Monday, August 25, 2014

Interview Feature: Jaye L. Knight

Dear imps, today it is my pleasure to introduce a sort-of new fantasy novelist to you! I say sort-of new because, well, she's not really new--she does have a complete fantasy series out under the alternate pen name Molly Evangeline. But she has just launched a new series under her new pen name, so in that respect, she's new! So allow me to present:

JAYE L. KNIGHT is a homeschool-graduated indie author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean new adult fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God's love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

To learn more about Jaye and her work, visit her website, www.jayelknight.com.

 Jaye is visiting us today for a fun interview . . . and don't miss your chance at the end of this post to win an ebook copy of her new release, Resistance!

INTERVIEW

Welcome to the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog! First of all, would you mind telling us a little about yourself? Hobbies, personality . . . tea or coffee? 

Jaye: Tea! I’m a total tea addict. English Breakfast Tea is my favorite . . . with plenty of French Vanilla creamer and sugar, of course. I drink a cup of tea pretty much every morning, and by cup, I mean a giant 2-cup mug most of the time.

I’m quite introverted, so I’m really quiet unless you know me well and get me going on one of my fandoms or something I’m passionate about. Though I spend more time inside with my writing than I probably should, I’m an outdoorsy person. I love summertime and everything that comes with it. I always jump at the chance to go hiking or kayaking. Or flea markets! I love antiques and have a rapidly growing collection of oil lamps, so I’d visit flea markets every week if there were enough around. It probably wouldn’t be good for my finances though. I’m very creative, and besides all the work I put into publishing, I also run a small Etsy shop where I make and sell jewelry specifically for fellow authors as well as pieces inspired by my books. I love history and am pretty old-fashioned, but also have a modern style. It’s an interesting blend of country girl with subtle hints of rocker and Bohemian mixed with it. I like being different and unique. I’m a big fan of music too. Especially Skillet, Building 429, Aaron Shust, and Ashes Remain. They’re my favorite bands. Oh yeah, and I’m a hardcore Green Bay Packers fan. 

What led you into the writing life? Were you always a storyteller? How did you get into publishing?

Jaye: I was eight-years-old when I first started writing. I credit my mom for that. She’s been a writer since her early teens. I used to see her collecting old magazine photos for character inspiration, and I guess it sparked something in me that wanted to do it too. Once I started, there was no going back. I first decided I wanted to be an author when I was about fourteen or fifteen, shortly after I discovered The Lord of the Rings. I published my first book with a self-publishing company just after I graduated about seven years ago. A year after that, I discovered CreateSpace, and used what I learned from my first book to publish on my own. Since then, I’ve set up my own little indie publishing company, Living Sword Publishing, and plan to continue using it for my own books and any my mom might publish in the future. 

Tell us a little about your work! What was your debut novel?

Jaye: My very first novel was The PirateDaughter’s Promise, which is the first of a four book YA historical series. I started it when I was fifteen, and published it under the pen name Molly Evangeline. It was certainly a learning experience. I really had no idea what I was doing, but everyone has to start somewhere. I learned a lot in those first few years of publishing. Then, a year ago, I changed my pen name to Jaye L. Knight. It was a great way to take what I had learned and get a fresh start to do things more professionally. 

Resistance is not your first fantasy novel, is it? I would love to hear about your first fantasy series! 

Jaye: No, I’ve been writing fantasy for over ten years now. Ever since I watched The Fellowship of the Ring movie, I’ve fallen in love with the genre. In the months after seeing it and reading through the books, I started what was supposed to be a five book fantasy series, though I only completed three. It was so silly and cliché. Basically, real-world girl ends up in a fantasy world. But it was simply for my enjoyment as well as my cousins who I read it to whenever we got together.

Later on, once I started publishing my pirate books, I got the urge to rewrite the series. I eliminated the real-world girl, changed the fantasy world a bit, added some new characters, and developed an entirely new plot for the third book. It became my Makilien Trilogy. It took a lot of work, but it was fun to see it come together when it was such a big part of my teen years. I still had a lot to learn when I wrote it, but it’s all part of my author journey. 

Now do tell us about Resistance. How long have you been developing the ideas for this series? Did the first book present any unusual challenges? 

