When was the last time you visited a museum or attended a concert? Visited a historical site? Ate at a great restaurant? The draw of all these activities is rooted in our desire to experience that which stirs the senses, whether it be sight, taste, sound, smell, or touch. The people behind these experiences, the painters, musicians, architects, or chefs, all have one thing in common – they create.
The word ‘create’ is simple, yet powerful. Everything that surrounds us is a result of an act of creation. From the first moments we discover the use of our hands, we create. As children, we spent a great deal our energy creating crayon art, play dough sculptures, sand castles, digital worlds, Lego worlds, and endless stories.
As adults, we have less and less time to spend in carefree acts of creation. I find this sad, but I’m guilty of it as well. Ever since I shifted my writing from something I did as a hobby to a career, that element of carefree play has been lost. Each time I sit down to write or edit something, it’s to meet a deadline, a goal, or a career milestone.
That said, I still enjoy the act of creating new ideas and putting those ideas into a story. There is a rush of fulfillment and joy every time I get to hold a new book or anthology in my hands for the first time. Finishing a project that has taken weeks, or months, or even years is an emotional thing.
Using ‘create’ as a power word means to remind myself how much I enjoy the process of writing. It’s a reminder to make progress on other creative projects, like the half-finished crochet Totoro that’s been stuffed in a box. It’s gentle encouragement to try something new.
Ultimately, the joy that comes from creating art; whether it be visual, edible, or word driven, can’t come from any other pursuit. It’s the ability to look at something with pride and say, “I made that.”
When I heard the news that Jana was releasing a new book next week, I had to grab her for an interview. As friends and fellow authors, Jana and I have bounced around at various Utah writing events together and had plenty of fun. I was super excited to learn more about her journey and inspirations in this interview.
On to the interview!
To kick things off, tell us three things about yourself that most people don’t know.
I always love these questions. There are so many odd things to delve into.
Well…first of all I ran a medievalist fighting group for seven years in my college and post college days. I specialized in archery and sword and shield fighting.
My first job in the publishing world was as an Executive Secretary and jaded reader for a small magazine. I opened all of the envelopes – yes this was in the very early internet days – and read all the submissions for content and rejected anything that didn’t fit the magazine’s standards. Then I organized the rest of the subs and prepared them for reading groups.
I love to travel! I’ve been all over the US and visited Norway, Hong Kong, Singapore, England, Scotland and Wales. I’ve also been trapped at the airport in Amsterdam twice, but I don’t think that counts for much.
As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal and why?
My fuzzy killer cat is my spirit animal. She’s a little older, like me. She’s a little cranky, like me. She’s occasionally a murder hobo…erm…no comment. But when she chooses someone as her person she’s kind, fuzzy, loyal, and phenomenally loving.
You have a new shiny book coming out! Tell us what it’s about and also the journey leading to its creation.
Said in Stone is my new book baby! It comes out April 9th and I’m so excited. This book kicks off a sister series to my Sentinels of Essence series which begins with Fallen Stone. When I introduced the world of Fallen Stone there were some great secondary characters who I really wanted to tell stories about. However, the Sentinels of Essence series is in tight third person and there just wasn’t a way to expand without breaking that. So I created the Chronicles of Alexandria for short stories that happen in the same world, but involve the other characters.
Said in Stone contains six stories about our heroes dealing with: zombies, a Borg-like collective, gremlins, hellhounds, a specter, and the unseelie court. I love these close character stories where I can focus on moments in these character’s lives, and toss in some surprises for people who read both series at once. You can read the Chronicles separate from the Sentinels of Essence, but together they make a much richer story world.
Every author has a favorite character they’ve created. Who is yours, and what inspired you to make them the way they are?
I have to choose one?!?! That’s like asking me to choose my favorite kid. I love them all, but if I had to select a favorite it would be Dianna McDunna. Dianna’s story hasn’t been published yet, though it will have its day soon. Dianna began as a character in an online RPG where I played for years. I love her because she’s got that kick-ass confidence we love in a UF heroine, but she’s a little older with all the baggage that means. She leads a group of supernatural hunters and takes their welfare very personally.
What is the most interesting thing you keep on your desk and what is the story behind it?
