Indie author J.M. Gregoire is featured in this month’s Three by Five interview series.
VAH: Starting off – Why do you write?
JMG: I write because if I don’t, the voices never go away. LOL! I have a lot of story ideas, or at least bits of story ideas and characters voices, floating around in my head. Nothing feels better than getting them out of my head. Wow….that makes me sound like a bit of a schizo, doesn’t it? Let me try it from another approach – I read a lot. Whenever I am reading, I will read a sentence, or even sometimes just one single word, and it triggers something in me. The idea for the first book in my Demon Legacy series was triggered by a word that I read in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel – The Sons of Entropy, Book Three of the Gatekeeper Trilogy by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder. The word was ‘entropy’. Although my book has nothing to do with the content of that book, the one word spun the idea behind what has turned into an entire series for me. The same thing happens to me when I listen to music. The Demon Legacy short story Suffering (Demon Legacy #1.5) was inspired by the Seether song Take Me Away. That song is so morose, and there are four lines in the lyrics which shaped the entire story. The problem is this happens quite regularly. I have notebooks all over the place with everything from actual plot ideas to just a simple one-liner of dialog. My brain doesn’t know when to shut off.
VAH: What about your first story?
JMG: My first story was about witches actually. When I started writing the first book in the Demon Legacy series, Dez was named Jade, and she was a witch, not a demon hybrid. I was DEEP into my love of vampire fiction then, and I started writing what was to be a vampire romance with some urban fantasy action. I made it about 100 pages in and the book got shelved. When I pulled it back out 5 years later, I about choked. I hated the story. It had a few good ideas, but it was so clipped and rushed, and nothing about it felt organic anymore. I attacked it with a red pen and started a complete and total rewrite. It was so “bare bones”, the first 4 pages of the original book became the first 25 pages of the new book. The female lead got a new name and species change, vampires got pushed to the background, and it became an urban fantasy novel with a romantic story line hidden below the surface. I love what it became, and maybe someday I will go back to writing more focused on witches, but for now, I will stick to my demons.
VAH: Revision makes all the difference. Who is your favorite literary character?
JMG: Oh, really? I have to choose? Can I name a few? I will name a few. LOL Let’s see…
The Priest from The Count of Monte Cristo. He was so sweet and clever. When you hear his back story, and how he ended up in Chateau D’if, you just want to reach into the book and give him a big hug. The way he coaches Edmond through his own betrayals rather than just saying “I figured it out, here’s the answer,” I kind of loved him for that. I cried so hard when (spoilers!!!) he died. So sad! If you’ve never read it, it’s one of the best revenge stories ever written!
Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. Barrons, oh Barrons! I love this character so much! He has lines of dialog that literally just give me goose bumps. He’s cocky to the eleven-thousandth degree, a stone cold killer with a barely-there conscience, and you just know that being in the same room with him would absolutely melt your brain. Every time I read him (read the series 5 or 6 times, listened to the audiobooks at least 10), I just fall for him all over again. Karen must have so much fun writing that character. I can’t even imagine having that personality living in my head. And he nails the reason I love him so much perfectly in one of the books! He and Fiona are in an argument about Mac being at BB&B, and he tells Fiona that she made the mistake of falling for the man she thought he could be, his potential, and that was her mistake. That’s the moment you realize Barrons is not the Bad Good Guy (the good guy who does things that are sometimes a little shady), he’s the Good Bad Guy (the bad guy that slips up once in a while and gives the illusion that he cares). I knew right then because I was obsessed with finding the moment he would redeem himself and show that he really was a good man. It felt like he was giving that speech to me, the reader. I actually fell in love with this character so much that the first time I spoke with Phil Gigante on the phone (the narrator for Barrons in the audiobooks), I was SHAKING and tripping over my own words. That voice has one image in my mind – Barrons. Now that Phil and I are friends, it’s easy to talk to him, but MAN did I struggle on that first phone call! My favorite Barrons’ line of all time: “God said let there be light. I said ‘say please.’” ßThat was a goose bumps moment in the book.
Charley Davidson from the series of the same name by Darynda Jones. Charley is, by far, one of my favorite female leads. Darynda has given her this absolutely hilarious personality, complete with a sarcasm coping mechanism in high stress situations. She’s so much fun to read!
Honestly, I could easily go on and on with this question. I could never pick just one character as my favorite. I love too many of them for too many reasons.
VAH: Imagine you are stuck on a deserted island. What book or series of books would you want with you?
JMG: Hmmm, I would need a whole series so I would have plenty to read. That would probably be a toss-up between the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning and the Night Huntress/Night Huntress World/Night Prince series by Jeaniene Frost. Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance is not only my favorite genre to write, but also my favorite genre to read. In my eyes, those two ladies are the QUEENS of UF/PNR. They have both created these great worlds which are both bad ass and terrifying. Although they are absolutely nothing alike, I feel they are the same caliber of writing. Just incredible. I was so sad to see the Night Huntress series come to an end, and I will feel the same way when Karen wraps up the Fever world.
VAH: Let’s wrap up this segment with this – what has been the biggest influence on your development as a writer?
JMG: The biggest influence on my writing is all the authors I love to read. There are sooooooo many, all for different reasons. Anne Rice for her romantic style even when there’s no romance involved. When reading one of her stories, you can tell she loves writing it as much as you love reading it. Stephen King because he just has this way with words which can scare the crap out of you with nothing more than words on a page. He’s an unmatched master with his craft. Jeaniene Frost for her ability to mix urban fantasy with just the right amount of humor to make you laugh out loud while in the middle of reading an on-the-edge-of-your-seat tense situation. I love and admire all sorts of writers, all for different reasons. Could you imagine the resulting book if we put them all into some kind of melding machine and made one super-being of a writer? He or she would take over the world!