Interview with A.J. Colby

When did you first start writing?
I've been interested in telling stories for as long as I can remember, and even before that. My parents still have boxes of my early writings telling the fantastical stories of dragons and princesses. My interest in writing urban fantasy didn't really take off until I was about 10 years old and read 'Interview with the Vampire' for the first time. Since then I've been obsessed with all the things that go bump in the night.
What's the story behind your latest book?
'Bitten' takes place a couple months after the first Riley Cray novel - Hunted. Things have settled down a little for Riley, or so she thinks. All too soon though, she's pulled into the world of vampires and werewolves when Alexei Cordova, master vampire and Shepherd of the City, asks her to look into a series of vampire murders. In no time at all, Riley is up to her ears in trouble and trying to figure out who is friend or foe.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
To me, the most important part of being an author is having the chance to share my stories with the world. Going the indie route just seemed like the most logical thing to do. It allows me to share the stories *I* want to tell and retain control over what gets put out there. It's maybe a bit more work than going the more traditional route, but I love being able to touch every step of the process, and feel such a tremendous amount of pride when I can see the final product and know that I had a hand in every detail.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
The old saying of not putting all of your eggs in one basket couldn't be more true than it is when it comes to indie publishing. Why limit yourself to one outlet when there are so many others available. Each new market where you make yourself available is another opportunity to reach countless readers. It just makes sense.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
As an artistic sort, I always have at least a couple different creative outlets on hand for me to express myself, but nothing makes me happier than writing. Being able to share the stories rattling around in my brain is just a way for me to share my madness with others.
What are you working on next?
Work is already underway on book 3 in the Riley Cray series - 'Unleashed.' Without revealing too much of the story I can say that Riley finds herself being pulled even deeper into werewolf politics, and there will be some serious upheaval in the local packs.

I'm also working on a couple of short stories - 'Welcome to the Asylum' wherein Riley is coerced into attending an 80s night at the vampire run club, Asylum, and 'Bridesmaid Blues' which chronicles Riley's adventures as a bridesmaid to her college roommate, with lots of bloodshed and hi-jinks guaranteed.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are far too many for me to list all of them, but a few include: Anne Rice, Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews, Kim Harrison, Rob Thurman, Chuck Wendig, and Terry Pratchett.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The siren song of caffeine... and the ceaseless clamoring of the characters rattling around in my brain demanding to have their stories told. Also, my cats would launch a riot if I didn't get up and feed them.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a very artistic type, so I have lots of crafty hobbies besides writing. If I'm not watching TV or playing video games, I'm either reading, sewing, or quilting.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I used to read all the time, but with so much of my time devoted to my own books these days, I generally stick to the few authors I already follow. My fiance/partner-in-crime reads an insane amount of books though, and he regularly directs some new ones my way if he thinks they're something I'll enjoy.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Not the first one I *ever* wrote, but certainly the first ones I wrote in the genre I now write in. It was awful. But to be fair, I was ten years old and more than a little obsessed with Tom Cruise as Lestat the vampire. It was on the verge of being fan fiction way before I had any idea what fan fiction was. Thankfully, it faded away into non-existence a long time ago. I still have plenty of my earlier writing still floating around though, some of which, I'd like to resurrect some day.
What is your writing process?
I'm a cross between a 'panster' and a 'planner.' I generally start off a story with only a vague idea of where I want the story/series to go, and then start to plot it out as I get deeper into the story. The first book in the Riley series was by the seat of my pants from start to finish, whereas Bitten was planned out a bit more. The third book, coming later this year had a full outline before I even started writing. Only time will tell if I stick with this new-fangled planning thing ;o)
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first really grown-up book I remember reading was 'Interview with the Vampire' by Anne Rice. It was right when the movie starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt came out. I was only ten at the time, and my parents outright refused to let me see the movie until I was older. Oddly enough, they had no problem letting me read the book however, and I was instantly hooked. Within a couple of months I had devoured the rest of the series and my life was forever changed. I knew without a doubt that my life would not be truly complete unless I became an author.

Since then, I've toyed with the idea of a few other potential careers-opening a cookie bakery, being a fashion/costume designer, being a graphic artist, being a quilter-but I always inevitably come back to writing. It is my life's passion, and I am happiest when crafting a story.
How do you approach cover design?
With a background in graphic design, I'm lucky enough to be able to create my own covers. Some day I'll likely hire someone else to take over designing them, but at the moment I enjoy the creative process and having full control of what I put out. My covers of course focus on my main character, Riley. I like including natural backgrounds to show the animal side of her personality, and generally try to style them to reflect the the season during which the story takes place.
What do you read for pleasure?
Urban fantasy is my go-to genre, and also happens to be the one I write myself, so I read a lot of that. I do also like historical fiction though, and quite a collection of Jane Austen inspired works. Mr. Darcy is every woman's favorite reluctant hero.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I actually read most of my ebooks on my phone through my Kindle app. I had a Kindle at one point, but it was just another piece of tech I had to keep charged and tote around. My phone already goes everywhere with me, and I don't mind the smaller screen, so it seemed like a logical choice.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
So far I rely primarily on word of mouth and building up an online following through my blog, Facebook and Twitter. Once I release the third novel in the Riley series I'll look into alternate, paid, advertising methods. At the moment, with only two novels available, it doesn't seem like a good use of my time and money.
Describe your desk
My fiance refers to my writing area at home as my "writing nest." In actuality, it's one end of our dinning table where we've set up dual-monitors and a dock for my laptop. I've got my comfy office chair and a supply of fuzzy blankets, and a wonderfully cozy, memory foam rug to keep my toes warm that he got me as an early birthday present. Strangely enough though, I get the majority of my writing done at our local bar where I have an endless supply of Diet Coke and chips and salsa. I thrive on the hustle and bustle of people chatting around me, and armed with a pen and my ever-present notebook, I end up being quite productive.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in England and lived there until I was 13, when we moved stateside. Although I've been in the US for almost twenty years, I still use quite a bit of English terminology and lean towards some English spelling/grammatical styles (as evidenced by my use of 'towards' rather than 'toward').
Published 2015-01-26.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.