Jaye: Resistance is the first book of Ilyon Chronicles, which will contain six books total. For being such a big series, I actually haven’t been developing it for all that long—just over three years. Sometimes you need a while to let an idea simmer, but this one took hold of me and demanded to be written now. I actually started writing Resistance the day after the first seed of inspiration hit me. I was reading DragonQuest by Donita K. Paul, and one of the scenes started me thinking on half-blooded characters. I’d already done that in Makilien, but I’d never written about half-bloods who were looked down on by society. It was that tiny little thought that inspired my main character, Jace. The rest grew (very rapidly) around him.

I think the biggest challenge for me was getting the emotions right. There are a lot of difficult issues and some very broken characters in Resistance. Jace is the most tortured individual I’ve ever written about, and while I knew him inside and out from very early on, it’s not easy getting what’s in your head down on paper. There were also things about the book that were constantly developing and changing. I wasn’t only working on this one book, but figuring out the rest of the series at the same time (I’m definitely more of a pantser). So there would be times when I’d think of something I wanted to do in a later book, but would have to go back and make sure it worked with book one. Plus, there were pivotal characters, like my main girl’s twin brother, who didn’t even come into being until I was almost half done with the book, which meant I had to go back and add them in. Things like that were definitely a challenge, but at the same time, it was incredibly exciting to see how it all came together.

Can you pick a favorite character from this new novel? 

Jaye: This is usually a very hard question, and I have many, many characters I adore in Resistance, bit I can easily narrow it down to Jace. He’s the heart of the series and my favorite character I’ve ever written about. I can relate to his brokenness, and it’s really easy to get inside his head and experience his emotions. In a lot of ways, he’s like the more intense male version of me. I think we react to our struggles and surroundings in similar ways. 

What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration? 

Jaye: Movies and TV shows are probably my biggest source of inspiration. I do get a lot of inspiration from reading, but visual inspiration seems to get my imagination flowing the best. Music is another huge source. Epic, trailer-type music is the best. I love artists like Audiomachine and Future World Music. Some of my best scenes have developed while I’ve been listening to such music. It’s also the first place I turn when I need a renewal. If I’m just not that excited about a character or scene, I’ll pull up the playlist I’ve created for the book. I almost always have a theme song chosen for my main characters. Brainstorming while listening to their songs really helps. 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process? 

Jaye: I actually like rewriting and editing the best. It can be really hard to get the story written. And while there are certainly scenes I have a blast writing, it’s perfecting what’s already written that is my favorite. It’s so much easier for me to get the story where I want it when I know the whole book is already written. I don’t like blank pages. My first drafts are usually just awful, but my goal is always to get the words on the page and worry about that later. 

What are you actively writing right now? 

Jaye: I just finished book four of Ilyon Chronicles and am now getting into book five. It’s hard to believe I’ve made it this far and that I only have one book left after this. It will be very interesting to see how the story goes once I really get into it. The plot isn’t as large scale as the first four were. It’s more of a personal story, but I like that. I think I need a break from large scale anyway. 

Would you share a short snippet from Resistance? 

Jaye: Sure! Here’s a bit from chapter one that sets the entire series in motion.
 
