This Week’s Featured Author Interview with
Hi, Josie Jaffrey, welcome to the Indie Publishing Group website. Introduce yourself to us. Tell everyone who you are, where you’re from, what do you enjoy doing, hobbies and interests.
I’m Josie, and I’ve spent the past three years writing books about zombies and vampires. I live in Oxford, UK, with my husband, two cats and (thankfully) no zombies or vampires. When I’m not writing, I’m usually working as a lawyer or reading and reviewing for my online book club, The Gin Book Club.
When did you start writing and why?
I first started writing novels in school, but it wasn’t until 2014 that I finally got the motivation to finish one: A Bargain in Silver, the first book in the Solis Invicti series. It wasn’t until that series that I had an idea I felt was strong enough to develop into a full book. In the end, I apparently felt the idea was strong enough for a four-book series (with a tie-in series on the way…)!
Which is your favorite book you have written and what gave you the idea for it?
It’s difficult to split down the Solis Invicti series because there’s a story arc that follows through all four books, but I think my favourite is the final book, The Silver Bullet, which was released in August 2017. It was really satisfying for me to resolve the threads that I had set up in the previous instalments, and I hope that my readers find it satisfying too.
The idea for the series crept up on me over a lot of years. I’ve always loved vampires (I grew up with Buffy), and when I was fresh out of university I had this idea for a vampire graphic novel set in a burnt-out, dystopian London. I actually even started drawing it, getting about 20 pages in before I abandoned it. Ten years later, I added zombies and a twisted captivity storyline to create the Solis Invicti series. The three main characters from the graphic novel eventually ended up in A Bargain in Silver as Emmy, Drew and Sol.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
I really like titles that play with language a bit, and I’m a sucker for puns.
In the first book in the series, the vampires (who are called the Silver) make a deal with the remaining human population: blood in return for protection. Calling it ‘A Bargain in Silver’ felt like a bit of a no-brainer. I like the undercurrent of betrayal that it suggests, something that appears as a theme in the series.
I called the series the Solis Invicti series because the ambiguity in translating that phrase tickled me: it can either mean ‘of the invincible Sol’ or ‘Sol’s Invincibles’. Basically, I had a bit of a Latin geek moment. I enjoyed the degrees of possession the different translations presented, especially since the books explore issues of control and freedom.
Who helped you with the cover? Or did you design it yourself? What was your inspiration for your cover design?
Initially, I designed the cover myself, and that was a mistake. After realising this, I engaged the wonderful Martin Beckett of Martin Beckett Art to redesign them for me, incorporating my title logo. I had quite clear ideas about the striking look I wanted, and Martin was great at working with me to achieve the effect I was after. It was worth every penny.
What are some of the themes of your story?
What are all vampire books about? Power, control, rebellion, trust, identity, and reinvention. They’re the themes that draw me to vampire fiction as a reader, and they’re why I love writing it myself.
What’s your process when you sit down and decide to start writing a book? What is your process and do you have a system?
There isn’t really any magic to my process. I tend to decide what sort of book I want to write, then think about the plot until I have enough to start writing things down. Walking around helps. I usually mull the story over for at least a month before putting pen to paper for the first time, which is where the system kicks in.
Then I become a little more strict with myself. I keep a notebook for each book or series that I’m writing. Each one starts with a timeline, which breaks down the plot so I can map out the key turning points of each book. Next, come my ideas for scenes and plot points, my sketches of the world I’m working in, my character notes and any notes on the society I’m writing about (assuming its fantasy).
Once I’m happy that I can feel the shape of the book, I start writing. I do set daily word targets, which vary from 1000 to 5000 words, depending on the genre in which I’m writing and how busy I am with promotion of my self-published work.
Finally, when I have a first draft, I edit, then edit, then edit again. I recently attended a writing workshop where the instructor advised printing out your ‘final’ draft, then (1) reading it through and making notes of edits on a separate sheet of paper; (2) reading it through a second time, marking your edits directly on the manuscript; (3) re-typing the entire book from your marked-up manuscript; and (4) finally, proof-reading the final product. The exercise is designed to reduce excess verbiage and help you craft a more succinct story. I’m going to try it on my current WIP. ~ You are a lot more organized than me Josie! Your writing process puts mine to shame! Ben J
Who are some of your favorite characters and why?
That’s such a difficult question! I think I probably live in books more than I live in the real world, so it’s difficult not to bond with everyone I read.
My favorite character ever is Terry Pratchett’s, Granny Weatherwax. She’s so wonderfully written, with such depth and humanity. Also, she’s a stubborn old cow and I have some sympathy with that.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love Terry Pratchett, obviously, but in paranormal romance, I have a soft spot for Nalini Singh, JR Ward, and Kerrelyn Sparks. I also love a bit of twisted sci-fi/horror, particularly Michael Marshall Smith (think Philip K. Dick meets Lovecraft meets Stephen King).
Have you got anything you’re working on now?
I have! I’m writing something a bit different right now: a YA historical thriller set in an ancient city inspired by Plato’s Atlantis. I studied Classics as my undergrad so, as you can imagine, I’m geeking out big time over my research for this one.
After I’m finished with that manuscript (probably at the end of the year), I’m moving on to the sequel series for the Solis Invicti series. That’s going to be a bit different too, but for now, my lips are sealed!
If you could have any superpowers what would they be?
I’d love an eidetic memory. I have great short-term memory, but my long-term memory is utterly pants. The advantage is that I can reread books again and again as though they’re new to me, but I do hate that I forget everything.
If you could travel to any location in the world where would you go?
Santorini. I’m really keen to see the ruins at Akrotiri, probably because of my current Atlantis research.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years’ time?
On my sofa, in my pyjamas, typing away at my tenth novel while my cat tries to sit on the keyboard. That’s the dream.
Thanks so much for taking the time to do an author interview, Josie Jaffrey! Take a minute and check Josie Jaffrey out on the links below. Josie Jaffrey’s book series, The Solis Invicti Series, is available now on Amazon!
Josie Jaffrey Author Website
Josie Jaffrey Author Facebook
Josie Jaffrey Author Instagram
Josie Jaffrey Author Twitter
THE SOLIS INVICTI SERIES
By Josie Jaffrey
The Solis Invicti series is set in London, in a world in which the human population has been decimated by a blood-borne virus. In the wake of the zombie apocalypse that follows, a vampiric race called the Silver seizes control. Without the protection of the Silver, humanity will soon cease to exist, and without uninfected human blood, the Silver will perish. A necessary symbiosis is the result, but the power of the two races could not be more unevenly balanced.
The protagonist of the series is Emilia, a twenty-something barmaid with an insubordinate and reckless approach to the new order. In the first days following the collapse, she struggles to accept that her life has changed irrevocably and that she is powerless to reclaim it. That recalcitrance brings her face to face with the highest ranks of the Silver.
The series is targeted at adults and mature young adults. The books contain horror, profanity and sexual content. This isn’t erotica, but there are some steamy scenes (only one or two per book). There are love triangles, aggression, and drama, but there is also an eventual HEA.
Books in series: 4
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Adult, Dystopian, Urban Fantasy