MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR J.C. SEAL
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
First of all, thank you for featuring me in your blog, Amy. I’m honored!
My name is… Okay, my pen-name is Janina Carol (J.C.) Seal. I’m completely new to all this, so it’s just one book so far. It’s called “Fallen Angels”, in a series called “Angels and Demons”. I asked my editor TE Tim Blackburn about the genre, because I honestly didn’t know. He told me it was fantasy, paranormal, adventure with a bit of romance.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
The writing of this book was triggered by a dream I couldn’t get out of my head after waking. A dream of a lonely man with a secret, and a woman about to discover the truth. I won’t tell more, only that the scene ended with them both hanging in the air bathed in light, Angel wings sprouting from the man’s shoulder blades. You can find the scene in chapter thirteen in my book now.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I didn’t choose a genre on purpose, I just wrote a book. Maybe that’s the reason it doesn’t fit one genre.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
In today’s world, the internet can be very helpful, as well as some old history tomes getting dusty in the basement. I used google maps to find the fitting location for the drowning scene, or the snow-capped mountains with the hidden cave. I love those aerial views, they can be very inspiring. I also looked up Angel and Demon names and adapted them to fit the story. Since it’s playing in an alternate universe, I thankfully did not need to be in accordance with the history books. I actually did change known timelines on purpose, even if references are derived from ancient history.
Can you tell me about your Series?
I guess, if the readers want to know what it’s all about, they best read the blurb.
Bela, son of a Fallen Angel and a mortal woman, has lived for centuries. For one misstep in his youth, he was cursed and powers he had not yet learned to use were ripped away by a Guardian Angel. Alone in the human world, he resigns himself to life in solitude. Until one day, he finds a friend. It turns out that Azal is like him, a half-Demon, an outcast like Bela himself. They roam the world together, one day boarding a ship to America in the hope for a better future. After making a fortune in the Californian gold rush, Bela buys a large piece of land, a place he calls The Farm. It becomes the first true home for him and Azal. Content with their shared solitude, the invention of newspapers, radio, and television, suddenly links Bela back to a world he had tried to leave behind. Hearing stories quite similar to his own, Bela realizes there were others like them. He sets himself a new goal, to find them all, and give them a home. Everything Bela has built is at risk when Alec Hunt, a human investigative journalist, stumbles over their hiding place in search for a story. The risk turns into an opportunity when Bela manages to befriend Alec, enlisting his service to search and rescue more of his kind. One day, Alec confides in Bela that he has fallen in love again with a professor teaching journalism at his daughter’s college. He decides to join her on a research exhibition to the Middle East, the region of Bela’s birth. Offering to help translating ancient texts, Bela soon realizes where the research is heading – discovering the hiding place of the Demons, the Fallen Angels of old. Several months later, Alec’s daughter seeks out Bela after receiving a cry for help from her father. They fall in love, the curse takes effect, giving Bela the appearance of a horned Fire-Demon. But instead of running away in horror, she succeeds in breaking the curse. The Guardian Angel has to return his powers.
Will Bela learn to use his newfound abilities in time to rescue his human friend? Will he discover the truth about the Demons, led by the greatest nemesis of the Guardian Angels? Will he be able to open his heart and forgive those who have wronged him, unite The Farm’s community and the Guardian Angels in an effort to thwart the Demons’ plans? Will it be enough to save the unsuspecting human world from a gruesome fate?
The second book in the “Angels and Demons”-series will be “Angels Descendants.” It’s told from a different character’s view. It partly overlaps with “Fallen Angels”, adding insights from a different angle. It mostly plays after the battle scene at the end of book one, spanning the following months. I did put in a sneak preview of the prologue and first chapter at the end of book one.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
Since book three isn’t finished, yet, I don’t know.
Where did you get the inspiration/idea for your series?
I guess I already answered the question. The idea was born with a dream, further inspiration was provided by history and the view of our beautiful planet from above.
Was it always meant to become a series?
No. When I started writing, I actually aimed for a short story. You know, better start small than never start at all. I never expected to end up writing a whole book. I never thought about publishing it, either, but there were people supporting me, telling me it was good enough. After learning my way around self-publishing platforms, the first edition was finally published in March.
