YA Indie Carnival: My Indie Idol, JL Bryan

23 Sep

Happy Friday, folks! 

First, before I get into the YA Indie Carnival, I want to talk about Little Things.  Yes, little things.  This morning in the car, I had the sunroof open and the air smelled so good– like Fall.  Crisp, clean and like falling leaves and sunshine.  That made me happy because I am a person who loves Fall. 

I had a cup of delicious hot coffee in my lap, the breeze was perfect and the sunrise was beautiful.   Which brought to mind how sometimes the little things in life can be so wonderful, even though they are so small.  It reminded me of a website that I found one time that had a list of these little things that make us smile.  You can find it here.  And it is a great reminder of all the blessings that we have. 

Okay… Onward.   This week on the YA Indie Carnival we are talking about our Indie Idol.   This is a difficult decision- I have so many that I absolutely adore.  But, I decided on J.L. Bryan.  And this is why….

Back in April, many of you know that Wren Emerson is who talked me into going the indie route.  She was so passionate about this path that I thought it must have some merit.  But there was one other thing that swayed me that I haven’t talked about.  At that time, I decided to read a few  indie authors so that I could see what kind of quality we were talking about.  I was hung up on the stigma that indie authors are sub-par and low-quality.   Boy, was I wrong.  Sure- some are.  But some are amazing.

J.L. Bryan was the first indie author that I read— I picked up his Jenny Pox and I was floored at the quality of his writing.  Sharp, superb, witty.  And I immediately became a fan girl of Jeff Bryan.

And then lo and behold, a few months later as circumstances would have it, he became a friend of mine.  Life is strange, right?   (And I’m still a JL Bryan fangirl, btw.)    He actually sent me a beta copy of his Paranormals series finale, Alexander Death, which I recently read (um, inhaled).  

Alexander Death is the series finale to the Pararnormals series (Jenny Pox, Tommy Nightmare, Alexander Death).   And it was phenomonal!  Now, before I get started, I will add a disclaimer.  These three books are on the dark and edgy side. They are not meant for younger teens. They contain drug use and sexual scenes.   However, if you like Stephen King and Dean Koontz-esque books, you will love them.

Unfortunately, as much as I would love to go in-depth, I can’t reveal a lot about the plot of Alexander Death, because I don’t want to include spoilers.   But I can say that JL ties up loose ends with a neat, lovely bow.  While the majority of this series consists of heavy stuff, you are left feeling uplifted at the end of Alexander Death.  If you liked Jenny Pox, you should pick up this book.  Jenny truly comes into her own and becomes a force to be reckoned with.

As a special treat, Jeff’s actually here today for an interview.  Yikes!  Hold onto your seats…

Hi Jeff!  It’s soooo awesome that you are here to answer a few questions.  I promise- I’ll try to restrain myself from gushy, fan-girl stuff. 

Thanks for having me, Courtney!  I can handle gushy, fan-girl stuff when necessary.

So.  Um.  Other than gushy-fangirl-stuff (OMG- I love your work!), let me think….since I’m lucky enough to have you here, I don’t want to give you the same old, same old.  Hmm.

You can do it!  I have confidence in you.

Ooh- here’s a good one.  Your work has been compared to Stephen King.  And even though your voice is definitely your own, I personally think that you’ve got a very King-esque quality about your writing.  Is that something that you purposely aspire for or is that your natural writing voice?

This is something I do hear a lot, which is nice.  It might just be because a lot of people are familiar with Stephen King.  If people were comparing me to Bentley Little or some lesser known writer, then I would be more surprised.

I did grow up reading every Stephen King book I could get my hands on, and that wasn’t easy, because I wasn’t allowed to read him as a kid.  And that was because I suffered intense nightmares and my imagination was very good at coming up with things to terrify me at night, even before I’d fallen asleep.  So I had to smuggle these forbidden books.  One thing I admire about him is his ability to create very real characters, so that by the time horrific things start happening, you really do care and don’t want anything bad to happen to them.  So I hope to have that quality of characterization.  I don’t make any effort to “sound” like anyone else, though.

The Paranormals series is fairly dark, but in being dark, it also illustrates a distinct contrast with lighter elements in the world.  Is this something that you purposely planned when you plotted out these books?  Is that something that you wanted to illustrate… that yes, there are hideous things in the world, but that there are things that are good and true out there also?

It may be a case of the darkness illuminating the light.   I started the story with a strong sense of how Jenny’s paranormal ‘power’ would shape her life, and a life where you can’t touch or be touched is going to be a sad and lonely one.  I think throughout the series she finds, and we find, that it’s more of an ‘Ashleigh’ world than a ‘Jenny’ world.  Large institutions aren’t to be trusted, as they attract people who are interested in power.  The goodness in the world is found in individual relationships, in emotional connections between human beings, not in adherence to an ideology or to larger, more formal social structures.

