Authors: Stories Behind the Books, A.J. Downey
Ok, now I am going to introduce you to the author who I first pitched this project idea to, A.J. Downey. After having this project idea roll around in my brain for a week I finally was ready to get it out and ask the ultimate question: "So, does this sound like a good idea or am I fooling myself?" Apparently not because A.J. was completely supportive of the idea and volunteered right there to be a part of it. She was very excited to be a part of it and I was very happy to have her be a part of it.
How did you fall into writing in your genre?
I was actually a big fantasy and mixed genre reader and I started reading some fantasy/paranormal based romance. I liked a good love story, and the next thing I knew I decided to dust off my old writing skills. Mostly because I was spending my paychecks like water buying books. At four to five bucks a pop, reading two to three books a day, it was killing me. So, I figured that if I started writing one, not only would it keep me occupied it would save me some money. I didn’t really care if I sold any of my writing or not. I thought it’d be fun if someone got to read them and if they liked them then all the better, but it was more for me and keeping myself entertained. I just kind of started with romance because it was easy and what I liked to read and I wanted to put more feel good stuff out into the world. How many books have you written and in what span of time? With how fast you write, do you ever have doubt that maybe you are not writing your best? Do you feel you should take a moment before continuing?
Okay, so this is going to be a bit of a lengthy response, because what I’ve written versus what I’ve published are two different stories. I’m going to list them out with their publication status then I will get into how long it takes etc.
Lyrical Hearts – Published February of 2014 – No longer in print.
Heaven, Hell, and the Love In Between – Published February of 2014 – Kindle Edition only.
Hunter’s Choice – Published March of 2014 – Kindle Edition only.
Shattered & Scarred (SHMC Book 1) – Published June of 2014 – Kindle & Paperback
Broken & Burned (SHMC Book 2) – Published September of 2014 – Kindle & Paperback
Cracked & Crushed (SHMC Book 3) – Published December of 2014 – Kindle & Paperback
Masked & Miserable (SHMC Book 3.5) – Published February of 2015 – Kindle & Paperback
Tattered & Torn (SHMC Book 4) – Published March of 2015 – Kindle & Paperback
Fractured & Formidable (SHMC Book 5) – Published July of 2015 – Kindle & Paperback
The following titles are written but have yet to be published:
I Am The Alpha with Ryan Kells – To be published August of 2015 in both Kindle & Paperback
Damaged & Dangerous (SHMC Book 6) To be published September of 2015 in both Kindle & Paperback
Airs & Graces with Jeffrey Cook – To be published October of 2015 in both Kindle & Paperback
Cutters Hope – The Virtues Trilogy Book 1 – To be published Winter of 2015 in both Kindle & Paperback
These titles are currently being written:
Omega’s Run with Ryan Kells
There But For The Grace with Jeffrey Cook
Marlin’s Faith – The Virtues Book 2
Okay. So all that being said, how fast do I write them? Well, I Am The Alpha was written in 19 days with Ryan Kells and tops out at 92,000 words – around 291 printed pages in a 6x9 paperback book which is the indie publishing norm but that isn’t my record. My record is for Cracked & Crushed which I wrote in 14 days and tops out at 110,000 words… I don’t know what that translates to in pages off the top of my head. Still, at any rate, you can see I write pretty damned quick if I am given the time to do it. What I mean by that, is when I was writing all of those titles I was writing an average of ten to twelve hours a day five to six days a week. I could crank out 10,000 words a day plus if I was having a really good day. My daily record for word count came in at around 16,000 in a day.
To answer the next part of your question, yes, absolutely there are times when I feel like I am not writing my absolute best, but usually that gets ironed out in the re-reads and re-writes later down the line. When I am in a hardcore groove like that and writing as fast as I can as hard as I can to get the story on the page, all those hours, all those days in a row, I make myself take a day or two off. I go see a movie, or sleep a lot or go out and about, just to make sure I recharge. There are totally times I feel like I run out of creativity, and like my well has run dry. I don’t want to call it writer’s block because that’s not it. I just feel tapped out and need to take a break and once that’s accomplished I’m back at it fast and furious all over again.
