Thursday, May 16, 2013

TBR welcomes Sara Jay

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Sara Jay. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Sara: Thanks for having me! I am a full-time freelance writer, work-at-home homeschooling mom and novelist…among other things! I live in the Midwest with my husband (and high school sweetheart) and our young daughter.

TBR: Tell us about The Boon Collector and where it's available.
Sara: The Boon Collector is part of Changeling Press’s Soul Debt series. You can find it here:
It’s the story of Bane and Tisha, a demon and a mortal who aren't what they seem... Tisha Sanderson is timid and mousy from a lifetime as a wallflower. What she doesn’t know is that she isn’t who she thinks she is at all—and sexy demon Bane has come to remind her that.
Of course, he needs her soul first.
Bane leads Tisha down into a Hell quite unlike the place she imagined it would be and tasks her with several trials she must complete to return home. After each erotic endeavor, Tisha finds herself changing both physically and mentally. At the end of her adventure in Hell, she could be free to go—
But after tasting the Bane of Hell, will she really want to leave?

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Sara: Certainly!
Tisha Sanderson tucked her pale blond bangs behind her ear and grimaced at the envelope. Yet another one of her ex's bills glared back at her from the contents of her mailbox. Jeremy had left her both broke and broken-hearted months ago, yet traces of him remained through debt.
Crinkling her eyes to hold back tears, Tisha could only sigh. If she could go back in time and kick that loser to the curb before he did this to her, well... She probably wouldn't have, she admitted to herself.
She was lonely, after all. Jeremy's mess and callousness and cruelty might have been awful, but the silence she came home to each day was nearly as unbearable.
Trudging up the sidewalk to her front door, she couldn't even look up from the paper, yet another reminder of Jeremy. Wedging the pink envelope between her teeth, she jiggled the keys to her front door out of her purse and sighed deeply again. Reaching up to push the door open, she gasped.
The door stood open already.
Pink paper fluttered to the grass as she opened her mouth in shock. That, that jerk! Tisha's mind sputtered for an appropriate response, but all she could do was tremble. If he came to beg for money or cry for help, he would have another think coming.
Some women might have cursed and slammed the door wide open, demanding an explanation. Some might even whip out a can of pepper spray, prepared for any intruder awaiting. Timid Tisha, though, could only hover in the doorway of her own home and meekly squeak out, "H'lo?"
She couldn't help it. She had always been the shy one, picked last for sports and unable to fit in with any of her peers. Feeling as if she never truly belonged, she'd become a kindergarten teacher, where she fit in with the power level of most of her students. The mild temperament she displayed at her place of employment wasn't for school alone, but her entire demeanor. It was as if she had never left kindergarten herself.
When she didn't receive an answer, Tisha crept into the dimly-lit living area, preparing to see furniture tumbled over in disarray, or perhaps Jeremy standing there, smirking or drunk as usual. But everything appeared to be in its place. It did seem hotter than usual in the house, especially for a light March evening.
Unsure of what to do next, she grasped her purse tightly, carefully making her way through the home her parents had left her. "J-Jeremy?" she asked, her voice cracking. "Is that you?"
She hated the way her heart sped up, almost hoping that her deadbeat ex had invaded her house. Get a grip!
The closer she got to the kitchen, the hotter she felt. Sweat began to pearl on her forehead. Tisha absently wiped it off with the back of a wrist, wondering why her kitchen lights dimmed so low. She didn't even own a dimmer switch.
The flickering glow seemed to be moving.
Just as she decided that she was seeing things, Tisha froze in the doorway of the kitchen and stared in shock. Feeling faint, she grabbed the doorframe, only to pull her fingers back instantly from the flickering glow.
The entire kitchen was on fire.
Flames ran furiously up and down the walls in vibrant displays of orange and yellow. Angry red welts slashed at her wallpaper, though nothing seemed to be burning. No smoke could be seen. The room was simply set ablaze.
The hairs on the back of Tisha's neck leapt up.
"Boo," a deep, masculine voice growled behind her.
Shrieking, Tisha leaped over the flames into the lit but otherwise empty kitchen. Backing away from the source of the sound, she saw a creature straight out of her nightmares.
He was unnaturally tall and muscular with a lean athletic frame hugged with an expensive-looking suit. Long black hair wildly framed his face in a lion-like fashion, and a goatee of the same shade framed his quirked mouth. Fiery red eyes that matched the flames in Tisha's kitchen peered at her in amusement. He could have easily been a human wearing contacts, but then there was his purple-black skin. And the long, round-tipped tail.
"You -- you're -- what are you?" Tisha wailed, cowering back from the creature helplessly. She felt behind her for a weapon but only encountered her burning wallpaper. Oddly, her fingers didn't burn from it. They only felt warm.
The man casually brushed off invisible lint from his expensive suit, sighing. "You know the answer to that question already, Tisha."

