Today’s Author Answers are from Jamie Schultz, author of Premonitions. Jamie is a Wisconsin native, relocated to Texas. Take it away, Jamie!
JS: Action, adventure, loyalty, betrayal, violence, profanity, grim magic, a seedy underworld, pirates, true love, and shrieking eels.
Okay, scratch those last three. But in general, the central characters are a crew of thieves in a sleazy Los Angeles underworld that combines both organized crime and a nasty sort of demon-fueled magic. Readers can expect desperate characters struggling to survive bizarre circumstances, as well as a lot of focus on the relationships between the members of the crew, particularly Karyn and her best friend Anna.
WN: The leader of the group, Karyn Ames, has a gift of seeing the future. Only it isn’t really a gift. How did you come up with Karyn Ames’ affliction, and the subsequent cure?
JS: I wish I could tell you, but I don’t have a clue! Perhaps disturbingly, it wasn’t something I had to spend a lot of time thinking about—it seemed natural as breathing.
If I look back at what I’ve written in the past, the character with a gift that isn’t really a gift is a recurring theme, as well as characters making bad long-term decisions to satisfy short term needs. I guess this is where those themes have finally come together for me.
WN: Swearing and violence are prevalent in the story, and part of who the characters are. Tell us more about the development and decisions that went into this.
JS: A lot of urban fantasy seems to have taken elements of crime fiction, particularly detective fiction, and incorporated into a fantasy framework. It’s heroic, at heart. I kind of came at it from an upside-down perspective, starting with crime fiction and fantasy-izing it. The result is something that maybe uses fewer of the typical urban fantasy staples and a lot more of the guts of crime fiction. My work tends to feature characters who are chronic screw-ups or otherwise in dire straits, often due to bad circumstances combined with desperate decisions, and tends to be more down in the gutter. So there’s a lot of profanity, largely as a way of reflecting the socioeconomic circumstances of the characters.
Also, in real life, I just swear a lot.
The violence comes from a similar place. There’s not a lot of what I’d call “heroic ass-kicking” going on here. A lot of the violence is reactive or desperate, and it often has unintended consequences. When I write violence, I want it to reflect the nasty criminal world these characters live in.
WN: What should readers expect next from you?
JS: Well, the sequel to PREMONITIONS is called SPLINTERED, and it comes out July 7th! I’m also working on edits to the third book in the series right now, as well as drafting something a little different, an odd story about a couple of psychics in a town not too dissimilar from the little town in Wisconsin I grew up in.
WN: What is your writing process like? Any specific locations or must haves?
JS: I typically get an idea, write ten thousand words in a frenzy, and realize I have no idea where it’s going. So then I write an outline for the rest of the story to keep from making a total hash of it. (I have, in the past, just written the rest of the story without an outline, but experience has shown me that I can never stick the landing that way.) Then I write the next fifty thousand words, realize the outline is hopelessly screwed-up, and pause to figure out how to fix it. After that, I sprint to the end. Then there is a giant amount of revision.
I get a lot of people asking me how in the world I get time to write, what with a day job and friends and family and all that. The answer is that I wedge it in wherever I can. Wake up a little early, stay up a little late. Take the laptop with me and knock out a few hundred words over lunch when I can. The key, for me, is being flexible about it, so the fewer specific locations or must haves that I saddle myself with, the easier it is for me to make progress.
It does help to have a routine, though, so when I’m in serious drafting mode, I try to make an hour or two before bedtime every day.
WN: What question did the Word Nerds not ask, but should have?
JS: Hmm. How about, “What’s some other good stuff to read?”
Great question! 🙂 Man, I love books. Here are some of my favorites:
- Charlie Huston (crime fiction) – The Shotgun Rule, and The Mystic Art of Erasing All Signs of Death
- Caitlin Kiernan (super weird, awesomely well-written, and sort of beyond genre) – The Drowning Girl
- Nick Harkaway (um, contemporay fantasy? Ish?) – The Gone-Away World, and Angelmaker
- David Wong (seriously deranged, humorous horror) – John Dies At the End, and This Book is Full of Spiders
And I should probably stop there, or I’ll just keep on going forever.
Thanks so much for having me!
Thanks, Jamie! This is a series that the Word Nerds are following in our quest for great reading. Check out our review of Premonitions too.