Good evening! Tonight on the blog we’re interviewing B.J.Sheldon, the author of THE DUSTY CHRONICLES trilogy. The first book, HAUNTING, was published in April 2013, but is being released with a new cover on September 1st. The second book, at the moment entitled IMPRINT, is due for publication in 2014.
Here’s the synopsis:
Haunting is a recipient of the Reader’s Favorite Silver Medal.
“After a family tragedy, 15-year-old Dusty Vermeer has to start her sophomore year in a new town and a new school. Rural Iowa introduces her to Mark, a charming football player. Dusty can hardly believe her heart. Then, to her surprise Dusty meets another guy.
The chemistry between Dusty and Jack could spark a prairie fire on a rainy day. The only problem? Jack’s dead. The handsome soldier comes to Dusty in her dreams and introduces her to the horrors of a foreign battlefield and the enchantments of first love.
While Dusty tries to balance her feelings for the two new guys in her life, Jack steps out of Dusty’s dreams and into her reality. And he wants something. Jack has no memory of how he died more than half a century ago. Dusty vows to uncover the mystery, but her quest for justice puts her in the path of evil, a force that won’t stop until she’s silenced.”
BJ Sheldon grew up a farmer’s daughter outside of Hull, Iowa, the setting of her YA paranormal romance, Haunting. She graduated from the University of Phoenix with a bachelor’s degree in Project Management. After losing her job in 2009, she rediscovered her love of writing and hasn’t looked back since. These days, she spends the majority of her time writing, reading, working on furniture DIY projects and playing with her cats while listening to classical music. She now lives in southern New Jersey with her husband, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, and her three daughters.
1) First of all, how DID you come up the idea that became HAUNTING?
There’s a long version and a short version. The short version is that I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal and was looking for something different to write about that would appeal to the “Twilight” crowd. The long version is this – I grew up in an old farmhouse that had once belonged to my grandfather. It was a large house that made a lot of noises…and as a little girl, your mind begins to wander. Then, in 2009, my husband and I were talking about ghosts after watching a popular paranormal television show and my mind’s wheel began to turn. At the time, I had just picked up part time work where all of the women were completely fanatical about the “Twilight” books and movies. Watching these super fans, I realized then that I wanted to write an impossible love story involving a ghost. And Jack and Dusty were born.
2) HAUNTING is the first book in a trilogy. How will you feel when it comes to an end? Will you write more books set in that world?
I honestly haven’t really thought about how I’ll feel when my series comes to an end. I love the dynamic between Jack and Dusty and the love they feel for one another. We all know that their relationship was doomed from the beginning, but I am anxiously waiting to see how it all plays out on paper. As for writing more books set in that world, the answer is most likely…yes. I love writing paranormal romance. It allows me to create a world within a world where the only rules that exist are my own.
3) The characters in HAUNTING are very vivid– do you focus on the way you portray your characters heavily, or do you find it just comes along with the writing?
My characters are developed in a couple of different ways. When I initially sat down to write “Haunting”, I created a template that outlined Dusty’s entire look and personality. Her likes, her dislikes, hair and eye color, hobbies, pet peeves, etc. When I began writing, this allowed me to create a basis for who she was, but as I began to write she started to take on some of the same traits as both my teenage daughters and me. All of my characters started one way in my head, but as the story progressed they all told me who they wanted to be. I think most authors will tell you that sometimes their characters will take on a life of their own. Dusty, Jack and the entire gang from Hull, Iowa were no exception.
4) Talking of writing, how would you describe your writing process– do you set yourself a weekly word count, or a deadline, or do you just let your muse take over?
Okay…so my writing process. It’s ugly. My life is full of crazy stuff. I have a part-time job that leans more toward full-time some days whose hours are all over the place. So, I write when I can. Sometimes that’s during the morning. Sometimes it’s a few hours in the afternoon. Sometimes I’ll do a marathon evening session. I usually have two days off each week. So, I’ll get all my errands and chores done on the first day off which leaves me a full day later in the week to write. I don’t necessarily give myself a word goal each time I sit down; however, I do keep track. Now, this is all hinged on whether or not my dog, cats, husband and children leave me alone long enough to actually get any writing done. Strangely enough, when I’m writing the TV is generally on in the room. I try to make it something boring or something I’ve seen tons of times so it doesn’t distract me. During those times I am writing a particularly difficult scene, the TV will go off and I’ll put on some music. Hunter Hayes, Michael Buble, Imagine Dragons and One Republic are my favorites right now.
5) The story of HAUNTING is very detailed, and readers are eager to see what happens in the following books. Is it all plotted out? Do you plot every detail, or just brief outlines of the books?
