Book Country Member Spotlight Q&A
Jamie Wyman is a fantasy and horror writer from Phoenix who’s been with Book Country since the very beginning. Two weeks ago, she broke the news that her debut urban fantasy Technical Difficulties, which she workshopped on the site, was picked up by Entangled Publishing. We got in touch with Jamie to congratulate her and find out how she’s been doing since the announcement. (I highly recommend Jamie’s post about the book deal to all aspiring authors; it’s both heart-warming and informative.)
Jamie is known by many names. Here, she asked we call her “The Omnipotent Despot to All Things Peachy.”
Nevena: Congratulations on the acquisition, Jamie! What has your life been like since the big news became public?
Jamie: Thanks! Life has been mostly normal but with a lot more squeeing. There have been a few surreal moments, including my first piece of “fan mail.” Another editor who read the book on submission didn’t get it to her acquisitions board in time, but she emailed me to let me know how much she enjoyed the book. That made my morning! And I’ve been talking with publicists. Seriously? I have publicists. Totally surreal.
Nevena: It does sound surreal. Congrats again. Now, tell us more aboutTechnical Difficulties. What transformations has it gone through since the first draft? Did you have to kill any “darlings”?
Jamie: Technical Difficulties is an urban fantasy following Catherine Sharp, an IT professional with a personal debt to the Greek Goddess of Discord, Eris. When Cat discovers that her soul is a chip in Eris’s poker game, she has to turn the tables on four trickster gods who are vying for her soul.
There have been more than ten revision passes on it at this point, eight of which I did before querying agents. The opening scene and the structure at the end are the only major changes from the rough draft, and those were based on feedback from my agent—the stellar Jennie Goloboy at Red Sofa Literary agency. She and my beta readers gave me spectacular critiques.
And yes, I had to kill darlings, but the book is better this way.
Nevena: What do you wish you’d been told about getting acquired and working with an editor?
Jamie: “No, seriously, Jamie. When I say you need patience, I’m talking epic amounts.” Patience does not come naturally to me. The past four years of working toward publication have helped with that, but sometimes it’s still not enough.
Nevena: Well, your efforts have paid off! What draws you to the urban fantasy genre? What cliché would you most like to see erased from it?
Jamie: If fantasy is all about escapism, urban fantasy is a staycation. It takes these old fairy tales and plunks them down into the middle of reality. This leads to all sorts of questions. How do wizards interact with technology? What happens when a satyr lands in Las Vegas with a trickster god? It’s such a fertile playground!
As to clichés, I think the one that bothers me the most is the “rape as initiation” trope. Male leads jump through all sorts of hoops to earn their stripes in the supernatural world, but it seems that women are—more often than not—tested with rape. It’s ubiquitous and most times not integral to the plot.
Nevena: This is one cliché I’d like to see banished from the genre as well! Tell me, when did you start writing?
Jamie: I’ve been telling stories since I was in single digits. My grandma used to record me telling them. Later I filled notebooks with short stories, scripts, poetry…a lot of them terrible. I didn’t write my first novel, though, until 2008. It was crap. I got better, though.
Nevena: What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Jamie: I love that moment when lightning strikes and an idea just gels into perfection. Sometimes this comes in the brainstorming/plotting/pre-visualization part. Sometimes during drafting. Other times editing. Usually it’s in the shower.
Nevena: Why did you join Book Country? How has it helped you grow as a writer?
Jamie: I needed someone to look at my work with a craft perspective. When Colleen put out the call for betas when Book Country launched, I couldn’t volunteer fast enough.
Book Country helped me learn to trust my voice and my instincts. Many times the comments on the site would confirm what I thought was wrong (or right) with a piece. While it helped me develop a thicker skin, it also taught me how to take a compliment. Seriously, you don’t think about that, but I’m a very self-deprecating person. That’s what my whole sense of humor is based on. So when I started getting positive feedback, I had to learn to accept it rather than bat it away with the negative.
Nevena: Sounds awesome. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Jamie: What writer Neil Gaiman said once on an episode of Arthur: “Don’t judge your story; you’ve just started writing it. Trust your story. Tell it because you’re the only one who can.”
Nevena: What’s next? When will your novel “hit the shelves”?
Jamie: Technical Difficulties will hit a digital device near you. (It’s early stages, so the release date hasn’t been set yet.) I’ve also just learned that one of my short stories will be appearing in an anthology later this year. But I can’t give details about that project yet. Stay tuned!
Nevena: So secretive! Get us the details when you are at liberty to say more. Is there anything else you want the community to know about you?
Jamie: I’m still not sure what the hell I’m doing. I make this up as I go along.
Image © Eric Fiallos