  Excerpt from
RESISTANCE
 
 
Forcing aside his nerves, Rayad maintained a casual pace toward the northern outskirts of Troas, one of the largest cities this far south. It lay just north enough to avoid nighttime attacks by the monstrous cave drakes inhabiting the Krell Mountains on Arcacia’s southern shores.
Beyond the outer buildings, he spotted the forest, but first he had to pass through the open meadow scattered with tents and wagons. Heavy, barred wagons mostly—gladiator wagons—all gathered for the games. Many stood empty, but a few contained men with faces and eyes either void or glaring their cold hatred. Rayad diverted his gaze and focused on the road, but he ground his teeth. What was happening to this world? Oh, for the days long past when the inhabitants of Ilyon had served and worshipped their true Lord—millenniums ago, before the ryriks had led the revolt against their Creator and changed how everything was created to be.
The road meandered its way toward the trees, urging Rayad to ride faster. He glanced over his shoulder, just to be sure no one followed, and tried to shrug off the clinging claws of paranoia. A raised voice drifted through the air, and he whipped his head around.
worthless creatureteach you to defy me…do as you’re told…”
Rayad snorted and shot a glance at the stallion beside him. Probably another troublesome beast of burden. He rode past a tent and found the source of the shouting—a stout man dressed in flamboyant red linen and an ill-fitting leather doublet. The man raised a horsewhip, spitting out a string of curses, and brought it hissing down—not upon some hapless animal, but on another man kneeling in front of him with one arm chained to a stake. Rayad’s gut wrenched. It was the same young gladiator he’d seen in the arena. He pulled Aros to a halt.
The man beat the gladiator without mercy. Rayad cringed at every stinging impact, but the young man made no sound and barely flinched. Infuriated, the man with the whip took him by the hair and yanked his head up. Blood dripped from the gladiator’s chin.
“How many times do I have to tell you? You could be a sensation. You please the crowd, do you understand?”
To punctuate these words, he backhanded the gladiator across the chin. In a defiant move, the young man tried to rise, but he received a solid fist to the ribs and sank back to his knees, where the man with the whip proceeded to beat him again.
Rayad squeezed Aros’s reins, and the leather dug into his palm. Common sense told him to move on, that he could do nothing, yet every bone in his body willed him to act.
“Excuse me,” he called out before the man could strike again.
The man with the whip spun around, his face flushed nearly purple. Rayad slid off his horse and marched up to him. Another massive hulk of a man stood nearby next to a wagon with the faded and peeling red words Jasper’s Gladiators painted along the side.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Rayad demanded of the man with the whip.
His flaccid face knotted in an ugly scowl. “None of your business. He’s my slave.”
Rayad planted his fists on his hips and glared down at the man who stood a few inches shorter. “Slave or not, no man should be treated in such a manner.”
Jasper let out a cruel bark of laughter. “He’s no man.”
He reached for the gladiator’s hair again and yanked it up on the side. Rayad’s breath snagged halfway up his throat. The young slave’s ear came to a noticeable point.
Sneering, Jasper shoved the gladiator’s head away as if he were the most disgusting thing in Ilyon. “He’s half ryrik.”
The mixed blood slave looked up, and his sea-blue eyes almost glowed behind the strands of hair that fell in his face. His gaze locked with Rayad’s. Defiance and danger flashed in the cold, diamond-hard light, but deeper writhed the shadows of a tortured soul.

 
_________

Thank you, Jaye, for sharing with us today! It's exciting to learn of your work and your publishing adventures.

What do you think, imps? Ready to dive into some exciting fantasy? You can grab Resistance right away and, while waiting for book 2 to release, snatch up Jaye's other fantasy work written as Molly Evangeline. Lots of great reading to last you a while!

Jaye is generously offering an ebook giveaway for Resistance, so be certain to enter your name. And don't miss this opportunity to chat with Jaye about her writing, reading, jewelry-making . . . whatever you like! a Rafflecopter giveaway

16 comments:

Allison Ruvidich said...

Thanks for sharing, Ms. Jaye! I am intrigued that you rewrote and published a book you wrote when you were younger. What difficulties did you encounter in this? How much did your original vision expand? Did that necessitate a total rewrite, or only a partial one?

Sarah said...

Thanks for doing this interview! It was really fun to read! Questions:
-If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
-Where's your favorite place to write?
-If you could pick one of your characters to spend the day with, who would it be?

Hannah said...

Great interview! And of course, great book! I'm so looking forward to the rest of the series! :D

Ana @ Butterflies of the Imagination said...

Thanks for the interview! I love the excerpt; it's so suspenseful and it's a great way to grab readers in during the first chapter. As a self-published author, how do you make the covers of your books? Also, what is the best piece of writing advice you can give?

Candice said...

Loved reading this interview! And I totally agree that Audio Machine is wonderful to listen to while writing!

Your Esty shop sounds really unique and cool, Jaye! What inspired you to start creating jewelry? Also, what was one of your favorite pieces inspired by your books?

Sierra Faith said...

