I’m interviewing R.J. Blain, author of a paranormal novel, “Winter Wolf”, releasing today. Happy release day to the author, and thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.
Q: Please tell us about yourself.
I’m convinced this is the hardest question of all for me to answer. I was brought up to be very self-deprecating. So, the task of trying to present myself to others often turns into a tangled mess. Please forgive me if we end up with a knot by the time I’ve worked my way through this.
I love books. I love writing them, reading them, anything to do with them—books fascinate me. Literacy fascinates me. I was functionally illiterate until grade four. Once a teacher discovered it wasn’t a lack of intelligence that caused my illiteracy, but rather lack of interest, she introduced me to fantasy and science fiction novels. Everything changed for me. I was reading college-level books by fifth grade.
Which was, I’ll note with a certain sense of satisfaction, around the same time Robert Jordon began The Wheel of Time. It is no coincidence I adore epic fantasy now.
I have a spouse and four cats. I live in Montreal. I was born and raised in the USA though. I’ve taken to Canadian culture, and have an excessive thirst for traveling.
I absolutely love turbulence. Airplanes and helicopters are one of my favorite things. It makes me wish I had become a pilot. (My vision wasn’t good enough and at the time corrective surgery wasn’t sufficient to rank for pilot. I had made the aptitude tests… but failed the visual tests.)
But it worked out. I became a writer instead, and I don’t regret it.
I have an interest in contagious diseases, sports cars (especially vintage ones), Japanese culture, and bowling. I collect gemstones, moleskine journals, and any figuring my husband lets me bring into the house. (He moderates my desire to collect all of the things.)
Q: Tell us about your book.
Winter Wolf is the story of a woman forced to accept who and what she is in order to save others—even though those others represent everything she hates and fears about herself. It is also the story of a woman’s love of her family and friends.
It’s also my version of a pandemic novel. What if a race of beings faced extinction due to a plague without a cure? It falls to Nicole to find a cure before she loses everything she holds dear to it.
It is also a blatant delving into my love of thrillers. I enjoy writing and reading tense novels.
Q: What inspired you to write “Winter Wolf”?
I could write a novel about the things that inspired the very first version of Winter Wolf. I married my interest in contagious illnesses with a character who wasn’t really equipped to handle the situation, although she had the tools to do so if she found the courage to use them.
Nicole’s story was my first real delving into Urban Fantasy, although I released Inquisitor as the first Witch & Wolf novel. (And Winter Wolf happens a short period before Inquisitor, although both novels can be read as standalones.)
But what ultimately inspired me?
Nicole did—many of my personal interests do fall into this novel, but ultimately, Nicole and all of the things that make up her personality made me want to finish it.
I’m not sure how or why Nicole developed as she did, but I think I wanted to tell a story people could relate to, someone with burdens, flaws, secrets, and desires—someone who had to go from nothing to something far greater to help others. She’s someone who, ultimately, is both a coward and courageous. She’s a living contradiction, like most people.
And by the time I finished writing Winter Wolf, her character still has me asking questions—questions I hope I can pursue in Blood Diamond, the next novel in the Witch and Wolf series.
Q: How much time per week do you spend writing/editing your work?
A lot. Uhm, at current, it is not uncommon for me to spend 14 hours a day working on writing and editing—the closer to release a novel is, the longer and harder the hours become. Even when drafting, 8 hour work days, 5 or 6 days a week, are not unusual.
It’s a full time job.
Unfortunately, this year, I was also serving as an editor for other authors, so I was trying to cram two full-time jobs into one work week. This ultimately meant I decided to retire from editing for others so I could pursue my own novels.
Q: If you could meet three authors, which authors would you choose?
It is with great job I can say I have already met them all, and the experience was absolutely marvelous. But my bucket list was like six authors. I got to meet them all on the same day. I went back to my hotel room after, cuddled with my pile of new, signed novels, and shed tears of utter joy. (No autographed books were harmed.)
But here’s the top three on my list:
Brandon Sanderson. Elantris is still one of my favorite books. Everyone in line had the Way of Kings, and the fact I had brought a pristine, never-read copy of Elantris caught Brandon’s eye. We talked for a few minutes, and he drew a picture in my novel. He’s a wonderful gentleman—and it was worth waiting for him. He’d been delayed to the signing by weather.
I think it pleased him that I had brought Elantris with me, rather than bringing the latest greatest series.
Mercedes Lackey. I wanted to write and read and pursue fantasy thanks to Mercy. She’s an amazing woman, and many of her books are among my favorites. But I can never forget or thank her enough for making me want to write.
There is a picture of her and I hugging on my cell phone, and it is probably one of my favorite photographs ever. I asked her to sign The Black Gryphon, as it was the first book of hers I had ever read.
Patricia Briggs. I adore all of her books. I had been lusting for a copy of the Hobb’s Bargain, which was never on sale at my local bookstore!!! For quite a while. There was one copy at the convention. You better believe I bought it. She signed it, and drew a little coyote in it!
I can’t bring myself to read it. I’ll be getting the ebook version, as I can’t manage to get the book opened without shaking hands over how precious and special it is to me.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on Storm Surge, which is book two of Requiem for the Rift King, my epic fantasy series. I’m also handwriting the third installation of that book, The Tides of War while typing on Storm Surge. SS is already written, but hasn’t been copied into the computer yet. I’m old school. I wrote the entire novel, by hand, in three different writing journals.
I’m doing the same with The Tides of War. I regret nothing. Except my aching wrist and elbow… and the physical therapy that will likely be required as a result. Ouch.
About the Book
Author: R.J. Blain
Genre: paranormal / supernatural suspense / thriller / murder mystery / urban fantasy
The Hunted Wizard
When Nicole dabbled in the occult, she lost it all: Her voice, her family, and her name. Now on the run from the Inquisition, she must prove to herself—and the world—that not all wizards are too dangerous to let live.
The savage murder of a bookstore employee throws Nicole into the middle of Inquisition business, like it or not. Driven by her inability to save the young man’s life, she decides to hunt the killer on her own. Using forbidden magic to investigate the past, she learns that the murderer is in fact a disease that could kill the entire werewolf race.
Forced to choose between saving lives and preserving her own, Nicole embraces the magic that sent her into exile. Without werewolves, the power of the Inquisition would dwindle, and she could live without being hunted.
Nicole’s only hope for success lies in the hands of the werewolves she hates and the Inquisition she fears, but finding someone to trust is only the beginning of her problems. There are those who want to ensure that the werewolves go extinct and that the Inquisition falls.
But, if she fails to find a cure, her family—including her twin sister—will perish…
When she isn’t playing pretend, she likes to think she’s a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband. She is currently on a quest for a new warrior fish.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.
Favorite Books & Series
In no particular order:
Anne McCaffrey’s Pern
Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar & Gryphon Series
Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera & The Dresden Files
Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris
Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega, Dragon Bones, & The Mercy Thompson series
Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time
iTunes Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id912946393