Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Interview and Giveaway with Jamie McDougal Author of Echo Falls

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

My pleasure. I’m an American expat now living permanently in beautiful Australia. Stories have always been a part of my life, and I can still remember how thrilled I was when I learned how to write. (A permanent record of my writing! Not always a good thing…) My first short story featured my brother making the earth uninhabitable with a nuclear fart.

Things could only improve from there.

The funny thing about Echo Falls is that I always told myself that I wouldn’t write about werewolves or vampires. I adore both, but I didn’t want to say, “I’m going to write about vampires/werewolves. Now I have to think of a story.” I didn’t want to write supernatural for the sake of writing supernatural.

Lo and behold, the story came to me. Phoebe, my main character, crashed into my mind in an absolute panic (the first chapter), making me scramble for my pen and notebook. By the time I finished writing that first chapter, I sighed and said, “This is about werewolves, isn’t it?”

The story wouldn’t let me go, though, and I am happy with the way it turned out. Instead of a story about werewolves, I have a story about people who happen to be werewolves. The distinction is a fine one, but I wanted their wolf sides to be a part of their life rather than the reason for their literary existence.

What is it about the paranormal, in particular werewolves, that fascinates you so much?

Oh, by far it would have to be the pack dynamic. People have a lot of ‘packs’ that they drift in and out of (and sometimes stay in) in the course of their lives. But werewolves take that element to an entirely new level. You can have a significant number of people all bound together and subject to the rules of this one thing, and they might never talk to or see each other in ‘regular’ human life.  Even with the wildness of the wolf, you have the order of the pack – from alpha to omega.

That yin and yang of wild and calm is what will always keep me coming back for more werewolves.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

Oh, absolutely. Even though she is the main character of Echo Falls, Phoebe was very hard to write. She didn’t want to give me any details. As a survivor of traumatic events in my life, I understood why it was hard to get into her head; it was a matter of getting into my own head and recognizing feelings there.

Phoebe and I are different in every other way, but that common element meant that it wasn’t until I was into writing the second draft that I felt like I had a real handle on her as a character.

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

I almost hate to admit it, but I had the most fun writing Mia. She is a mean and nasty person, but she is also unabashedly herself. Oh, she acts different around certain people to manipulate them, but she has no qualms about showing her true colors to the people who don’t matter to her.

She is one of the best bad people I have written in a long time.

Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?

I used to be all about letting things flow organically, but that’s not the case anymore. Because I floundered so much with Phoebe and wrote so many drafts of the book because of it, I have taken up character sheets.

I have notecards with their basics so I don’t forget eye color or other things like that, but I also get into their history. What is the character’s favorite possession? When does the character feel the most vulnerable?

I will keep going beyond the basics until I feel like I truly know the character.

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

That’s an easy one, actually, because it occurs at the beginning of the book. When Phoebe wakes up in her apartment and Aidan is there. I think it’s a fun introduction to both of them because you get his good nature and you get her feeling too tired to feed into all her hang-ups. There is also something she says that it one of my favorite lines in the book, but I don’t want to spoil it.

Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?

I loved researching for this book because I got to watch a lot of wolf documentaries. The specific most interesting one was researching how a pack hunts. In an earlier draft, I didn’t have a hunt scene. Then a beta reader told me that having a wolf transformation without a hunt scene was like sex without the orgasm. (She’s an awesome beta reader.)

So I ended up sitting down with a bunch of wolf hunt scenes, taking notes as I watched. I loved getting to know how they both worked together and did what they thought was best to bring down the kill.

What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?

Haha. I once spent a week in a pub (they had rooms) in a tiny country town learning about how a pub works. That was a lot of fun. The entire town adopted me and I was shouted (bought) drinks, invited over to the bowls club (I’m terrible at lawn bowls), invited sheep shearing (which I turned down because I’m so not a morning person) and much more. To this day I absolutely adore that town and everyone in it. I can’t wait to go back.

Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?

The only things that make Echo Falls different are that it doesn’t exist and that werewolves live there. I didn’t want the city of Echo Falls to be dramatically different from ‘Anywhere, USA’ because the story is about the characters rather than anything else.

I did, however, take inspiration from some of my favorite places around the world to create Echo Falls. The waterfalls spaces were inspired by waterfalls in the north island of New Zealand. The mountains were inspired by some mountains here in Victoria called The Grampians. The smaller elements of the city center of Echo Falls were inspired by some of the smaller, historic suburbs of Melbourne, while pretty much everything else is based off the city where I am currently living.

So, luckily, I was able to take a lot of inspiration from a lot of different places to create a map for my characters to wander around in. I’ve heard from readers that they want to read more about the town and what it’s like, so I’m having a lot of fun exploring that in the upcoming book, Fading Echoes.

