April 23, 2012

Interview: Jordan Castillo Price


Today, Jordan Castillo Price is back on the blog to tell us all about her newest release, her plans for the future and answering several other questions I was dying to ask to one of my favorite authors.

Hello Jordan, welcome back to Romance Around the Corner. It’s always a pleasure to have you!


Q. For all our readers out there who may not familiar with you and your work, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?

JCP: Hi Brie! I’m so thrilled you invited me back!

I’m one of the early m/m writers to arrive on the scene, back in 2004 when my vampire/werewolf story Starlight was published in the anthology Bloodlust by M. Christian and Todd Gregory, although then it was considered gay erotica rather than m/m romance. The label is interesting, because I think m/m transcends a lot of these labels, yet doesn’t fit neatly into any other categories. Not all of my work is erotic, and not all of it is romantic. This genre is still in its infancy, and it will be interesting to watch the evolution of its definition. My most popular series, PsyCop, began in 2006 and is still in the works, with two more novels planned over the next couple of years.

Q. Your newest release, Magic Mansion, started as a serialized novel, not only that, but readers who tuned in monthly were able to vote for their favorite characters. Could you tell us more about the book and the process of writing a story while having input from readers?

JCP: Magic Mansion is about two gay stage magicians who meet on a reality show. I published the first version serially in my newsletter, about 5 to 7 chapters at a time, and on every key voting point where a magician would be voted in or out of the mansion, I turned that decision over to the readers.

It was a huge challenge to work this way, because while I had a general idea how I wanted the novel to end, I wasn’t 100% certain of how we would all get there, or even what all the details would be. It was up in the air, for instance, who would actually win the reality show. Probably because the relationship between the main characters was more the point than who won the show—although if you think about it, it wouldn’t be possible for both main characters to win, so I’d need to feel things out and make some decisions about how to wrap everything up in a satisfying way. 

The mentality I brought to the serialized writing was very different from my usual mindset. Early on I realized that there was absolutely no way I could predict how readers would vote, and so I needed to adopt a go-with-the-flow attitude. It was also clear I couldn’t tempt fate. I couldn’t offer a scenario as a voting alternative unless I was fully willing to write it.

Q. I’m curious to know more about the differences between writing a regular novel and a serialized one. Do you write it all at once and then divided it? Or you play it by ear and see how the readers respond?

JCP: I’ve never written a novel all at once and then serialized it—although, really, I could see the temptation to do that. It’s really hard to write something to order. What if you choke? What if there’s a wrench thrown in your schedule that month? What if you’re three-quarters of the way through and you realize that something in chapter two should have been different? These are all very legitimate concerns.

My feeling, however, is that writing something complete and then doling it out bit by bit is not satisfying for me as a writer. It feels contrived. If I’ve written a whole novel, I want to publish that whole novel and then shout it from the rooftops, not make readers sit around and wait for pieces of it.

My first serialized novel, Zero Hour, was published one chapter at a time. Once in a while I might get ahead by a chapter or two, but never more than that. I found the publication schedule to be too skimpy; one chapter a month really isn’t enough to keep readers engaged, and they were more likely to save up big chunks of the story and read it.

For my second serialized novel, The Starving Years, I began publishing multiple chapters per month to keep the story moving, and I also included a reader vote at the end of each section to keep the audience engaged. That way, I felt I had a really authentic reason to serialize—because I needed to tally the vote before I could flesh out the next part of the story!

Finally, for Magic Mansion, I added the reality show concept, because it seemed like a fun way to include the actual voting as a real element in the storyline itself.

Serialized stories are about momentum and suspense more than perfection. They require both a lot of faith, and a lot of editing. They’re exhilarating to write, though, and in particular I love the sense of connection I get with the readers, and the immediate feedback to the work.

Q. JCP Books is your own indie press. What made you decide to create it instead of going with a different publisher? 

JCP: After working with several publishers I decided I preferred to have greater creative control over my work than would be possible working for someone else. Before I started JCP Books I was a graphic designer by trade, and I love the intricacies of typesetting and cover art. When I was in grad school, I took a few semesters of bookbinding in which I made one-of-a-kind “art books” where I not only crafted the content, but the book itself. 

