A Conversation with Jaime Reed

A Conversation with Jaime Reed: Author of Living Violet

BF: Your first novel, Living Violet (Book 1 in The Cambion Chronicles) released at the end of last year. How (if at all) has your life changed since being published?

JR: Surprisingly, not much has changed. I still function normally and go to the same places I always do. I don’t know why I thought the second the book hit the shelves I would get mobbed in the grocery store or have paparazzi camped out in front of my house.  My imagination was always more exciting than reality.


BF: Living Violet is, at times, a satire of the paranormal romances that are currently on bookshelves. There are quite a bit of laugh-out-loud moments, as well as parts that are action-packed and scary. How were you able to maintain all of these elements in one story?

JR: Lots of coffee. I’m a strong believer in humor as a buffer for stressful situations. And the main character, Samara, uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism. It’s not always easy to keep the balance between drama, humor, and horror. But the key is to keep the character as real as possible, capture REAL reactions to an unusual circumstance. Every kid has seen at least one monster movie and knows how things can go bad. I’ve noticed that in some paranormal books the character acts as though he/she has never seen a movie in their life and just stares wide-eyed and all common sense flies out the window. Common sense equals humor when done right.


BF: While there is most definitely a plot in Living Violet, I felt like the protagonist, Samara and her love interest, Caleb, were personal friends of mine. When drafting a story, do you usually focus on the characters or the plot first?

JR: That’s a tough one. Plot is usually the last thing I focus on. The first thing is the “what if” question. What if a guy at your job is a supernatural chick magnet? What do you do when he wants you? I usually start off with simple questions then let the characters shape the story as it goes and let their personalities and decision steer the story. Premise, character, and plot are the order, but then eventually fold into each other. A beautiful thing when it happens, full of surprises and the outcome can change at any time. But starting out with a plot list stunts that process for me.


BF: It seems for YA authors especially, social media is a popular way to promote your books. You maintain both a blog and a Twitter account. How do you balance writing with updating your social media accounts?

JR: It’s not easy. I’m generally a shy person and now I have to drag myself out there for the world to see. Not a fun transition, but I do my best. I try to discipline myself, take a few minutes a day to post things and update a status, but when I get into full writing mode, everything goes on hold.


BF: Every writer that’s serious about being published knows that rejection is part of the process. Can you share your experience with rejection? Was there ever a moment when you felt like giving up? What kept you going?

JR: I’ve mentioned on other posts about my red marker rejection. I got my query letter sent back to me with “Not what I’m looking for” written across the page in marker. That was a serious burn, but I just shrugged it off and kept writing. That’s all you can do if the ideas won’t let you sleep. I believe the story and the world I created is what kept me sane. Kinda like, “write the next chapter. You can freak out later. Just one more chapter.”


BF: You’re in a small group of African-American YA authors. How important is it for you to portray diversity in your novels?

JR: It’s very important. I can’t stress it enough, but I don’t want to be a nag or the militant black fist in the air, either. Literature should reflect real life as much as possible.  Last time I checked, the real world consisted of all walks of life, from ethnic backgrounds, religious sexual orientation, handicaps, etc. they all need a place and to be represented properly, not as a form of placation or comedy relief. Just having one type of person in books makes for very shallow and narrow-minded thinking, and we have enough of that in the world.


BF: What is your favorite part of the writing process? Your least favorite?

JR: I’m not a big fan of the actual writing part. I’m lazy by nature and I suck at typing. I have the ideas in my head, but that means I have to get out of bed, turn on my computer and type all that mess. Like, the whole thing. That interferes with my idleness tremendously, but it’s such a rush when that first draft is complete. The groundwork has been laid and that’s where the fun can begin. I look forward to the editing part. I can moved things around and pay more attention to details. I love it.


BF: When I interviewed you on my blog last year, you mentioned that some of your favorite authors were men (Cormac McCarthy, Chuck Palahniuk, etc.). Have you had any recent favorites since then?

JR: Not really. I’m sure there are, but none come to mind right this second, though that might change when I do my month-long reading marathon.


BF: Can you give us any hints about what we can expect in Book 2 of The Cambion Chronicles, Burning Emerald?

JR: This installment has a lot more “Oh Snap!” moments and it takes a darker turn as far as Samara’s new responsibility. Sam and Caleb’s relationship grows stronger and they explore the consequences of that. As satire goes, I take an interesting jab at love triangle tropes and twist them around for my own sick amusement, which leads to an ending that no one expects.


BF: Finally, are you working on any other stories outside of The Cambion Chronicles? If so, are they still paranormal YA, or have you written in other genres?

JR: I really don’t know. I’m going to relax for a few weeks and brainstorm. I have a tiny book of cool ideas; I might grab one of those.  I want to do a vampire book sooo bad, but that’s an emphatic ‘hell no’ until the craze dies down. I’m not a fan of contemporary books, but I wouldn’t rule it out completely if the plot is weird enough. I don’t know, I guess I’m just comfortable with the weird. Adult books kinda bore me for the most part, so I’m sticking with YA for a while.


For more information about Jaime or her books, visit: www.jaimereedbooks.com.

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