Interview with Jess Mahler

What's the story behind your latest book?
Many of my stories start as dreams in one way or another. One morning I woke up from a dream and the only thing I remembered was the image of a man, kneeling before the woman who meant more to him than anything in the world, and knowing he had just done something that destroyed everything between them. Writing Glamourhai has been a process of discovering what led up to that moment, and what happened after.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When the story comes together, and everything is flowing, the writing feels like flying, and a scene just hits me in the middle of the gut, and I know in that moment speaks to something deeper than just the story.
What is your writing process?
When I get an idea for a story the first thing I do is spend some time building the characters. I want to know as much as I can about the characters, but especially their motivations and goals. The plot builds itself out of these goals and motivations.

Once I have a plot and characters, I write a one page summary of the story, and summaries of the story from each of the character's perspectives. I take the one page summary and rewrite it, adding details, and expanding it to about 4 pages long.

I rewrite and expand the four page summary (usually about 20 pages long), and continue rewriting and expanding, sometimes adding or cutting scenes as I go (on the third expansion of Glamourhai I rewrote the entire ending) until I have a complete draft.

Then it's time to edit, send out to beta readers, edit again, send to an editor, and edit again.
Yeah, my writing process has a lot of "rinse and repeat."
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
No, my Mom still has a few homemade 'books' that I wrote with crayon. She says that I would write stories for fun the way other kids painted. The first story I remember writing was for English class. We were supposed to write a short story in the style of Rudyard Kipling's Just So stories, I wrote a silly thing about How the Hammerhead Got His Hammer.
Describe your desk
I am writing this on Friday morning, so my split level glass top desk is a cluttered mess, with water bottles, kid toys, books, paperwork, a measuring tape (?), and other random stuff piled around it. In about an hour I will go on a cleaning spree and when I'm done the the toys will be put away, the water bottles thrown out, the paperwork finished and filed, the glass streak free and gleaming, and the books returned to the shelves. The desk will be clear except for my computer, mouse, keyboard and camera. Over the next week, in spite regular attempts to keep the clutter under control, stuff will pile up, the kid will smear the glass, paperwork will get plopped on a corner for 'later'...until next Friday.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in North Jersey, on the edge of the Appalachians. We only live 30 minutes from NYC, but my favorite way to spend a Saturday was hiking in the woods (yes, there are actually lots of places to hike that close to the city.) Today I am most comfortable writing stories set in those woods and mountains where I grew up.
Who are your favorite authors?
Top of the list at the moment are Patty Briggs and Ryk Spoor.
Over the years I've enjoyed Linda Lael Miller, Anne McCaffery, Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, Robert Heinlein, Elizbeth Kelly, Elizabeth Moon, Noel Figart, Wen Spencer, Joel Rosenberg, Patricia Bray, Shakespeare, Danielle Leafty, Duranna Durgin, John Ringo and John Scalzi
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I suck at delayed gratification, and I'm a control freak. With a choice between spending months or years sending out query letters and when I finally get a publisher needing to give that publisher control over so much of my book, or being able to publish as soon as the book was ready and keeping control of everything myself, the choice was a no brainer. Of course, keeping control also means keeping responsibility, and I like to think I lived up to that--that I turned out a good book and didn't take any of the shoddy shortcuts that give indie authors a bad rep. Is it perfect? No, but it's good, and the next one will be better.
What are you working on next?
At the moment I am working on a sequel to Glamourhai and a cyperpunk superhero story.

The Glamourhai sequel is on its third expansion, and I'm fighting the dreaded saggy middle. The beginning and end of the story have come together very well, the middle is more of a challenge. The sequel will be exploring more of the world and politics of the fae, and how Mattin and Jahlene's relationship changes when politics comes calling.

The cyberpunk story is set about 50 years in the future in a world where a power hungry man was able to use politics, money, and computer hacking to hijack the US government and set himself up as Emperor. The story focuses on one of several resistance groups who are fighting back and the strange man with unexplainable abilities who wants to join them. This story is currently on its second expansion.
Published 2014-04-27.
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