Monday, July 2, 2012

TBR welcomes Judith Graves

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Judith, and thanks for being the July Featured Author. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Judith: Sure, by day I’m a school library technician and by night / lunch breaks / whenever I’m a young adult paranormal fiction author. I live in a small northern Alberta town with my husband and our three crazy labs.

TBR: Tell us about Second Skin and where it's available.
Judith: The second book in my SKINNED series, Second Skin, was released this year and hopefully keeping readers up late at night, because the big bad that my main character, Eryn, a shapeshifter and monster hunter, has to take down is none other than a demon who feeds off the fear induced by our nightmares.

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.

With FIENDS like Eryn…
Monsters. Bloodsuckers. The evil. The damned. Eryn McCain knows they exist— she’s been hunting them since she was a child. At sixteen, she’s ready to take on all comers. Being a shapeshifter gives her an advantage when it comes to her unusual part-time job. The hours suck and the pay is, well, non-existent, but bonuses like inhuman strength and night vision make tracking scary beasties a dream come true. Especially in a town like Redgrave.
When an ancient demon targets Redgrave High, Eryn and her crew of hunters must face their innermost fears to prevent the Harvest Moon Dance from becoming one serious Monster Mash. Loyalties are tested and temptations abound. With questions ever brewing, can Eryn share a future with the brooding, noble, human Alec—the hunter after her heart? Or will she succumb to her enemy’s son, Wade, a seductive predator as bloodthirsty as she is?
What happens when you’re both the beauty and the beast?

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Judith: In the first book in the SKINNED series, Under My Skin, I introduce Eryn, a girl with many secrets, her crew of misfit hunters, and the world of Redgrave, the small northern Alberta town in which they live – one that, it turns out, is anything but normal. The cast is in place, the villains are identified, or so we think. In Second Skin the stakes are higher and Eryn’s greatest fears come to life. She faces the age-old flight-or-fight response, but in Eryn’s case the biggest, baddest monster she has to battle is herself.

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Judith: Plotter all the way. I figure out the world and the characters, work with notecards, character sketches, whiteboards, and even select tunes to write by before I type a single word. I pantsed through the first draft of Under My Skin, and ended up doing seven major revisions to get the story right. Now I save time by doing the hard work – the digging deep and diving into the story work – FIRST.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still unexpected twists when I do settle in to write, but the overall arc of the story and the motives of the characters remain intact.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Judith: I visualize each character as a real person and have a character card with key information for each cast member. If characters are being written into the story, they’re worth spending some time to get to know. Even the beasties the crew hunt have quirks and killer personalities. I don’t believe in redshirts.

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Judith: In general: I have a few mottoes I live by: If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. You are what you do. And my fav: Amor Vincit Omnia – Latin for “Love conquers all” (I have that one tattooed above my ankle).

TBR: Did any music inspire your book? Do you have a playlist?
Judith: As a singer/songwriter, music and words have always co-existed, so yes, I have a playlist for each project. As the story takes place near Halloween, Second Skin had a bunch of fun, cheesy, and just plain creepy tunes that I listened to while writing. Everything from “Monster Mash” to Rob Zombie’s “Boogie Man”, but the key tune – Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”

TBR: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Judith: Wade. This vampire / witch combo and potential love interest for Eryn might be HOT, but he’s no Edward. I’d likely end up on the menu.

TBR: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
Judith: That the writing process is both addictive and as frustrating as hell. And no one can get it done but you.

TBR: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Judith: The main paranormal characters in the SKINNED series, Eryn and her crew of hunters, are hybrids. They’re blends of various paranorms and thus have to learn to handle/ battle with their dual natures. Their powers are unpredictable. The series doesn’t just focus on Eryn’s development; each character has challenges to face, sides to choose.

TBR: What's next for you?
Judith: I’m finishing the third book in the series, Skin Of My Teeth, as well as working on the first book in my new steampunk / paranormal series, Strangeways Versus The Blood Brothers. I’m also co-writing a very cool series, MOST-WANTED MONSTERS with the brilliant and sassy, Dawn Dalton. The first book, Killer’s Instinct is due out late 2013ish.

TBR: Any other published works?
Judith: There’s the first book in the SKINNED series, Under My Skin, as well as the prequel tale to STRANGEWAYS, Strangeways Versus The Wraith, can be found in the SPIRITED anthology, a collection of haunting ghost stories, proceeds go to 826 National, a literacy-based charity.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Judith: Most challenging? The writing. Most rewarding? The writing. ;)

TBR: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Judith: When is your next book coming out?!

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Judith: I have many favs, but influences over the years include Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, John Wyndham, and Anne Rice. On my TBR shelf: Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen, Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill, The Baker Street Dozen: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s thirteen favorite Sherlock Holmes stories.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Judith:  Loads of places:

Twitter: @judithgraves / @AStrangeways / @MWMonsters

TBR: Readers, Judith Graves will give away a Kindle edition of UNDER MY SKIN to one lucky commenter. She'll pick a winner on Sunday, July 8 and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so she can contact you.

And you can visit with Judith throughout July as the Featured Author. Check it out!

Thanks so much for visiting TBR, Judith! All the best to you.


  1. Welcome, Judith! The Skinned series sounds like a fun read. I love that you wrote it in first person - was that a conscious decision, or did it just feel right?

  2. Hi Cate, thanks for commenting. The very first draft of UMS was in third person, but it felt too much like I was retelling a fairytale - the tone was way too formal. I did, indeed, consciously switch to first person to see how it changed the story and whamo! soooo much better. Eryn's mix of snark and vulnerability became almost blinding. ;)


  3. Sounds like a very interesting series. Nice Q&A also.

    On my list for my tweens. Christmas in July. But maybe I'll wait until their birthdays or even Christmas.

    Are they out in paperback?

  4. Hey Lorrie - yup, they're available in pb or ebook via Amazon, etc. Christmas in July...we don't even joke about that around here - it snows far too much and we're enjoying our few weeks of summer. ;)


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