It’s not often that we have a male visit the Author Spotlight, so welcome J.M. and congratulations on the release of ‘Mending the Shroud’! Can you give us the blurb, please?
Thanks! Here you go!
The second in the fresh, exciting romantic fantasy Shroud trilogy takes up where Tearing the Shroud leaves off — with the lives, the loves, and the mythical world beyond our own.
After accepting bodily possession and saving the world, Vincent thought his life would get easier. He thought wrong.
The shroud may not have torn wide open, but it did tear a little, and the retribution for the failure is coming hard, fast, and directly at Vincent and the people he loves. His only hope is to once again accept possession from Coleman and do battle with the deformed, terrifying Kafla. But this time, he’s not alone. Jule, the woman he loves and hopes to marry, is possessed as well, and together the four of them become a formidable team.
Together they hope to stave off the invasion and take the fight to the Realm, but only a supreme sacrifice can mend the Shroud and save both their lives and their worlds.
‘Mending the Shroud’ is part two in a series. Can you tell us about the series, please?
The Shroud Trilogy developed organically. As is apparent in the title, in TtS, the Shroud is damaged. We can’t leave it like that, right? Of course not, it needed repair. We also know Vincent and Jule are in love, but where will that go? Who is Mr Brown really? Readers and editors at Escape loved the secondary characters Flea and Knife, demanding more of them too.
Mending the Shroud begins a month after the events in TtS, Vincent, Jule, Flea and Knife need to get away, decompress. They head away for Thanksgiving weekend and the story unfolds. When one of my writing partners, Ainsle Paton, finished reading MtS she remarked, “Everything is tied up in wonderful bows. Where will you go with book three?
Where indeed? As you’ll find in TtS the event that leads to the Shroud Tearing happens on a 11year-eight-month cycle. In Shrouded, the last in the Trilogy, we see events that happen involving two of those cycles, the first fourteen years ahead, then twenty-four. We do see the whole cast of characters, and critique partners are loving it, but I can’t say much more without huge spoilers.
We all know it can be hard enough to plot a single title, but what is involved in plotting and writing a three part series? How do you weave your story? How does writing a series differ from a single novel?
As a pantser, there isn’t much plotting. To quote the esteemed Steve King, “I know…really… &*#^ all what’s going to happen.” However, I do have my balloons. In my mind, ideas are red balloons, floating against a ceiling with long white ribbons hanging from them. As the story unfolds, I pluck an idea from the group and tie the ribbon to another.
I tend to write sequentially, so even if a scene idea comes, I let it float with the rest until the story demands that it happen. A series meant making sure that the characters were true to themselves, then letting them do what was natural. The very idea of plotting constricts my brain into knots. Because of my process, the series was more like one huge book with independent, self-sufficient parts.
You’ve said that music inspires your writing. Can you tell us about that?
Music affects my mood, sets a tone in me. Having certain styles of music playing softly while writing, puts my mind in a receptive place. Then, specific songs unfurl images and emotions. Take, for instance Nolita, specifically starting at minute four. If a movie of TtS is made, the scene with the butterflies would have this playing in the background. Perfection.
Books 1 and 2 are set in 1984. What was the inspiration behind this?
Mostly it’s practical. I went to college in San Diego in the early 80’s, had friends like Flea and Knife, fell in love. I didn’t want them to have access to the instant information we do, and, of course 80’s music is amazing. Teens are still listening to it.
What would we find you doing in your spare time?
I’m not a fulltime writer. So when I’m not doing my “day job” I might be hanging out with my wife, cooking, playing video games on Xbox One, racing Tuffy (my car). I’m severely right-brained, I’m not allowed to fiddle with the check book, so it’s always something creative or rhythmic.
What would we find on your bookshelf / e reader?
Ainslie Paton’s newest, Stephen Lawhead’s Robin Hood retelling, Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, MA Grant’s not-yet-released new novel.
Your life is a little like a romance novel in regards to how you met your beautiful wife. Can you give us a couple of ‘awwwww’ moments of how you met and knew she was ‘the one’?
I fell in love on the phone. I know, that’s not very awwww inspiring. But there’s something to be said for taking the first steps in a relationship without the distraction of physical contact. After we reconnected there was a month or so where I was in San Diego and she was in the LA area. We spent easily a couple hundred hours on the phone, talking about everything, what we anted from life, family, who we hoped to become. She was dating someone at the time…but I’d still ask her to go out with me regularly. Hey, I didn’t know the guy and didn’t care. What I cared about was being with her. The moment he screwed up, she called me, no hello, no how are you, just, “We can go out now.”
On the way to the restaurant while driving I looked over at her, completely head over heals. She said, ‘Look at the road, we’re going to get in a wreck.’
I replied, ‘How can I with you in the car?’
‘Look at the road!’
‘Kiss me and I’ll be able to.’
‘What?’ she asked, a grin tugging the corner of her perfect lips.
‘You heard me.’
She leaned over, smiling fully, and brushed her lips against mine. Whew! Talk about a first kiss.
That is definitely an ‘awwwww’ moment, J.M!
What is your current work in progress?
REALLY good question. I just finished the first pass edit and Shrouded is off to my CP’s, so I’ll start writing something while it’s in their hands. Before I sat down to this interview I was pondering two different stories that have lots of red balloons floating
What does the future hold for JM Bray?
Writing stories I’d like to read. Unless it happens to coincide, as is the case for these my current New Adult titles I’ll probably never follow trends or write to market, The two I’m pondering are: a spinoff from the Shroud Trilogy about someone who’s been alive for the last two-thousand years. No they’re not a vampire. It’s set in the first century near Jerusalem and has chases by camelback, shipwrecks, and the mythology around people still revered today. The second is a time travel about a professional motorcycle racer. It’ll involve the first woman to ride a motorcycle in every state in the US, Randolph Hearst, and events around the election of Franklin D, Roosevelt.
Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Mending the Shroud’, please?
Jule set the suitcase down and checked her mailbox in the lobby of the dorm one last time. When she bent to pick it up, her hand found only air. She frowned and snapped around. Vincent stood on the other side of the room holding the case. ‘Looking for this?’
Should she chew him out or eat him alive? That man was positively yummy. ‘I’m glad to see you haven’t lost your ability to move quietly.’ Jule tilted her head and walked to him. She knew what the look did…eating him alive would be so much more fun.
‘Nah, I had that before Coleman showed up.’
‘Since you seem to want that so badly, you can carry it to the car for me.’
‘I suppose I could, for a price,’ he said with a playful smile.
‘Hmm, I don’t know, I’m short on cash. I might not be able to afford it.’
‘No money? I guess we can take it out in trade then.’ He kissed her softly as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
Yes, sooo much more fun. ‘Mmm, I like that kind of payment. I’ll do business with you anytime,’ she said.
‘Is this all you have?’ he asked.
‘Yep. My parents are bringing my cold weather clothes down from Monterey.’
‘Cool, let’s be off.’ They walked to the door, and she opened it for him.
‘Thank you, ma’am.’
‘You’re very welcome, sir,’ she said as he passed her. She watched him walk toward the car waiting at the curb, with Flea and Knife in the back seat. Vincent’s dark hair caught the sunlight, and his worn 501 jeans formed to his muscular body in all the right places. The way he moved made her tingle…also in all the right places.
J.M Bray is kindly gifting one digital copy of either Tearing the Shroud or Mending the Shroud, winner’s choice.
To be in the running all you have to do is answer the following question in the comments section below:
What is your favourite 80’s song and why?
This competition is open Worldwide and will be drawn on August 12, 2014.
Thank you for taking part in our Author Spotlight, JM!