What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
Hunted by the Past is the fourth book I’ve written, however it’s the first in a new Paranormal Romantic Suspense series. Unlike my Urban Fantasy series (The Kyn Kronicles), Hunted proved a bit more of a challenge. Although the series centers around ex-military psychics, no demons (real, physical ones), werewolves or other creatures who go bump in the night, exist in this world. Instead, my characters have to face the demons of their past, the nightmares they’ve survived, and navigate the ravages of life.
Because of the military background, I knew going in to this series, things had to be right—the lingo, the weapons, the attitude—or my characters would fall short. I love research, tend to get lost in it, if I don’t set some serious boundaries, but I don’t limit myself to what’s in books or online.
I can also turn research into family time, which I did when the whole gang decided to begin going to the shooting range. Not only did I get an up close and personal experience in handling various guns, but my boys thought it was cool. Not so sure if I suggested a HALO jump, they’d be as enthusiastic, though.
In my circle of loved ones, I had a solid core I could go to with tough questions, questions most who’ve served tend not to talk about. Their courageous answers help lend my characters a depth of validity I couldn’t have gotten otherwise.
Where did the idea for your story come from?
I’ve always been fascinated by the arena of psychic abilities, plus I may have a teeny-tiny bit of a conspiracy theorist residing in a small dark corner. I also read a great deal outside of fiction, and one particular book, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate by John D. Marks, which follows the history of behavioral science and the CIA, helped sparked the idea. After finishing that book, I moved on to The Psychopath Next Door. Um, yeah, my research library of non-fiction titles would be scary to an outsider.
Why did you pick the setting you did?
As a writer you hear “write what you know” ad nauseam so I tend to pick locations I know well—so far I’ve done Oregon and now Arizona. Not only is Phoenix my home town, but it’s a great starting point for this series. Close enough to Coronado and San Diego and Texas for military reasons, near enough to Vegas or Colorado for others. I love my little wedge of the US and there are some great places out here to use for nefarious purposes. Besides, how do you know something like this isn’t happening here already?
Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
I can’t speak for every writer, but many I know have to agree, some small piece of ourselves end up in one form or fashion in our characters. I’m no different. I may not be able to say, “When Cyn’s being a stubborn jackass, that’s me!” but yes, they way my characters react in various situations may (I said may) reflect some personal bias. And there may be an aspect or two of people I run into that pop out of characters, but overall, no—my characters are not based on specific people.
I do admit to having very detailed backgrounds on each character and what motivates them, because for me, they have to feel multi-dimensional or the story will fall flat.
Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
I always hit a block when writing. Doesn’t matter if I write by the seat of my pants or plot the bugger out, sooner or later (probably sooner) I hit a point where I think, “For crimney’s sake, can’t we just get along!”. Normally it hits in the first third of the story, probably because the characters and I are trying to get to know each other. Plus, as an avid reader, the stories I enjoy most are the ones I’m unable to set down, because turning the next page is vitally necessary to find out what’s going on. To achieve that result sometimes requires rewriting certain scenes until it clicks. Unfortunately it means what you thought would happen, doesn’t. But that’s part and parcel of being a writer.
What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about botched military missions, keeping secrets, and psychics?
I love this question because the one thing I learned about military missions—they NEVER go as planned. It’s why any operating group will go in with multiple scenarios. No matter how well planned, or how many alternatives are devised, it will never, ever turn out as expected. The best you can plan for is to be breathing with your fellow brother/sister in arms. To face that time and time again takes a solid mental strength, one that should be highly admired for it’s endurance.
And secrets? The best ones are the ones that aren’t secrets. The old, “Hide in plain sight” works really well if you want to be a covert government agency. You really think those who sign off on military funding really read through hundreds of pages of cleverly worded documentation?
What are some of your favorite books and why?
My list is long, way longer than you have time for, but Urban Fantasy is my first love, Romantic Suspense is right behind it. The ability to tie in the paranormal with heart-pounding action while two characters figure out what the hell is between them—priceless (yep, hearing that credit card commercial in my head now).
One of my all time favorite authors is Patricia Briggs of the Mercy Thompson series. I so want to be her when I grow up. Her characters are so heart-breakingly real, I don’t ever want her stories to end. Same goes with Ilona Andrews and her Kate Daniels series, even Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin. Anne Bishop and Catherine Feehan’s stuff are always a must have. I have a crush on Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) and Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid Chronicles). Yet, Cynthia Eden, Kaylea Cross, Stephanie Tyler, Natasza Waters, and Rebecca Zanetti are also a group I’d love to be associated with. Not to mention Iris Johansen and Lisa Jackson.
All of these authors, their characters are real and linger long after I put a book down, enough so I re-read until all that’s left is tattered pages.
What are you working on now?
I’m starting the second book in the PSY-IV Teams for a 2015 release. I just finished the fourth book in my Kyn Kronicles for a Jan. 2015 release (Shadow's Curse). Life has taken a rather sharp left turn lately, so I’m a bit behind, but never fear, I’m still on schedule to release two titles a year.
Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why?
I actually want to do a post-apocalyptic trilogy with another fabulous writer, but we’re still in the planning stages. We’ll have to see if I can squeeze that in between the Kyn and PSY-IV. Something about delving into characters who can survive the end of the world, oh that’s an idea that has me rubbing my hands together in glee.
What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Some of the more emotional scenes are difficult, only because to do justice to why a character reacts they way they do, without providing an easy emotional out, is tricky business. Anger’s a great emotion, but can be overused. Fear, even in the strongest person, can be the most corrosive. Love can cut both ways on the good/evil spectrum. But emotions are the core of who we are, and they are the core of my characters. And scraping through those emotions isn't just painful for my character, they’re painful to write.
About Jami: Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. Her release, Shadow's Moon (5/14) was a Golden Claddaugh Finalist, and the first in her newest series, Hunted by the Past, hit shelves in August 2014. She is surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and a male lab, who masquerades as a floor rug as she plays with the voices in her head.
You can find Jami at:
Black Opal Books
Muse It Up Publishing
Facebook Author Page
Amazon Author Page
You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at: