Sunday, October 16, 2011

Author Interview: Jami Gray!

Please come and join me while getting to know a great new author, Jami Gray, as we learn what makes her tick as a writer, what inspires her, and how we can find her upcoming releases!

1.) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was eight and had just returned from watching Star Wars at the drive-in theater (yes, the one where you park the car and the clumsy speaker hangs on your window). When I went to bed that night, I spent a couple of hours re-writing the story so Han Solo would have a kick ass female to be with instead of the whiny Princess Leia. Years later, my parents got an electric typewriter so the six teenagers who were in typing class could practice their emerging skills. Needless to say, I took it over and we became inseparable.

2.) What type of genre do you write in?

Urban fantasy—with a dark edge.

3.) What inspires you to write in this genre?

I grew up on stories of magic in everyday life. For the longest time I really believed my freckles were directly related to the brownies who were sneaking in kisses while I slept. I grew up on Disney stories, then moved on to Star Trek and other sci-fi books. I hit high school and started sneaking my mom’s romance novels out of the house (sorry, mom!) to help supplement my book habit in-between the fantasy and murder-mysteries I was able to snag from the school library. I headed out into the big bad world at 18, and as I stumbled through the maze of life, I discovered my characters were suddenly becoming harder to hurt (emotionally and physically). I’m sure a therapist would have a field day with this, but needless to say my reading needs changed as well. I started hunting down books where the heroine didn’t always need the hero to ride to her rescue. Sometimes it was more satisfying if she rumbled up to his rescue on her Harley.

4.) Where to you get your ideas for your writing?

I wish I could share some profound inspiration, but yeah…no. I always knew magic would be a key component of my world crafting. One of the greatest mind benders for me has always been how would our world react to the existence of magic? How well could the everyday populace handle the reality of werewolves, vamps, necromancers, demons, witches, and every other story ever told? And because life has a darker side and the Grimm Brothers never met Walt Disney, what would those in power do to harness such abilities for their own advantages? So I knew Raine McCord, my main character for Shadow’s Edge, had to be intimately acquainted with the pros and cons of the reality of magic. She’s part of the magical world, but thanks to some human scientists who just couldn’t resist playing god, she’s a bit more than even she expects. I was adopted at 14, so I find my main characters tend to come with some baggage and Raine’s not any different. Since I firmly believe that you have two choices when life starts putting you through the wringer, stand up or fall down, my women (and men) tend to stand up, even if they’re weaving on their feet, faces bruised and battered, they’re up, so bring it.

5.) Who are your favorite authors and why?

Okay this question isn’t fair, because let’s be honest, most writers are avid readers. I have hundreds of books. Depending on what life is tossing my way, will determine whose world I’m escaping into that day. Alright…let me think how to narrow this down…
JR Ward, the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and her Angel’s series are both fantastic. She has such a depth of reality to her books, you really could walk down some dark alley and believe tall, dark, sexy-scary is a vamp with emotional scars only the strongest, most determined woman can handle.
CE Murphy, The Walker Papers series. She manages to weave mythology effortlessly with the modern world and Joanne is great! Seanan McGuire is another writer who does the same thing with her October Daye series.
Christine Feehan (Carpathian, Ghostwalker and Leopard series) and Nalini Singh (Psy/Changling series and Guild series). These two women are fantastic. Their worlds suck you in and you don’t want to leave. I think for me it’s their ideas—secret government experiments, ancient races, what if the psychic experiments of the 60’s actually accomplished something or angels really lived among us—that’s why I can’t wait for the next book in each series and find myself re-reading them often.
I can’t leave without mention Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews. Mercy Thompson and Kate Daniels are my heroes. I adore the way both authors merge magic with reality and give their strong woman some hidden soft parts, even they don’t seem to catch. Besides, their relationships with their men are hilarious.
Just so you know, I’m an equal opportunity reader. Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) and Kevin Hearn (Iron Druid series) are at the top of my list as well. Come on, how can you not fall in love with a geeky wizard who makes hard choices for those he loves, or the older druid (1000 yrs and counting) who manages to keep his youthful outlook while taking on various pantheons in hilariously scary ways?

6.) In your opinion, what key parts of a story make it great?

I’ve heard a hundred times that every story ever written has already been set to paper. My response, meh! Maybe the basic story outline—hero vs. evil, boy meets girl—but you set a strong, multi-layered character, complete with flaws and strengths in a well crafted universe and that story will leave others in the dust.

7.) What activities do you undertake for inspiration?

Music—I love music. My taste in music ranges from Enya to Nine Inch Nails. I’ve always been amazed at the stories a well written line can spark. The melodies convey emotions and depending on how you’re hearing that emotion, the lyrics can take on their own meaning. Music and stories have always been deeply intertwined for me.
Reading—I know it sounds strange, but reading, especially when I discover new authors, it’s like a brain storming session for me. Something about getting caught up in someone’s world is a magic all its own. Plus it makes me start to brainstorm, because if someone came up with this twist, what would happen if you tweaked this? And then you’re off.

8.) Do you belong to any writing communities, or critique groups?

Oh yes! Besides Savvy Authors and ARe CafĂ©, I am a proud member of the 7 Evil Dwarves ( The 7ED emerged from the Swamp a few years back when the seven of us were picking our way through the harrowing world of critique groups. We had been treading water in various romance/literary/mystery groups trying to find similarly warped minds. Then the villagers started chasing us out with pitchforks and flaming torches, so we somehow found ourselves hiding in the same creepy swamp of Speculative Fiction, aka Sci-Fi/Fantasy. My fellow dwarves are instrumental in Shadow’s Edge finally seeing the light of day. If there’s one piece of advice I’d ever give a new writer it’s this: find yourself a critique group. Not just any critique group, but one that will be brutally honest with you because they love you enough to know your story needs to be savaged before it can finally rise stronger than ever.

9.) Do you have a day job?

Unfortunately those pesky bills need to be paid and until my writing can compensate for that paycheck, or we win the lottery, a day job will have to remain.

10.) If you could do it over again, what aspects of the writing/submission process would you change before becoming published?

The submission process is rough no matter what I do. For me, I think I finally figured out how to pitch my book once I was able to sum it up in one to three sentences. Unfortunately, you can’t cull it down that far unless you truly understand your characters and their stories. Once I had that golden kernel, query letters were tighter and somewhat easier to craft.
Writing wise, I’m a pantser—writing by the seat of my pants. I have a general story idea, my main characters are fairly fleshed out, but once I start setting it to paper, I find my characters change the story’s journey. It’s frighteningly exciting, but it’s not something I’d recommend for the faint of heart. I tend to do a little more world crafting before I start my books now, because if I understand the world my characters live in, it helps keep them real.

11.) What is the title of your upcoming/newly released novel, and where can we find it?

Shadow’s Edge is my first book in the Kyn Kronicles and it’s coming out in early November 2011 from Black Opal books. You can find it at or

Happy writing,
Mandi Casey
Bizarre Life of Sydney Sedrick is set to be released in October through Soul Mate Publishing, and will be available at:

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