Do you get writer's block and how do you overcome it?
I have never had writer’s block, or if I have, I didn’t know what it was. I always have ideas and they always come through. The extent of my writer’s block usually is how do I make the jump between point A and point B in a plot and keep the story moving smoothly? I’ll get stuck in the in between phases of a story between big key scenes, but usually I muddle through okay. It’s more like writer’s squeeze than block, like I’m trucking along this maze and come to a particularly narrow opening and have to squeeze through it to keep going. Not like running smack into a wall.
You go by A.J. verses Andrea, why, especially in your genre?
When I first started writing in junior high, it was more fantasy type stuff than romance. Back then, it was a sad reality that if you wanted to sell you needed to be a dude. Or at least, that was the widely held popular belief. My first and middle initial and last name were pretty masculine and had a nice ring to it as a pen name. I wanted a name that sounded like a real name. Something that didn’t sound contrived. So when I went to hit the self-publish button all these years later, I figured I was going to be getting married soon. That the last name I have now wasn’t going to stay my last name, so why not? It looked good, sounded good and was pretty unisex, so I stuck with A.J. Downey.
What do you have next in the works for books?
I sort of answered this back there in the ‘what have you written’ question with the upcoming titles and such, but never one to waste an opportunity, please allow me to expand a little:
The Sacred Hearts MC series – Hot, alpha male bikers, a few damsels in distress, some really steamy love stories… In this series, the good guys wear black and the white knights’ armor is leather rather than metal. The series is wrapping up with Damaged & Dangerous, out in September, but that won’t be the last of these guys. Just the end of this particular story arc.
I Am The Alpha – The hero of this one puts the damsel in distress. Not only that, he turns furry once a month. Can William Reese, son of the murdered Alpha of the Pacific Northwest Territory make things right? He’s going to try, by kidnapping the daughter of the Pack’s sworn enemy… It was the perfect plan until it wasn’t. He never counted on falling in love with her.
Airs & Graces – This is not a romance. Addy’s having a record bad morning which goes from bad to worse when she walks into work to find her boss dying on the floor. Now she’s entrenched in the mother of all supernatural power struggles… What do you do when both Heaven & Hell want you dead and the only being on your side is The Angel of Free Will, who, by all accounts, just finds you to be a nuisance?
Lastly, Cutter’s Hope is the first book of The Virtue’s Trilogy which is a spin off from the SHMC series. In book three of the SHMC series, Cracked & Crushed, you met Cutter the president of The Kraken MC in the fictional town of Ft. Royal, FL. This trilogy centers on him and some of his crew. I don’t want to say much more than that because it might give away plot points to the final SHMC novel but for the fans of the SHMC series, Cutter’s story has been a long time in coming and I know for a fact people are super excited for it.
Who are your author idols?
Laurell K. Hamilton and Tamora Pierce. I first stumbled onto Tamora Pierce in the 3rd grade. She’s a young adult fantasy author who writes strong female characters that I can relate to. Specifically, Alanna from The Song of the Lioness Quartet. I’ve read and reread all of The Song of the Lioness Quartet and still have those battered paperbacks from oh so long ago kept in a very safe place in my house. In late junior high, eighth or ninth grade, I found Laurell K. Hamilton when all she had published was her first, second and third Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter books. I loved Anita from the word go. Tough, savvy, sassy and able to stand up to anyone and anything she was one of the hardest core female characters I had ever read and spoke to me like no other. I’ve loved following her evolution and have been reading her pushing twenty years now through over twenty novels. I still fangirl and freak out every time new Anita is set to be released.
As a reader, do you always finish a book you start?
For the most part, yes, but not always. Some are just so poorly written that I can't continue and some, the characters just get to me so badly that I can't go on. Obviously the former is a bummer but the latter is awesome! Mostly, because even though it probably wasn't the author’s intention to write it to the point the reader stopped reading, they should still chalk it up to a total win for evoking that strong of an emotion in a reader. I always leave those books four and five star reviews, even though I don't finish them.
Thank you to A.J. Downey for your initial an continuing support with the project.
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