I was lucky, I met TE Tim Blackburn on Facebook. He invited me to a new writers Guild, www.wassup-authors.com. When I submitted my book for evaluation, he gave me four stars, told me that with professional editing, it could be more. Now, after professional editing, it’s 4.5 stars and has been submitted to five publishing houses. The second edition is also finally up in the eBook-stores.
You can get it on Google Play Books and iBook store, and a few other platforms as well.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
First of all, writing is not working, it’s free time. I have a part-time job as a lab technician in cancer research, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 1 pm. When I come home, there are the typical housewife chores to do, like cooking, washing or helping with the homework. So, I actually write whenever my mind spits out another line and there is time to write it down. Sometimes at work, when there is not much to do, or on the bus, or in the garden. Mostly, I write in the evenings when there is peace and quiet in the house. I don’t have a writing goal. When a scene is ready to be written, it’s like a film playing in my head. I just have to write down what I see. Some days, a few lines or words are all I get. Then my brain just isn’t finished rearranging story pieces somewhere in the back of my mind.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
Book two in the “Angels and Demons” series is called “Angels Descendants”. I finished it only recently, went over it again, checked for story bugs, typos and so on. I just sent it to a friend of mine to beta-read, and when she considers it good enough, it will go to TE Tim Blackburn for editing. Since it’s currently in the beta-reading phase, it will be some time until publishing.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
The names are from history and world religions, sometimes original, sometimes changed a little. None of them carried a special meaning for me in the beginning. They do now, of course, when they came to life under my typing fingers.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere! Things I hear, see, read, feel, experience. If you go through life with an open mind, even the smallest detail can trigger an idea.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
Some days, writing still feels like an experiment. I think I’m not ready for further experiments right now.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Switching languages. My native language is German, and I live in Germany. Strangely, my creative part is thinking in English. When I write, and someone talks to me in German, it’s always confusing me. I need to read the last few sentences again to return to the point where I left off.
Other than that, well, when the characters get a mind of their own, and just don’t want to do what I had originally planned. The hard part is to let them go, wait, see where they end up, instead of forcing them to stick to the outline. The best scenes are always the unintended ones.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer, or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I like book trailers, but haven’t thought about creating one for my own book so far. One more thing to check. I’ll put it on my to do list.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
As an author? If you call it an accomplishment getting a book self-published and submitted to five publishing houses, that’s it so far. In my life, it’s my teenage daughter. She’s turning into a wonderful young woman right now.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Getting to know people that see the world as I do, and think nothing about it. If my friends knew what I’m doing, they’d probably call me nuts. In the WASSUP community on Facebook, we all share this craziness of having stories inside, our minds opening doors into other universes, meeting strange, nice or sometimes terrifying creatures. It’s wonderful, I can just be myself there.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully still writing. I’m at the beginning right now. I wish for the readers to like my books, the characters, the stories I want to share. In ten years, I simply hope many people have had a few good hours reading and enjoying my books.
Have you always liked to write?
Honestly, I have never thought about writing until that one day in October 2018. Suddenly there was some crazy idea in my head, spurring me to write a fan-fiction short story, “Blood Moon” in Aimee Easterling’s werewolf universe. She had a friend check it out after I sent it to her. It was declared good enough to share. I put it up on AO3 and she actually shared it on Facebook as well as in her newsletter. Then, the next crazy thing happened. She asked me if I was interested in co-authoring a short story. I agreed. In November 2018, my pen-name J.C. Seal was created, and in February 2019, “Pool Party” was published. By then, I had also started writing “Fallen Angels”, my first own book, in my own universe.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I know I’m repeating myself here, but it can’t be said often enough. Believe in yourself, in your vision. Don’t stop writing because others tell you it’s not worth it. Don’t despair when you are smiled upon, when your “antics are tolerated”. Find the right group of people to support you, people who share your dreams, who help you make them come true. I was lucky I did.