I LOVE fantasy!!! Your book looks amazing! I am 16 years old and I am trying to write fantasy too! At the moment A friend and I are working on a series Called Drumans(half dragon half human) My friend came up with this very unique idea :) Anything you could recomend for new authors who want to publish?

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Lovely interview! So glad to finally hear more of Jaye! I have read one of her Pirate novels and truly enjoyed it. Now, I'm hoping to get my eager fingers some more of her works!

Thanks for hosting her! and for the giveaway!

Blessings,
Sarah
sarah-plainandaverage.blogspot.com

BJM said...

Do you prefer tea or coffee or another beverage when you are writing?

Julia Eppehimer said...

I am in love with the jewelery on Jaye's Etsy shop! It's like a nerdy, fantasy, yet classy sort of style.

Anonymous said...

All you books look intriguing, are they on Kindle? Nice covers.
Jemma

Merenwen Inglorion said...

This sounds so amazing! I don't normally enter ebook contests
(because a hard copy is so much easier to get into), but I'm definitely taking a shot at this one.

From the Amazon excerpt, I can see that the "religion" isn't as forward as it normally is in Christian fiction. Really looking forward to that!
Do you have any tips on getting that sort of development and feel? (For a not-quite Tolkien history but a hard and sweet Christian parallel that doesn't pummel you in the face?)

Do you have advice for new writers on fully developing a project, and ways of getting through the monsters that actively block creativity once in a while?
:P haha, "once in a while..." :P

A quick question from a fellow Skillet fan: What's your favorite song/album, and does it drive anyone else you know crazy? :)

God bless, and thank you Mrs. Stengl for hosting Jaye L. Knight!

-Merenwen

Granny's Attic said...

I don't really have a question, but I enjoy jewelry making also. I will certainly check out your Etsy shop.

Riley said...

what an interesting interview!
Ms. Knight, who was your favorite author growing up, and who is your favorite author now?

Jaye L. Knight said...

Thanks everyone for all the comments and questions! And thank you so much, Anne

Elisabeth, for having me on your blog!

@Allison - There were quite a few things I had to change from the original

book. The main character needed a complete overhaul since she no longer a modern day

girl. I had to give her a backstory and fantasy home and family. It was quite fun,

though. I did completely rewrite the books. The storyline itself wasn't too

different in the first book, but book two had some major changes, and then book

three was an entirely new storyline.

@Sarah - Pertaining to writing? Well, probably to be more patient and don't

rush. I had a lot to learn about the whole publishing process. I should have taken

more time to perfect what I was doing, but was just excited to get my books out. As

for my favorite place to write, there's a river park near where I live that has

amazing rock formations and the pine forest around it feels so fantasy-ish. I just

love to go there to write or brainstorm. Basically, I just love to write outside. :)

Ooh, which character would I spend the day with? Hmm, either my main character,

Jace, or my main girl's twin brother, Kaden. Jace and I would probably be

uncomfortable with each other at first because we're both so quiet. Kaden would

probably be more fun and familiar since I'm used to having brothers.

@Hannah I can't wait for you to read the rest of the series! :D

@Ana - Glad you liked the excerpt! Chapter one is a bit different from most

books since it doesn't actually start out from the POV of the main character, but it

was one of those writing rules I felt it necessary to break for this particular

book. Cover making can definitely be frustrating. Thankfully, I've always enjoyed

graphic design and digital art so I'd already been fiddling with Photoshop before I

started making covers. My first covers weren't that great, but I'm pleased with how

Resistance and the mock up covers for the rest of the series turned out. It just

takes a lot of practice. Depending on what my next project(s) are, I may hire a

cover designer. As for advice: Read! A lot! :) Both fiction and books/articles on

writing. That's how I've learned and improved over the years. I've probably learned

more from reading my favorite novels than I actually have from books on the writing

craft, although that is very important too.

@Candice - I've dabbled in jewelry creation for a long time. At first it was

just for myself because I enjoyed it. I then set up a small Etsy shop several years

ago, but it never did anything because I didn't know anything about marketing.

Somehow last year I got the idea to start making jewelry for my books and set up the

new shop to supplement my book earnings and it has turned into quite a fun little

side job. I think my favorite book piece would have to be the Makilien inspired

copper bow necklace. I love copper jewelry, and when I first saw the charms I used,

I just loved them because they were so unique compared to most I was looking at.

