Today's guest is J.A. Lynch, author of the Shadow World series. She's here to talk to us about her novel, Within the Shadows. I had the pleasure of reading this book for review and I can definitely recommend it to lovers of paranormal and fantasy. (Read my review HERE) Before we get started with the Q&A, let's have a look at the blurb for Within the Shadows...
Living on the razors edge, Giselle Bergman's life is torn apart by her cheating boyfriend. Little does she realise that he is the least of her worries when her long term friend Alex reveals a secret long hidden, and introduces her to his family and a new, darker world; a world of lies, deceit and corruption.
Thrown from one problem straight into another, the razors edge gets thinner and sharper, testing Giselle's sanity and vitality. Never truly knowing who her allies are, Giselle soon learns not to trust anyone, even herself.
How far will Giselle run to escape what fate has dealt her?
Will she ever truly be free from the shadows that not only want her soul, but have her reborn as their Queen?
Join Giselle on a journey that is only beginning…
Not even she can hide when living within the shadows.
Tricia: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
J.A.: I am a thirty-something, mother of five who married her childhood sweetheart and reside in Northern Ireland. I am passionate about books, art, fine wine and of course my family. I am an advocate against bullying and love to take part in workshops encouraging more young people to read.
Tricia: When did you begin writing?
J.A.: I began writing from the age of eleven/twelve. Initially the writing was in the form of lyrics, poems and in diary format. I used writing as a means to escape life and school bullies. Writing became therapeutic very early on and I am a firm believer that all of my experience in my youth has paved the way I choose to write today.
Tricia: Can you tell us about your most recent release?
J.A.: My most recent release was my erotic debut through Hot Ink Press – ‘The Curse of the Rose’, the first short novella in my Rose Saga mini-series. It is of course vampire based, and if anyone knows me, they’ll be well accustomed to my style of writing and passion for the nightwalker. It follows Bianka, a vampire who was chosen as courtesan to the Rose, the protector of the Oracle. Bianka is unhappy and just wants freedom: freedom to roam, hunt and feed how she pleases. Her pledge to Iona, the Rose forbids her of any freedom. So in a turn of events, she seeks revenge, thinking her actions will release her from her chosen life, but instead curses herself to an eternity she never thought would befall her.
Tricia: How did you get the idea for the book?
J.A.: I am quite odd I think. I don’t sit down and try to think of ideas about what to write. I just let it come to me naturally. I tend to close my eyes, give myself an inner prompt, and the rest that follows either works or not! For The Curse of the Rose, I knew I wanted to create my first erotic piece, but had no intentions of making it about vampires. Yet, when I began writing the opening scene it just happened and Bianka and Batar were created. I have to admit I love them dearly. I never intended of allowing them to have so much of an impact on my story telling, but their story is crying out to be told, so they have a four part mini-series dedicated to them.
Tricia: If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers, which book would you choose?
J.A.: I would have to recommend the book that started it all, Within the Shadows.
Why? because I am so connected to Giselle and her tale. I believe that the right readers are out there, just sitting and waiting for a story that will not only entertain them, but have their emotions racing to the surface.
My shadow world series is unique. It follows the roots of vampirism that I am passionate about. There is history, a little geography, love, betrayal, blood lust and vengeance. What more could you want?
Tricia: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
J.A.: This one is easy: Antoine Vilniv.
Oh Antoine, Antoine, Antoine. He is just deliciously perfect, but dark, sinister and possesses evil undertones, but Giselle brings out the best in him. He is fun, sarcastic, unpredictable but very loyal.
Tricia: What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
J.A.: Time is always an issue for me. I run a busy household, and with my husband working long hours, it can be hard finding a balance. I have tried to write when my baby naps, but she isn’t so much a baby anymore (even though she’ll always be my baby), I can’t commit to writing when she is toddling about but with the help of my mother-in-law and parents, maybe time won’t be an issue for the future.
Tricia: What is your primary goal as an author?
J.A.: I write because it defines who I am. It’s a part of me. It’s who I am!
I don’t have any preconceived ideas or goals about my writing. Obviously I want a good strong readership, but mostly I write because it is in me. It runs through my veins and until the voices shut up, I will continue writing, be it published or not!
Tricia: What projects are you currently working on?
J.A.: Currently I am penning the last few pages of ‘Fighting Shadows’ the last and final Shadow World novel. I have also just completed ‘A Dance for Fools’ the second in the Rose Saga. I am also working on ‘The Silver Strand’, the first book in the series dedicated to Antoine – The Vilniv Chronicles.
The story board for ‘Under the Burning Sun’, book 3 in the Rose Saga has just been completed, so the first draft of the will be completed mid November.
All in all, I am one busy lady.
