Monday, July 7, 2014

Guest Author: JM Bray

I am a lucky gal. Why? you ask. Well, despite his crazy busy schedule celebrating the release of Mending the Shroud (the second in the Shroud trilogy), author JM Bray dropped in with me to chat about his books, his writing process, and the 1980s. 

Let the interview begin!

You've mentioned in the past that your inspiration sometimes comes from dreams. How often does this happen?

Great question. Not as often as I’d like, and usually a ton come at the wrong time. Most often the dream ideas come when I’ve let a story idea stew for a while, and the pressure of it wanting out builds. Unfortunately, that usually happens while I’m working on another piece. I’ve finished the first draft of Shrouded (book three) and am editing a first pass so I can send it to critique partners. To stay focused, I don’t let myself write another story. Of course that’s exactly when the new novel starts waking me up with ideas via dreams. I’ll have about 4-5 day where it happens repeatedly, then nothing for a couple of weeks. It’s sort of an all or nothing kind of thing

Speaking of all or nothing, you've been working on the novels from the Shroud trilogy with great diligence. Since it's set in a different time period and features fantastical elements, did you have to do any research? 


What kind? 

Whew...that could go a lot of ways. Here’s a few examples:
  • Astronomical: I needed to know how often Jupiter aligned with the Pleiades constellation and was visible on moonless nights. That’s 11.8 years by the way.
  • Location: If someone were going to commit suicide from the Coronado Bridge in San Diego, what would they see? 
  • Spiritual/Personal: How does someone in a same sex relationship, who also is a Christian, align their beliefs with the God of the Bible? I took a swing at a possibility, then interviewed a gay friend and let him read it. He loved the scene.

[Interviewer's Random Note: If you ever need to gather information about South California, you now know the expert. Seriously, this man knows a ton and has connections...]

Okay, so you've earned your research badge...But you're not off the hook yet! In your books you're having to balance a number of characters, from strong heroes to kick-ass heroines. Since you've had to work with both, do you find the male or female perspective easier to write? 


Why's that?
As a guy, it fits the ‘write what you know” mantra. But I’ve run into interesting situations with this, because I write what I and other male friends would actually say or how we might react. However, readers are used to reading male perspectives written by females and what they believe men are thinking...the two are not necessarily the same. At times I’ve had to adjust the “actual” male perspective to meet the readers “expected” male perspective.

I’d give examples, but the idea is to attract readers, not piss them off. Right?

Right. And, those of you reading this, please note his willingness to compromise, a most valuable trait. 

Okay, JM, it's time for the hard questions now! If you could steal one author superpower from a famous writer, who would you steal from and what power would it be?

The ability to pound out large amounts of quality words each day. My very best day writing, I hit 4k words, but usually it’s around 1K. To have the kinetic power of Steven King and write a seven hundred page manuscript in six months...Oh yeah.

Favorite 80s movie quote...go!

Only one? There are so many good ones. Since I’m limited we have to go with the classic: “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!”

If you had an archnemesis, what would he or she be like?

I’d love to say the Kurgan, from the movie the Highlander. Best villain ever! How can you not love a guy who rattles off lines like he does? Notice how self-controlled I am, not listing them. But actually, since I try to get along with everyone, my archenemies would probably be more like Sean Connery’s character, Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, a friend who I knew I’d eventually have to defeat.

Ouch! And while facing that enemy, what kind of battles would you two have? 

Sword fights that lasted for half an hour, so we’d have to take a break, have a drink and a laugh or two, then go back at it.

Of course, you would win said battle. Excellent job answering in that speed round!

Before we finish up here, let me pick your brain one last time. With book 2 of 3 complete and that final third story going through revisions and edits, have you thought about the projects that are sitting in your To Be Written pile?

Two are currently waking me up. One is a time travel story, that involves the post office Dead Letter Department, a woman motorcycle racer in 1930, the election of FDR, Randolf Hearst plus a lot more.

The second is about a guy who’s been alive for the past two thousand years, but isn’t a vampire. It starts in the first century near Jerusalem and includes chases on camel-back, sea battles, shipwrecks and sibyls.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and chat, JM!

If you have any other questions for JM Bray, feel free to ask here, or stop by his Twitter (@jmbraybooks) or Facebook ( account.


  1. This was an incredibly fun and challenging interview. Thanks, Marion for putting me through my paces. :-D


    1. Hey, someone's got to keep you on your toes! :)

  2. Your fave movie line is also one of mine! Love the ideas for your future novels, JM. I have recently discovered a fondness for time travel stories so get writing!