With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?

As I am currently writing the second book, I can’t say anything concrete yet. But I will say that I fully intend for the books to be read as standalones if the reader chooses. The second book takes place nearly twenty years later, so you will see characters from the first book. But the focus will have shifted away from those characters to a new set.

There will be an arc of sorts for the city of Echo Falls with all kinds of things changing twenty years after the first book.

There will, however, be a certain character who deserved a lot worse in the first book and will gets it in the second…

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I’m afraid I suffer more from writer’s procrastination than from anything else. I always remember a saying – and I don’t remember where I heard it – that nothing attracts muses faster than the clicking of keys. That’s certainly the case for me. The struggle is to get my bum in the chair and just do it.

It comes down to a matter of will power… which I don’t have much of, so I have been known to bribe myself with treats. Usually chocolate.

Do you write in different genres?

Yes, I do, though I’m only published in paranormal romance and nonfiction at this point.

Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?

Not as such. I imagine it would be more difficult if I had a pen name for each genre. I find the difficulties lie always within telling the stories, not because stories are in this genre or that genre. I do have the common thread of romance in all the fiction I write (so far), so that helps keep me grounded in a way.

What are your guilty pleasures in life?

Haha. Too many to name. One would have to be Tim Tams – and only the double-coated kind. Plus, using one of those in a Tim Tam slam ( is the guilty pleasure of a guilty pleasure. Absolutely delicious.

Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?

I am very much into doing papercraft, specifically card making and scrapbooking. Getting supplies for these hobbies would be a second guilty pleasure. Lately I’ve been learning about distress inks and have been having a lot of fun trying them out.

What can readers expect next from you?

At the moment, I am working on the next Echo Falls book, Fading Echoes. This takes place about twenty years after the first book when Charlotte has graduated high school and is feeling a lot of pressure about what she should do with her life. What she should do with her life is influenced heavily by being the daughter of two natural born werewolves, which brings a whole new assortment of difficulties to the Were life.

Where can readers find you on the web?

I blog and occasionally rant at my site:

Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

My pleasure. A little clip from the beginning…

Keep running, keep running, keep running. Phoebe’s lungs burned as her mind screamed the mantra. Keep running, keep running.

How many steps can there be?

She should know. She lived in this apartment building.

Tears ran down her cheeks and her lungs burned for air. Only the random irrational thought broke through the panic keeping her feet moving down the steps. Keep running. Keep running. The light of the emergency exit came into view. Almost there…

The door to the stairwell slammed open with a hollow boom. She tripped and clung to the railing to steady herself.

Keep running.

The shock of the cool night air sent a shiver of relief through her body. She’d come out a side exit into an alley. If she could just get to the front –

Suddenly she was thrown to the ground from behind. She hit the concrete, what little breath she had knocked from her lungs. Blood began flowing from where her head hit the ground, and small sparks of light floated into her vision.

How did he catch up so fast?

Running from a nightmare stalking her every move, Phoebe Martin arrives in Echo Falls hoping she has finally found a safe place to stop. But trouble has a way of catching up and soon the signs are there.

After a vicious attack in an alley, policeman Aidan O'Bryan is left with Phoebe as his only path to understanding why the Echo Falls werewolf pack - his pack - is being attacked. When another pack member is killed, Phoebe is forced to confront her past before she loses Aidan and everything she has come to love.

Love and duty become one as Aidan strives to prevent Phoebe from becoming the next victim. But with Phoebe just as determined to protect Aidan and her new home, secrets from her past threaten to tear them apart.

Will love give Phoebe the strength to trust Aidan and face her fears, or will her past destroy her future?

*Warning: Contains adult situations and language

Would you like to win a print copy of Echo Falls?

Leave a comment on this spot with your email address

Open to US and Canadian Shipping


Anne said...

I'd like to win a copy, it sounds more urban fantasy than paranormal romance, both of which I like.

I wonder why Jamie isn't using Australia as a setting for her series.

molly.frenzel said...

This book sounds great! Welcome to my TBR pile.

molly dot frenzel at gmail dot com

tetewa said...

I'm always looking for new authors to read, sounds good!

JenM said...

As far as I'm concerned there's always room for more shifter stories. They are my favorite paranormals. Best wishes on the book.

Jaime said...

Hello everyone,

Thank you to Fangtastic Books for hosting me.

Anne, while I do have stories with Australian settings planned, Echo Falls always had an 'America feel' to it for me. There are some things I never question from the muse. ;) I am looking forward to sharing my love for Australia in other books.



Tanya1224 said...

Please count me in =) I think this does sound good. Thank you

*yadkny* said...

This one sounds like an easy page turner! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!!!