I think of making my own ebooks and paperbacks as an evolution of that “art book” sensibility, where every title is unique, and gets as much attention lavished on it as it needs, with special graphics and detailed end-matter, functional tables of contents, and covers that really convey the way I envision the story. I see myself as a book artisan.

Publishers are not going to be able to invest that amount of time into the layout and design of each title. They have standardized templates they develop according to the taste of their design department and fit each new title into that template accordingly. 

Q. Because I don’t want to get my PsyCop Fan card revoked, I must ask, what’s next for Victor and Jacob? When can we expect the next book? There’s going to be a next book, right, right?!?

JCP: It’s gratifying to know readers are eager for more of Victor Bayne’s adventures. PsyCop 7 is currently incubating. I plan a total of 8 PsyCop books for the main series (plus the bonus shorts and extras).  

Q. All your books have a bit of a dark tone. They have paranormal elements, some violence, horror, definitely suspense, and lots of black humor. I was wondering if you would ever consider writing a different type of book, something more like a contemporary romance without the darker elements. I’m just asking this because I love contemporary romance and can’t get enough!

JCP: The books I write are exactly the type of books I love to read: blood, guts and danger. I’m intrigued by the way relationships can be explored in greater depth and breadth if they play out over a stage with paranormal or SF elements. There are scads of writers out there who write contemporary romance because that is what they enjoy. 

Fans of contemporary romance may enjoy Magic Mansion, as I went deliberately subtle with the paranormal element to keep the focus on the theme of media manipulation and authenticity.

Q. What else are you working on? What can we expect and look forward to reading in the future?

JCP: When I was reading The Suicide Collectors by David Oppegaard, I was touched by the relationship of the main character and his next door neighbor, who was a stand-in father to him. I realized that I was more invested in the two of them than I was in many relationship couples, which led me to want to start exploring family dynamics in my work.

The Mnevermind Trilogy is the result of this new direction. Mnevermind is set in alternate-reality Madison Wisconsin (a college town full of overeducated folk thinking lots of thinky thoughts) in which Daniel Schroeder manages his family's business: an independent memory palace in a run-down part of the city. The first novel, Persistence of Memory, is slated for the end of April.

I’m also planning a new paranormal series called Turbulence. This will be a sequence of free short stories to fill the slot in my newsletter left by the completion of my serialized novels. Each story will have its own arc, so readers can start reading right away without feeling like they’re going to be left hanging, but each short will also lead to the next to allow for development of the characters, relationships and worldbuilding. I’d love for this to debut in May, but the research is turning out to be more involved than I anticipated. Interesting, but involved.

Q. Finally, I can’t let you go without asking you our standard question: what’s your favorite romance novel?

JCP: Stephen King’s 11/22/63 had a beautifully romantic ending. Funny thing was he almost wrote something else (that didn’t do the romantic story arc justice at all), and a guy named Joe Hill suggested the ending he eventually went with. I thought, “Wow, Stephen King trusts some guy enough to change the ending of an epic book based on his idea? That’s wild!” And then it turns out Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son! Given the father/son dynamic of the current series I’m working on, the story behind the story intrigues me as much as the book itself.

Thank you so much for being here today and taking the time to answer our questions!

JCP: I was flattered you asked! Thank you so much for having me!

Jordan Castillo Price is the author of the PsyCop series and the owner of JCP Books LLC. She writes paranormal, horror and thriller novels from her isolated and occasionally creepy home in rural Wisconsin. Connect with Jordan in the following places:

Jordan’s website
Jordan’s Blog

17 comments:

  1. Great interview. :)

    I found the PsyCop series last year and fell in love with the characters. All of them. Which isn't always the case as sometimes secondary characters can leave me a little flat.

    I recently purchased Magic Mansion, wistfully hoping for something Vic and Jacob-like. I was swept up into another satisfyingly complex, unique, and character-driven world entirely.

