Interview with J. A. Huss - Author of the New Adult Science Fiction CLUTCH (I Am Just Junco Dot Com).
J. A. Huss writes new adult speculative and science fiction as well as an entire line of science non-fiction textbooks that cater to home learners.
She has an undergraduate degree in equine science and a graduate degree in forensic toxicology. She adores everything science and considers herself a major geek! Her first series is called I Am Just.
Interview with J. A. Huss
|Author J.A. Huss|
J. A. Huss: What is your (writing) background?
I have been writing non-fiction science textbooks for about four years prior to beginning my first fiction book. I have no formal training in writing – in fact, I have no English or literature degree at all. I went to school to be a scientist and that’s why writing science fiction comes so easy to me.
Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
I am inspired by all authors that touch me with their characters. Mostly it’s science fiction these days, and honestly I think this comes from reading Madeleine L'Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time series and Robert C. O’Brien’s Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH when I was ten. That’s when I really started to think about stories with a science slant to them and it was exciting.
But Jane Smiley wrote a literary book called Horse Heaven that had racehorses as major characters and that started me down the road to understanding how this character development thing worked. I have an undergraduate degree in equine science so I love, LOVE, love that book, but it’s also the epitome of a character-driven novel and I’ve read it dozens of time just trying to figure out how she pulled it all together in the end.
My favorite book is Woken Furies by Richard K. Morgan. This book is the last in a trilogy about a ruthless killer who comes back to his home planet after hundreds of years of crime and soldiering and gets sucked back into local politics as he carries out a revenge agenda.
I love this book because it’s a deep character-driven novel disguised in an awesome twisty plot and filled with just about every science fiction element you can think of. This is a story about people more than anything, and lots of readers never got that about the book. I try to make my stories the same way in that they are always about the characters, not the action going on in the plot – even though there is a lot of action and a lot of twistiness in my books as well.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I have always thought about writing a book, but it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I seriously thought about making it happen.
"I use the process described in Story Engineering..."
Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
I do have a routine – I plot things out pretty extensively before I begin writing. I use the process described in Story Engineering, which is how screenplays are typically planned; only I apply it to longer works. Once I plot the main points out, I start from the beginning and write it straight through to the end. I do not jump around to different scenes as I write – everything is typically chronological.
What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
Beginnings and ending are definitely the easiest, and endings are easier than beginnings! But the middle is very difficult because it’s tempting to give in to mundane things to hike up the word count. It’s challenging to create exciting scenes that captivate readers in the middle of a book.
J.A. Huss, please tell us a little about your novel 'Clutch'.
Clutch is the first person point of view of a nineteen year-old girl named Junco Coot. Junco is a kind of a state secret in her futuristic (semi-dystopian) world in that she’s been brought up in a military family and trained to do some pretty violent and terrible things. We meet her in Clutch just as she’s about to do something crazy after the death of her father, but her plan gets derailed by an accident and the fortuitous appearance of a winged alien being called Tier. Clutch is a fast-paced sci-fi thriller that leaves Junco’s world completely upside down and sets up the plot for the second book, called Fledge.
|Click to Read an Excerpt|
What inspired you to write the book?
I had it in my mind that I was going to write an epic space opera type book at first, but then I got gun-shy about trying to make my first novel so long and complicated and with such a large cast of characters. So I decided to try my hand at a light paranormal romance to get all my first novel mistakes out of the way and instead of building a whole new world, I decided to use the world I already created for this book, take a minor character out of the cast, and make her the star. That ended up being Junco. She sort of took over my life and I ended up making the entire series about her instead of the characters I had planned out originally. It’s definitely not a paranormal romance, so Clutch was pretty much nothing like I thought it would be when I started writing it.
Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
My target audience loves fast-paced, dark fantasy with lots of futuristic elements and a hint of romance. This is not a young adult series because it has lots of bad language and violence. Readers can find the first three Junco books (Clutch, Fledge, and Flight) at Amazon in both eBook and paperback. An audiobook version of Clutch is in production right now and that will be released in the spring of 2013, along with book four.
How would you describe the success of your book so far? (Sales, Awards, Reviews)
Sales have been steadily increasing since Clutch was published in late September 2012 and almost all of the reviews have been positive, so I’m very pleased on both accounts.
How long did it take it to write the book?
It took about six weeks to write the book but about three months to properly edit it.
