Coffee Time Romance & More

 

 

 

 

Hey guys. Thank you for joining us at the Coffee Time Romance & More. Today I bring you the lovely Ms. J.R Richardson to discuss her latest release, Cursed Be The Wicked.

So let us begin the interview. Ms. Richardson, thank you so much for taking time out and joining us. Please first help yourself to the yummy sweet and salty goodies in front of you and with your favorite beverage ranging from coffee, tea, and hot chocolate to delicious shakes and smoothies; sit back and make yourself comfortable before I bombard you with questions.

YUM, Mav!  This spread is awesome.  And thanks so much to Coffee Time Romance for having me, today!  I’m excited to be here.

I found this book to be very fascinating and pretty different from what I normally read. Before I get on with the book related questions, please tell us about your book, Cursed Be The Wicked and introduce us to the lead characters?

Thank you Mav.  The story is about Cooper Shaw, who grew up in Salem, Massechusetts.  He’s spend the better part of his life, defining himself, based on the fact that his mother hated him, lost her mind and consequently, killed his father.  So he leaves, town, gets himself a job as a travel writer (so he’s never tied down to any particular place) and assumes a pen name to hide who he really is.

Fate brings him home though, eventually, when he’s assigned to write about Salem’s Festival of the Dead which just happens to coincide with the death of Salem’s currently most famous witch dying . . . who also just happens to be his mother.

After the initial shock of the assignment fades, he tells himself: it’ll be fine.  He’ll go, he’ll get the story, and he’ll leave.

Then he meets Finnley Pierce.

She didn’t live in Salem when he was there but she seems to know more about his family than he does and the more he’s around her, the more he comes to understand, that he doesn’t know as much as he thought he did.

The two of them, together, end up investigating what really happened to his father over 15 years ago.  What they find is each other, and what they learn goes deeper than Coop ever thought. 

I admit each time I thought about the title, my mind automatically read it as Cursed To Be Wicked. I guess that is because this is more common phrase used. So is there a particular story or reason behind this title?

I always thought it was an old saying, honestly, but when I looked it up – I hadn’t quite gotten it right.  It still had a ring to it, though, so I kept it.  Cursed be the Wicked is a play on words for the story also (I pronounce it curse-ed).  He thinks he’s wicked, and therefore cursed to be “labeled” the son of a crazy woman, others think his mom is the wicked one, and therefore cursed to be imprisoned for the rest of her life.  It’s not until the end that we find out who the actual wicked (and cursed) one is.

*True that…*

The POV you used in this book is of the male lead. I have read very few books with a male only POV and that too mostly in YA books. Why did you choose to write the whole book in Cooper’s POV? Was it difficult? Were you tempted at times to switch to Finnley’s POV?

I rather like writing from the man’s POV. Always have. That’s not to say I don’t have fun writing from the female POV as well, but I feel like I identify with the male POV more.  And YES! I was so tempted to write a chapter or ten from Finnley’s perspective. But with this particular story, I wanted the reader to see the situation through Coop’s eyes and see how it would feel to be someone who doesn’t exactly believe in the spirit world or anything that goes along with it, run into this woman who is the embodiment of just that.  How he would react, not having it cross his mind that she might be psychic, or clairvoyant, or witch . . .  whatever you choose to see her as.  Maybe even all three in some way or another.

The questions after reading the book which resonated in my mind are: was Cooper’s mother really a witch? If yes, why didn’t she try to fix everything via magic when she found out the truth? Is there a possibility Coop inherited some of her powers and is he capable of doing magic too? Also the things he forgot were due to her spells or natural suppression of unhappy memories.

She was.  And that being said, she had lost a lot of faith in herself by the time she realized what had gone down.  Maggie’s abilities were very subtle, as it was.  And I don’t believe she felt she had the right to be a part of his life at that point with all the guilt she was dealing with.  But regarding his loss of memory with certain things, a lot of that had to do with spells his aunt had imposed on him, not Maggie’s.  And the longer he was around Finn, and the house the more memories started to resurface.  I like to think Maggie had something to do with that. : )

Are Finnley and her grandmother also witches?

Yes.  It kind of runs in their family, too.  But I like to think she’s so much more than that.

Finnley helped him for some deeper reason then she said and Coop felt they were fated to be together as their relationship progressed. Was it somehow arranged by his mother from beyond?

I think Maggie knew Finn could help him.  I don’t think she saw them falling in love.  That was simply an added bonus for her as a mother.

Why was his aunt prank calling him exactly? I know you explained it but she called him on the B&B line before she even knew he was in town. Somehow I think there was lie somewhere there in her this explanation too.

That was Maggie actually, on the B&B line, from beyond.  *spooky music*

As far as Aunt Liz making her crank calls, she made them in hopes that Coop would think she was his dead mother calling from the grave and freak him out enough to leave town. For reasons. *smiles*

*Spooky it is... Interesting…*

Will you visit this town and characters again sometime in future?

