Thursday, July 3, 2014

Interview with Author, Selah Janel

I had the awesome privilege of getting to interview Selah Janel as she promotes her newest work, Olde School. It's also cool when you read someone's interview answers and realize how alike you are! Read on and check out her really unique stories (yeah, I realize that "unique" tends to get overused, but it is very fitting to Ms. Janel and her works) :D


Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. The many people around her that supported her love of reading and curiosity probably made it worse. Her e-books The Other Man, Holly and Ivy, and Mooner are published through Mocha Memoirs Press. Lost in the Shadows, a collection of short stories celebrating the edges of ideas and the spaces between genres was co-written with S.H. Roddey. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil, The Grotesquerie, and Thunder on the Battlefield. Olde School is the first book in her new series, The Kingdom City Chronicles, and is published through Seventh Star Press. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.

TA: First, introduce yourself to our lovely readers.

SJ: Hi there, lovely readers! I am Selah Janel and I tend to write all sorts of speculative fiction. I gravitate to fantasy, urban fantasy, and horror, though my new book, Olde School, is cross-genre. Really that means I can write every genre at once and wreck them all in one fell swoop. I also have worked professionally in theatre and entertainment for a while in costume design and construction. I am a lover of ideas and a reader of everything.

TA: As a writer myself, I'm always interested in hearing about the writing process of other writers. Would you care to discuss how you approach your writing?

SJ: For me it depends on the title. This newest one is a little bit of an anomaly for me, because it originally was supposed to be a short story and turned into a series. However, everything usually starts with a concept or basic idea. It usually involves me wondering about something or noticing a quirk about something I see or think about in my everyday life. There are so many cool things right in front of us all the time; it amazes me and drives me a little crazy that people aren’t in awe of the entire world around them! When I think of all the people I pass by daily and all the stories they’re currently living, or the little moments or things I pass by when I’m out and about...there are countless ideas and inspirations just waiting to be explored. It’s beautiful, a little bit of magic in the mundane all sitting right in front of our eyes.

 After I have a concept or basic idea, I usually start developing a loose plot and delving into the types of characters the story might have. Once I have a basic idea and the characters, I’ll usually know exactly what I want for the first few pages of a short or the first three to five chapters of a story. I usually have an ending in mind, or at least a direction. There may be a couple other plot points that I definitely want to have, but I leave the rest open to give the characters time to develop and give me more ideas. I find that the longer leash I give them, the more headspace I have to be inspired by their personalities and the possibilities they present. I’ve learned that at least for me it’s very rare that I can plot out a story point by point and have it work. In my writing I need wiggle room, I need that space for growth. I don’t like writing to specific genres so much as I do writing what the story or the idea calls for. For me, keeping that point of view helps me focus on details and characterizations that hopefully connect with readers rather than if I was going into things trying to write a “horror” story or a “fantasy tale about a different world.” I’ve also found that I will overwrite tremendously in the first few drafts and then once I get edits back I’ll do a lot of shaping and tightening on my own, especially with my book manuscripts.
It’s not uncommon for me to revamp whole sections or really dig in and finesse something or change something around later in the game if it’s not ringing true to me.

TA: As far back as you can recall, what was the first story you ever wrote?

SJ: As a little girl I definitely went through the phase of re-writing fairy tales and other stories I was familiar with in my own style, but I’m fortunate that I actually have some really early stories scrawled out on that large, grey/tan paper with those really wide red and blue lines, usually accompanied by some scribbled illustration. There was one about a witch trying to be nice, and another about a tooth not wanting to be brushed. The earliest, though...when I was little I was given this blue plastic typewriter. It was finicky on its best day and I wasn’t allowed to play with it very often because I would just go through paper like a madman, trying to get the keys to type perfectly. I slammed out weird little snippets, fairy tale re-vamps, all sorts of things. A few years ago I was going through a mountain of stuff my parents had saved and I actually found some of those stories! I’m going to wager that the earliest was this really short piece about an evil dragon named Jack who kidnapped a princess. I still have it, and I actually featured it (and other stories from my childhood) on my blog under the tag “the lost manuscripts.” I cringe and laugh so hard posting these! It just kills me how egotistical and shameless I was as a little girl. It’s just beautiful, especially reading this particular piece because I fully remember and acknowledge thinking one particular piece of dialogue was so brilliant and crafting the whole story just so I could use a particular line that I thought was just hilarious at the time! I also apparently had the idea that if I changed like a letter in a name that no one would EVER know I was referencing a Disney heroine or myself (I cannot tell you how many leading ladies my childhood stories had that was basically me with a very obvious name change. Self-insertion at its unapologetic finest)!

And yes. There is recording evidence of this story called, appropriately, “A Story of the Middle Ages.”
Don’t judge me.

TA: What are some challenges you face as a writer and author?

SJ: My brain tends to move faster than my time constraints. I have so many ideas, and the past couple years have been a little rough trying to adapt my daily schedule to fitting in all the writing I want to do, plus all the promotion and business work I have to do. I’m still trying to find that balance, and it still drives me a little crazy, though I will readily admit it’s a worthwhile battle.

