fi fantasy( I became aware of this only a short while back). So I guess it would come under any of those categories. I personally still think of my books as fantasy.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I sold the 100th copy. Till then, I hadn’t told anyone that I had written a book or that I had published it on Amazon. Only my kids knew about it. I announced to my world that I had published a book, six months after I released it.
I know exactly what you mean! For me it was the first check from Amazon that made it real! Where do you get ideas for your stories?
I wish I knew. I think maybe I’ve absorbed all the fantasy and imagination of the awesome authors of the books I’ve read, from when I was young and it’s locked away somewhere in my head. I don’t have the keys for it, so I can’t look inside. It presents itself to me as I go about mundane activities and then when I sit down with my book and pen, it kind of spills out.
Do you do a lot of researching before starting to write or do you go with the flow and check the details later?
Oh! I wish the editing was as easy as the writing. I live in this fantasy world when I write and I hate getting disturbed, especially if it’s a particularly good scene. I write it as it plays out in my head. So I tend to ramble and the first draft is so very long. If there is any research I need to do, I gloss over those details for later so as not to interrupt the flow. I do my research during my second edit. Then I do one more before printing it out. I give the printed copies to my kids, to read. When they’re done, we do an edit together which is a bloodbath. They slash and tear most of my precious book, but it comes out much tighter, thanks to their brutal honesty.
But then again honesty, even if being brutal, is better than having the critics kill your dream in public just because you were in a hurry 🙂 Okay, I have a hunch about this answer, but I’m gonna ask it anyway… What was the hardest part of writing your books?
Editing! I cannot stress how much I hate editing. I have a bit of an OCD and I cannot stop tweaking. For example, it’s more than a year since I released the first book and I’m getting the hard copy ready and as I was reading through the proof, I found some sentences badly written and I wanted to change it. But my kids have made me promise after, like the 30th edit, that I wouldn’t touch the book anymore, so I didn’t. Weirdly, I think my writing has improved because, I just did an OCD based edit after releasing it and I hardly changed anything. It felt pretty tight. Maybe, I’m growing as an author.
The other hard part of being an author is real life. It keeps getting in the way. I hate when it intrudes. Well, that’s life!
I hear you! Sometimes it is so hard to wake up to the real world when your mind is still adventuring in your stories! And editing…deep sigh…let’s not go there today…Have you ever had a writer’s block and if yes, how did you make it go away?
Fingers crossed, but no. But my guts twist in anticipation of it happening. As I said I don’t think of a book or a scene. It spills out on paper naturally. I really don’t know what I’d do if that doesn’t happen.
Indie or traditional publishing?
Indie and cheers to that! I mean, I wouldn’t say no if a publishing company did offer me a deal. But I’m so glad we live in a world where you can send out a book and have people buy it and read it, and not have to keep sending out manuscripts to agents and publishing houses, and hope you don’t get a rejection letter.
Amen to that! Do you have any weird writing habits? Perhaps something you always have to do before starting to write or a secret vice?
I don’t think so. I wish I did, that would be so much more interesting. Mine is quite boring. This is how my writing goes. I walk in the evenings, listening to music and I kind of imagine the next few chapters, more of a ‘this is the direction’ it’s moving in. I write the next day. I need silence when I write. I start with what I’d imagined the day before and sometimes it goes that way and at other times, it completely changes and surprises me. That’s always a pleasant ‘oh’ moment.
What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time? What’s that? 🙂 But, seriously, I spend a lot of time with my kids. We enjoy hanging out together. We love movies. We go for long drives. Since they both work, we don’t find the time to travel as much as we’d like to. I don’t read when I’m writing as I tend to copy the style of the author that I’m reading. I only read when I need to take some time away from my book. I have a large family and good friends and I enjoy spending time with them. Cooking used to be a big stress buster, but these days, I find I hardly have time to spend experimenting in the kitchen.
Sounds perfect! Any current projects you’d like to share?
The third book is ten chapters in. As usual, it’s meandering. It usually does that in the beginning till things start heating up. The third book will be the quest for the Chakra and I hope it turns out as great as it sounds in my head. I’m thinking of writing a collection of short stories, but unlike many other authors, who I find write two, three books at the same time( I’m in awe) I can concentrate only on one at a time.
