I am very excited to tell you guys that I interveiwed the authors of the new ebook, The New Haven Project: Anomaly! Jessica Gilliland and Kimberly Gourgon :)
1.)Tell us a little bit about you guys. Where are you from and when did you start writing? JG:I live in Hayward, CA. I graduated from Expression College with a BA in animation and visual effects. I started writing short stories and illustrating the moment I could pick up a crayon. In high school, I got really into film, screenwriting and directing. I wrote my first novel (“The Cage", a Sci-Fi fantasy) in high school and since then I've been jotting down random ideas and scribbling out little plots and snippets for projects. I'm constantly getting inspired by one thing or another so I keep a notepad handy.
KG: I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. The first time I can remember writing a story, I was maybe four—it was about a lion, that much I can remember—but it wasn’t actually writing. All I was doing was just scribbling a crayon across a piece of paper and saying the story out loud. That started it all for me, though. I had a voracious appetite for reading and so by the time everyone I knew was reading Goosebumps books I was working my way through entire Stephen King novels. I always wrote short stories and poems, and did so until my early twenties when I met Jessica. Convinced by my poetry, she urged me to pursue writing further, and when she shared the skeleton plot for The New Haven Project with me, we decided to take the plunge and make it happen. That was a little over three years ago.
2.)Tell me about the New Haven Project. How did you come up with the ideas? JG: The New Haven Project was inspired by a dream I had involving the character that eventually became Chase. Of course it has completely morphed into something so much more than I originally imagined. I woke up that day and wrote the prologue in, like, five minutes. One day, a couple of weeks, later I idly mentioned to Kim about how I used to think I was a super hero when I was a kid and she said the same thing. I told her about the dream and showed her the prologue and she seemed really interested in the concept so I went to work on an outline. She and I collaborated to create the Punks and make the original story what it is today.
KG: We also spent a LOT of time in Santa Cruz, California, which is where the book takes place. We went there pretty much every weekend (we called it our Santa Cruz Sundays) and we would just lay on the beach and people-watch in town. We drew inspiration for Kismet from a singer in a band we really love and a random street performer who was playing his guitar on the sidewalk. Spaz’s name (Sheldon) came from a random sign on a door. It’s the little things that sparked the big things, really.
3.) How did you get so interested in the genre you write in?
JG: I've always been fascinated by myth and folklore. The idea that something magical is hidden in my ordinary world is so intriguing to me. I love all things paranormal and I found that mirrored piece of me in Kim. We even travel across country to go ghost hunting! Also, I am a HUGE Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. Joss Whedon's blend of humor and drama really inspired me. I wanted to do the same thing.
KG: I’ve always had a deep love of young adult books, which was initially put into motion by the Harry Potter series. Later, as I got older, I began to dabble in romance novels, and found my passion in paranormal/supernatural romances. So when writing The New Haven Project series, combining the two just felt natural to me. It’s also the genre I find to be the most fun to write for.
4. What is the hardest part of writing to you?
JG: The hardest part for me is the fine tuning. I can whip out a plot in a matter of minutes. I'll craft an entire world and the characters and start writing out snippets. But when it comes down to piecing it all together and giving it that "literary" feel, I start to drag. I attribute it to the fact that I write like I'm writing a screenplay or watching a movie. All the sensory and poetic descriptions aren’t needed for those things. That's why I am so thankful to have Kim. I couldn't do it without her.
KG: For me, it’s pulling everything together in a way that flows well and makes sense. I can develop characters and conversations, create flourishing details. The medium of writing I practiced most before this was poetry, so it’s easy for me to be descriptive and emotive…but ask me to get those characters from point A to point B, and I’m stumped. That’s where Jess steps in; she reigns in my scattered details and makes sense of them.
5. What is it like to self- publish your own book?
JG: The act of self publishing is cake. It’s the marketing that kicks your ass. Big publishers already have the connections made, not to mention thousands of marketing specialists. It's hard but honestly, just having it out in the world and not rotting away on my computer is an amazing feeling. I love that we live in a time when this is possible.
KG: It’s incredibly exciting but it’s a LOT of work. When you have an agent, they typically do a lot of the promoting/busywork for you…but when you self-publish, that’s all on you. We’ve both been busy from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed, answering emails, updating sites, writing, editing. It’s time-consuming…but it’s really rewarding. We’ve both been ecstatic! Just to see people’s responses to our novel has been worth all the effort.
