Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Interview with Justine Avery, THE ONE APART

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Other than the book’s description itself, The One Apart is more than a story—it’s an experience.  Expect a family saga, an adventure epic, lots of mystery and intrigue and eeriness.  Expect to delve in, “live” the story with the characters, to love or love to hate all the characters, and to laugh a little, cry a little, and definitely be drive to look over your shoulder to reassure yourself nothing’s there.  Expect to never be able to look at the world, life, and people around you the same way again.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
For me, it was an extremely easy decision and the only option.  I’ve been self-employed for over a dozen years now, and that complete freedom, creative control and decision-making ability, etc. is just not something you want to give up once you’ve tasted it.  I love how self-publishing allows my stories to remain my stories.  I involved the input of others, of course—I want my stories to be the best stories they’re meant to be—but in the end, I get to share my work with the world knowing I love the cover design, for instance, and no contract has forced a crap one on me!  The complaints and agony I’ve heard from contracted authors are astonishing; I’d never ever want to hand over my beloved stories in such a way.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
I’m involved every step of the way.  Having a graphic design background myself—and being an avid reader/book admirer!—I usually get an idea for the cover while I’m writing the story.  I might draft one up, play around with design ideas and fonts, and then get outside input from other trusted creatives.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
The short answer is “no.”  The experience of forced group criticism in college creative writing wasn’t a positive one.  And I’ve since learned that a story is a very delicate thing until it’s actually finished, until the author feels they’ve done all they can with it.  If you talk about the story, its premise, your excitement or your struggles, you’re burning creative energy that could be fueling the next sentences; you’re losing some of the enthusiasm that compelled you to write that story to begin with.  I think story is hurt by outside criticism during its development.  The opinions of others are most useful when the story is “complete” in a good finished draft, and even then, readers need to be carefully chosen for their honesty, appreciation of and respect for story itself, and even their ability to recognize what you’re capable of as an author.  A story is like a child that deserves very careful nurturing. J

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I’m a minimalist when it comes to my writing environment: desk, comfy chair, tea, maybe a piece of chocolate, my laptop, a window with a view.  I try to keep out all distractions, so I can focus solely on the story and imagine myself there.  There aren’t even any cute desktop decorations or anything; those are on the “business desk.” I have to keep out all distracting noise too, so I wear noise-cancelling headphones and play a loop of beach sounds: crashing waves and the occasional seagull going by.  It’s the only thing I can write with: something without words or music that would pull me out of the story but sound that helps drown out outside noises.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I’m a proud pantser!  My process is very simple: start with a tiny story idea, the simpler and less-detailed, the better.  Then, I start writing the story from the beginning. I never know how my stories are going to end up—and for me, that's the whole fun of it. That's why I write! Every story's an adventure, a mystery, an experience waiting to unfold. That's the whole appeal for me. If I'm not having fun writing a story, I imagine no one else is going to enjoy reading it. No outlines exist for my stories. My stories aren't planned; they're dreamed. At most, I may get flooded with ideas for a story while writing it, then have to keep up by jotting them all down and maybe needing to put them in chronological order to refer to them later. But I've found I'm not happiest with even "fun ideas" in a little list to write into the story; that's when creative writing turns into academic writing, for me, with a pre-determined end goal, and all the fun is sucked out of it.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
The One Apart is exclusive to Amazon, for the moment.  All of my other published stories are cataloged at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Scribd, iBooks, etc. etc. etc.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
The same advice I’d give to any new author, writer, or any of us stuck in a rut: write, write, write.  Don’t allow yourself the distraction and hesitation of thinking about writing or reading about it; just write.  Write to gain your confidence, to find your voice, to get damn good, and push yourself to finally share something with the rest of the world.  And forget what others think of your work; if you really love writing for all the right reasons, you will be great at it and readers will recognize that.  BUT… if absolutely everyone says “eh…” about your stories, or only your mother and significant other “love it!” then take that as a bit of beautiful revelation: that you’re still holding yourself back, somehow for some reason.  And you need to dig deeper, into the place where you have no fear, or you’re courageous enough to write about what you fear.  And that’s the writing, the stories, that are pure gold.

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
Everything—anything!  I’m an explorer by nature, having grown up all over the world and still trying to take yet more of it in.  Traveling is one of my biggest passions, but that’s because I’m fascinated by everything, everyone, every culture, every perspective around me.  I love learning it all.

What’s next for you?
More fantastic stories!  My interests are all over the place, and I love following my curiosity wherever it takes me.  I’ve got a list of little story idea nuggets much longer than life will give me time to write stories for and in just about every genre.  I will most definitely write more fiction, short and long, and great nonfiction stories as well.  And I’ll be checking off more countries yet-to-be-visited around the world.


Only one obstacle stands in his way of enjoying a normal life. He remembers—every life he's lived before.

Tres is about to be born... with the biggest burden any has ever had to bear. He is beginning again—as an ageless adult trapped in an infant body.

He and his teenage mother face life filled with extraordinary challenges as they strive to protect, nurture, and hide how truly different he is. But Tres alone must solve the greatest mystery of all: who is he? The answer is linked to the one question he's too afraid to ask: why am I?

In his quest, Tres discovers that all is considerably more interconnected and dynamic than he could ever imagine—and fraught with far more danger. He cannot hide from the unseen threat stalking him since his birth.

Life as he knows it—as all know it—is in peril. And Tres is the only one aware.


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