Tricia: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
J.A.: Write daily, write even when you’re down, or you only have five minutes to spare, or you’re in between dishing out plates of dinner (something I do). A sentence, a paragraph, or even a page of words can mean the difference between achieving and not achieving your intended goals.
Read as much as you can. Remember, a person who makes time to read creates the right aptitude for the future. If you have the gift of storytelling, then feed your craft, and nothing works better than a book.
Join writing/reading groups, nothing works better than being among like minded individuals, and if you’re very lucky, they could critique or beta read for you.
And if you really want to, do a writing course. There are some pretty amazing resources out there, use them. The library is the first point for all readers and writers. Stop by your local branch, enquire about courses, book groups, or even start your own.
Remember, there is no limit to what you can do and achieve on your own. You don’t need a huge book deal to validate who you are as a writer – but it does happen, give yourself a pat on the back and write, write, write.
To learn more about J.A. Lynch and her novels, please visit the following links:
Excerpt from Within the Shadows:
I felt his eyes on me before I returned the look. He knew what I was thinking and, like always, he knew the right way to cheer me up. Best friends were like that and Alex was, without a doubt, my knight in shining armour. He was like my shadow and the last six years proved to me just how dependable he had become.
“We need sugar and lots of it,” he practically shouted, pulling into the lot.
“But we’ll be late for school! I can not have another detention, Alex, and besides, I need to see Marc before class,” I sighed.
“Well, Marc can wait. Strawberry glaze or chocolate sprinkles?” he asked me as he got out of the car.
Alex winked at me, and I giggled like a little girl following him.
“One of each,” I said. “It’s a Monday. I need me some sugar.”
Grabbing hold of his arm, I held onto him and ignored the sneering looks from a group of girls leaving the cafe.
“Still slumming it, I see, Alex. Call me when you man up,” the local slut hollered as she walked across the lot with her minions in tow.
I ignored them and their taunts and walked inside, escaping to our favourite table. “Bitches,” I scowled, looking out the window. “Who does she think she is?” My face reddened with anger.
“Ignore her, G. She’s harmless.”
“Why are you always defending her?” My voice was now an octave above a whisper.
Grabbing the menu from me, he threw it onto the table. “Look at me . . . They can say whatever they want. They can make as many comments and it won’t change a thing. You’re my friend, Giselle. And besides, you look way better than them.”
Laughing, I looked back outside and watched Evie with her perfect body driving off in her perfect car as I felt sick inside.
“Marc seems to think she’s great.” My voice croaked as I watched her drive off.
“Marc’s an ass,” Alex said as he looked over the menu, pouting his lips at whatever he fancied. He did that when something appealed to him.
“Well, think about it. He’s dating you and yet he has time for said „bitches.‟ Give me a break. If you were my girlfriend, and this is just hypothetical, I wouldn’t let you out of sight or give those asses reason to pick on you, but that’s just from my viewpoint. Now, let’s order. I am starving.”
The small bistro was buzzing with customers. The delicious scent of freshly made coffee filled the air; it woke up my taste buds. Its bright and bold colours hurt my eyes. Shades of orange, lime green, and sunbeam yellow had been painted abstractly on the walls, reminding me of summer. Even the ceiling reminded me of the ocean with its cool shades of baby blue. Somehow, it had become a place of comfort to me. The people reminded me that I belonged here and, like always, Marion was the first to come welcome us and take our order.
“Morning, you two. The usual?” she asked. Turning to face me, she smiled and her voice softened. “How is your mother, Giselle?”
“Hi, Marion, um, yeah, the usual, but can I have a side order of arsenic to go?” I laughed. “Um, Mom is good, thanks.”
“That’s great, sweetheart. Give her my love.” Laughing, she walked back towards the counter, shaking her head.
Alex sat forward, his brilliant green eyes staring hard into mine. “Arsenic?”
“Well, it was either that or crushed glass.”
We both burst out laughing, getting the attention of the people on the table next to us. We were like two naughty school children. Giggling as we ate, we didn’t care who scowled at us. It was just Alex and I, in our own world and nothing was going to break that bond . . . ever.
Of course, the ride to school was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. My pain increased with each kilometre the closer we got to school. I knew I had to face Marc at some point in the day, but to be honest, I was too pissed off with him to really care about why he had dropped me for some lame party in town.
My stomach spun and I was nervous as I got out of the car. Marc was standing over by his truck on the far side of the lot and there was no avoiding him. He stood with Aaron and Doug, his best friends, and watched me as I tried my best not to look at him. But it was so hard. He and his beautiful puppy dog eyes always got to me and I knew I would be putty in his hands.
Yet, I wanted him to squirm just a little while longer, for my own benefit. Alex swung his arm over my shoulder and pulled me in close to him, reassuring me that my impending confrontation would be fine. I wished I had his confidence in me.
