"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Special FeaturesHoliday Themed Romance Chat with Featured Authors at PNR CHAT, monthly - 3rd Monday, 9pm Eastern
Jana G. Oliver
An Iowa native with a penchant for single malt scotch and about anything Celtic, Jana Oliver lives in her own little fantasy world. Fortunately, this is a plus when it comes to writing mysteries that involve shape-shifters, time travelers and illusionary blue spiders.
PNR: How long have you been writing? What inspired you to choose writing as a career?
Jana O.: Like most authors, I was one of those kids who scribbled stories when I was barely old enough to hold a pencil. I remember writing a Man from U.N.C.L.E. story filled with lots of spies. (Fanfic before the term was coined). Luckily, I don’t have a copy of that anymore. Writing became a profession in 1998 when I couldn’t ignore the ‘voices in my head’ any longer. They continue to insist I write their stories. I’m happy to oblige.
PNR: Do you have a strict writing schedule? How do you balance your personal and writing time?
Jana O.: Hummm… strict only in the sense that I write. I’m not one of those ‘out of bed at 5 a.m., finish ten chapters before breakfast’ sort. Long days at the keyboard turn me into a pretzel so I’ve learned to adapt to a more flexible schedule. As my days tend to be filled with mundane events, I usually write in the late afternoon or evening. That seems to be my creative time. Fortunately the spouse is fine with that as he likes to spend his evenings on his own computer. Other than the furry tyrant (cat) yowling around for attention, it’s pretty quiet.
Balancing personal and writing time can be a problem, especially if the characters are really chattering away in my head. My spouse knows when it’s best to leave me be and when it’s good to pry my fingers off the keyboard and take me for ice cream. Balance is everything. You gotta feed the brain. Ice cream is a good start. If that fails, I move on to chocolate, which is why I have to go to the gym three days a week.
PNR: Most authors are avid readers; what is your favorite genre to read? Favorite authors?
Jana O.: I’m partial to complex mysteries, especially those with a paranormal element and a protagonist who has lots of ‘issues’. Though Terry Pratchett’s mysteries aren’t that intricate, he has a keen eye for human frailties and knows how to exploit them and make me laugh. Scottish author Ian Rankin has created an amazing character in Inspector Rebus, damaged psyche and all. And then there’s Kim Harrison’s dark paranormal fantasies. Her Hollows series proves that witches and vampires are just as flawed as the rest of us. I will read other authors, but these three are always at the top of the stack.
PNR: What are the greatest challenges to you as an author?
Jana O.: Making the next story better than the last. Any author worth their ink cartridges knows this. When you’re new at the process, improvements are dramatic. The further you get down the path, the actual writing process gets easier because you recognize the ‘stages’ you go through to achieve a good book. However, the process also gets harder because you’re competing against yourself. Will this be a better book? Is the plot too predictable? Are the characters cardboard? Will the whole premise carry water? (Writer thy name is insecurity).
PNR: Reviewers and readers love your time travel mystery, SOJOURN, how does it feel to have such positive recognition of your work?
Jana O.: Rather humbling. Writers can instinctively sense if a book is pretty good or if it is a “WOW”. I knew I had something unique when I finished the first draft. After my editor did her thing, SOJOURN reached the “wow” level. I’m really thrilled the story has earned such a positive reaction. It means I’m doing my job.
PNR: Where did the idea for the story come from? How do you develop your story ideas?
Jana O.: I’ve always been fascinated by Late Victorian London. Unlike some authors, the posh West End doesn’t do it for me, even though it could be just as dark and criminal as any other part of London. I favor the East End because it was a melting pot of immigrants, full of rank poverty and desperate humans just trying to make it through another day. Desperate people make for compelling stories. I thought it would be intriguing to bring a Time Rover from 2057 into this cauldron, especially one who loathes Victorian London. What would happen if her simple assignment went wrong? What if she meets some strange people who can emulate any form they choose? And what would happen if she finds herself in the middle of a devious plot to change history? Voila–SOJOURN was born.
PNR: SOJOURN features a number of paranormal elements; time travel, shifters and a notoriously evil villain, was it challenging to bring all of these elements together?
