J.A. Garland, whose latest book Instinct, Book I of The Halfling Chronicles, released today. J.A. will be givng away to one commenter a monogrammed book tote, coffee mug and coupon for INSTINCT.
She's currently working on the second book in the Halfling Chronicles, which pursues the origins of the Halflings and the Shadow creatures who wish to control them.
"It also follows Slade, who tried really hard in book one to take center stage," she said. "In this book he gets full rein, and boy does he take it!"
The plot is the first thing J.A. works with and she has to sketch everything out to make sure she intertwine scenes and get the black moment just right. Then the characters that carry the story line come secondary.
"Sometimes, though, they don't like to play nice. They take that 'breath of life' and run amuck with my plot!" she admitted.
J.A. has a small desk that fits in her small bedroom—with two printers, one color and one black-and-white powerhouse.
"Sentences read differently when they are printed, did you ever notice that? So I like to print them out to make sure it reads exactly how I intended," she told me. "I also have a little divider/holder where I keep my hard copy working manuscripts. Sometimes it gets so full it tips over. In addition, my writing area must be as quiet as possible. I used to listen to music when I wrote, then I realized that the emotion of the songs carried into my writing. Which can be a good and bad thing. Maybe you didn't want flowery and lovey when you were constructing that fight scene?"
J.A. is a fulltime firefighter, working two 24-hour shifts, then two 12-hour shifts. She can't write while she's on shift and too exhausted after her twelve hour shifts to be very creative—so her writing is limited to the other three days, if she doesn't work mandatory overtime.
She's a dedicated morning person and gets up before the sun—around 5 AM and drinks a carafe of coffee. Then she goes for a run—she runs at least six days a week. Her favorite place to run is a nearby park with 500 acres of trails. While she's running, she thinks about the next chapter of her current WIP so when she gets home, she's ready to sit down at the computer and write.
"What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your books?" I asked.
"The support networks out there for authors. Especially the romance guys and gals. They are the most helpful and encouraging group. Any question from craft to publishing to marketing--they have the answer--and are quick to respond. I belong to several groups, and the willingness of those 'cyber' friends to come to each other's aid is absolutely spectacular."
When J.A. heard she was getting published, she had a 'closed door' meeting with her Division Chief.
"For those who don't know, those can either be a really good thing, or uh, a really painful thing. Turned out to be a good thing. He wanted me to know that because of certain clauses in my firefighting employment contract, it was in my best interest to use a pen name. But even without that, I would agree, it's wise to keep the two lives separate. So, the last name of Garland is just that, a pen name. J.A. stands for the first two initials of my name. 'J' is for Jennifer and 'A' is for Amy. You might ask, J.A. or Jennifer, what do people call me? Since I've been in the fire service for about 20 years, I've earned several nicknames. I'll share the P.C. ones," she said with a laugh. "When I'm being bossy, I'm called Captain. When I'm being tough, Jenzilla. Because I'm short, J-Lo, and when I'm just 'being', Jen."
As a firefighter, Jen has had several scary moments in her life.
"Luckily, I've been surrounded by a great bunch of well-trained professionals, so we've always managed to get through it alright. But if I had to pick a day/time when I really thought I was going to die, it would have to be a wildland fire in Southern California. Early on in my career, I kept a journal of events. Here is the entry from that day. It begins with a structure protection scene where my captain left the fire engine, and as a last ditch effort, was putting fire around the houses in order to burn fuels between the wildland fire and the homes. (To slow down the main fire by denying it food)."
As a wall of flame ripped down the canyon, I moved into the driver's seat of the wildland fire engine and put it into gear. I cursed my captain in one breath, in another I prayed like hell he still lived. My foot pressed harder on the brake--Jason and I weren't going anywhere without him. No matter if all the paint on the side of our engine blasted away from wind whipped fire whorls. Not even if a few minutes later all that remained were a set of charred black skeleton hands gripping the steering wheel. Our captain was coming back, and we were staying put until then. The radio was busy with chatter...the Operations Chief concerned with personnel and equipment accountability...one engine hadn't reported in their change of assignment acknowledgment. One engine--us. From overhead, the Air Attack Officer spotted our engine and called in all available air resources to douse us with fire retardant. Viscous stuff, it rained down from the bellies of a squadron of S-2's onto our fire engine, painting us pink. Never one to miss the fun, my captain picked this time to race out of the smoke and flames, a big smile on his face, feet slipping in the wet retardant. Worries, fears, and even anger immediately righted itself within me. We were going to live, and man, the stories we had to tell!"Yeah, so you can see, I've always been a bit of an adrenalin junkie, something that carries over into my writing. For me, pacing is crucial, I like and try to write stories that balance depth with action."
About the Author:
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Lone wolf, Rory Archer, never failed a single mission. Finding himself now the hunted instead of the hunter, Rory unwinds a twisted trail leading back to Amber Arlington, a spirited Halfling tied to a world of Shadows. Bound to vows initially forged out of necessity, Rory and Amber's relationship surges into more than either of them bargained for, tangling them in a web of passion. Scrambling to identify their attacker before joining the casualty list, Rory is faced with doing the unthinkable, or watching Amber turned into a slave for his species. In the battle against Shadows, demons and all variety of monsters come out to fight. Can one wolf learn to trust in time to save them all?