I think for sure, yes. I’ve already written a short prequel one-shot from Finn’s POV that’s posted out on Wattpad for free (I caved, I had to explore her POV).  I feel like there’s more to tell with Maggie & Jack too.  I don’t know when that story will ever surface, but I’d like to write it.

*Oh I will check that POV out too… Bound to be interesting…*

What was the inspiration behind this story? What did the research involve?

The inspiration stemmed from another paranormal story I wrote – from 2 different POVs.  I had a lot of fun writing paranormal, so I started sketching out another one.  Only this time, I wanted to explore a situation where this man, who is a self-proclaimed non-believer in all things supernatural and or paranormal, meets a woman whose life is based on just that.  How would he react to her?  Would he assume she was for real or fake or would something she said or did hit home for him?  How would he deal with that?

From there I decided where I wanted the story to be told.  Salem was the best place I could think of.  And that’s where the witches came in, of course.  There’s always skeptics when it comes to this topic, so I thought it would be great if there was a murder that half the town thought was plain and simple murder, and the other half believed it to be witchery.

Research consisted of reading up on the witch trials from the 1600s, a LOT of Googling about the town and where certain spots were located. I spent a ton of time learning about the Festival of the Dead and how it works, where the events take place and how they’re run.  That was fun. And then of course I read up on the history of some of the city’s lighthouses, too. 

*Research sounds fun* :)

Have you been to Salem and the Festival of the Dead? If yes, tell us your experience of it.

I have not been. BUT WANT TO GO SO BAD now. It’s on my bucket list, and I’m currently trying to work out a visit.  Soon. I cannot wait. I want to visit every place that Finn took Coop and then some.

The last letter had me in tears. Was it hard to write?

Oh my god, yes.  I just put myself in Maggie’s shoes and knew what I’d want my own son to know. It tore me up inside and made me think of my own mom, who’s been gone for a little over 16 years now. It still stings.

*Aww…Sorry to hear about her… I cannot imagine being without my mom so cannot even begin to conceive your pain…*

I love love love the cover. Did you have a hand in choosing it?

Thank you!  Unfortunately I did not have any hand in it, I was just lucky to get Ramona Lockwood assigned to my story and she did a great job setting the mood.

I almost missed the fact that this is your debut novel. Oh my! Your style is certainly different and I hardly felt I was reading debut novel. Tell us about your journey to getting published. Any problems you faced?

That’s a huge compliment, Mav. THANK YOU.

I’ve written short stories, poems and in journals since I was in Middle School.  I’ve always enjoyed writing in some form or another, making up stories for characters, creating dramatic situations for them and then figuring out how to get them out of those situations.  Over the last 20 years or so, though, I tried to write at least 6 or 7 books, but it wasn’t until I got involved in writing for the online community called fanfiction that I actually finished a story.  I think it’s a great way for anyone who writes to just have some fun and meet great people while they’re at it. It helped me become a better writer and I’ve been able to find my own style and voice through the platform. 

My husband often encouraged me to write my own characters while I was doing it, and one day, I decide he was right.  So I did.   It took me a lot longer, obviously, to write a story that would be worthy of actual publishing, between re-writes and edits, plot twists and more re-writes - it took almost a year.  To add to that, I have that husband I mentioned, plus two girls that need my support and a full time job so writing for me has always been worked around my life, not the other way around.

I can’t say I ran into actual problems, but the waiting for responses, and the rejections, and the more waiting made me a little bonkers.  When Debby from Soul Mate Publishing wrote to say she enjoyed the story so much that she wanted to offer me a contract, I about fell out of my chair. 

*Hehehe… I can guess… You persisted and you achieved… Husbands like yours are a blessing for any author…* :D

What did you do to overcome any problems like writer’s block, brainstorming, editing etc.? Any advice for other newbies?

I got very blocked in the middle of Cursed.  I tell this story a lot – but it’s true – I wrote another story – a short one – a fluffy one – and when I was done, I was more than ready to get back to Coop & Finn. It just kind of makes you not think so much.  I finished the 2nd half of the book in a about two and a half months whereas the first half took me about six.  Other things I do when the blockage isn’t as bad as that: exercising (treadmill most of the time) or showers (funny enough) or listening to my playlist or even just re-reading what I’ve got so far, to get me back in the head of my character(s).

Advice for newbies:  get yourself a circle of trust and then just write. The worst thing that could happen is – you re-work it later.  Your people will help guide you. I promise. And never stop trying!

*Great advice… Thanks* :)

Who are some of your favorite authors?  What, if any, influence have these authors had on your writing? 

I’m pretty much in love with Jim Butcher and his Harry Dresden series.  He’s the first author I ever came across that taught me it’s okay to be sarcastic when you write.  He also taught me that proper grammar doesn’t have to be the rule of thumb.

