October Guest Star Interview
Last month, I introduced you to the Master of Magic.
The month of October sees me a very happy lad indeed as I welcome the King of Vampire tales to my blog. Yes, say hello to none other than:
J.R. has kindly taken the time out from his busy schedule to tell us a little more about himself and his work.
So, tell us a bit about yourself, perhaps something that isn’t already included on your bio. Who is J.R Rain?
Hi Andrew! Thank you for having me here. I’m quite honored. The real J.R. Rain is someone who lives a simple life on a faraway island in the back of beyond. My home has been dubbed The Tree House. It’s a beautiful structure that pokes out through the evergreens that surround me and gives me a majestic view of Puget Sound. I’m also someone who gets up early and works until I’m tired. That could be just a few hours or all day long. I love hanging out in coffee shops and occasionally bars. I’m a sucker for football and I read all the books I can on metaphysics. Come to think of it, those two subjects might just be polar opposites, ha! Well, nothing wrong with a little duality in one’s life. You know, a little good mixed with a little dark never hurt anyone, I say. Keeps things interesting, I say.
What or who inspired you to write?
My father initially. I just got such a thrill knowing that he’d written two children’s novels (both are available through Kindle--Kurt and Captain Annie and Jimmy). Sorry, shameless plug. But, hey, it’s for my pops! Anyway, I shortly discovered that my mother was also a writer and had published two articles and worked as a newspaper reporter! Holy smokes! Who knew I came from a family of writers? It was quite a revelation.
You are best known for a number of well known works. The Vampire for Hire series, the Jim Knighthorse series and the Spinoza series to name just a few! Tell us, do you have a particular favorite series or one that you really enjoy working on. If so…why?
I mostly enjoy writing standalone novels, truth be known. My novels, The Body Departed, Elvis Has Not Left the Building and Silent Echo (and incidentally, The Body Departed and Silent Echo just sold to Thomas & Mercer, Amazon’s publishing division!) are some of my favorites. All are standalones and not part of any series. For me, a standalone novel present endless opportunity to explore new storylines, new characters, and new ideas. With that said, my favorite series character is probably Jim Knighthorse, as I pour most of myself into him. I always say he’s me, only bigger, badder and better. Samantha Moon has a gentle sweetness to her that resonates on a whole other level for me. I care about Samantha deeply and want to look out for her. Almost like a big brother.
You have a new novel that has just come out what are you willing to tell us about it?
Yes! It’s called Temple of the Jaguar and it’s written with my good friend, Aiden James. We’ve been meaning to team up on a novel for some time, and decided to pick this project. Temple of the Jaguar is actually a 20,000 word novella...but boy-oh-boy do we pack a lot in 20,000. The story is centered around a relic hunter named Nick Caine, a looter with a conscience. He finds himself knee-deep in trouble after the alluring Marie Da Vinci hires him to find the legendary Ciudad Blanca, the lost White City purportedly located in the Honduran jungles. We had a great time putting this one together.
What made you choose that title? And, where did the idea for this specific story come from?
The Mayan temple at Tikal is called Temple of the Great Jaguar, so I’m not afraid to admit that I swiped the title from the Mayan themselves! As far as the idea for the story...well, I wanted my adventurers on a quest for something other than El Dorado, the lost city of gold. So I happened upon stories about Ciudad Blanca...and was intrigued.
Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
Well, there’s always something new in the works! I will be releasing The Vampire in the Iron Mask in about a month. It’s the third and final Spinoza story. I’m currently writing the second book in the Spider series. Spider was first introduced in Bad Blood, which I co-wrote with Scott Nicholson and HT Night (my brother). HT will not be involved with the sequel, although he might write the third book on his own. Also, there will be a brand-new Samantha Moon novel coming out before Christmas, called Moon Island.
How many books have you written now?
I’ve written and published 40 books. That includes 24 novels, 5 short story collections, 2 screenplays and 9 children’s books. The children’s book I wrote when I was in high school, and I’ve since published them under the pen name J.K. Drew.
You are a prolific writer. What do you think it is that makes your books stand out from others in today’s competitive market?
Ah...the million-dollar question, eh? I write emotion-driven stories. Meaning, I go for emotion first, action second. I enjoy plumbing a character’s psyche to see what makes them tick. My stories are an emotional journey, and I think some readers enjoy the experience.