I tend to...I don’t know that putting myself down is an accurate term. I think I get overwhelmed sometimes because my ideas tend to be a little out of the box, so it’s hard to bounce concepts off people if they aren’t used to me. Sometimes that turns into me wondering if it’s a viable idea or if I’m doing anything remotely worthwhile. I eventually get out of that funk and carry on, because that’s what you need to do. I get impatient with myself – I’ve always said I’m my absolute hardest critic. It’s not necessarily that I want everything right NOW, but I can see how things could play nicely together later down the road, so I have to curb myself from trying to play in every idea at once or going ahead with something that just plain isn’t ready yet. Patience and balance are definitely things that I wrestle with every single day.

TA: Tell us about your newest works.

SJ: Olde School is the first book of the Kingdom City Chronicles and was released in March through Seventh Star Press. I’m so proud of this one. It’s been a lot of work and it’s turned into a combination of so many of my loves: fairy tales and folklore, urban fantasy, horror, silliness...I feel like it really turned into a book that is truly, definitely from me.

Kingdom City is a fairy/folktale based society that’s modernized. Trolls use laptops, there are just as many CEOs as royals, princesses use dating sites to attract suitors’ attentions. It’s not too much different from our world in that they view magic as fiction or old wives tales. Within this world, Paddlelump Stonemonger is a successful businesstroll, though many brush him off because he looks and acts too nice. Even his house maid starts to try to manipulate him, not to mention the fact that the city politicians are after his land!

And then he finds out that magic really is real, and it’s horrible. There’s a lot of fun characters in this book – feisty waitresses, talking animals, troll businessmen, goblin lawyers, an ogre sheriff. It’s a lot of fun and there are a lot of different layers to it. Even if you’re not familiar with some of the stories I draw from, you can appreciate it as a fun adventure. It’s one of those titles where I think there really is something for everyone, since it draws from so many different genres and blends them together in a unique way.

TA: What's coming up for you? Plug away!

SJ: I just re-released a short, historical vampire story through Mocha Memoirs Press. Mooner takes place in a late 1800’s lumber camp saloon and explores what happens when you put different personalities and moralities together in a small enclosure on one of the few evenings where a group of strong-personalities can cut loose. To add to it, the central character is fairly na├»ve, and then in comes a stranger with a terrible thirst who will do anything for a drink.

I’m also working on pieces for a couple of anthologies, as well as preparing some stories for an issue of Trail of Indiscretion dedicated to my fiction. I’m also polishing up two stand-alone novels and getting ready to shop those out. Then there’s always Kingdom City! I’m hoping to do a side collection of short stories based around the female characters of the first book, then move on to book two. There’s a lot I want to do, and I’m really excited for all of it! Thanks so much for having me on your blog so that I could talk about my projects!

More on Olde School by Selah Janel

Book One of the Kingdom City Chronicles

Available at:  Kindle       Amazon Paperback   Amazon UK    Nook    B&N Paperback     Kobo

Cross-Genre: Fantasy, Fairy/Folktale, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Horror

Kingdom City has moved into the modern era. Run by a lord mayor and city council (though still under the influence of the High King of The Land), it proudly embraces a blend of progress and tradition. Trolls, ogres, and other Folk walk the streets with humans, but are more likely to be entrepreneurs than cause trouble. Princesses still want to be rescued, but they now frequent online dating services to encourage lords, royals, and politicians to win their favor. The old stories are around, but everyone knows they’re just fodder for the next movie franchise. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as magic. It’s all old superstition and harmless tradition.

Bookish, timid, and more likely to carry a laptop than a weapon, Paddlelump Stonemonger is quickly coming to wish he’d never put a toll bridge over Crescent Ravine. While his success has brought him lots of gold, it’s also brought him unwanted attention from the Lord Mayor. Adding to his frustration, Padd’s oldest friends give him a hard time when his new maid seems inept at best and conniving at worst.

When a shepherd warns Paddlelump of strange noises coming from Thadd Forest, he doesn’t think much of it. Unfortunately for him, the history of his land goes back further than anyone can imagine. Before long he’ll realize that he should have paid attention to the old tales and carried a club.Darkness threatens to overwhelm not only Paddlelump, but the entire realm. With a little luck, a strange bird, a feisty waitress, and some sturdy friends, maybe, just maybe, Padd will survive to eat another meal at Trip Trap’s diner. It’s enough to make the troll want to crawl under his bridge, if he can manage to keep it out of the clutches of greedy politicians.

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My stories, "The Cemetery by the Lake" and "Dusk to Dawn" are available at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK. More retailers will follow, but Smashwords is pretty compatible with most e-reader and PC formats.
and Amazon
"The Cemetery by the Lake" at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK
"Dusk to Dawn" at Smashwords
Tiffany on Goodreads
My music is also available at CDBaby
Support great authors and independent bookstores at Smashwords and Indiebound

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