Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Interview with J Bridger

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

My name is J. and I have been into the horror and paranormal genre for as long as I can remember. Even as a little kid, I was fascinated by Halloween and also any type of story or cartoon that dealt with shapeshifting. I used to make my mom tell me a new story every night about that.

Please tell us about your latest release.

My latest release is my debut novel, Shifted Perspective, which is about a senior in high school, named Caleb, who wakes up one morning as a Cocker Spaniel. I like to think about it with a tag line of “What would you do if you had what you believed was the world’s lamest super power?”

We always see “chosen ones” or just sexy and cool shifters. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with being a were-canine with extra fluffy curls, but it’s not mysterious or exciting either!

What inspired you to write this book?

A mix of things, including my four dogs and all their wacky behavior. There was just that digging what if in my mind of both “What are they really thinking behind those big puppy eyes?” and “How would you deal with an ability that didn’t seem to have any pros or advantages?”

Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?

It really depends. Sometimes I want something that fits with the ethnicity of the character. Kalista for Caleb’s cousin was a very easy one to come up with as she’s Greek-American. I think that Caleb’s mom’s name was something that came later after additional research. It was originally Colleen but became Kira in later drafts for reasons that’ll become clearer in future novels, actually. The most fun name is Peter because it’s a play on the title of a Prokofiev musical composition.

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

Personally, I love Penny, the beagle-shifter sometimes fake-psychic and sometimes L.A.P.D. worker, who drags Caleb into the murder mystery of the novel. She’s flippant, competent, and doesn’t take a lot of his hesitance lightly. She just bowls right into things. However, Sampson is a second favorite. He’s Caleb’s elderly pet blood hound who acts as a sarcastic father figure.

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 like to do sketches first and then a bit of an outline throughout the course of the novel for their character development. I say I like to because that’s how everyone in the cast came to be except for Penny. She just appeared and surprised me.

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

So far? I drove out to Mt. Airy, North Carolina, from my home in Raleigh in order to get a lay of the land. For those who don’t know, it’s the home of Andy Griffith and the town Mayberry is based on in The Andy Griffith Show. My grandmother is from there, and I hadn’t been back since I was a kid so I did a literal trip down memory lane to capture Caleb’s hometown.

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

It’s pretty close to ours in some ways. I mean, as it starts out, Caleb thinks he’s in a very normal, very orderly world where he’ll graduate high school as Valedictorian, go to Duke, and become a doctor. All dry, all normal. It’s only after he changes does he begin to realize there’s a lot going bump in the night that humans aren’t aware of.

In this novel, he meets other canine shape shifters as well as full werewolves and a witch. As I’m working through book two, I’m bringing in selkies as well. The big rule here is that there’s no “coming back from the dead.” Sorry, zombies and vampires aren’t around in this series.

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?

Well, this is book one but book two is underway/being written. I’d say that, overall, it’s always best to read a series with number one. I’m trying very hard to make book two accessible and bring up enough past information so people can catch up but returning readers aren’t bogged down. I think the most important things to know is that Caleb is sort of split between two worlds since he was brought up human and has his dad and dog, Sampson, supporting him and representing his North Carolinian roots. On the other side, is a life in L.A. that’s a lot more crowded with both family members who care a lot about him and maybe new friends but also a lot more danger and enemies too. He’s just a guy in a transition period with nothing to bring to the table but his wits and, well, sometimes floppy ears and a wet nose.

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

Sometimes! There are times that I sit patiently and give myself a few days off, but eventually, I just sit myself down and make me type a thousand words of the next story or chapter even if it takes four or five hours and seems to suck to me. The most important thing, what I learned from reading King’s On Writing, is to treat this like a job. You have to go to work every day even if you just type “Mary had a little lamb” for an hour. You’ll start writing anything to avoid that monotony!

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

I love to write to the soundtrack for the musical Pippin. I have had the whole thing memorized since I was in the play in high school, and it just soothes me like nothing else. I will admit, though, that I also will put on some Nostalgia Critic classics in the background too for the release of some good laughs!

