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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Interview with J.M. Robison, author of The War Queen @JMRobison




Hi! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself? :)

I’m a smattering of awesomeness. I like experiencing new things so I could never see myself holding a career at any one place. Which is why I write stories. I can experience something new every day and with every book. I’ve been writing since I was 15 (now 29). I wrote a story in the 1st grade about a Leprechaun who lost his pot of gold but found it at the end of the rainbow. He got attached by a monster at the end just to give the story some kick. I’m in the U.S. Army Reserves and hold the job of Military Police. Full time, I work as a Deputy Sheriff (yes, I’m a female.)

What do you do when you are not writing?
Work at my real-life job, which is where I’m at now as I’m answering this question. I’ve since converted all my beauty products and household cleaners into chemical free. I make my own shampoo and laundry soap. I love the outdoors. Hiking. Camping.

Do you write an outline before starting a book or just write?
I just write. For me, as long as I have a shady beginning, a questionable middle, and uncertain end, I dive in and begin writing. I like to live my life without structure, too. I develop the story as I write it. I could never think up half my ideas on my own without something to prompt them. Writing prompts those ideas.

How do you market your book(s)?
I don’t so much as market my books as I do market myself as the author. I connect with people, ask budding writers on twitter what their stories are about and offer advice if they need it, which they often take me up on. “Read my book please” is something I actually saw on twitter today and, you guessed it, I didn’t read the book. Didn’t even look to see what the book was about. Connecting with people and knowing them as humans first instead of book-buying-robots will get you much further.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
The War Queen was rejected for publication 47 times before Tirgearr accepted me. Why didn’t I give up after the first twenty? Because if I’d given up after my 47th rejection, I never would have secured a publishing contract on my 48th try. You never know where just one more try will get you. I love The Haunted Mansion (the movie) and the part where Eddie Murphy is throwing hard objects at the glass windows to break them before his wife is married off to a ghost. His efforts fail and he slumps down in misery, bemoaning.
“You’re just going to give up?” says the Oracle.
“I’ve tried!” he complains.
“You try, you fail, you try, you fail, but the only real failure is when you stop trying.”
“What do you want me to do?” he asks.
“…Try again.”
Eddie then drives the whole damn car through the window and it breaks. He saves his wife, and the movie ends happy. I F*&$ing LOVE it. That’s what it felt like when I finally got my contract.

I know authors get asked this a lot but do you have any advice that you would give to aspiring writers?
And I LOVE answering this question because it took me 16 years making all the mistakes on my own to finally feel like I wrote something good. Any help I can provide a new writer not to take as long as I did is the sugar in my kool-aid. Follow other writers on twitter who offer writing advice. READ what they post. Had I actually read up on how to write, I could have shaved 10 years off my learning curve. You can join writing groups on facebook too, who offer writing advice.

When did you realize that you would like to write and publish a book?
When I first put pen to paper (I write every 1st draft by hand), I was already dreaming my first book to be a MOVIE. Yes. I aspire that high.

Can you tell us, in your own words not the book description, a little about your book?
Altarn is the first female to secure the title of State Head of Blindvar, which is similar to our current day President in the scope of the political responsibilities. Having females in a position of power is a new and not-welcomed concept (Sound familiar in real life?) Altarn faces biases because of this weird female-in-power gig. She even has reason to believe that Kaelin, who is the State Head of Ruidenthall, wants to take advantage of her perceived female “weakness” and take Blindvar from her. To make sure Kaelin doesn’t launch a military coup to kick her out of power, she travels in disguise to her sister state and ally, Luthsinia. Before she can even ask the king there to help her in the coming war against Kaelin, a war is launched on Blindvar. The kicker, however, is it’s not Kaelin’s army.

To make her startling situation worse, Kaelin is in Luthsinia for nefarious reasons of his own. He finds out Altarn is there, and kidnaps her. He takes her to Ruidenthall and keeps her detained in his castle. The people of Blindvar actually love Kaelin, where Altarn does not, and in the absence of Altarn (no one knows where she is or what happened to her) they flood Kaelin’s boarders to flee the foreign army staking claim in Blindvar. Kaelin accepts the refugees and plans to fight this foreign army out of Blindvar to win the people’s favor who will likely let him claim Blindvar for himself.

But since Kaelin is not willing to kill Altarn for this or keep her prisoner the rest of her life, he frees her, though under the threat that he won’t help Altarn fight this army out of her state unless she agrees to give him Blindvar. Altarn is forced to accept, but then must think of a way not to give Blindvar to him. Altarn almost sees her chance when Kaelin is mortally wounded in battle. If she lets him die, he won’t take Blindvar from her. But can she face her conscience if she does that? Further, if she saves his life, will he still claim Blindvar as planned? Or her heart?


Which came first for you, the characters or the plot?
The plot. I don’t think in all my 8 novels I’ve completed, where the characters have come first.

Where can we purchase this book?
AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01LXD0C6N

Can we expect more novels from you in 2017?
A literary agent just asked for the entire manuscript for my YA historical fantasy based on Victorian Era England, called The Last Wizard. May Fingers cross and stars align.

