Every now and then on this blog I do interviews with indie and speculative fiction writers. Today I would like to introduce you to K. J. Garnet, the pen name of Kelly and Jenni, a pair of writers working on a new urban fantasy series about the oracle Val Ferrel.
First off, please tell us a little bit about you and your work.
K: I’m the “K” (Kelly) of the K.J. Garnet writing team. I’m the author of 3 non-fiction books and freelance writer in my field for magazine and editorial work.
J: I’m the “J” (Jenni) of the K.J. Garnet writing team. I’ve been a developmental editor for over twenty years first at major publishing houses and now as a consultant for independent writers.
We’ve written a paranormal fantasy aka contemporary/urban fantasy series about a medium named Val Ferrel who is a special kind of psychic called an oracle. Unlike the Greek oracles, who were seers, our oracles have a special ability that lets them siphon psychic energy from the land of the dead. In our fictional world, psychics are common and the world has evolved to accommodate people with these extra sensory abilities and those without.
When you write fantasy, how do you go about world-building?
K: I’m into the scenes and the details. Once we have the characters, I start writing scenes to get a sense of who they are and what makes them tick. I like to get into the characters’ heads, find out what drives them, and how their interactions affect the story.
J: I tend to think big and then start adding the details-the why of this particular thing/place/animal, how does it work, where can someone get it, what do our characters use it for, when will it affect the plot? For the Val Ferrel series, we didn’t want to get overly complicated, so we chose a familiar contemporary world but added some twists and tweaked it.
What kind of magic systems do you use?
J: We’re writing a contemporary supernatural or paranormal series, so our “magic” is a fast and loose version of ESP-empaths, prognosticators, mediums, telepathy, telekinesis. There’s a bit of superhero-ness without the origin story; the powers just exist in our world and the technology grew up right alongside it, like jewels imbued with psychic energy protects people from intrusive telepaths, or machines generate energy fields to block the psychics from using their innate powers.
Do you have a writing routine?
J: I try and write every morning except on the days I know Kelly will be writing. We share the same file and try to meet at least once a week to discuss the latest scene or chapter. Sometimes our talks go on for three or more hours since we’re still evolving our writing partnership. We’re getting better at predicting what the other one meant or intended. Having a broad outline of the story helps to keep us on track although we both have a tendency to come up with a lot of new and shiny ideas. My editorial side always urges us to stay on track, and setting a publishing deadline reminds us not to get too distracted.
K: Unfortunately, I have a demanding day job. My writing time is limited to weekends and whenever there’s a spare hour or two. I was desperate in the beginning to contribute late at night after the work day was over, but that didn’t work well. Scenes were treading into the psychedelic.
What made you decide to become an “indie” author?
J: Control. I like being able to control all the aspects of production, publishing, and sales. I like being the boss of my creative endeavors.
K: What she said. Love the fast turn-around time as well. I’m getting too old to wait 2-3 years from agent to publication!
What have you already published?
J: This is my first published work.
K: This is my fourth and fifth but we’ll count it as first for fiction.
What are you working on now?
J: We’re working on the third book in the Val Ferrel series, ORACLE IN CHARGE. After that, sky’s the limit-we have a ton of ideas plus a handful of half-finished projects.
Do you make your covers yourself or do you hire a cover artist?
J: We’ve hired a cover artist and designer.
What do you think are the advantages of indie publishing? Of traditional publishing?
J: The biggest advantage of being independent is the money-we receive 70% of
our sales. No traditional publisher gives that kind of royalty. Plus, we control all aspects of the publishing-no publisher would give us final approval on cover art and design, interior art and design, marketing strategy, cover copy/sales copy, pub release dates, formats.
For us right now, there’s no advantage to being with a traditional publisher. Our goals are different than a traditional publisher, so being independent works better for us.
K: Also, our books don’t have a 3-6 month shelf life before being remaindered. Word of mouth works well on the internet.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
J: If you’re thinking about publishing yourself, hire (at least) a copyeditor and a cover designer. Have common sense expectations-it will take time for your potential fans to find you. Keep writing, keep publishing. Make mistakes, learn from them, do better next time. Never forget that publishing is a business.
If you’re not quite ready to publish, learn how to self-edit. Read everything. Do your homework on the craft. Don’t rely on spellcheck. Finish your projects even if you don’t think they’re “good enough”. It’s always easier to edit a draft than to struggle with the “perfect” sentence or scene or plot. Remember this is not a zero sum game-you are not competing with all the other writers in the world. Write what makes you happy-not all stories are for all people, and that’s okay.
K: For indie authors, remember you are your own promotions department. Learning something about advertising copy and marketing will be extremely helpful.
How can people get in touch with you?
They can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
And here’s the description of the first book of the series, Oracle in Doubt:
A failed psychic medium is forced to work with an enigmatic government agent to close a gate to the afterlife before it releases the dead back into the world of the living.
Val Ferrel was once a successful psychic medium for the Boston Police Department, until a botched case blew out her abilities and ended her career. Fleeing to the West Coast to escape family responsibilities, she struggles to make ends meet. When a simple job for a ghost-hunting show puts her in contact with an angry ghost and activates startling new psychic abilities, Val knows she’s in over her head.
Agent Daniel Norris, director of the Agency of Extra Sensory Remedy and Response, is cool, confident, and plans everything to the last detail. His Agency’s directive is to prevent the aristocratic psychic Families from returning to dynastic rule; his mission is to control a feisty psychic the Agency blames for the appearance of a new gate to the afterlife. But as Val destroys plan after well-laid plan, Daniel never dreams they’ll both hold the key to solving the case.
Working with the stuffy Agency director is the least of Val’s problems. Can she stay hidden from her own family before the aristocratic syndicates move in? More importantly, will she be able to control her own powers before the living fall prey to the dead?