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?
Juliette Harper “I” am actually two people. Rana K. Williamson and Patricia Pauletti. Let’s just say we both remember the moon landing. 🙂
Fiona: Where are you from?
Rana is a Texan and Patti is from Massachusetts.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Rana: I am a former journalist and university history instructor. My parents are deceased. I have one sister, and two exceptionally fine gray tomcats, Mickey and Andy.
Patti: I’ve had a few finance industry positions as well as being a piano teacher for more than 30 years.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Juliette’s most exciting news is that we’ve signed a contract with Glenfinnan Publishing for the release of the second edition of our Jinx Hamilton series and the debut of its spin-off, The Seneca Chronicles.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Rana: I began writing in the fourth grade for a class contest. Those first stories were blatant rip-offs of Saturday afternoon movies. By high school, I wrote a column for our local paper and competed in interscholastic writing contests. I majored in journalism for my bachelor’s degree, and suffered through writing both a master’s thesis and a dissertation. Oddly enough, turning my hand to fiction scared me more than any of that.
Patti: My storytelling experience began as a child. I was always creating interesting characters and situations in my head. It didn’t take long before I started writing those things down on paper. I have always had a fairly busy and inventive imagination.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Rana: Sometime in the last three or four years I started identifying myself to others as an author or writer. Before that I thought of myself as someone who could get words down on the page, but I didn’t really “self-identity” as an author.
Patti: I announced to my family that I was a famous author when I was about 10.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Rana: Actually, Patti came up with the idea for our first book, so I’ll let her tell you about that.
Patti: Our first book, which by the way isn’t published, involved zombies. With my music background I thought it would be cool to have music influence zombie behavior. The plot evolved into a great adventure that I have no doubt we will eventually publish.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Since the plot revolves around music, we chose the word “Fermata” for the title. It’s a musical notation that means a note is prolonged beyond its usual value.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Most of our books tend to be in first-person voice. We like to build a connection between the protagonist and the reader. More recently we’ve started switching between first and third-person in the same manuscripts, which can be tricky, but we’ve found what we think is the correct rhythm for the alternating narration. It’s challenging and fun to tackle.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, we write fantasy and neither of us has ever actually met a vampire, werecat, or witch — at least not that we knew about.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No, we only travel the fantasy worlds we create in our heads for our writing.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
We’ve worked extensively with The Cover Collection. Dar Albert is doing our covers for the Glenfinnan releases and we think they’re fantastic!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Patti: Yes. Women are powerful creatures.
Rana: What she said — and many of our stories consider issues of free will and the natural order.
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?
Rana: Frankly, it’s hard to keep up with all the interesting new writers who now have a chance to be heard thanks to self-publishing. As for favorite writers, I like Jim Butcher’s fantasy novels and consider his work a direct influence. Then there’s Laurell K. Hamilton and Karen Marie Moning, but I also enjoy a good adventure with Clive Cussler. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are an amazing duo. Their Pendergast novels are high on my list. All of these authors are superb at crafting relatable characters and intricate plots, skills I admire tremendously.
Patti: I just downloaded The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith. The premise of magic crossing into the world of winemaking captured my interest as something fresh and provocative. For favorites, I’ve always been a big fan of Stephen King and Paula Hawkins. Both are intricate thinkers that weave plot twists into their books that hit you right in the face. I think they get to the core of human behavior, good and bad. I also read extensively in the field of non-fiction because I’m an information hound.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Rana: Honestly, I kept largely quiet about our first forays into fiction for fear of looking silly. My childhood friend, Brenda, appointed herself head of the Juliette Harper fan club, but truly her husband has read more of our books and is an honest critic. I had two amazing teachers, Nancy Hagood Walker and Paula Cozort who continue to encourage my writing all these years later.
Patti: The Indie community has been the greatest support network for us. Their generosity and friendship has kept our writing going from the beginning. Working with Suzan Tisdale and her team at Glenfinnan Publishing is an incredibly affirming experience, and we also have received fantastic encouragement from Melissa Storm and Leighann Dobbs.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Rana: Absolutely. This is what I always saw myself as doing, I simply took a winding path to get here and am so lucky to do this with a creative, supportive writing partner who always pushes our work to the next level.
Patti: I plan to continue my writing until my last breath. I’m fortunate that I’m in a place in my life where I can do this work full-time, which is something of a dream come true.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
On October 29 our book Once Upon Nevermore, the first installment of the Jinx Hamilton spinoff series The Seneca Chronicles will debut. While we might not change anything in how the book turned out, we would handle the interwoven threads in a different manner. We dealt with dragons, time artifacts, Edgar Allan Poe, and a literary war in the Otherworld. There’s even more complicated twists, but we don’t want to spoil anything for our readers. Going into the second book in the series, The Never Wood, we are planning and executing the plot threads in a completely different way — essentially writing each one as a separate story before going back and combining them to create the narrative whole.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Our process continues to evolve and at times even to elude us after almost 30 manuscripts. While we are getting much better at pre-writing a first draft and working from those notes, there are still times that a book simply will head off in a different, unexpected direction. Our work is research intensive. We often find a new, esoteric detail that derails all our careful planning. We are finally learning that while process is absolutely necessary, you have to retain sufficient spontaneity to go with great ideas when they materialize.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Rana: Patti and I often disagree on this because my tastes run to “old” Hollywood. It’s a little difficult to drag me out of the 1940s under the best of circumstances. I do think Tom Mison who played Ichabod Crane on the series Sleepy Hollow would make a wonderful Edgar Allan Poe. As for our character, Jinx Hamilton, I see a young Susan Sarandon type. Of course, most of the people Patti likes, I’ve never even heard of.
