Today's author spotlight is a writer that has been around for a while. though normally known for her bestselling new adult series, she's been branching her way into other
genres for quite some time now, finally making her way into the world of horror and
I'm a long time reader of Jamie's work, both horror and romance, and adore her style--in both genres, and of course it's always good to welcome a new voice into horror. Especially a female one.
Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She attended Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.
Jamie paved the way for the New Adult genre with the international bestseller Beautiful Disaster. Her follow-up novel, Walking Disaster, debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Beautiful Oblivion, book one of the Maddox Brothers series, also topped the New York Times bestseller list, debuting at #1. In 2015, books two and three of the Maddox Brothers series, Beautiful Redemption and Beautiful Sacrifice, respectively, also topped the New York Times, as well as a Beautiful series novella, Something Beautiful.
Novels also written by Jamie McGuire include: apocalyptic thriller and 2014 UtopYA Best Dystopian Book of the Year, Red Hill; the Providence series, a young adult paranormal romance trilogy; Apolonia, a dark sci-fi romance; and several novellas, including A Beautiful Wedding, Among Monsters, Happenstance: A Novella Series, and Sins of the Innocent.
Jamie is the first indie author in history to strike a print deal with retail giant Wal-Mart. Her self-published novel, Beautiful Redemption hit Wal-Mart shelves in September, 2015.
Jamie lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado with her husband, Jeff, and their three children.
Find Jamie at www.jamiemcguire.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Tsu, and Instagram.
Claire - Jamie, you used to be better known for your New Adult series Beautiful Disaster and its subsequent books, but you’re now an eclectic writer of many different genres, branching into both paranormal romance and apocalyptic horror. Which is awesome fyi
Of course all genres have their own difficulties, but of all of the genres that you have written in, which have you found the most difficult, and why?
Jamie - My sci-fi romance Apolonia was very difficult, mostly because the characters attended a university much like MIT, and were a lot smarter than me. I had to research things like astrophysics, astrobiology, and electromagnetism. The dialog and description required a great deal of research because—despite a moderate expectation for the suspension of belief—the characters had to be believable. Students intelligent enough to attend a private research university focusing on science and technology have to be knowledgeable according to my character development and setting. For them to know what they were talking about, I had to know what they were talking about first—or at least gather enough information to be convincing!
Claire - The Maddox brothers must of course have a firm place in your heart, but which other character(s) have stuck with you the most?
Jamie - Scarlet from Red Hill because she is a single mother (as I was at the time when I developed the idea) who fought fiercely to see her children again when they were separated during the zombie apocalypse, and my first family, the Ryels from the Providence trilogy. Jared’s seventeen year-old sister Claire is a hybrid angel, she is quite cranky about it, and she is a bad ass.
Claire – Red Hill was your first venture into the realms of horror and the zompoc world (welcome to the darkside btw! Mwua ha ha) what led to your decision to finally take the plunge and branch into such a dark genre?
Jamie - I was raised Baptist, so End Times was part of my upbringing. Ha! I am also obsessed with horror flicks and zombies, and have been since I was a child. One of my mother’s three jobs was managing the local video rental store, so I grew up with uncles Michael Myers and Freddie Kruger, and my dog, Cujo. Ellen Ripley (aka Sigourney Weaver of Aliens) was and will always be my hero. Red Hill was my first stab at horror, and then I wrote Among Monsters, the companion novella. While readers may find my brand of horror atypical in that the stories are more character-driven instead of world building and gore, they are so far my favorite books that I’ve published, because of both the writing and the storyline.
Claire – It was a big jump for not just you, but your readers also. How did they take the initial news of you writing a apocalyptic novel?
Jamie - I’d written the Providence trilogy, a YA paranormal where action increased with each novel (also leading to a possible apocalypse), and the Beautiful series contained violence. Horror and apocalyptic thrillers are genres I’ve always felt familiar with because they are topics I find entertaining, so I don’t feel it was that big of a leap for me. However, it was a surprise, I think, for my readers. Many of them were hesitant because they don’t prefer to read horror. They read romance novels to feel a lot of things, but never afraid (not to the extent that they’re turning on the lights and locking their doors, anyway). I tried to write Red Hill and Among Monsters in a way that would appeal to my readers, and by the feedback I feel I’ve achieved that. Two years later, a regular fan will message me and say, “I’ve finally found the courage to read Red Hill. I can’t believe I waited this long!” My readers are the ones who take the leap, and I appreciate it each time someone does.
Claire – Do you have plans to write any more books in this genre?
Jamie - I do plan to write a sequel to Red Hill. I may turn it into a series.
Claire – Are you a prepper with an apocalypse plan in place, or are you just going to wing it?
