Please welcome RJ Blain to the blog!
What name(s) do you write under? If you write under a pseudonym, what helped you choose that name?
I write under RJ Blain, which is the initialized version of my name. It’s as close as a pseudonym as I get. All of the other names I kept thinking about to write under were cheesy at best. Initials work well enough in the fantasy and science fiction genres, so I decided to roll with my real name.
Where are you from?
I was born in Maryland, where I was raised until I jumped country and moved to Montreal, Canada at eighteen! I’m a backwater girl living in a city now.
What is the name of your most recent or upcoming release? Can you give us an idea of what the story is about?
My upcoming novel is Winter Wolf, which is the story of a woman who must find a cure for a plague inflicting only the Fenerec (or werewolves, as they’re commonly called) before the entire species is wiped out—unfortunately, her entire family has been infected. She’s the black sheep of the family, and the only one not a werewolf.
What genre is it?
Winter Wolf is an urban fantasy thriller.
Where can we find it?
Winter Wolf will be available at major e-retailers and at amazon as a paperback.
You can check out the novel using one of these links:
When did you start writing, and when did it turn professional?
This is a bit of a funny story. I wasn’t even really literate until 4th grade; I grew up in the country, and most families and kids had a focus on faming rather than education. A lot of us were pretty poor. Those who were interested in learning often got the teacher’s attention. And that’s no fault of the teachers, not really—it’s easy to miss a kid in a 25-30+ kid classroom.
But in 4th grade, the teacher noticed I was lagging woefully behind. She tried a different tactic, giving me a fantasy novel to read. That changed everything for me. So, I started reading! Writing didn’t follow for a few more years.
I started professionally writing as a for-hire freelancer some eight to ten years ago, but I didn’t have the courage to try novel writing as a profession until two years ago. It’s a big, scary decision to make. I still wonder, sometimes, if I jumped in prematurely.
For the record, my husband is a firm believer I should have done it years before.
What is your writing process? Do you use an outline, fly by the "seat of your pants" or some other method?
This is a hard question to answer, as I do a little bit of everything. Sometimes I outline. Sometimes I write by the seat of my pants. Sometimes I write an outline, start writing, and completely discard everything that I plotted.
Winter Wolf was both done by outline and fly by the seat of my pants. It’s been a troublesome novel, especially when some of the characters decided it was time to accelerate their plans. It made a mess of everything for my main character.
But it worked out well. Sometimes I wish I had a set method of writing a novel. It’d make my life and job much easier.
What or who inspired you to become a writer?
Mercedes Lackey really inspired me to read, as did Madeline L’Engle. Credit goes to them, as I doubt I ever would have dreamed of becoming a writer without first having become an avid reader.
Did you hire or use an editor prior to publishing?
Yes. I can’t self-edit to save my life, so I usually hire multiple editors
Did you use a graphic artist to create your cover art? If so, what helped you decide on the cover(s) of your books?
Yes, my cover artist is a gentleman named Chris Howard. I went with a digital painter for my covers because I wanted full control over the covers. While Chris handles the art element, one of my friends with graphic design experience handles my typography. While it creates a two-step process for my covers, I really enjoy the dynamic of working with several people to make a cover happen. Chris is great to work with and always manages to capture the tone of a novel in his art, while Brooke manages to find a way to make the text attractive.
What have you learned on your journey from writing to publishing that you think should be passed along to those interested?
Writing is hard; even with experience, it’s a long and difficult road. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking it’s easy. Once you do, quality slips—and when quality slips, you pay for it many times while editing your book. I’ve been guilty of this on occasion, and my editors always catch me when I do. Always.
But there is also a different side to that coin—trying too hard is just as bad.
And my editors always catch me when I do. Go figure.
I know some authors set writing goals, such as so many words per day. Do you set any goals for your stories?
Yeah, I set a final goal: To finish it, including editing. A book isn’t finished until it has been edited by someone other than the author. Once I know I want to finish a book, I pick a date and go for it. Sometimes I hit, sometimes I miss—but either way, I get done.
Do you have a favorite character of your own and what makes him/her your favorite?
I have two characters I’d like to mention. The first is Maiten from my Requiem for the Rift King series. He’s a lot of fun—he’s probably the most genuine person I’ve ever written. He’s just a great, fun guy. What you see is what you get with him and that honesty really appeals to me.
The second is Dominic from Winter Wolf. I like him for the exact opposite reason I like Maiten. He’s sneaky, devious, and full of secrets. And he’s very, very smart.
Do your characters "talk" to you?
Nope, they don’t. I might be a bit weird like that… but I have a definitive line. They’re my characters and I control them… but sometimes as I’m writing stories, I find how I originally envisioned them isn’t at all near the truth. So in a way they’re talking… but they’re my characters and my own creations. They don’t talk to me, alas. But that doesn’t change the fact that they sometimes say and do things that surprise me while I’m writing.
Who controls a story when you write; you, your characters or a combination?
This is a hard one to answer, but ties into the issue of characters ‘talking.’ I’m not someone who prescribes to the having a muse theory. I create the characters… so I’m writing the story. However, I try to let the characters personalities dictate what happens in the story—and that means the characters ultimately control a story… I try to avoid situations where characters would do something they normally would not to make the story easier for me to tell.
Do you have any projects you’re working on now?
Yes, I do. Right as Winter Wolf was being finished, I dove right into the second Requiem for the Rift King novel, Storm Surge. I’m hoping to have it finished no later than the end of December. By finished, I mean the master draft so I can shoot it to my editors for the next phase of work. With luck, it’ll be ready for publication in March.
After that? Who knows, we’ll see. I’m hoping it’ll be time for Royal Slaves, which is the second book of The Fall of Erelith.
How do you juggle time between all your responsibilities?
Painfully. Some days, I fail, and all my balls go bouncing all over the place. I live or die by to-do lists… and I always, always put more on my lists than I can hope to accomplish. It’s tough, but I try to do the best I can each and every day.
It isn’t uncommon for me to have 14+ hour long days, especially near a deadline.
How do you feel about publishing in a digital age?
I think it’s great. There are so many options. Sure, that threatens those who are used to the ‘old way’ of how things were done, but… it’s good for authors and it’s good for readers. Nothing used to bother me more than waiting for the next book to read. I lived in a small town and had read through the entire Fantasy section of my local library many times.
Now, I have all of the choices I could ever need for reading material. That’s a great thing.
How can we connect with you?
There are lots of ways you can connect with me! Here’s a list of my current social media outlets:
Thank you so much for stopping by!
Thanks for having me! J