Haha! As one of those authors who are having more than one WIPs (Work In Progress), I will share a secret with you…without at least 2-3 WIPs I probably would suffer writer’s block a lot. But with so much going on, I can always change the WIP if I don’t feel like working with the current one 🙂 What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
Grammar! I’m not an English major and my English is passable. I really do feel my books suffer a bit because of that. I don’t like giving it to a professional editor because by the time they go through it, it doesn’t feel like my book at all. The main criticism of my books, has been about poor sentence construction, though all the reviewers say that most readers won’t be as critical as they were, and go on to add that they enjoyed the books.
Well, I’ve read your books, and I have to say that if there was some grammar issues I totally missed them. For me your books were exquisite. Gems in a fantasy-sci-fi genre! What has been the best compliment?
From my nephew who was ten when he read my first book in one sitting, and asked my sister whether she was sure that I wrote the book.
If you could meet one ‘celebrity’ author who would it be and why?
Stephen King, without a doubt, he’s my favorite author. But I’ll also be scared, because I’m sure he’ll mess with my head.
Do you have any words of wisdom for the other writers?
I wish I was experienced enough to give advice to others. But to all those who have a story in your head, write. It’s not that hard. If I can do it, anyone can!
And a favorite quote?
So long…and thanks for all the fish (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Haha! Okay, the quick ones:
I love… my kids
I hate… snobs
Favorite people? Aishwarya and Nayantara
Favorite creature? Tristan, my dog
Night or day? Day
Cat or dog? Dog
I believe… that there’s an angel sitting on my shoulder…and in hard work 🙂
Thank you! Jan, where can people find out more about you and your books?
CIRCLE OF FIVE: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Circle-of-Five/228557627318055?
WORDPRESS BLOG: http://jansauthoralley.wordpress.com/
Do you want to tell us something about your book? Short synopsis? Excerpt?
Circle of Five Synopsis:
‘Circle of Five’ (Book 1 of the Pha-yul trilogy), is the first book in a trilogy, about five teenagers with regular teenage issues, who discover that they have acquired special abilities. The books follow their journey and adventures, into a world, quite different from the one they have grown up in. They have to cope with their transition from teenagers to young adults, as they also struggle to overcome evil forces threatening their lives. They embark on a quest, to find an ancient device which could change the already, fragile balance of humankind.
In this book, the five teens learn to understand, manipulate and enhance the strange new powers that they have. They learn that they are not the only people in the world with special abilities. With the help of a teacher belonging to Pha Yul, an ancient community which helps gifted children understand their powers, the children undergo rigorous training to develop their abilities. As they progress, they find themselves questioning the motives of the community and realize that there a lot that they do not know. When they question their teacher, they get cryptic answers that leave the five more confused than ever, about what is the right path to take and who to trust.
The books are aimed at young adults, who will empathize with the characters in the book and get drawn into the lives of the protagonists. The characters evolve over the series as the readers accompany the five to a nail biting finish.
Gran-sdur: The Games synopsis:
“Gran-sdur: The Games” is the second book in the Pha-yul trilogy.
Millions of years ago, people from Padim, a planet in another galaxy took refuge on Earth. They still live among us. Children, born with the Padimite gene, sometimes, manifest superhuman abilities.
Sam, Cassie, Ryan, Sebastian and Maya who discovered their powers during a freak lightening storm, are still discovering their potential, in Pha-yul, where they are guided by new mentors – experts in the particular power that each kid possesses. Training with other kids of Padimite origin, they realize how little they know and how much more they must learn. Between their training and classes, they explore Pha-yul, the beautiful and isolated location that their ancestors had chosen as their home.
Adding to the pressure, they discover that they are to participate in the Gran-sdur, a competition that is held annually in Pha-yul. Here they would face the best and most skilled teams from communities around the world. With Mr. Harris’ guidance, the youngsters train hard, but will they be good enough to hold their own against equally or more talented contestants? Mr. Harris thinks they will, but the five are not so sure.
When the Games begin, the kids realise that they are not just trying to win, but are actually fighting for their lives. Will they win, or will they go down fighting? Will all five make it to the end? Or will the circle shatter?
Thank you so much for being here today, Jan! We’ll be seeing you tomorrow, too, so readers, stay tuned…there is more to come!