Lainey: Good Evening to all of our Coffee Time Readers. I am pleased to present our featured author tonight for a live interview during a private chat session. Welcome Jana Oliver.
Lainey: I would like to start our evening off with you telling us all the latest news you have happening in your writing career. I know there is something special *grins*
Jana: Well, to be honest it's been an awesome couple of weeks. My first book in the Time Rovers Series (SOJOURN) finaled for a Foreword Award.
Lainey: Can you tell us a bit more about that Award?
Jana: Foreword Magazine offers awards in numerous categories to honor independent publishing. SOJOURN finaled in science fiction along with three other authors from Dragon Moon Press. My publisher is popping champagne, I can tell you. The awards ceremony is held at Book Expo American in NYC the first weekend of June. Alas, I can't attend as I'll be in Dallas that weekend at a convention.
Lainey: Will anyone be accepting your award for you then?
Jana: I have no idea!!! Probably a janitor. *smiles* I should plan head on that score just in case I hit the jackpot.
Lainey: Hmm maybe this is when you should beam over from one place to another, accept the award and go back to where you were originally not quite Time Traveling but you get the idea *smiles*
Jana: You know, there are days I wish I had my heroine's time traveling capabilities. I wouldn't want the side effects, though. I already eat way more chocolate than is good for me. I look forward to the day when we have point-to-point transfer. I'm not fond of flying.
Lainey: Well I sort of did set you up there to introduce your Time Travel series a little bit but CHOCOLATE is always good no matter what.
Jana: Chocolate is what holds the world together. Some folks say gravity or duct tape. Don't believe 'em. It's chocolate.
The Time Rover Series tells the tale of Jacynda Lassiter, a Senior Time Rover from 2057. She's reaching the end of her career as time travel has increasingly affected her mind (her delusions are quite colorful). She's been sent to Victorian London (1888) to help find a missing tourist and in the process gets caught up in a huge conspiracy to overthrow the British government.
The twist to the stories is the Transitives, mysterious shape-shifters who can mimic any form. You never know who you're talking to and whether that person is friend or foe. The first book (SOJOURN) was published May 2006 and the next in the series just went to the publisher. VIRTUAL EVIL will be out in Oct. 2007. I'm so excited!!!
Lainey: Did you want to tell us about Virtual Evil a little bit now too then?
Jana: Second books can be tricky. You've set up this wonderful world in the first book, but you have to carry the story through and not bore the reader. That was the challenge with VIRTUAL EVIL as the first three books comprise a full story arc. The best way to describe VE, as we call it, is that everything goes to Hades in a hand basket. Seriously bad stuff.
The relationship between Jacynda and her two swains (quaint word, isn't it?) becomes more complex. Alastair Montrose, the altruistic young physician is blindingly in love with her. His best friend (Detective Sergeant Jonathon Keats) is also smitten with Jacynda and therein lies the hassle. Two guys care for a woman who cannot commit to a relationship in 1888 and keep her job (which is her raison d'être).
And for those readers who've been dying to know more about the shifters, we get into their "world". Some of them are quite benign, some quite deadly. The book's name comes from a type of shifter known as a Virtual.
Lainey: May I ask a quick question here for readers new to the series? What ages are your main characters?
Jana: Jacynda is 29, Alastair 30, Jonathon is 32. I usually write about older characters (being an older one myself) but that's the age they said they were.
Lainey: Ah so your characters speak directly to you then, very nice.
Jana: My characters do talk to me. It's that voices in the head thing. I'm just their scribe. They tell me what to write and I do it, even if I think they're making hideous mistakes.
Lainey: Actually I have a theory on that believe it or not about writers who suddenly have a character just come to them in full story.
Jana: Characters appear out of the blue. They love to shock the author. It's strange how an author's mind works. You'll write in an umbrella in the second chapter and somehow it becomes pivotal at the end of the book. You had no clue how important that umbrella was when you wrote it, but your subconscious did. I don't claim to understand it. It's just magic.
Lainey: When you started writing you self published, is that correct?
Jana: I did start as a self-published author. I chose to self publish as I wanted to learn the business the hard way and self-publishing is one of the most difficult means of putting your book(s) under a reader's nose. My first book came out in 2001 and at that time self-pub was still considered an admittance that your work sucked. Thankfully, that stigma has lessened over the years.
