As promised, every Wednesday I will feature a Q&A session with an Indie or Self-Published author right here on my blog.
My first subject is E.J. Wesley, author of Blood Fugue, the first book in the Moonsong series. If you are familiar with the rise of the New Adult category in the book industry, you might know E.J. is active in making New Adult a reputable category and even hosts the weekly Twitter chat #NALitChat
E.J. Wesley: I’ve been a dedicated reader since my early teens. But that’s all I truly aspired to be in terms of fiction–a consumer. It wasn’t until I’d graduated from college and began working in mental health that I really got interested in creating. We were using Harry Potter as a counseling tool (working with troubled teens), and I saw first hand how a great story could not just entertain, but change a life. Simply put, I wanted to do that. I’m still trying! 😀
Megan Cashman: So many paranormal books out there have a romantic storyline to them. Why did you choose to write one that had an action-suspense-horror angle to it?
E.J. Wesley: I’ve read a number of YA para-rom stories, and enjoyed my share of them. So I’m not anti-romance by any means. I just wanted to write a certain kind of story, with a certain type of character. Jenny, the mc, is not a romantic person. She’s a little selfish (a lot?), somewhat abrasive, and is probably more interested in sex than romance. (She is 21, after all, and that kind of thinking isn’t reserved to men of that age.) The romance just didn’t feel right for this story, if that makes sense.
That being said, I DID set out to create something a little different. Like Sookie Stackhouse without so much of the smexy. Mostly because I’m a new-ish author, and wanted to bring my unique storytelling voice to the table, give readers a clue of what kinds of things they can expect from me as an author. But also because these are the types of stories I enjoy the most: lots of action, characters behaving in their own flawed fashion, and a whole bunch of crazy $#!% on the side. 🙂
Megan Cashman: Why did you choose the title “Blood Fugue” (BTW, what does fugue mean?)
E.J. Wesley: Not going to lie, the title was the most difficult aspect of the final editing process. I had to pick SOMETHING. Including the name ‘Moonsong” was a given, because it is at the heart of who the main character is, and what the overall story is about. So, being a series of novelettes, I decided the series should be titled ‘Moonsongs’. Taking a cue from the musical nature of the series title, I wanted each story to have a musical theme to it in name.
So I decided to go with major themes, movements, etc. in classical music (I’m a fan of that, too). A fugue is a compositional technique where two or more sounds (voice, instrument, etc.) are built on a subject or theme that is introduced at the beginning in imitation (repetition at different pitches) and recurs frequently in the course of the composition.
Blood Fugue is all about Jenny (the main character) learning about her family (blood) and potentially following in their footsteps–sort of repeating the pattern of her ancestry. So I thought there was a nice symmetry there.
Megan Cashman: How has South Texas influenced the setting of your book?
E.J. Wesley: If you live in Texas for any amount of time it just kind of soaks into your bones. The culture here is way more diverse than most people know. Latino, Native American, German–all have settled in the state. Probably because it is enormous, so there’s plenty of land to go around. Yet despite that cultural diversity, there are common attitudes amongst the natives. Texans tend to be black and white thinkers (which is not to be confused with non-thinking)–you either are or you aren’t, you will or you won’t, and so on. So there’s lots of that in my characters.
This story has a major Native American element to it, which is something I’ve grown up around. (I’m not a native Texan, btw. But did grow up about 20 minutes from the state line in Southwest Oklahoma.) A couple of my great grandparents were Native American, and the culture is everywhere in Oklahoma, as you might expect.
As far as physical setting, the story takes place in West Texas, which is more of a plains area. The weather comes in extremes (can get really hot, but also really cold because there aren’t as many trees, etc. to stop those northern winds from whipping around). The weather is usually referred to as a person in those areas, because it’s so fickle and changing. I definitely tried to use that unpredictability to build suspense into Blood Fugue.
Megan Cashman: Some reviewers didn’t like the use of swear words in “Blood Fugue”. How do you explain your need to use profanity in your writing?
E.J. Wesley: I think there was something of a misunderstanding with the profanity, meaning a few people might’ve gone into reading the story thinking it was YA in the vein of Twilight, etc. (because it has ‘paranormal’ in the description is my guess). Blood Fugue was written for adults–New Adults, actually (18-26 year olds). While there is some language, it is there because the main character speaks that way.
I believe anything you find in the story is true to the characters. Some swear, some don’t. In the end, it definitely doesn’t break any records for curse words on a page or anything. In fact, you’d likely hear worse walking down the halls at most high schools.
Megan Cashman: How did you find out about the New Adult genre?
E.J. Wesley: I wrote Blood Fugue as New Adult before I even knew there was a category for it! lol Basically, I set out to write a story my 20-something nieces and nephews would find entertaining. That happened to be a story with video games, energy drinks, and lots of transition angst involved in moving into the ‘adult’ world. I just felt there weren’t stories for THOSE people, and with the accessibility in publishing these days, I figured I could put it out there even if a traditional publisher couldn’t/wouldn’t classify it.
Then I stumbled upon the NA Alley Blog. It was this collection of awesome authors dedicated to writing and promoting exactly the kind of story I’d written. Then I learned there was this swelling movement to get NA out there. Basically, I discovered I wasn’t alone.
Megan Cashman: Why do you think the word needs to get out about NA? Does it really have a potential audience?
E.J. Wesley: 20 somethings are some of the most devoted readers I know. I’m not sure what yahoo decided college students wouldn’t, or didn’t, read fiction, but I just have to tell them they’re wrong. Maybe we’re not giving them enough to read. Maybe they aren’t all omnivorous readers who will devour YA books written for people 10 years younger than they are, or the latest Norah Roberts and Nicholas Sparks books written for people 10 years older. Perhaps they prefer to read stories written for them, about them. That would be my guess as to why that demographic hasn’t ticked the right boxes in market research. Because they definitely read. And if they read, authors should be writing for them. (See my Harry Potter example in the first question–stories can change lives.)
Megan Cashman: “Blood Fugue” is the first book of your Moonsongs series. When can fans expect the next installment?
E.J. Wesley: Moonsongs Book 2 should land in December! All I’ll say, is if you like witches and magic, this one will be for you. 😀