Jana O.: Very challenging. I do not recommend trying to juggle all those elements in one book. Fortunately, my Muse was watching over me. I always swore I’d never write science fiction. Part way through SOJOURN I realized that time travel is (duh) science fiction. Mixing all the genres was touchy as I didn’t want the story to veer too far in one direction at the expense of the others. It took a lot of research to establish the time technology. Creating the Transitives (the shape-shifters) was another hurdle. I wanted them to be totally different, something unique. In the end, I got lucky and all the bits worked.
PNR: You have been complimented on your extensively researched setting; is research something you enjoy? What challenges did you face using a historical setting in a paranormal novel?
Jana O.: I live to research. Give me an 1888 newspaper (and a magnifying glass – type was smaller then) and I’m blissfully happy. I spent weeks trudging around the East End of London and the docklands, digging through photo archives and talking to those in the know. That being said, research is only a means to an end. What I’m looking for as I’m pouring over old maps, books and police reports, is the human element. Not surprisingly, people in 1888 were not much different than today. Physically there were some differences, but we all want the same things—love, security, adequate food and the hope of a good future.
Setting a story in a historical context is dicey, as the Brits would say. There will always be someone out there who knows more than you do and will call you on some little tidbit you missed. You have to triple check everything and still you’ll foul something up. Comes with trying to write about another time through the 21st century ‘lens’. In the end, the story is the most important part, but if you can add those historical touches to set the scene, that’s extra points.
PNR: Your heroine, Cynda, is intelligent and tough; could you tell us about the development of her character? Your heroes?
Jana O.: Jacynda (Cynda) is a kick. I really love writing her scenes. She says all the things I think but sometimes don’t dare say, even though I’m known to be outspoken. Cynda dislikes technology, which is odd since she works in the Time Immersion field. She has an innate distrust of authority and is constantly on the move so she can ignore her inner ‘demons’. She’s the kind of person you would want watching your back in a tight situation. She doesn’t know when to quit, which isn’t always the best choice in certain situations.
The heroes? Ah, do I have a pair of them: Dr. Alastair Montrose, the altruistic physician who has devoted himself to the poor in Whitechapel and the mercurial Detective Sergeant Jonathon Keats of Special Branch (Scotland Yard). Cynda puts a real strain on their supposed friendship as both men take an interest in her. They’re opposite ends of the scale, but more alike that either would care to admit.
Duty motivates all three of my main characters, often at the cost of their personal lives. Over the course of the books, they each have their personal epiphanies.
PNR: Which of your characters was your favorite to write? The most challenging?
Jana O.: I’m really enamored of Jonathon Keats. Though Alastair’s a great guy, there’s just something about Keats. I also like to write T.E.Morrisey’s scenes. You got a love a guy who positions all his astral artwork three feet off the ground so he can sit on a cushion and meditate on them for hours at a time. The guy defines odd.
The most challenging? The bad guy (who I can’t name or it would be a serious spoiler). The reader doesn’t really meet him until late in the book, or at least doesn’t realize they’ve met him, so it was a real challenge to build him up without giving him away. In the end, he’s a very creepy guy, the kind that gives you goose bumps when he talks.
PNR: Why do you think time travel is such a popular plot device in the paranormal romance genre?
Jana O.: Time travel is the ultimate “What If?” Time travel always raises the stakes in a novel. Almost everyone would love to travel to one time or another and meet someone important or witness a great event. Some would like to change history. Personally, I’d love to take a trip to 1888 Whitechapel and loiter near the Ten Bells to watch the ebb and flow of humanity. Hopefully, the coppers wouldn’t roust me for soliciting <wink>.
PNR: Are you planning to continue writing in the time travel genre? What are your plans for the TIME ROVER series?
Jana O.: Since I so enjoy the premise of the Time Rovers, I’d love to do more stories involving their escapades. A lot of issues are left unresolved in SOJOURN, so there are two more books planned to complete the story arc. VIRTUAL EVIL (Time Rovers - Book 2) will be available late summer 2007 and THE MADMAN’S DANCE (Book 3) in 2008, both through Dragon Moon Press.
PNR: You have written in the ghost genre with your 2001 release, THE LOVER’S KNOT. What is your favorite genre to write? Is there a genre you would like to try but haven’t?