Let me elaborate with a quote from “The Greatest Showman”:
Why don’t we rewrite the stars? Changing the world to be ours.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I have a job that pays my bills, so I don’t have to ponder the “what if” question. I’d just keep on doing my job. I don’t write for a living, so there is no pressure on me to make money with my books. It’s nice to have, but not the reason I write. I write because those words bottled up inside me finally found a way out. If it stops as abruptly as it started, then so be it. I sincerely hope that won’t happen, my life would be so much poorer without it.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I haven’t checked if anyone left a review on my first book, yet. I’m a bit scared to do so. I got a few comments to my shared story on AO3, and of course I responded. I was glad they were all positive, so I don’t know how I will react to negative comments. Not everybody will like my book, that’s for sure. I just think any kind of feedback will help me to get better, even the negative ones.
What is your least favorite part of the writing / publishing process?
Waiting. I must admit I’m not very patient. Waiting for others to do their jobs is always the hardest part, because I can do nothing to accelerate it. I need beta readers. I need an editor. I need a cover designer.
I have a good friend who is beta reading for me. I have the best editor ever with TE Tim Blackburn. He was very patient with me, even when I pestered him with questions on Sunday. I have a wonderful cover designer, Candace Bowser from https://www.facebook.com/darkwaterartsdesigns/ They are all very important to have, and I want to publish a good book for my readers to enjoy, of course. Still, waiting is hard.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
The Prologue and first Chapter of “Angels Descendants”. have already been edited as sneak preview at the end of “Fallen Angels”. I can share them here.
Angels Descendants (Angels and Demons, Book two)
The truck came out of nowhere. It crashed into the driver’s side of my old Chrysler with a grating crunch, the bone chilling screech of metal on metal. My head hit the frame of the car with brutal force. I heard Celine scream next to me, then my world went dark. I don’t know how long I faded in, and out of consciousness. I don’t remember much that happened afterwards. Celine repeating my name again, and again, between sobs. Excruciating pain along the left side of my body. The sirens of the ambulance. Blinding light in my eyes…
“The pupils don’t react, severe trauma of body and brain. He needs to go to emergency surgery – NOW!”
An oxygen mask appeared on my face. I felt myself fade away into oblivion.
When I came to my senses again, I was standing in the middle of nowhere. Everything around me was simply plain white, except for me. I looked down at my body, frowning. I knew I had been hurt quite severely in the car crash. Why did everything appear to be whole? “Well, I guess I’m dead, then,” I spoke aloud, hearing my voice as a faint whisper. The whiteness swallowed all sound.
Was this heaven or hell? I had been an ordinary person, not bad or evil, but no saint, either. I had been baptized a Catholic, but only went to church on Christmas Eve once a year. I didn’t really believe. I had no idea where I’d end up, or if there really was a heaven, or a hell.
A sound to my left made me turn. I walked toward it. After a moment, I could make out agitated voices through the white haze. They were speaking a strange language I was amazingly able to understand.
“It wasn’t my decision. You know very well why we stopped going down to help,” a woman spat out.
A male voice responded. “How did he get up here. He shouldn’t be here at all! He’s none of our business.”
“He was supposed to have a future, marry his girlfriend, have children. Because we neglected our jobs as Guardians, we have to deal with the consequences now!” a third, younger voice chimed in.
“Be quiet, Deedee, you’re much too young for this,” the first two voices replied in unison.
A sarcastic laugh reached my ears. “Too young? It doesn’t matter how old I am compared to you. I came of age a long time ago. I was born down there. I want to go back, start doing what we were made for again. Maybe, I can do a better job than you, Dad! Perhaps, you’re getting old!” the third voice replied icily.
A sigh escaped my lips. This couldn’t be true. They were bickering about failures. I shouldn’t even be here? The hit to my head must have made me go crazy, all this just a figment of my imagination. If I recalled correctly, one of the doctors had mentioned brain damage, I thought. I guess, I just had to find out.
My sigh must have reached their ears, because “Dad” called out.
“Since you’ve heard us, you might as well come over here, boy.”
I slowly started to make my way through the whiteness, until my left shin thumped into something solid. My left side tingled. I cried out in remembered pain.
“Oh, Dad, that’s enough now!”
The voice belonging to the girl sounded annoyed. Somebody clapped hands. The fog lifted to reveal a storage space full of wooden crates, old furniture, historic statues, other strange looking clutter. Where had I ended up, a smuggler’s den? The storage area of a museum? Looking down, I could see a small metal chest. That’s what I had bumped into. Turning around, I finally took in the persons belonging to the voices I’d heard.