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Sara: It started as the answer to a Changeling Press flash fiction challenge. Each week, the Changeling readers’ loop hosts a challenge, and that week’s was about a demon coming to collect a debt. Then I combined it with the whole idea of a woman who lost herself along the way and needed a reality check to find her true self once again—something that I think a lot of us need at one point or another. Of course, we usually get this jolt through therapy or a best friend or a spiritual experience or something, not from a demon!

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Sara: I listen. That’s the best answer I can give, for sure! When I want a character to do something—I wanted Bane to be much more sinister than he turned out to be, for example—and they refuse, telling me, “No, this is who I am!” I just listen and get it on paper. I have no qualms at all about putting my characters into precarious situations [grins] but I don’t mess around with who they are, for sure.

TBR: Any tips or tricks for world building you’d care to share?
Sara: You know, I don’t have anything really mind-blowing to share. I would just advise people to take notes. It’s easy to forget who is related or what color someone’s eyes are when you’re so many pages in, let alone why the red shoe is so important three chapters away! Those quick scrawls really come in handy.  

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Sara: Hmm, I don’t have one from the book that I can share here without an explicit rating, unfortunately. I can say that my favorite scene is the cave scene [wink!]. It’s a turning point in the book, but it was also the most fun to write.

TBR: Did any music inspire your book? Do you have a playlist?
Sara: I did actually have a playlist for my previous book, Nobody Rides for Free, but I didn’t for this one. If I had to pick some songs for The Boon Collector, they would be:
“To the Moon & Back” by Savage Garden
“Highway to Hell” by AC/DC
“Running with the Devil” by Van Halen
“I’ll Be Your Shelter” by Taylor Dane
“Need You Tonight” by INXS

TBR: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Sara: I would definitely invite Basalt, the gargoyle in my upcoming book Hard As a Rock. He’s the sexiest, simply complex character I’ve written, if that makes any sense! From The Boon Collector, I think I would actually invite Tisha at the end of the book over. I think I could really help her out—or maybe she could help me? Then again, I’d love to invite Bane over just to drool over him.

TBR: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
Sara: That I use dashes and dull action words way too often! That’s basic stuff I learned so many years ago, but years of copywriting just indoctrinated me with it somehow. I fuss every time I see a “was” in my work; sometimes it makes me stumble and I struggle to finish just because I want things to be perfect, even though I know that’s what my editor—and my next draft—are for.

TBR: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Sara: I really embrace the dark side of my characters. I don’t use it as something evil to overcome—well, aside from the villains, anyway!—but instead include it as simply a part of who they are. Do I sometimes write about literal man-eating creatures as my heroes? Well, yes—especially in Nobody Rides for Free. But it’s more like a lion-zebra relationship, and there’s still compassion there if you look for it. (Don’t worry, nobody gets eaten in the book!)

TBR: What's next for you?
Sara: I am so excited about my next book, Hard As a Rock, which is coming out June 6. It’s about a cursed gargoyle and faery, a love story 3,000 years in the making, and it’s my best work so far. I am in love with both characters so much. It was wonderful having them over my shoulder, telling me their story.

TBR: Any other published works?
Sara: As Sara Schmidt, my alter ego, I have thousands of blogs and articles all over the web—as well as a few print items in books, magazines and so forth. As Sara Jay, I will have three books at Changeling Press by June 6 that include the aforementioned titles—and hopefully several more before the year is out! I’m working on two Halloween-themed pieces, a fall book about the Green Man, and perhaps my magnum opus for the year, Darkness Falls, a tale about a dark nymph who works in supernatural law enforcement.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Sara: The most challenging is staying on top of my deadlines right now. I juggle a lot—most people do these days, don’t they?—and between homeschooling, my day job (which takes a few thousand words a day already!), running local homeschooling activities and other obligations, I struggle to find time for my fiction sometimes. It’s sad because it’s one of the top things that I want to do, but there you go. The most rewarding thing—aside from reading exactly what I want to read, which is very cool—is getting emails or texts from my friends and family saying how much they loved my books.

TBR: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Sara: I have one friend who keeps pestering me to write a sequel to Nobody Rides for Free. She just can’t wait to see what happens and she doesn’t believe me when I tell her that I don’t know yet, either! [Laughs] Seriously, until Sinn, Daka and their new human friend tell me what happens, I can’t say for sure what is in store for them just yet.

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Sara: I’m a big Neil Gaiman girl. I also love Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Tamora Pierce, anything edited by Ellen Datlow… So I’m a big fantasy nut. I’ll read any genre, though. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Jim Butcher. I’ve got a massive crush on both him and Harry Dresden—I can’t decide which one I love more!—and I’ve plowed through the first 14 novels since January. I’m ready to borrow a Time Turner just to read the next one.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Sara:  My blog is at You can find my alter ego on the About Me page. You can also connect with me on Twitter and Facebook

TBR: Thanks for visiting TBR, Sara. Best of luck to you.

1 comment:

Talk to TBR guests!