Oh, the lovely outlines. I’m torn on outlines. Do I use them? Yes. Do I follow them? No. Take the outline for the sequel to “Haunting” for instance. I worked out the plot for the sequel before the final draft of book one was even finished. I wrote it, rewrote it and rewrote it again. I came up with what I thought was the perfect continuation of Jack and Dusty’s love life. Man…was I wrong. My poor outline is covered with pen…both black ink and red. The basis of the original story is still there, but much has changed…and I believe for the better. I wrote out a rough outline for where I thought book three would go and how the trilogy would end. But because of changes in book two…and a midnight epiphany, book three’s outline is being tossed and will be completely redone. But if I’m positive about one thing in life, it’s this – it will ultimately change again by the time I’m done writing the final book.
6) On the subject of the following books in the trilogy, any news of when we can expect to see book two, IMPRINT (if that’s correct?), published?
Book two is tentatively called “Imprint”, but that will most likely change. I have completed the first draft and am hoping to complete revisions, rewrites and edits by the end of October…but hopefully sooner. As for a release date, it all depends on how full my editor and publisher’s plate is. But I am aiming for my 42nd birthday…March 18, 2014. Good goal, don’t you think?
7) Most writers write to be written. Your journey to publication with HAUNTING was certainly an unique one, involving Twitter. What happened?!
I got my literary contract through Twitter. Yes. I am one of those exceptionally lucky people to have been at the right place at the right time. For the past few years, I had pooh-poohed Twitter saying very publicly to friends and family that I would never go on Twitter. But, I had also once said I’d never own a mini-van…and well, I drive one. After being on social media and reading about how important it was to use Twitter as an author for marketing, I caved. Within two months, I made contact with a woman who worked closely with a publisher who had seen my synopsis for “Haunting” and asked me to send her a query. She liked it and sent it on to her publisher. I was asked to submit a full manuscript for consideration, and the rest is history. The moral to this story? Never say never. You “never” know what you might miss out on.
8) Related to publishing books, on your website you’ve told us about a book set in New York. Is this still on the cards? Is it something we can expect at some point in the future?
Oooh. My New York story. I love love love the concept behind this unnamed book. It is absolutely still in the cards, and once The Dusty Chronicles has been completed, I hope to start on it…unless another muse hits me first. First things first…before I write the story, my goal is to go to New York City and spend a few days there. I want to walk the streets where my protagonist will walk and see where she’ll live, and take a taxi to where she’ll work. I want to walk in her proverbial shoes as it were and really get inside her world. Then, and only then, will I do her character any kind of justice. But I can tell you this…it will most definitely be a paranormal romance.
9) Also, you dropped an hint on Twitter the other day that you and another author are working on a secret project together! For your fans, rumours have sparked that it could be a co-written novel– is there anything you can tell us about this?
I have no plans to co-write a novel at this time. But what I CAN tell you is that I have announced I will be re-releasing book one of The Dusty Chronicles, “Haunting” with a new cover designed by Eden Crane Design. It is absolutely gorgeous, and I am absolutely thrilled with it. It will be re-released on September 1st with the new cover.
10) in your newspaper article, you said you wouldn’t write another series. Do you still plan to publish books after the HAUNTING trilogy is over?
I will absolutely keep publishing after the trilogy is complete. I won’t say I won’t ever publish another series, but I’m finding they are very difficult to write. The first book is easy. It’s where you lay out the basis for everything. But when you get to the second and third books, you already have a norm you must follow. So, like I said before…never say never. But, it would need to be the right story…something I become so obsessed with that I can’t think about anything else.
11) In the news recently, we discovered that J. K. Rowling used a secret pen name when she moved into a completely new genre. Is this something you would ever do, or would you want your readers to know you’ve written a certain book, no matter what it is?
1) You know, I’ve never thought about this actually. Maybe if decide to write a Sci-Fi novel or a contemporary romance…perhaps. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. In the meantime, I’m just happy that there are people that know who I am and who have actually read my book.
12) What’s your favourite thing about being an author?
My favorite thing about being an author is the process of getting the words out of my head and my imagination and onto paper. From there, it’s all about people reading my words. Whether they hated my book or loved it, knowing that people have actually picked up my book and read my blood, sweat and tears make it all worthwhile. I initially started writing as a way to alleviate stress and leave a kind of legacy to my daughters. But it has grown beyond that.
13) If you could meet ONE character from HAUNTING, who would you choose and why?
This is a tough one. If I could only choose one character, I guess it would be Jack. Why? Jack is the epitome of heroism and chivalry. He loved Alice with all his heart, and thoughts of their future together drove his desire to get home at all costs and be with her. I’d want to sit down and talk about the life he had planned for the two of them. And then when he lost her, I’d want to know how he managed to deal with that loss in a way that allowed him to move on. Jack faced the ultimate fear which is the fear of death. I’d want to know what that moment was like. When I created his character, I started out to build the perfect man. But perfect is boring. In the end, I’d love to sit and discover his flaws. Hopefully, some of those flaws will come through in the next few books.
I have a Recently Read video coming over the weekend for HAUNTING, but I really recommend reading HAUNTING as soon as possible!
And finally, here’s the brand new cover!