I met JC through Facebook and quickly we found we had similar senses of humour.  It became quickly apparent to both of us that we both rather dry.  That really means that only she laughwed at my stuff and I laughed at her stuff!

So, on to JC herself.  She writes science fiction with a hint of romance in it.  So far, they have been very succesful.  Currently, she is working on three other books (at once).  I have borrowed this from her blog.

he traces her lifelong infatuation with SF/Adventure to growing up in West Central Florida during NASA’s most exciting years, often watching space launches from her back yard.

JC got her start as a stringer for the Tampa Tribune in 1991.  Since that time, she has been a member of the RWA, TARA, TWA and PINAWOR, and is currently a member of Pennwriters and the Science Fiction Romance Brigade.

When not writing in her haunted hospital, JC lives with her husband, three children, five dogs, twenty chickens and a horse in a century-old house in a tiny rural community, and enjoys spending her free time sewing, camping, and heckling theoretical physicists on the Science Channel.

And now on to the interview.

What genre would you like to write a book in (that you haven’t yet)?

I am sorely tempted to try my hand at Southern Humor. Between my family and the eccentric rural Georgia town I call home, I have enough material for at least a book or two.

Where do your ideas come from?  Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?

I start with the characters. As I learn about them, their stories tend to unfold. Everyone has a story to tell. I’m the kind of person who will ride a bus to the end of the line just to listen to a wizened old man spinning yarns for anyone within hearing. People want things and they tend to run into obstacles they have to overcome to get them. Once I know who my characters are, what they want, and what stands in their way, the rest is about plugging major plot points into a timeline and filling in the blanks around them.

When you start a new story, do you have a title for it?   Does that trigger the story?

I don’t worry about the title in the beginning. For me the title usually emerges from the story itself. I tend to go with a generic working title until that happens. There are a few exceptions. I have written stories based around a title and a rough idea, but those usually aren’t as much fun for me.

Do you see the future of fantasy and science fiction as bright?       If so, which authors are driving it?

I think that the growing sub-genre of science fiction romance is breathing new life into the genre. Traditionally, SF has been stereotyped as having a fan base of pimply-faced adolescent geeks and bald, middle-aged men. What has been missing – for me – from a lot of it has been the human emotion of dealing with the science and technology. When you have people moving out into the vast distances between the stars, I believe they take with them all the same romance and drama of any prime time soap opera. Sex, power, and wealth are all universal goals in human culture. I think there has been a particular dearth of them in traditional science fiction, particularly from a female point of view. Science fiction romance is fixing that. You can look at books by Gayle Ramage, Pippa Jay, Diane Dooley, TK Toppin, Jessica Subject and Heidi Ruby Miller for examples of how romance is on the cutting edge of science fiction.

What themes are being overused?

Well, keeping to science fiction romance, it’s not particularly a theme that I find overused, but I’m frankly tired of the graphic sex that seems prevalent within the sub-genre. I’ve been told that to ensure sales, I needed to include some kind of graphic sex in my book, the kinkier and more taboo, the better. I’m sure there are readers who want books about freaky sex, otherwise 50 Shades of Grey wouldn’t be a runaway bestseller. But I’m not interested in writing that kind of book. I think if the writing is good, the story is tight and the characters compelling, discerning readers will go along for the ride without having naked, heaving and glistening body parts involved in impossible contortions before being humiliated. That’s not romance anyway. That’s porn. I’m happy to find that I’m not alone in my beliefs, but I do feel like I’m in the minority.

Are movies of books ruining the book?

I think movies have their place. A lot of people will not read a book, but they will watch a movie. Oftentimes, a well-produced film leads readers to the book. I had no interest in reading Harry Potter until I took my daughter, Amanda, to see the first film in the theater. I was so impressed with the world-building that I went out immediately and bought the book to see how rich and detailed the story was. By the time the last book came out, I was one of those people who pre-ordered my copy to find out how it ended!

Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?

Quite the contrary. I think ebooks are bridging the gap between younger, tech-savvy readers on the go. They’re much cheaper to produce and I think they give independent and unknown writers opportunities for publication they wouldn’t have had twenty years ago, especially in Science Fiction. That said, no one in my family seemed to take my book seriously until they held the paperback copy in their hands, flipped through the pages and saw the ISBN with the bar code on the cover. Never mind the fact that it had been out for months as an ebook on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, they didn’t really consider it “published” until they could hold it in their hands and smell it. I am bothered by the lack of respect reviewers and other industry support professionals show towards independent and self-published ebooks. In some circles, ebooks don’t get any more respect than vanity press did twenty years ago, but I think that’s changing.

Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors? How do you choose which ones to read?

I like to read a mix of both. I’m a fan of pulpy science fiction – the tongue-in-cheek space opera and lighthearted swashbuckling adventure in the nature of Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat stories. I’m also a fan of the mid-century adventure/spy novels like the original Ian Fleming’s James Bond books or The Saint. That preference is reflected in my own writing and I refuse to apologize for it.

