Today is the release for WINTER WOLF, a paranormal/urban fantasy by author R.J. Blain. The cover looks amazing, and the author gave me some of the most thorough interview responses ever, so I’m thrilled! My questions are bolded, author’s responses are in regular font.
What’s the hardest part of being an author?
This is such a hard question, because all of it is challenging. When writing the draft, I want to tell a good story. When I edit, I want to turn the good story (hopefully good story…) into a great one. I want to make my characters interesting, enjoyable, and touch readers. I want people to walk away with something—even if it is amusement over some of their antics.
But a lot needs to be done to accomplish that. Winter Wolf is 124,000 words long. That is, for the curious, 686 thousand characters. It’s a staggering amount of work checking over every single one of those characters for mistakes. My advance reviewer copies had seven mistakes caught after they went out. (I might have wept and kicked my feet.)
There are more buried in those words, ones I may never catch. It is painful, spending hundreds of hours over months working on a novel for there to be errors—despite the amount of time I spend ruthlessly hunting them down.
It’s true what they say about authors being too close to their work. I often do not see many errors because I know what the words are supposed to be, not what they are. That’s why I have so many editors.
But they miss things too. Ultimately, it is my responsibility to find every mistake and fix it. It’s a pretty notable burden… but one I want to carry. I want every book I write to be better than the last one. Not everyone will like my books or my style. That’s impossible. But I want those who do like it to have something they truly enjoy, free of errors. (I chase impossible dreams.)
Can you give us a short synopsis of Winter Wolf?
I get asked this question a lot, and I keep trying to find a new, interesting way to answer it—that isn’t just copy pasting from the back of the book. It’s a bit of a game with me.In the case of Winter Wolf, I can get away with this game because it’s such a diverse novel. I like twisty, knotted intrigues and action-packed thrillers. I like stories that make readers think. I like dragging readers along for the roller coaster ride. Winter Wolf isn’t as… challenging of a novel as I normally write.
Winter Wolf is the story of a woman who is forced to turn her cowardice into courage, to turn her prejudices into supporting alliances, and heal the pain of abandonment into strong familial ties, no matter what the cost to her.
It is the story of a woman who is forced to set aside everything she values, risking it all for the chance of saving the family she had abandoned years ago.
It is the story of a wizard who must use all of her powers to try to save a race on the brink of extinction due to a plague without a cure—and live despite the fact there are those who would kill her for simply existing.
What inspired you to write this book?
Where do I begin with this? There are so many factors in what made me want to write this book. I am really interest in infectious illnesses. (I know, it’s a weird, morbid thing to be interested in…)
I love turning the mundane into the magical. I enjoy thrillers. I enjoy reading about characters like Nicole, people who are forced to find their limits and boundaries for the sake of others.
Nicole was so hard for me to write because she’s so very different from me—and I’m glad. Writing her forced me to look at the world a different way, and I really came away with a lot from the experience… even when there were times I felt hopeless about whether or not I could actually write the book. I had to lean on my editors a lot for her characterization. I also had to talk to a lot of people who share traits with her, to learn and understand what type of person she really was.
I still don’t know if I did her justice.
There are so many ‘what if’ questions I pursued in this book I’m not even sure I could pick out which one was the most important and relevant.
I came away regretting that Nicole, while an important player in the Witch & Wolf world, isn’t going to be the star of the next novel. That story belongs to someone else. That’s one thing that is hard for me about the Witch & Wolf stories—most books are from a new character’s point of view, although the other characters join forces as the story progresses.
Blood Diamond features many of the major players from both Inquisitor and Winter Wolf. I’m really excited to start working on it sometime in 2015. (I’m crossing my fingers I can have it ready for publication by November of 2015.)
My traitorous fingers doubt me, though, as they’re determined to have the release date be 2105.
How many hours per day do you spend writing?
14+ hours, 5 or 6 days a week. I will take a few days off here and there to make up for the crazy schedule. Sometimes, I will take a week or two off at one time when I need a break. Writing is hard work, and once I get involved with a novel, I don’t like stopping. I like being in the flow of a book, so days off break that flow. Sometimes I end up not taking a single day off for an entire month or two, especially if I am near deadline time.
The end result is often a short temper and tears. My friends are often very gracious, especially near the time for a new release.
Which reminds me, I need to buy them all a cake. (Because I can’t bake.)
Name your top five favourite books.
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb (I shamelessly confess to crying multiple times during this book.)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
This is where I stopped and had a complete and total brain malfunction. Because it amuses me, I am going to write the first thing that popped into my head.
“A book about those people who did that thing.” (The book is actually called “Resenting the Hero” and the author is… Moore. Something Moore. And I can’t remember the author’s first name. I’m so sorry. But it’s a really funny, witty, exciting book!)
I’m cheating with this, and listing two complete series. I also confess math is hard… 1, 2, 3, 5… something like that.
The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
The Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs
Now, as for why I love these books? The characters intrigue me—especially in the case of Fool’s Assassin. They make me laugh or cry with the characters. Most laugh, though. I’m not much of a weeper… except in the case of Fool’s Assassin.
They make me care for these characters. What else can I love more? Not much. I lovingly recommend these titles and series to fantasy lovers.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on my Requiem for the Rift King series; it is my epic fantasy series, featuring the story of Kalen, the Rift King. It is also the story of Breton, Kalen’s Guardian and adopted father. The series is the story of kingdoms at war, and a threat that can—and will—destroy them all if they can’t put their petty fighting aside. The skreed don’t care for the world of men, and in their hunger and desire to simply return home, they’ll do anything—even the genocide of an entire race.
Storm Surge, the second volume, will hopefully be released sometime in early 2015. I’m also hoping to finish The Tides of War, book three of the series, sometime in late 2015 or 2016.
There are so many novels I want to write and simply not enough time to write them all!!
About the Book
Title: Winter Wolf
Author: R.J. Blain
Genre: paranormal / supernatural suspense / thriller / murder mystery / urban fantasy
The Hunted Wizard
When Nicole dabbled in the occult, she lost it all: Her voice, her family, and her name. Now on the run from the Inquisition, she must prove to herself—and the world—that not all wizards are too dangerous to let live.
The savage murder of a bookstore employee throws Nicole into the middle of Inquisition business, like it or not. Driven by her inability to save the young man’s life, she decides to hunt the killer on her own. Using forbidden magic to investigate the past, she learns that the murderer is in fact a disease that could kill the entire werewolf race.
Forced to choose between saving lives and preserving her own, Nicole embraces the magic that sent her into exile. Without werewolves, the power of the Inquisition would dwindle, and she could live without being hunted.
Nicole’s only hope for success lies in the hands of the werewolves she hates and the Inquisition she fears, but finding someone to trust is only the beginning of her problems. There are those who want to ensure that the werewolves go extinct and that the Inquisition falls.
But, if she fails to find a cure, her family—including her twin sister—will perish…
RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn’t playing pretend, she likes to think she’s a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband. She is currently on a quest for a new warrior fish.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.
Favorite Books & Series
In no particular order:
Anne McCaffrey’s Pern
Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar & Gryphon Series
Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera & The Dresden Files
Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris
Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega, Dragon Bones, & The Mercy Thompson series
Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time
iTunes Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id912946393