6. What advice would you give young writers who are reaching their goals to be an Author?
JG: I would say: read, read, read. I was never a big reader. I've always been a watcher. Movies, television and music were my inspirations. I've gotten really into reading the last couple of years and it's really helped me with the fine tuning that I was having trouble with. And I'd say above all, never give up on yourself and don't be afraid of critiques.
KG: We initially sent “The New Haven Project: Anomaly” to a dozen agents but it was turned down repeatedly. Not because our book wasn’t good enough, but because they had their plates full or we didn’t fit their exact genre. Had we given up then, just because of that, we would have never made it to this point. Our novel would have sat, unappreciated and dusty, just a reminder of what we could have had. Instead of throwing in the towel, we decided to look at our options…and from there, self-publishing just made sense. And it worked for us. So that’s a long-winded way of saying, “don’t give up, and keep your options open.”
7. Are you working on anything right now?
JG: I am always working on something. My brain can't focus on one thing at a time so I've got a few projects bouncing around in my head. Solo, I'm working on a chick lit vampire series, a ghost novella, a novel about a girl with schizophrenia and the sequel to “A Collection of Souls.”
KG: Unlike Jessica, my brain seems to ONLY be able to focus on one thing at a time, so while she’s working on all her personal projects, I’m working through writing the second book in the New Haven series, “The New Haven Project: Fracture”. Once that is complete, we have the third and final books to write, “Defect” and “Genesis”, as well as a vampire novel, a werewolf novel, and a post-apocalyptic zombie novel. The vampire, werewolf and zombie novels, respectively, will be loosely based around old fairy tales and popular classic stories. Personally, I’m working on a book of my poetry as well. But we always have a stock of ideas to fall back on, so there’s no shortage of work to be done.
8. Do you have any favorite books or authors?
JG: I have to give credit to Twilight for bringing me back to the literary world. It was a good transition. The Hunger Games was an amazing read and I’m a fan of Melissa Marr. I am currently reading The Taker by Alma Katsu and I absolutely love how beautiful it’s written and how she keeps the mystery going. I'm also reading a few novels by indie authors like ourselves on Goodreads and I find them to be incredibly inspiring.
KG: I’m kind of obsessed with Isaac Marion right now. He takes the notion of a zombie apocalypse and turns it into this poetic happening, and at the same time he totally obliterates the stigmas associated with the zombie genre. His zombies are soulful, funny, self-deprecating. They think and feel, even if they’re a little lost. I can’t describe it. His book “Warm Bodies” just grabbed me. I keep going back to it and each time, it’s like rediscovering it all over again. Francesca Lia Block inspired me from the moment I read her story, “Weetzie Bat”. The way she has with words hits me right in the gut. J.K. Rowling inspired me greatly because she created this intricate and amazing world with the Harry Potter series, and it changed my world, as nerdy as that sounds. I’m a fan of Amanda Hocking, too. She really paved the way for self-publishing indie authors and she’s so creative. She’s done what we hope to do.
9. How is it like being co-authors of your book?
KG: It’s been a singularly unique and wonderful experience. We work so well together because we truly complement each other with our strengths and weaknesses. The things I struggle with, like stringing a plot together seamlessly, Jessica is brilliant at. My forte is character development and detailing, which Jess is happy to let me do. We just mesh well. We’re also very good at communicating with each other, as well, which is absolutely vital for co-authors. If we don’t like something, we say it. If we want to change something, we discuss it openly. So functionally, we click; on a personal level, we’re so alike in so many respects, we might as well be the same person. So writing a novel together was just a natural, easy step to take. And I’m creating this amazing thing with my best friend; how could that not be beautiful?
JG: I am serious when I say I couldn't do this without Kim. I released “A Collection of Souls” and I am so proud of it but New Haven and the work I do with Kim feels so much more real to me. It just seems like magic the way it comes together so beautifully. We really rely on the other's strengths to make it work.
10. Why do you write? JG: I write because I have to. I literally can't keep the thoughts in my head. I have this overwhelming need to share these worlds and characters I've created with everyone and I feel like it would be a shame to keep them to myself. The feeling I get when someone tells me how much they enjoyed a story I've written just fuels that need, so I have to keep going.
KG: I write because I have to. I have these characters and these words just floating around in my head. They’re persistent, and if I don’t get them down and tell their stories, they eat away at me. Not to mention, I absolutely love writing. I feel like it’s what I was meant to do. If I never get rich from it, it won’t even matter…as long as my writing touches one other person, I can die happy.
Thank you so much Jessica and Kimberly for letting me interveiw you guys!!! Part 2 of this interview will be coming soon this week that includes my reveiw of their ebook, Anomaly, and more words from Jessica and Kimberly :)
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