What inspired you to become an author?
My husband, honestly. Yes, I will give him the credit this once J.
I picked up writing as a hobby in 2009, never thinking about publishing. I just had these stories bouncing around in my head. The need to express the stories on paper literally happened overnight. I call it my awakening. It wasn’t until my husband read my first manuscript and said “you should publish this,” did I even consider the possibility. Honestly, I didn’t think I had a chance in hell, so I went to my first RWA conference and took workshops through FF&P Chapter. If it wasn’t for my husband’s encouragement, I don’t think I would have ever considered submitting to a publisher. My first book is dedicated to Paul.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Fly by the seat of my pants!
I tried plotting and outlining because everyone told me that’s what I should do, but honestly the well-constructed outlines would invariably end up in the trash. I plot in my head and sit down and write. I know where I want the characters to start and end. I let them fill in the rest. I love giving the characters control of the story. They provide the greatest surprises. You never know what’s going to happen.
Do you write in different genres?
I write both Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. The Key to the Cursed series is a nice mix of both. I’d have a few SciFi ideas banging around in the old brain that I really need to be put on paper.
If yes which is your favorite genre to write?
Paranormal romance is my absolute favorite. The mix of super human powers, otherworldly creatures, love and romance is addictive. I can’t get enough of it. It is the one genre that is limitless.
How did you come up with the title for your latest book?
Soul Awakened is a powerful novel on several levels. Yes, Kendra “awakens” Bakari from his cursed slumber, but his awakening is much deeper than that – soul altering. He changes physically, and more importantly, emotionally.
Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?
The first book in the series I didn’t title until it was complete. Soul Reborn (current title) was once called The Lion’s Flower. Okay don’t laugh, it was a placeholder of sorts for submission. After the last edits, I asked my editor to brainstorm with me because the title needed a major overhaul. I wanted all the books to have the same theme and because Egyptian mythology revolves around souls we decided that would be the best keyword throughout the series. Thus, Soul Reborn, Soul Awakened, Soul Unbound, and Soul Unleashed were born.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The entire Key to the Cursed series has several themes that run through the plot and character arcs. The tagline for the series is “Only the strongest love will unlock the souls of the Underworld.” Essentially, with love anything is possible. Soul Reborn’s theme revolves around forgiveness and second changes. Soul Awakened’s theme is of hope and redemption.
Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?
All of the above.
I’ve struggled with depression and suicide. Not my own, but others around me. I never quite understood it until recently. I had a roommate in college that overdosed in a suicidal gesture. I remember being so angry with her. Furious. She had everything going for her, more than I did at the time. I could not relate, but wanted to be there for her.
I became a nurse to care for people in their time of need, but I couldn’t get my hands around this idea of “better off dead.” In recent years, we lost a high school friend to suicide. Such a tragic loss. Being in the military, I knew folks suffering from PTSD. To see someone in their acute crisis and then later after counseling, the transformation was amazing. I realized after talking with so many, my frustration was the fact that I could not take their pain away and that they could not see what I saw—the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope for a life beyond depression and their right to be happy.
Soul Awakened allowed me to write that journey. The countless stories of despair and loss are bundled into this story, as well as my own in Kendra.
I dedicated Soul Awakened to our American heroes: find their hope, hold onto it and never let it go.
What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?
I’m working on the third book in the Key to the Cursed series, Soul Unbound. Originally, there were only three books, but after Soul Awakened I had to redeem Bomani. So, he got his own book.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
JR Ward tops the list. She is not afraid to touch upon subjects that may make people uncomfortable. Abuse, rape, addiction, homosexuality, BSDM, etc… Relationships are not easy, and the brothers and their shalens don’t have the easy road to happily ever after. Relationships take work and her characters are no exception. It’s not flip the page and bang-- everything is okay. Her writing takes you on that journey.
Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?
I actually traveled before I became a writer. I’ve lived overseas while in the military and used military flights to travel all throughout Europe, even made it to Bahrain, Czech Republic and Republic of Georgia. My experiences gave me a true appreciation of other cultures, impacted me as a writer and the very reason I write Egyptian mythology. If you have never ventured out of the US, you must. Keep an open mind and soak it all in.
Who designed the cover of your latest book?
Taria Reed (http://www.tariar.com/ ) was the designer for Soul Awakened. She did a fabulous job. Honestly, she captured all the elements in one scene.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
You never know unless you try.
I was told by fellow writers if I wanted to publish an Egyptian based novel it would have to be historical. The Key to the Cursed series is present day with an urban fantasy flare. Okay, I was doing a bit of ground breaking, so I was a little nervous. I delayed pitching and submitting Soul Reborn’s manuscript, mostly out of fear it wasn’t good enough or the publishers would see Egyptian and throw it in the trash. I would have never known had I not taken those fateful steps towards publishing. I did an online pitch, and although the editor was a little hesitant she asked for a full manuscript. Twenty-four hours later I received a contract offer.
What I’ve learned it’s not so much what you right, it’s how you write it. Write what you love.
Key to the Cursed Series Book Two
Key to the Cursed Series Book Two
Genre: Dark Paranormal
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Date of Publication: January 15, 2013
Number of pages: 292
Word Count: 92,000
Cover Artist: Taria A. Reed
LOVE FOR BLOOD OR HONOR
Kendra, an Egyptologist and demi-god in waiting, is the key to unlocking Bakari, the Egyptian God of Death, from his cursed slumber. Desperate to free him, she inadvertently binds herself to the god with a spell that only death will undo. To save Bakari from himself, she may have to sacrifice her innocence, and possibly her soul, before he becomes his family’s worst enemy.
HAUNTED BY SINS OF THE PAST
Bakari awakens to a world at war and a beautiful woman who has tethered his soul to hers. In the wake of his self-destruction Kendra is his only hope of salvation, but another has vowed to keep Bakari from the one thing he craves most-- his Parvana. His butterfly.
About the Author:
In her pursuit of a nursing degree, Jean Murray aspired to see the world and joined the Navy. At the end of 2011 she said a heart-breaking goodbye to her Navy family and retired after twenty years of military service. Although her dreams of writing full time have yet to come true, she continues her writing journey and draws inspiration from her travels abroad. She enjoys spending time with her family and of course, writing about the “Carrigan sisters and their mates, Gods of the Underworld,” to bring you the next installment of the Key to the Cursed series.
Book Trailer Soul Reborn: http://youtu.be/smSJsJp5o74