Patti: I’d love to see Daniel Day Lewis play Edgar Allan Poe, but I understand he has retired, so that won’t happen. For Jinx Hamilton I think Amy Adams would be perfect.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Rana: Don’t listen to the people who tell you that writing is a good hobby, but you’ll never make a living at it. Self-publishing has rightfully blown that old saw right out of the water.
Patti: It is tremendously easy to give up writing when you aren’t getting feedback or don’t have someone to bat ideas back at you. A writing partnership gets around so much of that. Solo writers have to fight off discouragement and writer’s block. Don’t doubt yourself or your creativity. Do what you do best even on the hard days.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
A simple and heartfelt, “Thank you.” An author can certainly write without an audience. Journal writers do it every day, but we create these stories and worlds to share. The feedback and appreciation of our readers is something we value tremendously and do not take for granted.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Rana: I have several books in progress right now, which is normal for me. Clive Cussler’s Treasure of Khan is the one I keep picking up first.
Patti: In addition to the The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith, I’m also reading Ruth Heidrich’s A Race for Life. I always have one non-fiction book and one fiction book going at the same time.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Rana: My parents were very good about keeping me well stocked with little story books. The first book I remember reading was a paperback I bought through some sort of school program for a quarter. It involved three kids at a haunted summer home, but I don’t recall the title.
Patti: I never actually read a book before being adopted at the age of nine. My new adopted parents gave me a wonderful book of fairy tales. It was the first time I had ever heard of Snow White, Cinderella, and Pinocchio. My mind was blown. Those stories were the first that ignited my own desire to create worlds. Once I began to read, I started to believe that anything you could imagine was possible. I continue to believe that to this day.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Rana: My cats make me laugh daily. I enjoy clever humor and word play. As for crying, all it takes for me to tear up is a bugle blowing “Taps.” Those sad, mournful notes get me every time.
Patti: I struggle daily with needing to know what’s going on in the world, and not wanting to know. There are stories of kindness and human compassion but mixed in are stories of the ugliness of which humans are capable. I probably cry and laugh every day depending on the information to which my brain is exposed. Finding a way to laugh more than cry can be difficult. Oh, and I do have a mini-poodle named Otis that seems to make everything better just being adorable.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Rana: Again, the list is long, but Amelia Earhart and Louisa May Alcott are definitely on the list.
Patti: Katharine Hephurn. I relate to her. My husband has known me since I was twelve years old, and says I’ve always had spunk. I can’t think of anyone who has more spunk than me, except Katharine Hephurn.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Rana: I’m an amateur photographer.
Patti: I studied as a child to be a concert pianist. Playing piano has been a lifelong passion.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Rana: That would be a long list for me. It all started with Dark Shadows. Currently I’m binge watching all twelve seasons of The Murdoch Mysteries.
Patti: The Crown, All old movies on Turner Classic Movies. Game of Thrones, The Voice.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Rana: Favorite food would have to be Chile rellenos, favorite color gray, and music Western Swing.
Patti: Favorite food is pasta, favorite color is yellow and favorite music is hard because I love just about every genre except rap.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Rana: The only answer to not writing is to keep reading.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live, how would you spend that time?
Rana: I’m not someone who makes bucket lists. If I had only 24 hours to live, I’d speak with a few cherished friends to say good-bye, ensure that my cats would be well cared for after my demise, and perhaps write a few letters. It is highly likely I would spend that time alone, perhaps looking through photos and remembering. If I haven’t done or said the things that matter in life before my last day then I’ve wasted everything that came before.
Patti: This isn’t difficult, spending it with my family.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Rana: Since I am the last in my family, I’ve thought about this: Here Lies Rana K. Williamson, PhD, Writer and Cat Lady.
Patti: She Lived.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes, interested readers can find us at www.julietteharper.com .
Witch in Waiting: Book One of the Jinx Hamilton Mystery Series
Once Upon Nevermore: The Seneca Chronicles Book One
Moonstone: A Jinx Hamilton / Wrecking Crew Novella
Merstone: A Jinx Hamilton / Wrecking Crew Novella
Descendants of the Rose – The Selby Jensen Paranormal Mysteries Book 1
Blood Marked – The Selby Jensen Paranormal Mysteries Book 2
You Can’t Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet – The Study Club Mysteries Book 1
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