SMOKE AND OTHER STORMS is described as a “western fantasy adventure”. How would you describe the setting for this story?
I think of it as the American Wild West meets 1800’s Australia. Half of the people are there to prospect and mine, the other half are violent prisoners shipped from back east so the cities don’t have to deal with them. However, the weather is savage and the bulk of the west is unmapped and toxic. It’s a do or die, kill or be killed environment, which is why the family bond the characters have is so important, they keep each other safe and alive.
What was you inspiration for this book?
I grew up with all sisters and wanted to write a book that celebrates the bond between women. I also wanted it to be fun and I really love the desert, so that part was obvious. I started thinking about treasure hunt, action-adventure stories like Indiana Jones and National Treasure (still one of my favorite movies). We hardly ever get to see why the antagonists are really after the gold. We’re usually just left to assume it’s because they’re greedy. I wanted to explore the human side of why someone would lie and kill to make sure they end up with the fortune.
Adelaide seems like a strong woman who would do anything for family. How would you describe her? What drives her?
Adelaide is a prickly woman who prefers horses to humans, doesn’t make connections easily, and that’s why the ones she has mean everything to her. In her words, without her family she’d be lost. She’s a logic-based decision maker, often coming across cold, aided by her murderous “shadow” known as The Stranger. Really, she just wants to be left alone to wander and explore, but the world has other ideas.
Some readers prefer complex characters with uncertain motivations, while others prefer characters they can easily identify with. What makes a compelling heroine for you?
Heroines who are loyal, and that includes loyalty to themselves. Even selfishly sometimes. I can’t help but support someone who knows what they want and doesn’t compromise their dreams and individuality for anything, even love. Self-worth is strength.
With SMOKE AND OTHER STORMS, do you try to create a balance between the action and the character-driven storytelling? What is your favorite aspect of writing – setting, dialogue, action?
Dialogue is by far my favorite thing to write. Which is ironic because Adelaide is a woman of few words. About half of her responses are internal. She and Moira, the other POV character, actually created the balance of action and character-driven storytelling for me. Adelaide is more aggressive so her point of view has more action sequences, while Moira provides the wisdom of age, including the backstory chapters. (One of my favorite parts of the story. They add so much dimension to Moira’s character.)
Do you see Adelaide as more of a loner going forward with the series (other than her family)? Or will she form other close relationships over the course of the series?
This is going to be one of her main sources of character development. We get to see her form some new relationships in this book, and whether she’s ready for it or not, they will influence who she’s going to become. I call bullshit on the trope of the “I’m so strong I don’t need friends or care about anyone”. That’s not strength, that’s damage. Everyone needs friends.
Other authors I’ve interviewed have told me that the kinds of books they enjoy reading are different from the kind of books they enjoy writing. What do you like to read? Favorite books? Favorite author?
I love fantasy to the core, from speculative fiction to high fantasy. Give me weird, magic and deadly powers, strange lands and spooky creatures. My favorite author is Jay Kristoff, he’s a masterclass in how male authors should write female characters. But my favorite books (at the moment) are The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, and The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
What are you currently working on?
I am currently revising the sequel and about to start drafting the third book. I let the story tell me when it’s time, and the first lines of that last book recently came to me. So soon.
The Revere Trilogy #1
The mining campaigns always forget a few details. Moon Season makes storms volatile. You’re more likely to be killed by your neighbor than strike a crystal vein, and there’s only one name you should bother knowing around here: Revere.
Moira and her granddaughter Adelaide are professionals. Smugglers, thieves, and arms dealers, the Revere women have lifted their family business from the dust, and with their train they’ve become the most notorious gang in the territory.
After an accident damages her sister’s eyes, Adelaide finds an opportunity that will not only pay for a sight-saving operation but pull the family from the shadows of the back market for good. Accompanied by her sisters, Adelaide guides a survey crew into the uncharted West Rim –a poisonous desert concealing untapped riches– with the full intent to claim the fortune for themselves.
But when Moira learns a bounty has been placed on the family, she discovers a deeper plan already in motion that will change the Rim forever.
Fiction Family Life [City Owl Press, On Sale: June 1, 2022, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781648981425 / eISBN: 9781648981418]
J.L. wrote her first stories as a five-year-old about two cats finding a secret room in a treehouse. It was habit forming. Raised a homeschooler, she liked the woods and didn’t play sports. Instead, she wrote about talking rabbits, pioneers, cursed caves, superhumans, and a six-book kid-detective series. They were not good. She also doesn’t remember learning how to read, so it is possible she was born with that ability.
Her heart is in the desert and mountains, even when the rest of her can’t physically be there. (Which explains a few things.) When not writing she makes other things, like historical clothing, and believes Victorian era fashion should absolutely make a comeback, as long as sweatpants still exist. She loves black cats, the smell of hot pines, and thinks vowel sounds are the most interesting part of language.
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