Jana O.: I love writing mysteries, but I also like to have a paranormal element somewhere in the story. Adding a bit of the supernatural really opens a story to new dimensions. As for a genre I’d like to try? Actually, since I ‘genre blend’ I’m pretty much running out of choices.
PNR: Can you tell us about the projects are you currently working on, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Jana O.: Besides the next two books in the Time Rovers series, I hope to write a short story or two in the coming year. Short, by my definition is novel length, so this will be a stretch for me to write something considerably shorter. One will be a Time Rovers story, the other completely independent of the series. I’m even tempted to pen a bit of erotica. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything scorching. That one would be a novella. Have to leave room for some really steamy sexual congress, as the Victorians would say. My spouse really enjoys the research <wink>.
PNR: Thank you, Jana, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Jana O.: Thanks for asking me! This has been fun. The best place to “track a Jana” is at my website: http://www.janaoliver.com I keep the site up-to-date with news and info about the Time Rovers series and all my appearances. Be sure to check the front page for my current contest!
If folks want to contact me, the best way is via the e-mail link on the website or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I usually answer pretty quickly unless I’m on the road or squinting at an old map.
Featured in this issue:Time Travel Themed Romance Holiday Themed Romance
Jana G. Oliver
Time Rovers: Book 1
Welcome to Whitechapel. The year is 1888.
Victorian London harbors dark secrets. Shapeshifters weave skillful illusions, cloaking their identities while a killer stalks the unwary in WhiteChapel.
For Time Rover, Jacynda Lassiter, the mission is simple -- find an overdue 'tourist' and return him to 2057 before he alters history. For Dr. Alastair Montrose, the danger is discovery -- for himself and his kind. To prevail, they must outwit a madman whose legacy will endure for centuries.Buy it Now! MageSpell Press
September 1, 2002
Read the Reviews!
Dragonfire Fantasy Book 2
As death encompasses the Southern Isle clansmen, only the iron resolve of their young leader, Caewlin, prevents his people from falling to the sword of their mortal enemy, the cruel Lord Phelan. When fate hands Phelan a weapon of tremendous power, he begins the final campaign in his brutal war of extermination.
Desperate, Caewlin seeks aid from two unlikely sources: a mysterious fire-haired healer named Aithne and the House of Aderyn. When Belwyn, the eldest son of Aderyn, rises to the challenge, he unknowningly places his children and his lost love in Phelan's bloody hands.Buy it Now! MageSpell Press
December 1, 2001
Read the Reviews!
Mariah Summers has found her dream lover at an old inn in rural Britain, a highwayman from the eighteenth century. But there's one hitch -- he's a ghost, albeit a lusty one, forever in search of his own true love. The roguish specter of Andrew Domine has haunted the Inn of the Green Dragon for centuries where he has seduced women with coal black hair, at least those that resemble his lost beloved, Bess. Now he has found Mariah and their nights of passion have nearly rivaled those he once shared with his own black-haired beauty.
The ghost's wrath descends upon Mariah when he believes she has betrayed him with another and he curses her to a life without love. The curse drives her to his modern-day counterpart, a brooding and arrogant Dartmoor financier with a strong appetite for brothels and Irish whiskey -- a man who fears love more than he fears death. As they try to find the courage to embrace love once more, an old enemy arises, one with a two-hundred-year-old score to settle. Based on the poem, The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes.Buy it Now! MageSpell Press
May 1, 2001
Paperback Read the Reviews! Dragonfire Fantasy Book 1
Young Morwyn longs to escape her dreary small village existence. Her fervent desire to be special is put to the test when she is spellbound and kidnapped by an adept from the Circle of the Swan. Against the rules of magic, the adept leaves false evidence of Morwyn's brutal murder, weaving a dark spell that casts suspicion upon Belwyn, a disgraced warrior and eldest son of the mighty House of Aderyn.
As the kingdom veers toward civil war, Morwyn is summoned before an Ancient One, a dragon, to learn the price she must pay to free the warrior of his life-consuming enchantment. The dragon's edict cuts deep; for Morwyn to save the life of the man she has grown to love, she must balance the magic by sacrificing her greatest treasure.
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