What I learned was that to become a successful author you need to write really good books and promote the dickens out of yourself. You really need both elements. So I got out and met readers, learned what they liked about my writing, what they didn't and applied myself to improving my stories. In 2005, Dragon Moon Press decided my crazy idea involving time travelers, shape-shifters and Jack the Ripper was just what they needed. SOJOURN was my first traditionally-published book and I'm very proud of it.
Lainey: Is there anything that I have not asked about yet you would like your readers to know about, anything fun or interesting? *grins*
Jana: Readers ask me why I have a ferret in my books. It's simple -- I bought a stuffed black-footed ferret at a KOA Campground during the RWA Convention. He was just SO cute. I was writing SOJOURN at the time. My heroine has very few friends and so I decided she should have a stuffed critter as a companion. I named him Ferret Fred and he accompanies me to book signings and conventions. Kids love him. Really love him. That's been a problem.
Lainey: Now it sounds like Fred likes to stay with you and only you no one else can be his owner, including children *grins*
Jana: Trying to explain to a wee one that the pretty "kitty" doesn't want to go home with him/her can be an issue. I often hear from readers who own ferrets and we swap stories. I don't have a live ferret (the cat might find that far too intriguing) but someday I might. In the meantime, I donate to a wildlife foundation that introduces black-footed ferrets into the wild. The ferret I adopted is named Harry (Potter) *smiles* In the books Ferret Fred is clad in full Victorian garb (cutaway coat, waistcoat, top hat, cane, etc.) I draw the line at sewing garments for stuffed ferrets. That's a little too.... weird.
Lainey: Oh My I bet your readers love that though it definitely fits the Victorian era and they would dress up their animals didn't they back then?
Jana: I'm sure someone dressed up their animals. It was such a gilded age. Fred ends up with his outfit as a joke, but somehow it really fits.
Lainey: I am sure he appreciates the love and care you give him and his fame in the printed word for prosperity *smiles*
Jana: He does get a lot of frequent flyer miles. Fortunately, the airline security people haven't done anything nasty to him (yet). He'll be going with me to England in October for the UK Jack the Ripper Conference. World traveler, old Fred.
Lainey: Oh that sounds wonderful and better than a Roaming Gnome for sure, I can see pictures of him dressed and in front of famous places in my head.
Jana: I've been thinking of getting pictures of Fred with famous people. That would be fun. If I'd had a brain I would have gotten a picture of him with Kim Harrison last summer. Finally met the lady. Awesome writer.
Lainey: Maybe that will be the next "thing" to do I bet your readers would love a little blog or something with pics on it to show his adventures with the stories.
Jana: We're going to be creating a full-blown Time Rovers website so folks can send in stories and artwork and such about the Rovers. I'm sure there'll be some stories about Fred as well. The Rovers, you see, are celebrities in 2057 *smiles*
Lainey: Fantastic so that is other upcoming news for everyone to hear about I am happy to hear you are going to do that.
Jana: I have my website (janaoliver.com) which is more about my writing and the Victorian Era. I want the Time Rovers site to be something completely different. Something fun and always changing. A site where folks will want to check back to see what's new.
Lainey: Do you have a MySpace too or would you set one up for your Time Rovers?
Jana: I have a MySpace, but I'm just figuring out how all that works. I'm a definite newbie on that. I ran into the deadline on the current book so I had to step back until it was done. Now that's off to the publisher I can play! *smiles*
Lainey: That is fantastic but yes you probably could promote your Time Rovers there or set up their own site maybe with Fred as a key blogger? *laughs*
Jana: That's a great idea -- have Fred as the main man. If folks want to get an idea of what my writer's life is like, I have a blog at www.janaoliver.blogspot.com. Fair warning -- I do air a few political views out there. If you don't want to know what I think about that, just skip over those entries and read the other good stuff.
The best way to reach me is via email at: jgoliver (at) magespell.com I do answer emails which has surprised more than one reader. I'm always interested in readers' views of my characters and life in general.
Lainey: I am sorry for keeping you here so long talking but it has been a great time with you Jana, I enjoyed it. Is there anything else you would like to add on here before we close our chat interview out?
Jana: I've thoroughly enjoyed this as well. I'd just like to thank all those intrepid readers out there who keep us authors in paper and ink cartridges. If you didn't buy our books we'd have to get real jobs *winks*
Lainey: I want to thank you so much Jana for taking time out of your evening schedule though I must say I had a lot of fun, I hope you did too.
Jana: Thanks for having me. And Fred tips his top hat in your direction.
Lainey: Well Cheerio to you too Fred and thanks for coming by with Jana. I will see you out the door *grins*