What advice would you give to an unpublished writer?
Sign on to Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords and Lulu and get published! These days it’s a piece of cake to get published. The real question is...how to find readers? You find readers by working hard at your craft, honing your skills, and writing the best books you can. No short cuts. Buy books on writing. Study other authors. Take it seriously and treat writing as both an art and a business, and you just might go far.
If you don't mind J.R, I think the readers would like to find out a bit more about you. So...
Are you a reader? Who do you enjoy reading?
I read all the metaphysical, spiritual, New Agey books I can get my hands on. Fascinating stuff. As far as fiction goes, I’m a huge Robert B. Parker fan (probably not a surprise to a lot of readers). Stuart Woods is pure entertainment. I’m a Hemingway enthusiast or perhaps fanatic! I read everything I can about the man. What a legend! Bukowski and Bradbury will forever be close to my heart.
Is writing your only talent?
When I was younger, I always wanted to be an artist. A cartoonist, actually. I think I can sing, but you’ll never hear me--unless you happen to be in the car next to me!
How do you find time to write?
These days I write full time, but back when I was married and had a full-time job, I wrote from 9:00 pm until about 1:00 am. Being married and commuting two hours a day and writing when you’re exhausted is no easy task. In fact, I call those the bleak years. But you do what you have to do to make it happen.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Well, I find the whole process challenging. Writing will probably never be easy for me, although I work hard to make it appear that it’s easy. Truth is, I struggle over sentences and paragraphs and motivation and plot and just about everything else. There’s a reason why most writers celebrate like rock stars when they complete a book. It’s a massive, exhausting journey.
Do you have a writing vice that continually haunts you? If so, what's the cure?
Ha! Well, probably my proclivity to writing shorter books. I’m a slow reader, so I enjoy short novels. I really don’t need to know all the detail of a character’s life. Read the list of authors above. Parker, Woods, Hemingway, Bukowski and Bradbury do not write big books.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Write about your hometown. After all, you’re already an expert. Samantha Moon, Knighthorse and Spinoza all live in cities I’ve lived in.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I don’t see it as writer’s block. I see it as your subconscious letting you know that you’ve ventured down the wrong path. It’s up to you to be brave enough to venture back to see where the problem is.
What is one novel book that you would recommend?
Easy! Louis L’Amour’s The Walking Drum. What a glorious piece of writing that is. An epic adventure novel. Perhaps the greatest adventure novel of all time. Why this hasn’t been made into a movie, I’ll never know.
What do you think makes a good story?
A story that touches you on a soul level, that resonates deeply.
Is there a genre that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?
I’m planning to write a science fiction novel. A mystery set in the far future. Space opera really, as I’m no scientist! Ah, the solitude of space, the exotic settings...geez, that holds a massive appeal to me.
It’s five o’clock somewhere…Let’s have a drink! What can I get you - and why?
Pour me a Guiness Extra Stout, Andrew! I love that burnt, roasted flavor. I seriously think I was Irish in a past life.
J.R. I've heard you can find out quite a lot about someone by the choices they make. So, lets see what the readers make of your answers in the choices round!
Boxers or briefs? Briefs
Jennifer Aniston or Penelope Cruz? Penelope Cruz
Underworld or Twilight? Underworld
Wine or beer? Beer
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
Candlelight or dark? Dark
Cake or fruit? Cake
Bourne or Bond? Bourne
Vampires or werewolves? Vampires
Magic or psychic powers? Magic
Alien or Predator? Alien
Pleasure or Pain? Pleasure
What would you say are the top 10 list of movies?
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
3. The Princess Bride
5. Groundhog’s Day
6. Romancing the Stone
8. Star Wars
9. The Truman Show
10. Pirates of the Caribbean
J.R. Thank you so much for being with us today. You’re a busy guy – I know – so I really appreciate the time you’ve spent here. (And I know the readers will too).
As a fan myself who has read almost all of your books – I can’t wait to get around to reading Temple of the Jaguar, (already downloaded to my kindle) and I look forward to seeing what else is in store for the future.
Until then readers, please be aware you can find out more about J.R. Rain and all his work at his website: