The first week of the tour features the first book, Jenny Pox, and you can check out the review that Pushy and I wrote when we first discovered the genius and awesomeness that is Jeff Bryan.
Heather: The Paranormals series has followed Jenny, a girl whose touch transmits a plague like pox, as she navigates small town life in isolation. When she discovers her opposite in Seth, a boy whose touch can heal people, Jenny’s life is changed drastically when she can finally have somewhat of a normal life. And that’s when all hell starts to break loose. Where did you get the initial idea for this series, and how did you expand it into three books?
Jeff: Initially, the first book was more of a character study than a plot-oriented story. I had lots of ideas about Jenny, her life, and how her power would shape her existence. It was also obvious from the beginning that she would have an opposite, a boy with a healing power who could touch her, so that would be her first real human contact.
Expanding into three books was just a matter of following the implications: Ashleigh would have an opposite, whose touch spread fear instead of love, and he’s really the catalyst who expands the story – that’s why the second book is named after him. At the same time, it didn’t seem fair that Jenny could ONLY be with one guy in the world, so she needed another option in order to have a choice. Alexander isn’t just resistant to the Jenny pox, he actually feeds on it – it enhances his power. So that was a new twist rather than just having another guy who happened to be immune.
Heather: Alexander Death is the third and final book in The Paranormals series. How does it feel to wrap this successful series up, and do you have any plans to revisit the characters in the future?
Jeff: It’s both satisfying and sad to wrap up the series. I’ve spent a lot of time with these characters, and I’ve enjoyed all the great feedback from bloggers and other readers who have really connected with them. But, like the third book cover says, all things must end, and it was time to bring the story to a conclusion.
I do sometimes have thoughts about continuing the story, but there’s nothing solid right now. So much was resolved in the trilogy that I would need to start an entirely new story arc, and I’m not sure what that would look like. It’ll be some time before I write more about Jenny, if that happens.
Heather: You explore the mythology behind what kind of beings Jenny, Seth, Ashleigh, Tommy, Alexander, and Esmeralda really are much more deeply over the course of the three books. How much research went into deciding what they were, and how much did you twist to fit your mythology?
Jeff: My basic conception of them is loosely based on Lovecraftian ancient beings, from the chaos before our current universe. I imagined such ancient evil entities learning to incarnate among humans. Some keep to their original nature, expressing their inner evil in the human world. Others learn and evolve from their experience. I think it would be hardest for Ashleigh to evolve, because if you can make everyone love you without any effort, you’ll never really learn about love at all.
Since they reincarnate, I found places where they would fit into history – as gods, witches, sorcerers, things like this. For the second book, I researched places where plagues had served as a turning point in history, and eventually settled on the Peloponnesian War, where a plague in Athens helped alter the course of the conflict between Athens and Sparta.
What did I twist to fit my mythology? Probably everything I touched, in particular the history and mythology of ancient Egypt and Greece. The first big pyramid in Egypt was the Step Pyramid, and that was built for Alexander, who was incarnated as the pharaoh at the time (though they weren’t called pharaohs yet). I think this fits pretty well with his late 19th/early 20th century incarnation in Fallen Oak, the same obsession with death, legacy, and leaving monuments to himself.
Heather: Who would win in a cage match between Jonah from the Haunted E-book, Jenny, Tommy, and Alexander from the Paranormals series, and Douchette from Mid-Afternoon? By the way, my money’s on Douchette because I always bet on the one with the weird name.
Jeff: Hmm…Jonah would have the advantage of nobody really being able to touch him. He’s a slippery ghost. But the vampire Douchette would have the advantage of coming from a world where very little makes sense and there are lots of wild cards. I think Douchette would win by first letting Jonah take the living humans, and then he’d probably trap Jonah in some kind of book. Probably a Sesame Street board book for toddlers, just for the humiliation factor.
Heather: Yes! And I would now be at least fifty grand richer! Eat that UFC, and this proves the dominance of batsh*t crazy vampires over other supernatural creatures.
Jeff: As if there were ever a doubt.
Heather: What has been the best part of writing and publishing your own books? And the most unexpected? One thing that I love about Indie writers is the shorter time between books. You’re able to give the readers a new novel in less time without sacrificing quality.
Jeff: The best is just having an outlet. I used to have a cycle of writing books, sending out a flood of query letters to New York literary agents and so on, then going into kind of a bad depression because it was nearly impossible to get published or even to get representation. It’s so much easier to write now because I don’t have to worry about any of that nonsense – I just pick my own cover artists and editors, and when the book’s ready, it goes on sale, available all over the world. I love ebooks, the Kindle, the Nook, all of that. As you mention, that’s so much faster than the years it can take to get a book published by a traditional publishing company.
The most unexpected part has been the huge level of support I’ve gotten from book bloggers and also from other indie authors. It’s amazing that the book blogging culture is out there to provide support. I don’t have to spend time “selling” books, I can just send out review copies and provide content like guest blogs, and that way establish a presence and relationships in a very informal kind of way.
Book bloggers are kind of everything to indie authors – you can imagine a world with book bloggers but no indie authors, but it’s kind of difficult to imagine a world with successful indie authors but no book bloggers. So, I would say it’s very unexpected that writing turned from an extremely solitary (and kind of hopeless) activity into an intensely social one. I’m fortunate to have made friends with so many great writers and bloggers.
Though sometimes bloggers have unusual requests, like wanting you to name characters after them and things like that.
Heather: And Pushy and I think that every book should have at least one character named Heather–they really are the most versatile characters *wink*
Jeff: See what I mean?
Heather: Hey–oh well, get to work on your next trilogy. It is called The Chronicles of the Fabulous Heathers, right?
Jeff: Um, spoiler alert?
Thanks, Jeff, for an awesome interview and being a great sport. And for the record–yes, the character of Dr. Heather Reynard in The Paranormals was named for Pushy and me.
About JL Bryan – website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads
J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He enjoys remixing elements of paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, horror and science fiction into new kinds of stories. He is the author of The Paranormals trilogy (Jenny Pox, Tommy Nightmare, and Alexander Death). Fairy Metal Thunder is the first book in his new Songs of Magic series. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, his son John, two dogs, and two cats.
She devotes her life to avoiding contact with people, until her senior year of high school, when she meets the one boy she can touch, and she falls in love.
But there’s a problem–he’s under the spell of his devious girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.
Now Jenny must learn to use the deadly “Jenny pox” she’s fought her entire life to hide, or be destroyed by Ashleigh’s ruthless plans.
And now for the contests:
Prize #1 – The chance to win a gorgeous, Jenny Pox themed bracelet featuring the caduceus for Seth’s healing power! All you need to do is leave a comment on this post and you will be automatically entered in the giveaway. Comment by 11:59 CST, October 24, 2011.
Prize #2 – The second giveaway is a Kindle Fire, skinned in the winner’s choice of Paranormals artwork and loaded with an AMAZING indie library! Simply fill out the form below (just once during the course of the tour) and you’re entered to win the latest and greatest from the biggest name in eReaders: an Amazon Kindle Fire! Open US/Canada. See full contest rules here.
And check out all of Jeff’s other tour stops. The first week will focus on Jenny Pox, the second week will focus on book two, Tommy Nightmare, and the third week will feature Alexander Death! There will be a daily jewelry giveaway at each stop. Full schedule can be found on JL Bryan’s Kismet Book Touring page.
Jenny Pox week:
Monday, October 17th – Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, October 18th – Fangtastic Books
Wednesday,October 19th – Coffee Table Reviews
Thursday, October 20th – Splash Of Our Worlds
Friday, October 21st – The Unread Reader