@Sierra - You series sounds so interesting! Do Drumans have wings? I always thought it would be fun to write about characters who could fly. As I mentioned to Ana, do a lot of reading. Also start doing your research on publishing early. I really had no idea what I was doing when I started. But there is so much information online now, especially for indie publishing. The more you can learn before you start the process, the better.

@Sara - Glad you enjoyed the pirate book, and I look forward to you reading more! :)

@BJM - Tea for sure, and once in a while I have hot chocolate. I've never been able to acquire a taste for coffee despite my whole family liking it.

@Julia - So glad you like my jewelry! I've had so much fun putting it all together and hope to add more.

@Jemma - Glad you think they look intriguing! Yes, they are all on Kindle. :)

Jaye L. Knight said...

@Merenwen - I prefer paperbacks when I'm reading too, though I'm finding more and more great deals for my Kindle, so I've been using it a lot more. ;)

Interesting you should mention the religious aspect of Ilyon Chronicles. It's definitely a goal of mine not to be "preachy" or heavy-handed. (I had a bit of a problem with that in my earlier books.) I think the most important thing about it is that it feel real and natural. For me, that really came down to character development. In knowing my characters inside and out, I knew exactly how they would respond in realistic ways and how they would talk or think about their faith in certain moments. It's important to remember that characters are human and imperfect. It's too easy to make them too good or too faithful. They have to have moments of doubt, frustration, fear, and failure. And most of the time, I found it better to show faith with action as opposed to words. I tried to avoid any lengthy preaching from one character to another, because, while we need people to steer us in the right direction sometimes, a lot of those sorts of moments in books just aren't that realistic.

I'm probably a bad person to ask about development because I lean more toward being a pantser. I was still in full development mode for the series as I was in the process of writing the first couple of books. For one thing, try not to get hung up on details. It's best to push through and get the project completed and then fix and refine. At least that's what works for me. That applies to writer's block and loss of creativity too. I am the queen of writer's block. :P I get it really bad more often than I would like. I can basically sum up my approach to it in one quote by James Thurber I just found recently, "Don't get it right, get it written." I just finished my first draft of Ilyon Chronicles book 4, and it is just AWFUL. But my goal in whatever project I'm writing is to get the words on paper/screen and get it finished as soon as possible. I worry about the problems when I go to edit and rewrite. A blank page is very intimidating, so fill it up even if it's the worst writing you've done in your life. Chances are, after letting it sit for a bit, it won't be nearly as bad as you think, and tackling it won't be as intimidating now that you actually have the skeleton of the story laid out.

And now for the Skillet question. :D My favorite album is probably Rise. I've loved it since my brother first bought it and we rocked out to it in the car on the way home from a trip. :) I'm not sure I could pick one song to be my favorite. Right now, I especially love Whispers in the Dark, Comatose, and Rebirthing because they offered a lot of inspiration for the central storyline in book 3 of Ilyon Chronicles. But I also love Hero, Awake and Alive, Rise, and Not Gonna Die. I know it would probably drive some of my friends crazy if I listened to it around them, but I mostly only listen to it when I'm with my family, and they all love Skillet (including my mom!). :)

Thanks for the fun and interesting questions!

@Granny's Attic - It's a great pastime. :) I love seeing pieces come together.

@Riley - I was obsessed with horses growing up, and my absolute favorite books were the Pony Pals series, so Jeanne Betancourt was my favorite author until my teens. Then I discovered J.R.R. Tolkien. :) He's still my number one favorite author. I also love Wayne Thomas Batson, R.J. Larson, and Karen Witemeyer to name a couple. Pretty much anyone, like Anne Elisabeth, who writes great Christian fantasy. :)

Sierra Faith said...

@Jaye- Yes Drumans have wings :) They are like humans with wings and a tail! At first I was skeptical about the idea because I couldn't picture it in my head but then my friend sent me a picture her sister had drawn and they looked really cool!!!!! We hope to publish someday :) thanks for the advice :D

P.S. I also Love R.J Larson's books!!! They are amazing!!!!