A bearded man with long, slightly-curly hair. His brown hair mixed with white. He was tall, broad-shouldered, with a well-toned body clad in tight-fitting jeans and shirt. His silver-grey eyes flashed in my direction with barely concealed ire. The woman looked younger than the man. She had long brown hair. She had a friendly smile on her lips. Her well-formed body was concealed by a flowing ankle-length dress. The daughter was stunningly beautiful! Her strawberry blonde hair was braided in intricate patterns around her head. She grinned at me openly. I felt myself blush as my eyes travelled down the length of her sparsely clad body.
She held out her hand. I shook it with my mouth hanging slightly open, my brain muddled with desire.
“Welcome to the Chariot,” she greeted me.
I forced my mouth closed with an effort, swallowing hard. It wouldn’t make a good impression if I started drooling. A pealing laughter escaped her lips.
“Don’t worry, people react like this all the time. I’m used to it. Come on. You’re here now, I might as well give you a tour. Let’s get out of here before things get dangerous,” she added with a glance at the others. She grabbed my hand, pulling me through a sturdy metal door set in a metal wall.
The door had barely closed behind us when the shouting started again. This time they had changed the language. They were yelling at each other in Greek. I didn’t catch the words, but I recognized the language of my youth immediately. It made me stop in my tracks when a flash of memories flooded my mind.
I was sitting in my father’s study at the university in Athens, an old tome about Greek history on my lap. I couldn’t read, yet. I liked the pretty pictures inside. I knew my father had given me the book to keep me quiet. He needed to work through some paper about Greek mythology one of his students had given him for a dissertation. The pictures in the book flashed across my mind, stopping at…
The memory faded out the moment the lights in the corridor flared bright. Electricity crackled along the metal ceiling, accompanied by the sound of thunder. The lights winked out. The floor tilted beneath me. I ended up clinging to the doorframe, barely preventing myself from dropping to the floor, sliding down the tilted corridor. Finally, the emergency lights flickered to life. The floor regained its normal position.
What was this place? A gigantic airplane? What had Deedee called it, the Chariot? No, no, NO, NO…!
This time, I gripped the doorframe to keep myself from sinking to the floor in shock. This couldn’t be true! The last fifteen years I had spent running from my supposed heritage. I had called my Dad a fool. I had emigrated from Greece to the US, even changed my name the moment I had turned eighteen. Now, fate had caught up with me after all.
“Are you all right?” Deedee’s voice slowly penetrated my consciousness. I opened eyes I had squeezed shut at the revelation. She looked at me from an armlength away. Her gaze roamed over my white knuckles still clutching the doorframe, my probably grey complexion, if I looked as bloodless as I felt. A cold sheen of sweat had started gathering on my brow.
“No, I’m not all right – Aphrodite!”
Now, it was her turn to pale. She looked at me as if I had dropped a bomb in her lap. She stared at me for a long time. I just held her gaze until she averted her eyes before she sighed.
“I should have known you didn’t end up here by accident,” she finally said. “Please, let’s keep it a secret for now. Dad will freak out again if I tell him.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell Zeus and Hera, if that’s what you mean. Only don’t tell them about my heritage,” I replied evenly.
“All right let’s go someplace quiet, inconspicuous. You can tell me who you are. You are at an advantage right now.” She started walking down the corridor, beckoning me to follow. We ended up in a corner of a mainly deserted mess hall, cradling cups of hot coffee in cold hands. She flicked her fingers. The white mist I had encountered earlier surrounded us again, effectively blocking out prying eyes, or ears. Her eyes bored into mine with an intensity that threatened to turn my soul inside out.
“Who are you?”
“For the last eleven years, my name was Jason Tim. The name I was born with is Iason Tychon Timaeus. I was born in Athens, Greece. My mother was Aglaia Argus-Timaeus. I never met her. She died at my birth leaving my father a shattered, broken being with an infant in his care. My father never let me out of sight after my mother’s death. He was sure she’d been murdered in childbirth. My first memories are of his study at the Kapodistrias-University of Athens, where he held the professorship in Greek and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology.