Hah. Near my desk are skeins of yarn and half finished crochet projects. When I’m stressed, or my subconscious needs some time to ponder something I’ll pick up a yarn project and start working. I find crochet tremendously soothing and when my hands are busy my muse gets a chance to work without the pressure of the screen in front of me. I give away some of my projects, sell some, and others are donated to cancer centers, hospitals, and children’s organizations. I figure my frustrations can help others!
Tell us about what you are working on next!
On the schedule for this year are two more novels. The next book in the Sentinels of Essence which is titled Fallen Leaves and a paranormal romance which is going to have a title one of these first days. 🙂 I am playing around with the idea of a pen name for that one, but we’ll see how things go!
I have presentations coming up for several conferences so I’m also sketching out PowerPoints and handouts, definitely all part of the writing dream!
Thanks for having me!
About Jana S. Brown
Jana S. Brown has been involved in publishing as an Author, Editor, Presenter, Slush Reader, and grundle of other positions (Yes, grundle is the technical term) for over 20 years. She writes the weird and the wonderful with smoochies and prides herself at being a jack-of-all-trades and master of enough.
When the cat’s away the mice will… Play? Fight? Fall in love?
Featuring six short stories from the supernatural world of Denver, Colorado and the mystical Library of Alexandria, the answers are Said in Stone:
Zombies Don’t Play Baseball: What happens when a book on necromancy falls into the wrong hands after the Cubs win the World Series?
Welcome to the Collective: A glimpse into the Heart of the Library where dwells something more than books.
Convention Shock: All Peter Haas wanted was a day off at the DenCon fan convention. What he got…gremlins, lots of gremlins.
How to Train Your Hellhound: Angel the Hellhound goes to obedience school and finds a life of crime.
Merry Christmas to You: One haunted opera house and one visionary storyteller. Can they create sweet music?
The Door to the EverGold: When books are in trouble and knowledge about to be lost, there’s only one place to turn. Librarians to the rescue.
Special Sneak Peek from Convention Shock
Haas closed his eyes, forcing himself to process her words. He allowed her to pull his arm away from his chest and heard the sound of ripping fabric as she tore his sleeve away. It occurred to him that now he really looked like Kirk after an away mission with torn clothes and mussed hair. Though for Kirk the blood was colored corn syrup.
Soft fingers patted his cheek. “Come on. Stay with me.”
Haas blinked a few times. “Bridge to Engineering, please stand by.”
New Release Special Offer!!!
Jana’s book, Fallen Stone, the first book in the Sentinels of Essence series, is ON SALE for $0.99 from April 5-12.
The month of November seemed to fly by faster than normal, there was way too much going on and not nearly enough time for any of it. We celebrated Thanksgiving and three birthdays. Then there was the decorating and the cooking and the other dozens of things needed to prepare for the holidays.
As for NaNoWriMo, my rebel project hit a wall at the 15,000 word mark when I realized that I had a major plotting issue. I call it my rebel project because instead of writing a new piece of fiction I chose to put the polish on the book I’ve been fighting to finish.
The problem goes something like this – everything was fine with the story, but it needed something to give it a little oomph. To do this, I combined the roles of a more minor character with a main character. This made so much sense in the planning phase and I was really excited at the different possibilities it offered. Now I can have a love triangle along with all the action and adventure.
However, as I began my revisions and started changing that character to fit both roles I had a terrible realization. I need him to be a part of a mini quest with another character but I had neglected to figure out how he gets involved with that character in the first place. They are not an obvious pair, and for the life of me I have yet to find a great way to get them to work together.
So, I shelved my revisions until I could find a way to fix this problem it out and started a crochet project instead. This is avoidance behavior at its finest. Now that I’ve taken a break and let the problem stew for a while I think I’ve found a way to fix it. I’ll need to write it out and see if it will work.
My new pair of slippers, I love the flowers!
A cozy tam for the colder weather
On a happy note, I did manage to finish and package up a short science fiction story for submission to a few magazines. I’m crossing my fingers that all goes well, this is my first time submitting to a professional market that isn’t a contest. If all goes well, I plan on doing more short stories for magazines. ‘
For the month of December I plan to pick up the manuscript once again, fix the plotting problem and continue revisions. I would still love to finish this round by the end of the year, but it looks like it might take a bit longer.