What can readers expect next from you?

Two things, actually. I’m prepping the second novel for this winter. I have it outlined and have written the first bit, but I really wouldn’t expect it out till maybe February or March, earliest. Like I said, that one is going to have a selkie in it and some of the arcs from book one get continued there as well, so I can’t give too much away!

I’m also doing a short story collection of four to five stories for Christmas. Those won’t be spoilers for anything in book two and most will be flashback things, such as how Caleb’s parents spent their first Christmas together…things like that. That one will be out in early December of this year.

Where can readers find you on the web?

I have a lot of places, actually. I have a GoodReads page, a Facebook fan page, a blog, a Tumblr, and a Twitter. I’m most active on my blog and twitter, to be honest, and really like reblogging just funny images on Tumblr. I do try to make rounds everywhere though.

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

When I woke, I knew something was off. The sun was just rising over the horizon and I had no idea how I'd managed to sleep almost for twenty-four hours. My hearing didn't pound in my head, but that wasn't reassuring. Shaking my head, I shivered with the cold. I'd slept walked again and of all things come to rest on the sofa downstairs.

This was getting ridiculous but at least it didn't involve waking up tangled in drying deer hide. Thank God for small favors.

"Christ this is pathetic," I said to no one in particular. Then I froze, everything muscle in my body taught.

I hadn't heard my voice, not at all.

But I had heard a series of plaintive barks.

What in the world?

Scared, I started just trying something simple, starting into the alphabet, but it was just more barking. I gulped and braced myself. Looking down, all I saw were four modest-sized black paws.

I could only hope I was hallucinating.

Shifted Perspective
Tails of Change Book One
By J. Bridger

Genre: paranormal young adult

Number of pages: 192 (as a word doc/.PDF)
Word Count: 69, 977

Cover Artist: Rebecca Weaver

Book Description:

Caleb Byrne is a bright high school senior who has enough to deal with between college choices, taking care of his single dad, and dealing with his headstrong girlfriend Joanna and an eccentric set of cousins in California. He was managing to get by until the day he woke up a Cocker Spaniel. Even if it only happens monthly and is more embarrassing than painful, the so-called ability is something that he's anxious to be rid of.

He didn't realize his transformations would drag him into a hidden society of canine and lupine shape shifters as well as a family legacy he hates. To make matters worse, after moving to Los Angeles to learn more about his heritage from his Aunt Moira and his cousin Kalista, Caleb now struggles through life-and-death matters. He keeps angering the werewolves in charge of the shifter world, especially Kalista's boyfriend Peter, the Southern California alpha's son, who also happens to be grade-A sociopath. Worse, Caleb's floundering to keep his secret from Joanna.

While his family offers him some support, they may not be enough as Caleb realizes that the rules in shifter society---number one being don't kill humans---are not so ironclad. Some werewolf out there is leaving a blood-soaked trail across the Midwest and it might just be with the alpha's blessing...

Author Bio:

J. Bridger has had an eclectic life. She’s worked in the psychiatric ward in a hospital in La Paz, Bolivia, been a veterinary intern giving all sorts of better-left-to-the-imagination exams to dogs and cats, and had her own spate in creating and running a television ad campaign. Currently, in her day job, she is getting her certification as a medical Spanish interpreter in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina.

By night, she’s a fledgling author, who has just penned her debut novel, Shifted Perspective; she is currently working on its sequel, the next installment of The Tails of Change Series. J.’s always loved things that go bump (or that howl) in the night and devoured Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Clive Barker starting in middle school. Her favorite shows are no less preternatural and include Big Wolf on CampusBuffy the Vampire Slayer, and Teen Wolf. While she’s been writing fiction for eight years and been published in several academic journals for her psychological research, this is her first venture into published original fiction.

J. Bridger lives in Raleigh with two Yorkies, a beagle, and a Schnauzer-Yorkie mix (as well as far too many dust bunnies).