Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi! Thanks for having me here today, Fiona!
I’m fantasy and romance writer J.R. Pearse Nelson. I was born in good old 1980. If you were there, you get it. If not…that’s okay, too.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in raised in Portland, Oregon, before you knew Portland existed. J It was a tad more industrial and much less hipster in my youth. I have always lived in Oregon. I just keep moving up and down the Willamette Valley. I love other places, but I love Oregon MORE.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have a Master of Public Policy degree and have spent more than a decade as a government economist. I’m married to an awesome guy I met in college. We have two kids under 10 and are in between dogs and currently debating breeds.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My latest book is the third and final novel in my Water Rites fantasy series, Castle and Crown. It’ll be out September 19th 2017.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve come up with stories and settings since I was pretty young. I started to write actively while in graduate school, probably in the panic of facing graduation and my first full-time jobs. That was in 2004. Now I have a dual career – I’m a government economist by day and I write in addition to that.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I faced up to what I really wanted in graduate school in 2004. I’ve been writing pretty regularly since then.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I tend to be inspired by mythology. The Celtic mythological system is one that really resonates with me. My Children of the Sidhe fantasy romance series came out of that fascination. I found myself wondering what it would be like to meet these figures out of myth…better yet, to find yourself related to them, with odd powers and your own part to play in their history. Hazel, the half-human daughter of the love god Aengus, came from that question.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I knew I was writing a series, because the otherworld war that is sparked in Tribute had a much longer arc than one book. I chose one-word titles for the five books in the Children of the Sidhe series – Tribute, Vessel, Flight, Descent, and Shield.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I tend to write in first person or close third person and have action-driven plots. I strive to make it feel like you’re in the point of view character’s head. I often have more than one point of view in a story, but not always.
One thing I struggle with is the expectation for happy endings. When I write romance, it always includes a Happily Ever After or Happily for Now ending for the couple. In fantasy, I end books with changed characters…not necessarily happiness.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I enjoy writing fantasy about places I know. So you’ll see Portland locations or other Oregon locations…the coast is a big part of my work, can’t seem to shake that. Mostly I write about the adventures I’d love to have; the events are all fictional – that’s what makes it fun.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
If I’m setting a series in a real world location, I visit (or I’ve lived there!). I have plenty to work with in the NW corner of the U.S. My series are all – to this point – set on the Oregon and Washington coast, the San Juan Islands, and in Portland and Seattle.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Kellie Dennis with Book Cover by Design (http://bookcoverbydesign.co.uk) designed the covers for my Water Rites series, FoulweatherTwins series, and Children of the Sidhe series. I love Kellie and will keep working with her. She’s super responsive with design ideas and a very creative designer. She’s also a confident business woman and a total professional.
I design my short story covers, because I write a lot of shorts and it’s easier time-wise and dollar-wise to do those myself. Cover design is a really fun break, but I’m nowhere near Kellie’s level and for novels and series it makes sense to hire an artist.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
When it comes to Water Rites, the message is that there’s more on this planet than meets the eye. It’s time to contribute instead of taking, so our great-great-grandchildren will have a beautiful planet, too. In all of my work, I want to encourage out-of-the-box thinking. This isn’t the only possible world; it’s the one we’ve inherited. Our choices do matter, often more than we think.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I can’t pick just one! There are several authors who are “must-reads” for me – although I’m not caught up on their most recent releases. Juliet Marillier’s new Blackthorn & Grim series is mysterious fantasy; I’ve loved her books since I experienced the beauty that is Daughter of the Forest. Jacqueline Carey is amazing, from Kushiel’s Dart (courtesan spy fantasy) to Santa Olivia (superhero fantasy). Carrie Vaughn is another “auto-buy” author for me: her series about a werewolf named Kitty was very influential for me. Octavia Butler and Ursula K. LeGuin deserve mention as my favorite sci-fi authors…. I could get lost in my favorite author’s list, so I’ll stop there.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