“Relax. Just keep eye contact and scowl. Scowl like a mad woman,” he whispered as we parted company. “Laters, Bergman.” And he was gone.
I was on my own.
Marc eyeballed me as I slowly made my way over to him. The bell rang and people bumped past me as they rushed off to homeroom. I, on the other hand, had to lay a few things to rest before I could face my day of boredom and its side helping of bitchiness.
“Hi!” I greeted all three of them.
“Um, morning, G,” Aaron said as he nudged Doug in the arm.
Guys must have some sort of secret code, because without Aaron saying anything, they both looked at each other, then at Marc, and left.
“You took your time coming in today,” Marc said as he slung his bag over his shoulder.
“Yeah, but that’s my business,” I bitterly retorted.
“G, you’re meant to be my girlfriend. Maybe you should start acting like it.”
“What? Are you for real? You’re such an ass, Marc.” Anger began to boil inside me and I walked on ahead of him.
“Giselle, wait,” he called after me. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry doesn’t even cut it, Marc,” I sighed. “You blew me off for what? Drinks with the „guys.‟ I went to so much trouble. Can you imagine how dumb I felt waiting for you to turn up?”
“I really am sorry. I didn’t know that Andy was going to some frat house. If I had known, I wouldn’t have gotten into the car. I swear, G, I would have shown up. Only, things got out of hand.” His eyes shot to the ground, avoiding having to look at me.
It was so hard staying mad at him. I really wanted him to grovel more and feel like total shit, but I couldn’t do it to him. I adored him and wanted to make up so badly.
“It was our anniversary, Marc. Four years is a pretty big deal, but, you can make it up to me,” I said coyly.
Looking up into his delicious blue eyes, I felt my anger melt and I was more than ready for our make-up kiss. Pulling me in close to him, he cupped my face in his hands and gently pulled my mouth to his. I could smell his cologne, and as it danced in circles around my nostrils, I kissed him back, our tongues lightly brushing together. The kiss got a few whistles of approval and a stern mouthful from Mr. Green.
“What is the meaning of this public display of . . . of . . .” he stuttered.
“Affection,” Marc tried to finish the line for him.
I held in my laughter as he led us into the school and straight to Principal Brooks‟ office. Standing outside of Brooks‟ office, neither Marc, nor I, said anything, but his smile said it all. We were back on track.
“Bergman, Clark, g . . . g . . . get in here now,” Green bellowed from the doorway.
Marc entered the office first and I hastily stopped at the door, avoiding eye contact with Brooks.
“Bergman, close the door when you’ve decided to join us,” Green said sarcastically as he folded his arms. His face was red and swollen, and by the looks of things, the night before had been a heavy one. Everyone knew he was a little too fond of the booze.
“Giselle, come in and close the door,” Principal Brooks directed me.
Obediently, I shut the door behind me and stood close to Marc, trying my best not to laugh. When I get nervous, I tend to mask my feelings by laughing or making light of the situation, but right then and there, I doubted my humour would have been appreciated.
“Giselle, I am very disappointed in you. How many times have we had this discussion? You are always late for school, you’re behind in your assignments, and, to be blunt, I am getting quite sick of your casual display of affection with Mr. Clark.”
I could not believe it. He was pinning it all on me! “But . . .” I tried to speak.
“Enough of your excuses! You’re on detention for the rest of the week. I believe you should be in English, and if you make it quick, I am sure Ms. Royston won’t add to your ever-growing record of disobedience.” He ushered me out of the room. “Marc, this game on Friday night . . .” The door closed and the conversation became nothing more than muffled voices.
As I made my way to class, I could not have felt more pissed off. Walking into the already quiet classroom was bad enough, but having Evie smugly looking at me as I fumbled through my bag was the last straw.
“When you’re ready, Giselle,” Ms.Royston said.
Sitting down, I looked around for Alex, and there he sat, smiling at me, showing concern with those luminous green eyes, and instantly I felt calm.
“You okay?” he mouthed at me.
Nodding my head, I tried not to distract Ms. Royston, but failed.
“Is there something you’d like to share with the rest of the class, Giselle?” she asked me.
I could feel my cheeks going red and my heart pounded hard in my chest. “No.” My voice quivered.
Everyone was looking at me and I could feel Evie’s eyes staring hard at me, but I refused to give in and just stared ahead.
“Really? Well, maybe you can take part in our class discussion. What is Atticus’s relationship to his children like?” She sat back against her desk and folded her arms, waiting for my input.
Oh my God, I thought. I had read the book, well, only slightly, but God, I didn’t have a clue. My face became redder and redder as I slowly died inside.