    The tension between the characters runs much deeper than that you might expect, even during a high-stress reality-TV show. Each and every character reveals depths you couldn’t begin to guess at the outset. I found myself rooting for all of them, and I’m slightly (okay, a lot) annoyed that I missed this as a work in progress.

    It's great to read what's coming next. :)

    Con Riley

    ReplyDelete
  2. Con! How does it feel to share a name with Victor Bayne's frienemy, Con Dreyfuss?

    I'm really glad you gave Magic Mansion a chance. I was so pleased with the way it came out and I'm glad I took that risk of packing in all those characters. I think it was the need to ensure that each of them was distinct from all the others that led me to focus so hard on each of their internal lives/hopes/wants/dreams.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great interview! So interesting about how you wrote Magic Mansion. It must have been fascinating to see how readers voted. It adds a whole new twist to reading the book as a full story.

    So excited to hear more Psy Cops are coming. I am totally obsessed with the series. I think I read all of the books in a week.

    ReplyDelete
  4. A lot of the readers gave me feedback all along the way too, which was so precious to me. The vote was a bit harrowing. I had put in some characters who I thought could be easily voted out, and readers became inexplicably attached to them (particularly Amazing Faye). So I beefed them up in edits so it would seem like they were really well-rounded all along ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excellent interview! Magic Mansion is such a wonderful story. The paranormal elements are light - so anyone thinking it wouldn't be their thing, think again! This is a beautiful story about love and friendship. And the trials a reality show will throw your way.

    Looking forward to Mnevermind and Turbulence!

    -Andy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Andy! I think Magic Mansion would be a dandy place for a new-to-JCP reader to start! It's a really fun standalone.

      Delete
  6. Yes, I totally agree. Such a wonderful story and a great place to start!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm going off topic here to say that I'm so reading Stephen King's book. It's been a while since I've read one of his books, he kind of lost his touch IMO. That's one talented family, his wife is also an author, a very good one actually.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't yet read Tabitha King. I've always thought it must be bizarre to be her, to be a writer as well but to have this crazy-mega-successful husband, in the same field. She must have her head on straight to be able to make that relationship work...and I'm also intrigued by the fact that he never went for a trophy wife once he became wealthy. (Dean Koontz too.)

      Delete
  8. I found myself nodding in understanding when you mentioned "The Suicide Collecters." I often find a secondary character will pique my interest and my mind will wander off exploring a dynamic an author didn't delve into. Or maybe a dynamic I feel the need to explore myself?

    I am really looking forward to Mnevermind and now I am equally looking forward to Turbulance! I am glad to know there will be something filling in the empty space left by Magic Mansion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's important to me to put really good content in my newsletter, though it uses a lot of my resources to make it happen. I'm still trying to figure out the balance of that. You've opted to publish your creative work for free so I'm sure you know what I mean!

      Delete
  9. I loved how you used the concept of tempting fate by attracting spite in Magic Mansion. Is it actually true that a number of magicians have died from freak accidents? Houdini sprang to mind, but I don't know the subject well enough to think of any others!

    Great book, by the way! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, only true in the world of the story. I like that it made you wonder :-)

      Delete
  10. Wow, what an interesting way to write a book. I think having the fans vote in certain elements is pretty brilliant. And how cool that the author decided to take full control and responsibility for her work and start her own publishing company. That's very cool and quite admirable! Lovely interview.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jade! I feel fortunate that I'm writing in a time where self-publishing is really accessible. Yes, you need a skill set to do it, but it doesn't cost tens of thousands of dollars like it would have in the days of offset printing.

      Delete
  11. Great interview, I've always enjoyed yours as you seem to actually take some time to answer questions not just throw out flip answers. Can't decide if I'm happy or not about the progression of the psycop series. Am I half glass full, yeah there are two more coming! or a half glass empty, there are only two more coming : (, kind of gal, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I feel the same way when a series I love is complete. Still, I think it's more important to grow and change a character than to keep putting them through the same motions with minor changes in scenery, as so many long-running series do.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

FTC Disclaimer

The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.