A favorite professor in college, Dr. Richard Clinton, validated my desire to write fiction. He told me, “Fiction really can change the world. Keep working on it.” When most people have trouble seeing your vision, and you’re still struggling to define it, having someone who has had a full career in academia tell you it’s worth writing fiction is a powerful feeling.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I see writing as a career. I have a whole list of upcoming projects and I’m always adding to my plan and refining it. I create new fiction regularly and plan to do so for several decades to come. However, I don’t see writing as a job; writing is something I can’t help but do – I feel better when I write and am much happier when I spend some time each day making stuff up. That’s not a job. Meeting readers who like to geek out over the same ideas that get me going is not a job. Publishing is a job; there are aspects that are just tasks that must happen for people to find and read your work. I try to keep writing and publishing separate in my mind. The two hats aren’t comfortable to wear simultaneously.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
There’s a particular part of my book Crestfallen (Water Rites #2) that has bugged readers. I put my characters in a really awkward situation. But once I wrote it that way, I couldn’t change it. My creative side dug in about it, even though it bugged some of my favorite editors and beta readers. Isn’t life messy? Isn’t our character shown by what we make of the mess? I didn’t want to clean this one up for my characters. Maybe that awkward twinge is just what I needed to get across right there.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
My most recent novel is Castle and Crown (Water Rites #3). I learnedthat I need to finish series faster! I wrote the first two books in 2014 and 2015. I took most of 2016 off because we moved to a different city and remodeled two houses. Coming back to a series I’d been so into a couple of years ago was dissatisfying and difficult. I’m happy with the final result, but I like my process to be more fun and less painful. I’ll try not to put myself in that situation in the future.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Gosh, that is a great question. Honestly, I’m not up on enough young actors to answer this well. If any of my books are ever made into film, I’m likely to be pretty hands off and just show up with a large popcorn for the premiere. That would be super cool.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Keep writing. Try new things. Know that you’ll face fear in the process and you have to work through it (repeatedly). If you feel like going pro, make sure you spend some time thinking about what you want out of this. With your focus on the future you want, take constant action in small steps to get there. It really is about how much you show up.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thanks for reading! I appreciate you spending your time on adventures with me. I promise many more to come. You can always write me at: email@example.com
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Carrie Vaughn’s Martians Abroad, about kids raised on Mars who go to Earth to attend an elite school. Once I’m through edits on Castle and Crown, I’m going to reread The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss, as my treat.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Ah! No, not at all. I remember lots of books from childhood: the Little House on the Prarie books, everything Narnia, the Island of the Blue Dolphins.Many, many others.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Word play often makes me laugh. Sometimes I accidentally use a word that has multiple meanings and applies in multiple ways; I love that sort of accident. The harsh parts of the world make me cry, there are a lot of truly terrible circumstances that people face. Inequality of experience is something I think we’ll face up to over the next century as we’re all exposed to so much more of the human experience with free and rapid communication. We need more diverse writers, by the way, to capture and convey that variety of experience.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Morgan Le Fay from the King Arthur legend. I want to know the truth about how they were connected, and about Merlin and the Lady of the Lake and the Isle of Apples.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Oh, yeah. I don’t have nearly enough time to explore everything I want to do! I love cooking. I like to experiment with making my own “apothecary” sorts of products: lotions, lip balms, salves, rubs, bath salts…etc.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love fantasy and mystery above all, but I also need comedies and dramas. All-time favorites include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Charmed, and more recently,Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Game of Thrones. In terms of movies, anything that touches on mythology or magic, and anything with Melissa McCarthy.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I can’t live without coffee, iced tea and ice cream.
I adore purple and very deep blues, but am inspired by the whole green-blue-purple array.
I have many music loves: I especially love a woman with powerful pipes and a lot to say. Neko Case, Tori Amos, Adele.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I don’t really know how this would occur. I’m already planning for changing processes when typing so much becomes physically difficult. Other than that I’m just fantasizing and entertaining…I don’t imagine ever stopping entirely. If I’m not writing novels it will be short stories or poems or songs…something. It’s just part of how I tick.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I don’t think I’ll have a headstone. There’s something wrong to me about taking up a piece of land when you’ve passed on. I believe the body is meant to rejoin the earth. More than any accomplishment, I want to be remembered for being a present and loving person while I was here.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
You can visit me and find my latest news at http://jrpearsenelson.com
Thanks for having me here today, Fiona! I had fun!