The first six years of my life, I spent among old, dusty tomes in Damon Castor Timaeus’ domain. Finally, he renounced his position to school me at home. He rambled often about our family being direct descendants of the Greek Gods, of some secret society I was supposed to join on my sixteenth birthday. I started making plans to escape the clutches of this crazy maniac of a father. When I was fourteen, I emptied his safe and ran away.
I earned some money as a migrant worker in the boondocks far away from Athens. When I finally turned eighteen, I bribed a civil servant at the courthouse for speedy processing, legally changed my name to Jason Tim. With the rest of my money, I bought a one-way-ticket to the USA. I applied for immigration the moment I passed customs. At first, they wanted to kick me out again. When I enlisted myself in the US Army, they let me stay for good. I was physically fit. I did everything required, but deep at heart, I couldn’t deny my heritage after all, sticking my nose in books rather than mud. I eventually ended up in Army Intelligence, working at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia.
I was on my way home when my girlfriend called, asking for me to pick her up because she’d missed the bus. On the way back, we got hit by a truck. Now, I’m dead, stuck here with you, wherever that might be, waiting to discover what will happen to me.”
Aphrodite just looked at me, shaking her head. “Wrong, you’re not dead. Currently, you are in an artificially induced coma, so your battered body can heal in peace. Your left side has been crushed pretty severely. You may never have full use of your left arm again, but you will live. In a few days, they will try to wake you. We still have some time left before your soul needs to return to your human body. Let me give you the tour I promised earlier. You may ask your questions on the way.”
Rising to follow her, I groaned. “Why am I here? How did I get here? Why do I have a body if I’m a ghost?”
Instead of an answer, she shrugged. “I have no idea. To answer that question, I would need much more information about your heritage. We all have different abilities. As far as I remember, soul travel is not one of them. It would help if I knew who might have fathered your ancestor.”
I had no idea. I had always accused my father of being a nutcase. I had tried to forget his lectures.
“I might be able to find out. I only need to find my father…” I started, suddenly realizing it wouldn’t be that simple after all.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
As I said before, I didn’t choose a genre. As consequence, I ended up mixing them in my book. Basically, these are the genres I also like to read, so writing fantasy, paranormal, adventure with a bit of romance just came naturally.
Where did your love of books come from?
Probably from my Mum. She loves to read, and always read to me as a child. When I started reading in first grade, I was annoyed with myself because I was so slow. I pushed myself to get better, faster. I have devoured huge amounts of books ever since. My husband bought me a Kindle for one of my birthdays, banning me from buying more paper copies because all the shelves were full of books.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
The authors I have read most recently were Aimee Easterling, of course (everything in her werewolf universe), and Becca André (Final Formula and Ferromancer Series). The authors I loved most growing up were Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer-Bradley, Jean M. Auel, Stephen King, to name a few.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
There aren’t that many, yet. I like all my main characters. Bela, from “Fallen Angels”, Iason, from “Angels Descendants”. I also like Kreon, who will be my main character in book three. Maybe I will like him best when I’m done writing, but his story still needs to be told.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Energize, definitely. I get all itchy and irritable when I can’t put my thoughts down. Bottling them up exhausts me, which leads to your next question.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Not having time to write things down. Keeping those thoughts inside, trying not to forget anything. It makes me go crazy after a while. Then, everything comes out in a jumbled mess and I have to sort the pieces afterwards. What a horror. It’s probably the reason I write everywhere, on my phone, at work, at home, on the bus…
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write the stories from my heart. Maybe one day, when I have readers I know, I might ask them what they want to read. For now, it’s just original.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Apart from Aimee Easterling, who was my first author friend, I found my author family within the WASSUP-authors Guild (www.wassup-authors.com). I’m friends with Hargrove Perth, Rowan O’Neill, CJ Rutherford, to name only a few. We all share experiences, help each other. It’s a great community, I was lucky to become part of it.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
How to go through life never fitting into one category.
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
Let me think… Can we postpone this question until next time? Do you do follow-up interviews? I’d love to answer more of your questions after “Angels Descendants” is published.
Where can your fans find you and follow??
You can join me on Facebook for the latest news: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJCSeal/
or write an email to: email@example.com .
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️
Thank you so much for having me, Amy!