So many of the “serious” established authors have lost me by worrying about making a social statement or political statement, or moralizing me to death. I loved the premise of Dune, and the story was great, but I had to slog through ponderous prose to get to it. Don’t even get me started on Asimov!

I’ve been fortunate to find some wonderful new writers simply by participating in Science Fiction/Fantasy Saturday. It’s a ring of SF/F authors who post snippets of their work for public view. I’ve become a rabid fan of TM Hunter’s Aston West series of books as well as Cary Caffrey’s Girls From Alcyone. Patrick Stutzman took on an incredible challenge with Alone on the Edge that reminded me a lot of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’ve also become addicted to TK Toppin’s Lancaster Trilogy and I was fortunate enough to beta read her upcoming release – To Catch a Marlin – which I can’t wait to purchase. Reading samples and the blurb is really all it takes for me. I can tell if I’m going to like a story by the first few pages. I’m seldom disappointed when I choose unknown authors’ books that way.

What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?

I like the hero’s journey. Fantasy tends to explore that in greater depth than other genres.

Can I get an autographed book? (lol)

Anyone can get an autographed book. I have that information on my blog. I love interacting with my readers.

Due to popular request, I have added links to my Buy Now page. This link tells everyone how to get an autographed copy.

http://jccassels.wordpress.com/links-to-purchase-2/

Just email me for information.   I offer the books at a discount off the retail price ~ $7US. S&H in the US and Canada is $5US and to the UK S&H is $11US. Anywhere else they would need to email me for the S&H anyway.

Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to?      How much impact can they have on the whole story?

A writer without a critique group or beta readers is far too insulated to be effective. You have to have knowledgeable readers who can help point out weaknesses in your work before it goes to publication. Accepting critique with grace and dignity is an important quality that separates the professional from the wannabe. The trick is finding a critique group whose skill level is on par with or superior to your own. A good critique group is an invaluable asset to any writer.

Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?

Genres and sub-genres tend to dictate a range for word count for books. I’d be foolish to ignore that. The reader has an expectation when they pick up a book in a certain genre and get a feel for the tone and pacing. They have a reasonable expectation for the book to be a certain length and to move along at a certain clip. If you disappoint them, you run the risk of losing them.

Do you have a target each day?

I do. I don’t always make my goal, but I do have a target. Sometimes I get in “the zone” and I go well beyond my target. It’s kind of like being on a hitting streak in baseball. You have to respect the streak and go where it takes you. I’m also accountable to a group of writers who gently prod me when I’m in the writing stage of a book and not producing as much as I’d like.

Do you write constantly or have breaks between books?

Ordinarily, I’d launch immediately into the next book as soon as I finish one. SOVRAN’S PAWN has been different because I’ve had other demands on my time, promoting it, networking, keeping up with my blog and chasing after my children who have been home during the Summer Break from school. I’ve been making a lot of notes for the sequel and writing key scenes. There really isn’t a break for me because I’m constantly absorbing sensory input, trying to put it into words and work it into a story. It’s exhausting and frustrating for my family sometimes.

Do you have characters running around your head?  Do they dictate events and their histories to you?

I do. My husband calls them my imaginary friends. In the past people have commented that I must have a God-complex manipulating lives in story form. I try to explain that I feel more schizophrenic than godlike. My characters don’t do what I tell them and if I deviate from the way they think the story should be going, they punish me by not cooperating and making my prose fall flat. It’s quite distressing.

After so many books, how do you keep them unique?

While I’ve only published one so far, I have written several that are in the process of publication. For me, writing in a series forces me to stretch as a writer, looking at each book as a piece of an overall story arc that has a coherent beginning, middle, and end. I’ve written the first draft of the final book in THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES series already. The characters have had to grow and change from SOVRAN’S PAWN to follow the story arc. The trap a lot of authors fall into is writing too quickly and relying on a formula. There is a certain amount of formula in writing genre novels, but you can’t explore character depths in a formulaic work. I find that if I stay interested in my main characters then my readers will as well.

What is your biggest (self-imposed) time waster?

It sounds awful to say it, but the biggest thing that keeps me away from writing is my family. Writing was much easier when I was single and childless. I could write five to ten thousand words per day when I found myself in the zone. I’m lucky to finish a sentence without being interrupted by domestic issues now.

Do you remember the first time you saw your book in a shop?

Actually, what sticks in my mind was the first time I ever held the proof copy in my hands. I have pictures of that posted on my blog and Facebook pages. As soon as my hands stopped shaking, I drove straight to my mother’s to show her.

Do you read other people’s writing?

I try to limit my reading of other people’s writing to published work, or something I’m being paid to edit. I beta read for authors I know and I participate in critique groups. You don’t come to writing unless you’re an avid reader. I feed off of other writers. The good ones challenge me to improve my craft and the bad ones teach me which mistakes to avoid.

Would you read mine?

Absolutely!

Here are her links:

Follow me on Twitter twitter.com/calicoco468

JC loves getting feedback from her friends.  Email me!

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