One thing that I love about your work is that you don’t sacrifice content for the sake of pleasing everyone.   You label it as being for more mature audiences and then after that, you make no apologies. I love that, because I personally feel as though that kind of edge is needed in the Jenny Pox books to accurately portray her situation.   How do you handle it when you hear complaints of how… um, graphic your novels sometimes are?  

I think this may be part of the reason why the books seem to appeal to writers.  (Really, the only reason anyone’s ever heard of Jenny Pox, before it got popular on blogs recently, is because of Amanda Hocking constantly promoting it.)

If I think something is right for the story, I’ll do it.  Another reality is that I considered Jenny Pox a horror novel when I wrote it—I’d never heard of YA paranormal, as I hadn’t read any YA since I was in elementary school.  It just wasn’t on my radar.  But the characters are adolescents, so I wrote about that part of life as honestly as I knew how, and it turns out this has really connected with a lot of YA paranormal fans.  They’ll say it’s grittier and edgier and more original than most YA paranormal, though, and that’s because it’s really not YA paranormal.

I don’t get many complaints about the ‘adult’ content since putting the disclaimer on the book, though.  Some readers really like that the teenage characters act more like real-world teenagers.  It’s not sanitized for anyone’s protection.  Neither is real life.

So, the last Paranormals book comes out soon (woohoo!).  How did it feel to bring that series to a close? I know I’m writing the Bloodstone Saga’s  finale right now and it actually makes me a little sad.  I’m going to miss those characters.   Were you the same way?   

It doesn’t feel completely finished yet, partly because I’m waiting to see how readers respond to Alexander Death, whether they found the trilogy satisfying overall.  And I’m doing a blog tour for The Paranormals starting in mid-October, so I’ll still be talking about these books for a while.  I think when the tour ends in November, that’s when it really will be over.

And now what are you planning?  I know you are releasing a lighter series about Fairies (Yes, you guys heard me correctly.  JL Bryan is doing fairies! I can’t wait for that!).  Do you want to share a little about that?

Sure!  The first book, Fairy Metal Thunder, actually came out this week.  As I write this, I haven’t gotten any reviews or heard anything back, but a couple of review bloggers have put out promising tweets about the book.  It’s a change in tone that’s very refreshing to me after the dark world of The Paranormals trilogy.

The new series is about a teenage ‘garage band’ who steal some enchanted musical instruments from the fairy world.  Fae folklore is full of descriptions of the power of fairy music to enchant humans, and this isn’t something that seems like it’s been deeply explored in today’s paranormal novels about fae. 

In this story, the kids use the instruments to become rock stars, but of course the theft makes them some powerful enemies in the fairy world.  Unlike JennyPox and its sequels, these books are appropriate for all ages.  We just had a baby on June 2, so that might be part of the reason I’m in a very different mood these days.

Ok, last one.  When you became an indie, did you have any idea of what a passionate, huge fan base you would acquire?   Have you gotten used to it or is it something that you still have to shake your head about sometimes? 

I’m still surprised at how intensely people respond to these books.  I actually think the books are just picking up steam now.  I get Google Alerts about blog reviews I didn’t have to request, or bloggers who are new to me tell me on Twitter or my blog that they’ve reviewed it.  I recently saw where a blogger had added JennyPox to her TBR list “because everyone is reading it.”  That must be a sign of something.  I’m not sure exactly what it is about the book that brings such a powerful emotional response.  It’s strange that nearly everyone I meet in the world of book bloggers and indie authors now seems to be familiar with my work to one degree or another.  I certainly hope it keeps building! 

Okay.  That’s it.  I somehow managed to restrain myself from gushing.  So, huge props to me for that.  Thank you so much for being here, Jeff. It’s always a pleasure speaking with you. I can’t wait to read your new series!!

Thanks, Courtney!  I look forward to finishing yours!

OMG.  JL Bryan is reading my work?  You guys will have to excuse me while I go die.  In the meantime, you might want to check out some of my colleagues’ postings today.  Have a great weekend!

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6 Responses to “YA Indie Carnival: My Indie Idol, JL Bryan”

  1. JL Bryan September 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Thanks for having me visit, Courtney!

  2. Brittany Emerick September 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    I almost died when saw J.L. Bryan was your indie author today! I just bought Alexander Death and I’m soo excited to start it! I’m a fall girl myself so I’m happy to feel it coming too 🙂 Thanks so much for the great interview and I hope everything is going well with finishing The Bloodstone Saga!

  3. rachelcoles September 23, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    That was a very engaging interview. I’m getting all these new authors to look up today. Thank you! I need to look up The Paranormals series.

  4. Amy Jones September 23, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    Great post Courtney and Jeff! I will have to add Jeff’s new fairy series to my TBR pile. FYI, I’m a gushing JL Bryan and Courtney Coles Fangirl! 🙂

  5. Fisher Amelie (@FisherAmelie) September 23, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    Amazing as always, Court. Jenny Pox was in my TBR but I think I’ll give it a little push to the top of the list. 🙂

  6. trgravest September 24, 2011 at 1:24 am #

    Great post and interview.

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