Welcome to the beautiful and talented author JC Andrijeski. JC agreed to answer some of my questions, providing a fascinating glimpse into her fascinating world. I found her unique, insightful, deep and mysterious. Have a look and see what you think:
Bio: JC Andrijeski has published novels, novellas, serials, graphic novels and short stories, as well as nonfiction essays and articles. Her short fiction runs from humorous to apocalyptic, and her nonfiction articles cover subjects from graffiti art, meditation, psychology, journalism, politics and history. JC currently lives and writes full time at the foot of the Himalayas in India, a location she drew on a fair bit in writing the Allie’s War books.
- What genre do you write in? I’m kind of all over the map, really, but I mostly write paranormal romance/ urban fantasy type stuff, in that my longest series, Allie’s War, falls into those genres. That series now consists of five novels and a novella: Rook: Allie’s War, Book One, Shield: Allie’s War, Book Two, Sword: Allie’s War, Book Three, Shadow: Allie’s War, Book Four and (as of last week) Knight: Allie’s War, Book Five. The novella is actually part of a secondary, prequel series I have planned in the same world and with many of the same characters. The first of these, New York, Allie’s War, Early Years has been out since November of 2011. I also recently started a YA science fiction /dystopian series, called The Slave Girl Chronicles, and I have two middle grade novels as well, Jack Dervish, Super Spy and Maya Papaya, both of which have planned sequels. I also write short fiction in various genres and some nonfiction articles and essays, graphic novels, screenplays…
- What is something that surprised you about being an author? It’s a lot more like starting up a small business than my younger, more idealistic self would have ever realized. As a result, having a business and project management background has helped me more than I would have guessed, in terms of managing the career end of things. I’m not afraid to tackle that end myself, which I know isn’t true of all writers, so I feel extremely lucky in that respect.
- What one word describes how you feel when you write? The writing process itself is just fun for me. I tend to really get out of my own head, my own problems, even an awareness of myself. I’m pretty single-minded when I write, and that focus and clarity feels really freeing.
- How much are the characters in your book like you or people you know? Hmm…I honestly don’t know. I don’t make up characters based on anyone I know. I know I ‘borrow’ traits and language quirks, though, and some of them end up being composites. I’ve also written characters only to realize later that they were roughly based on someone I know in real life…but it wasn’t intentional at the time. Funnily enough, in both cases these were villains.
- Have you ever resolved a real life issue through writing about it in your book(s)? I definitely learn a lot about myself when I write. I think I’ve resolved a number of things over the years…or at least clarified how I felt about this or that person or experience or occurrence in the world. Interestingly, it’s almost always in retrospect, though. My subconscious (writing) mind is a lot smarter than the one I use for day-to-day thinking, so it tends to pull things together and provide clarity in ways that I can’t on my own, meaning when I try to chew over them in a more linear fashion. I feel like writing has taught me to see people as far more complex and contradictory than I initially wanted to believe, too, lol. What makes a person “good” or “not-good” is something I’ve chewed over in my subconscious for most of my life, for whatever reason.
- Do you normally eat breakfast, or do you skip it and get straight to work? Ah, hopefully my mother won’t read this, because I’m really bad about breakfast. I usually don’t eat until around noon, unless you count coffee. Generally I get up, meditate, stretch and do sit-ups and the like, then get to work…making coffee somewhere in the midst of the rest.
- What do you like to do when you are not writing? I love to read, travel, go to museums, ride horses, hike, wander around cities and stare at people…drink coffee and talk philosophy with friends. I also dabble in painting and photography, and I’m a big movie buff. I like aquariums and I positively love to swim, in pretty much any form…scuba diving, snorkeling, laps, floating around on my back, horsing around in a pool. I’m a big fan of water. I’m going to Thailand in a few months, and all I can think about is the ocean, since swimming in India is pretty much a no-go for me, at least where I live, in the Himalayas.
- Do you have pets? If so, what kind? Where are they when you write? I have a stray dog here in India that I’ve ‘sort-of’ adopted. I say sort of because my landlady won’t let me keep her for real…or let her into my apartment. I call her Rosy though and play with her and occasionally give her baths. Back in Portland, OR, where I used to live, I had a rabbit that ran around free in my house. He was a funny, funny character and really cantankerous. He’d run around my chair in circles when I didn’t pay enough attention to him, or thump his foot while I was writing, or even nibble on my toes. I still miss that little guy, actually.
- Where and when do you prefer to do your writing? My best time to write is in the morning. I mostly write at my desk, which has a beautiful view of the mountains and I get eagles flying by my windows and monkeys wandering by on the balcony, which is pretty cool. I also write in coffee shops here and there, but this is such a small town I end up running into people I know, so I’ve learned to only do that if I need a social fix, because I won’t get as much work done.