Are you working on anything at the moment?
The sequel to The Last Wizard, appropriately called The First Sorceress.

Are you reading anything interesting at the moment? If so, what is it?
Good question, for you should never trust a writer to write anything good if they don’t read. I’m reading The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. About this writer who’s had a rough life but appears to have been given a lucky break with a publisher who seems too good to be true. I’m only halfway through it, but I’m liking it.

Do you think you may ever go into another genre?
I have a book planned that will be a religious fantasy:  a made-up religion where the main conflict and plot are centered on this religion. I can’t say I won’t break out of my fantasy box and write something completely different, like a western or more modern fiction, because I just might. Stories find me, I don’t find them. I’m not a writer, I’m an historian for other worlds.

Do you think you will have a follow up book to this novel or is it just a stand-alone novel?
It’s a stand-alone, but I do have plans to eventually write a story about the war that dethroned the kings. It will happen 324 years prior to The War Queen. Aptly called The War King (are you picking up on how I like to title my series yet?)

What is the hardest part of writing in your opinion?
 Wanting to write when personal obligations must come first. *sigh*

Can you tell us a few do’s and don’ts for aspiring authors?
DO establish yourself an author website, get on twitter, and create a facebook author page NOW. Experts say it takes 5 years to gain a following for you as an author. You MUST start before your book comes out. I love helping, so if you need help, contact me.

If you could live in the world you have created, would you? If no, why not?
YES YES YES! I write stories so characters can explore the world I physically cannot. I tend to get this God-complex when I write (the whole creation and creating people, thing). I want to see and touch and feel my creations.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
(Alexander Pope, “Essay on Man,” Epistle II, line 135.)

Because it is true, that the more we see the vices of the world, the more we come to accept them. Virginity used to be kept sacred and people respected that. But now strangers will have rampant sex with each other, and is becoming the norm. Marijuana used to be an evil, but now states are signing bills to allow it for recreational use. The more we see the vices, the more we accept them. Why?

Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?

Don’t’ think your glowing review makes a differences on Amazon or Goodreads? Of course you would never see the author get up and dance, shout out loud in joy that their book had an effect on you. You’d never see them pop the cork to celebrate, or go out to dinner to further relish in the good feeling your review gives us. Writers are strange creatures. Even if nobody bought our books, we would still write them. But to KNOW our books had an effect on you, maybe changed your life for the better (or worse, I guess, depends on the book), or made you question a previous truth… we get a God-complex. We are directly responsible for creating that feeling in you. And we love it.


Random Quickies!


Pepsi or coke?
Juice. Not any that has high fructose corn syrup, either.

Favorite kind of chocolate?
Kinder. Made in Germany. Found in Germany. American chocolate tastes like dirt after having real, European chocolate. Heresy’s can’t hold a candle to kinder.

Favorite book or author? Yeah we know it can be hard to choose! ;)
Susan D. Kalior (Warriors in the Mist).

Hardback/Paperback or eReader?
All but eReader.

Why do you like hardcover/paperback more?
Because inmates in jails don’t have eReaders, because blind people can’t use ereaders (braille, you know.) Because I went to Afghanistan and didn’t have internet to download books, but there was a shelf of free paper backs at the rec center. Because someday we won’t have electricity.

Favorite color?
Glow in the dark

Have you ever been out of the state where you live?

*takes deep breath* I’ve been to… Afghanistan, Romania, Germany, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, KuwaitNebraska, Idaho, Nevada, Missouri, Wisconsin, California, Utah… 


Fantasy
Date Published: Oct 2016
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing

300 years ago, the people dethroned their king and queen to prevent another tyranny. Now instead, the people nominate a State Head every three years and Altarn is the first female to hold the position. She’s used to tolerating the biases of men but Kaelin, the State Head of his territory, has declared her incompetent and has even, according to Altarn, threatened to steal her land – she believes he wants to make himself king. Believing she must “dethrone” Kaelin, Altarn rides to her last ally to ask for aid in the war against Kaelin she knows is coming.  But in her absence an army launches an attack… and it’s not Kaelin’s.

Taking advantage of the startling situation, Kaelin kidnaps Altarn so he can take her land without her in the way. Soon realizing he needs her help to fight this army instead, he releases her and, since Altarn’s army is too small to win the war alone, she is forced to accept his help, but payment for his help will be her land. No one believes Kaelin is secretly trying to make himself king, so after the battle is won, alone in her knowledge and lacking allies, Altarn must become the War Queen of legend to dethrone another king… though she unexpectedly dethrones his heart instead.

About the Author


J.M. Robison is a fantasy historian who chronicles the events which force heroes to reveal their  mistakes, lead rebellions to dethrone tyranny, and unearth ancient secrets to free the oppressed. Having joined the U.S. Army at 17 with a deployment to Afghanistan and Romania, and currently working as a Deputy Sheriff, J.M. Robison has seen a lot of people and been to a lot of places; the evidence of which frequently bleeds into her writing. She loves and uses essential oils. She makes her own shampoo, lotions, laundry soap, face wash, and toothpaste.

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