I really enjoy Sarah Addison Allen, too, because like me, she’s very subtle when she writes about magic or the supernatural. So good, this woman.

Did you take any classes that helped you with your writing? Do you have a mentor, writing group, critique group? Or was it all by trial and error?

I’ve taken a few online courses through RWA (most of them are FREE and the ones that aren’t are very cheap).   They’re fun to sit in on and there’s always something to learn.

I’m not sure if this counts as the type of writing group you’re referring to, but I am part of a group of authors I’ve met through the publishing process.  We blog hop once a week on Tuesdays, chatting about writing, romance, and writing romance – it’s called ROMANCE WEEKLY and it is BIG FUN. I highly recommend everyone to join a group like this. 

And yes, I have a few people in my life that read and critique for me.  They are priceless in this process and I trust them with my life.

*The group sounds fun. Will sure check it out*

What does J.R stand for? Why not keep a full name instead of initials?

J is for Jo, that’s my first name and the R. is for my middle name which I refuse to share because I’m not crazy about it. Sorry Mom. I don’t know why I chose J.R. instead of just going with Jo Richardson – I might go that route next time, I don’t know.  It just seemed more authorly and professional, I suppose.

*LoL… You got me curious now… Am in a mood of playing a guessing game…* :-P

Tell us something funny about you, your family, friends or life in general.

I threw my shoulder out once playing air guitar with my daughter.

*Ouch!*

Five things readers should know about you?

I might have mentioned, I like to write sarcasm into my characters.

Even when I’m telling a dramatic story, I find a way to add some humor into some of the situations.

I’m obsessed with the T.V. show SUPERNATURAL.

I like chocolate. A lot.

Like a lot of my characters, I don’t let people into my heart very often but when I do, I do it for life.

*Loveee sarcasm. SUPERNATURAL is awesome!*

What would you be doing if not writing?

Spending time with my girls and my husband, seeing friends, visiting other friends and family up north, reading, movie-going, beaching it or watching my girls in their various sports activities. Oh, and house work. Pfft. Blech.

*Hehe… Housework is the bane of our lives…*

How would you differ or describe a character driven story vs plot driven story?

Character driven, I feel, is more about that person’s journey and who they are, or maybe, who they become, throughout the story. If you take Coop out of this story, for example, there is no story.  Whereas plot driven is more about the story itself.  The story is its own character. 

I read once where plot driven was compared to THE LORD OF THE RINGS and character driven was more like IRON MAN or BATMAN.  That cleared it all up for me.

*Makes sense. Never thought of it that way. Wow.*

What makes you happy/sad/giddy (aside from writing and getting published)? *winks*

Happy:  My girls. Not gonna lie.

Sad:  When bad things happening to good people.

Giddy: Vacations. : )

Any pet peeves in regular life?

I can’t stand it when someone looks over my shoulder and watches me while I work.

*OMG! So true! I am unable to do anything if someone is watching over my shoulder. Used to make things very difficult during tests & exams when the teacher used to stand next to me and looking over my shoulder. Tried my best to hide the paper and write at the same time. LoL*

Any other writing projects you are currently working on? Are they same genre as Cursed Be the  Wicked?

I am!  I have two stories that tend to struggle for my attention – they’re both on more of the comedic side and neither of them are paranormal.  I can’t wait to get them written.  I’m trying to focus on one more than the other so I can get ONE finished at least.  And am hoping for that to happen by the end of this year.  That’s my goal. 

*Best of Luck. Looking forward to it.*

A little birdie told me there a special sale expected of Cursed Be The Wicked. Can you tell our readers if it is true and where they can avail it?

YES!  There is a Cursed be the Wicked sale going on from June 1 through 3 – just 99 cents on amazon here

*Do check it out guys. This book is definitely worth a look.*

Any last comments or message for all your readers out there and us, here at Coffee Time Romance and More?

I just want to thank you so much for taking the time to read Cursed, Mav. It means a lot and I’m very happy that you enjoyed it –

I’d also love to plug Romance Weekly’s huge giveaway that we’re doing right now if I’m allowed.   Grand prize is a 16GB KINDLE FIRE, 2nd prize is a $50 amazon.com gift card, we have a bundle of signed paperbacks as well as a ton of other eBook titles to giveaway.  We’re hoping it will help spread the word on new and newish authors in the writing world.

You can join here if you want for all the details:

https://www.facebook.com/events/773431862675366/

Thank you so much Ms. Richardson for taking time out to spend time with us here at Coffee Time Romance & More and giving us more insight to your life, books and writing. I hope you will join us again. Best of luck and success to you. Readers I hope you also enjoyed as much as I did. Thank you for your time. We would love to hear your feedback especially if you end up getting the book. See you next time with another great author.

 

 

 

 

 

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