- Your thoughts on receiving book reviews – the good and the bad Honestly, this may sound bad, but I don’t pay a lot of attention to individual reviews, unless there’s some kind of pattern…and even then, it really depends. The nature of writing is that it’s completely subjective, and I know writers who’ve been paralyzed by a few bad reviews, even over pretty innocuous things, so I’ve tried to take the “learn and move on” approach. Good reviews are nice to hear, but I honestly take them with a grain of salt, too…I also know people who have been paralyzed because they got a lot of attention for something they wrote, and they worried they’d never live up to it with their next book. That being said, I’ve been really lucky that most of my reviews have been positive (so far at least, lol), but I was probably overly-cautious on waiting until I was “good enough” before I published. The first book I put out there was the fifth or sixth I’d actually written, and those over a span of fifteen years during which I really worked to hone my craft.That being said, I did have one guy who got really strange on me, who kept writing me emails and posting his negative review of one of my books on every site he could find…so yeah that was a little unnerving. But with him, it wasn’t that he didn’t like the book, it was more how aggressive he got about wanting a reaction from me. But that’s someone who’s got some kind of emotional issue, not a reader who simply didn’t like or connect with my stuff. Most feedback I get seems sincere to me, so that’s fine, I have no problem with that, even if it’s negative. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and frankly, I never expected everyone to like what I wrote. There are people who hate, hate, hate writers that I simply adore and think are brilliant, so I figure hey, it’s art. If you don’t occasionally hit someone’s buttons, you’re probably doing it wrong.
- What’s your favorite quote? Ah, there’s so many good ones, aren’t there? I’m fond of the oft-cited one by Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
- What’s one thing about you that a) gets you into trouble and/or b) you feel is a fascinating characteristic? If a), how does it get you into trouble? Honestly, there’s something about me that just seems to get me into trouble and/or stumble me into good fortune on a regular basis. I’m not sure what it is, but my friends laugh about it. I am a weirdo magnet, too…but most of all, a weird experiences magnet. I’ve been in major earthquakes, a hurricane and several blizzards. I’ve been mugged by gypsies, arrested in Poland, had my train catch on fire, was nearly abducted, and have been stalked and had a biker gang out to get me…but I’ve also never been seriously hurt, and always managed to get out of whatever trouble I’ve attracted. I also got to meet the Dalai Lama along with a number of other famous people, and have received windfalls of money or the perfect job, right when I was sure I was out on the street. I ended up on Indian television in a giant dance party, was in a Superbowl halftime show, meditated in opal mining caves in the Australian outback and befriended a senator on a plane when I was a kid. I’ve both won and lost money in equally (large) amounts, and I’ve had a number of close calls on my life that are pretty weird…both in how they happened and how I got out of it. I still remember my sister’s reaction when, at my last off-site business retreat in Portland, OR, my client’s 6,000+ square foot house burned down in a raging, 7-alarm fire while I was in it. All my sister said was, “Why you? Why does this stuff always happen to you?” I had to laugh, because she’s right. It’s a wonder I’m still alive. I definitely have some kind of neon sign on my chest that says, “Chaos welcome!” The fact that I now live in India just makes this redundant.
- Do you feel like you have a message you want to convey through your writing or do you do it solely as entertainment? The messages kind of come through, regardless. I don’t know that they are ever really intentional, although I have my obsessive issues and burning questions, sure. A lot of these reside around discernment and how you know you’re on the right path for yourself, as opposed to being duped or manipulated along someone else’s agenda. I’m also very fascinated by sexual and romantic relationships, and what it takes to make one work, especially when two strong personalities are involved.
- Do you listen to music when you write? What kind(s)? Yes! I do. I’m a big music freak, actually…but also pretty eclectic in terms of genres. I listen to a fair few soundtracks while writing, just because I find the words distracting at times…but I also listen to trance, ambient and classical for the same reason. Sometimes I blare more alternative or hip-hop type stuff, too. I have song lists compiled for each of my major books series, so yeah, I’m a big geek in that regard.
- Who has been your greatest influence in writing? I’m honestly not sure. I tend to get obsessive with particular authors I like, reading everything of theirs, and then I move on. I think when I was younger, I would imitate the writing style of whoever I was into at any given point…but once you develop your own voice, that kind of stops happening, even though I still pick up a lot of tricks, ideas, craft and structural styles from other writers, of course. The book that probably influenced me the most as a kid was Watership Down. The world that Adams created still kind of blows my mind.
- Anything else you’d like to add? Thanks so much for having me on here! The only other thing I’d say is that I positively love my job. I honestly think I’m one of the luckiest (non-writer) people I know, at least in terms of career…just because I get to do what I love full time, and every day. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s really amazing what a difference it makes, getting up every morning excited about my job. It’s been a long time in coming!