Please, tell us where you self-published the book.
I self-publish all my books through my own small press called Science Future Press.
"I looked for months before settling on my current editor..."
How smooth went the self-publishing process? Any issues? What are things to look for when self-publishing a book?
The biggest issue was finding an editor that understood my character because she is not your typical teen girl. She’s mouthy, violent, and difficult - but she’s got a lot of layers, so I wanted an editor who could look through her hard exterior and see what’s underneath. I looked for months before settling on my current editor and the whole process was stressful and not at all as straight forward as you might think.
Another issue was getting the paperback versions to print correctly through Createspace. That was very challenging as my cover artwork is dark and it took a lot of manipulation to make it print correctly.
Did you hire an editor and/or Cover Designer for your book?
Yes, for both questions. Alex Tooth created the original Junco character for Clutch and James Ledger illustrated the covers for Fledge, Flight, Range (book four to be released in April) and is about to start on the novella for this series that will be released in June.
My editor is R. J. Locksley who is based out of the UK.
"Start your marketing efforts very early – long before you publish."
Can you give some tips for other Indie Authors regarding the writing and self-publishing process?
Start your marketing efforts very early – long before you publish. You need a platform and a fan base to generate sales, and typically it takes a while to get both of these things for a brand new author. Once you get a few books out, you’ll have fans that will be happy to help you sell them for you. So for brand new authors – this is the biggest hurdle you have to overcome.
Also – unless you’re really broke (and even then, this is iffy) you really need a professional editor and cover designer to be taken seriously these days. Maybe a year or two ago you could get away with bad cover art and poor editing, but readers are over that. They want a professional product that looks like it came straight out of a book store.
Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m getting ready to send my fourth book in the Junco series, Range, to the editor in January and I’m also working on a novella that will give readers another perspective on Junco’s story. I have another series planned for 2013, but this one really is a young/new adult paranormal romance (thriller) I have a new appreciation for thrillers. :)
Are you planning to move forward as an Indie author or are you looking forward to have one of your next books to be traditionally published?
At this point in time I have no interest in traditional publishing.
Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
I think there will always be both eBooks and paper books. Sometimes I like to read paper and sometimes I like to read eBooks – I think most people are like me. Stories have always been powerful, so even though society is very visual these days, I don’t see the written word losing popularity any time soon. Readers like to use their imaginations. One thing I hope will happen is that eBooks would come with all kinds of cool additional features, like how Amazon has the x-ray feature on some books where you basically have a wiki set up for the story.
Do you write full-time or do you have a day job?
I have recently quit my day job and started writing full time. I also run a home business that sells non-fiction science books to home learners and I won’t be giving that up any time soon, so writing fiction has to compete with writing non-fiction.
How can readers connect with you?
[See Contact Links below]
Thank you very much for the Interview, J. A. Huss
About the Book Clutch (I am just Junco Dot Com)
|Click to Read an Excerpt|
19 year old Junco Coot is the daughter of the Rural Republic’s ranking commander. She’s the most foul-mouthed, wildly unpredictable and ruthless sniper the Rural Republic has ever trained. But when her father’s death sparks a trip into forbidden places, she triggers events that will change everything she knows to be true.
As an elite avian military officer, Tier’s mission is to destroy the bioengineering projects, kill Commander Coot’s daughter, and return home immediately. There’s just one problem. Junco isn’t who she claims to be.
With no one to trust, not even herself, Junco must confront the secrets of her past and accept her place in the future, or risk losing herself completely.
- “[...] Overall, this book is great. Pacing is fast, and nonstop excitement. NO ROMANCE at all, which is fine, it hints at possible romances to come in the next books. I found it not having a love triangle and romance kindof nice. Its gets to be too much in some books, like that is all there is to life, wrong, much more to life and especially these paranormal books, than insta-love.
A Must read for anyone who enjoys Paranormal, or scifi, and even a touch of dystopian in here. Very cool blend, very original.
5 out of 5 stars for me.” - Michelle Lynn
Links to the Author and the Book
Link to the Author's website
Connect with the Author via Twitter: @JAHuss
Connect with the Author via Facebook: IAmJustJunco
Link to the Paperback CLUTCH (I Am Just Junco Dot Com) on Amazon with Excerpt
Link to the eBook CLUTCH (I Am Just Junco Dot Com) on Amazon with Excerpt