I've raved enough about Color Me Grey and its sequel Shades of Grey so it's with great joy that I get to introduce you all to the author herself! In case learning about J.C. Phelps isn't quite exciting enough, read on after the interview for a great opportunity to win free eBook copies of this awesome series...
Hi J.C! I think anyone reading your books would be hard pressed not to love Alexis Stanton. How did you first conceive the idea of her character? Throughout writing the books, has she changed from your initial vision for her?
Thank you for saying that! I, of course, love Alex.
I first came up with the character idea from reading another author’s book. She had a “side-line” character who was just about perfect. I decided that was who I wanted to be, kinda. Alexis is actually nothing like the character I’d gotten a small glimpse of but she is the result of the feeling I got while reading that book.
My original vision for Alex was more of a feeling of a person. I didn’t know her until I started writing about her and I’ve been learning more and more about her as the stories progress. She doesn’t like to share much until she has to.
Alex manages to hold her own as a woman in a male-dominated business. Have you ever had a similar experience trying to prove yourself in a boy's club situation?
I grew up with very few girl friends and most of them were cousins. But, I have two younger brothers and usually hung out with the guys. My grandparents were a bit old school though. I was probably ten when I went out to the garage to help my grandpa and a neighbor boy work on a car. I really wanted to learn how to fix cars but Grandpa told me to go away because this was boy stuff. My father, on the other hand, always told me that I could never rely on a man to “take care” of me. I chose to follow my father’s advice instead of that of my Grandpa. Though, my interest in working on cars has dwindled considerably.
Alex is also an avid reader - what books or genres is she usually devouring?
She will read absolutely anything! Most of her reading has become research but when she gets the time to read for pleasure she is partial to Thrillers, Mysteries and Fantasy. She has a tendency to pick up a lot of non-fiction. For some odd reason she feels compelled to be studying something. One genre she has never tried past a page or two is Romance. However, she has snuck a peek at an Erotic novel, once. But the constant looking over her shoulder as she read was too much for her.
There is actually quite a lot of research that goes into my books because I do not have background knowledge of most of what I write about. I try to think of something that would be exciting and fun for someone like Alex or her partners and try to incorporate that into my stories somehow. For example, in Color Me Grey she completes SCUBA training, which I think would be so much fun. It just happened that SCUBA training came in very handy for her main job in the story.
What authors or works would you say have inspired or influenced you as a writer?
I would say that every book I have ever read has been an inspiration and an influence. In high school we did a letter-writing project and I wrote to Piers Anthony. I was deeply involved in his Xanth series at the time. AND, he wrote back to me and sent me a copy of Flowers for Algernon. I still walk around with my chest puffed out when I think of it. However, the biggest push I received was when I was reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. I could really relate to her style of writing and it was unlike anything else I’d ever read. I had stuck mainly to fantasy and mystery and Evanovich was a little outside my comfort zone. However, I’m very happy I took that leap across my regular genres. Since then, I’ve done a lot more genre hopping and am enjoying every word I read.
You recently completed the fourth Grey novel as a NaNoWriMo project. Tell us a little about your experiences. Do you normally write at such a frenetic pace or was 50K words in a month a bit of a stretch?
Well…. I did not complete the fourth Grey novel during NaNoWriMo. I did get my 50,000 words but it was just a beginning. I started out writing like I normally do. I write a bit then go back and redo what I think I need to but then I got into the spirit of NaNo and as per NaNoWriMo style I just wrote and wrote without much care for edits or sometimes content. I will be rewriting from the beginning with a better sense of things. So, in that sense, NaNo was a major win for me. It gave me better direction for the story I really want to tell and not the one that somehow found it’s way to my computer screen.
I’ve never really paid much attention to how much I write at a given time until NaNoWriMo. However, Color Me Grey came quickly. I had the book completed in 21 days. I set up a goal to write a chapter a day and I almost fulfilled it. There are 17 chapters in Color Me Grey. The other two books took a lot more time to complete. I’m afraid Book Four (still untitled) might take more time as well.
As for 50,000 being a stretch or not; it is a big stretch to come out with something even close to being publishable but as for just writing scenes and worrying how to incorporate them later, 50,000 is nothing. I truly believe anyone who has trouble with the NaNoWriMo deadline has this problem only because they are too critical of what they are writing. Let loose and allow yourself to just outline a section or skip ahead in the story or write something totally off the path of your story if it pops into your head. Save the editing for later and 50,000 will be an easy task. Editing the manuscript will probably turn out to be a nightmare though.
I often use Color Me Grey as a recommendation for people that have never read a book by an indie author before. Can you give a shoutout to a fellow indie author and inform me of the next greatest indie work (besides yours) that should be added to my MUST READ pile? (Optional: For fun, can you compose a haiku or two extolling the merits of the book you want to recommend?)
I am extremely honored that you would use Color Me Grey as a recommendation.
I’d love to shoutout to two authors, if I may.
First of all, Dawn Judd. I have read her books “Reining In” and “Phantom Rising” (the second book in the series). I love the story she is telling and she also does a lot for fellow Indie authors. She hosts The Breakout Books Blog and Facebook page as well as Author AdvenTours. She is a great lady that I may get the pleasure of meeting in person one of these days.
Secondly, Karen Cantwell. She hosts the blog Fiction For Dessert and has self published “Take the Monkeys and Run” and “The Chronicles of Marr-nia”. These two books I HIGHLY recommend, especially for women readers. She has a similar voice to Janet Evanovich, a great wit and readers can easily relate to her character, Barbara Marr.
Cantwell and Dawn JuddAre great authors on the sceneI hope you read them!
Well, marketing for my first three books takes up the majority of my time but I’m still working on the fourth book in my Alexis Stanton Chronicles and I have a few ideas knocking around in my brain that I hope I can get to before they fade away. I’d love to write a thriller or mystery.
Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
I can be found at:
Thanks again for agreeing to this interview!
Thank you so much for having me!And now for the Grand Giveaway! J.C. Phelps has generously offered to sponsor a giveaway of some of her novels in eBook format. The winners will be given free codes for Smashwords to download the books in formats compatible with various eReaders. Three winners will be chosen - One Grand Prize winner will receive codes for the entire Alexis Stanton Chronicles thus far: Color Me Grey (book 1), Shades of Grey (book 2), and Reflections of Grey (book 3); One First Prize winner will receive codes for Color Me Grey (book 1) and Shades of Grey (book 2); and One Second Prize winner will receive a code for Color Me Grey (book 1). To enter leave a comment below including your email address (winners will be notified by email). Contest is open internationally and closes January 20th, 2011! Good Luck!