Jamie - I’m a prepper. I have a bug out bag, weapons, ammo, and I even built my previous house with zombies in mind. I actually own a machete. Our pool house had no windows on the lower floor and a lookout upstairs. We had a stocked provisions closet, but I haven’t been that obsessive since we moved to Colorado. I don’t know, I guess I feel that since we’re in a mountain town with a small population, we have a better chance. The bugout bags are still ready and hanging in my closet, though.
Claire – What’s your apocalypse theme song?
Jamie - Eye of the Tiger. For everything, always. Running, long road trips, sex, stabbing zombies with screwdrivers … you bet.
Claire – You’re currently working on the next in your Maddox brothers series, but what can your readers expect after this?
Jamie - I don’t know. Ha! It feels so strange to say that. After Beautiful Burn releases on January 31, this will be first time in six years I don’t have a next release date (or five). I’ve decided to take it easy and work a couple of hours a day on a YA project called All the Little Lights that I’m considering pitching to a publishing house, and another adult romance (read: not erotica) series called Other Lives, and then possibly a few sequels for Red Hill and the Maddox brothers books. In the near future I’m going to begin chronicling the daily life of Travis and Abby Maddox on Wattpad. Is that taking it easy? Maybe not. We’ll see.
Claire – I know you stated recently that you were hoping to scale back your writing work this year in the hopes of more family time and less stress, but as writers we tend to never really shut off from our worlds, so how realistic do you think this is?
Jamie - Well, three days after I posted that, I was watching Making a Murderer with my husband, and with panic in my heart, turned to him and said, “I should be writing.” I’m not sure once writers start putting out multiple releases a year we can slow down, but we must. At least I must. I still have young children at home who change every day, and I don’t want to miss it.
Claire – The Indie world has been transforming over the years, do you think it is becoming stronger, or do you believe it is beginning to wane? Where once its supportive structure was built on each writer’s desire to push each other onwards, do you think it’s becoming more ‘dog eat dog’.
Jamie - Let me start with a very frank assessment of our current situation: thousands of indie books per day are being churned out unedited and unprofessionally packaged for .99 or less. When I first started in 2009, we had fewer resources, but still most authors strived to produce books that could not be distinguished from the books released by publishing houses. That was how we strengthened the indie market. This is not to affront anyone struggling to pay an editor or cover designer, but the current indie market is suffering from a professionalism problem that has become a saturation problem. An author recently shared with me that she was offended about my stance that published books should be edited. Because so many authors hastily click Publish, reader money is spread among millions instead of thousands, and readers are being conditioned—by authors—to feel like a book priced anything over .99 is expensive. If your book, professionally edited, packaged, and marketed is priced at $2.99 and readers say they will wait to buy until it “goes on sale”, that’s proof that we have a pricing concern in the indie world. If your book isn’t worth more than a dollar, it might behove you to spend more time making certain that it is.
The explosion of indie books is a good thing in that readers have a huge range of books to choose from at many different prices. We’re currently seeing negative changes because few authors are able to make a living, or they’re making significantly less. Piracy, loose retailer rules for returning fully or mostly read eBooks, and price conditioning feed the problem. At any other job, if an employee experiences a cut in pay, they may find a second job or another job entirely. But if you love your job? If it’s your talent and something you’re driven to do? That kind of desperation—especially if you’ve quit your nine-to-five job to be a full-time writer—comes with wanting to provide for your family, needing to satisfy the need to create, and tasting the freedom that comes with being self-employed can breed feelings such as resentment, jealousy, and guilt. Under stress, people can react to things like the success of their peers in a way they might not normally.
Sure, there are authors out there who display those frustrations, but success comes from building each other up instead of focusing on excuses and blame, and there are a lot of successful indie authors. The current model of self-publishing is still in its infancy, and it’s going through some growing pains. But, it’s not going anywhere. Indie is here to stay.
Claire – What’s the best writing advice that you’ve been given over the years?
Jamie - Author Jessica Park told me very early in my career to never ‘accept all changes’ during the editing process. The only way for your writing to grow and improve is to notice what changes your editor makes and learn why. I am far from a literary author with perfect grammar, but my writing improves with each book because I pay attention to every red mark. Following that advice has helped me to acknowledge and trim my crutch words and phrases, to build a better sentence, and to recognize that just because what I write makes sense to me, it might not be clear to the reader. I’ve also learned that just because a sentence is ‘correct’ doesn’t make it beautiful. There has to be balance.
The most important advice I was given was about the business of writing. I was told to create a business banking account, to keep my book income separate, and to always save more than I needed for taxes. Those invaluable pieces of knowledge have saved me a lot of stress.
Find more about Jamie
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Happy reading my little book whores!
Your zombie loving Queen -
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