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Interview: JL Bryan’s Latest Work

Interview: JL Bryan’s Latest Work

urlJL Bryan is a full-time  indie author living and writing in Georgia. His novel Jenny Pox and the subsequent series, The Paranormals, have received praise throughout indie circles as well as over 250 reviews on Amazon.

His latest book, Fairyvision, the fifth book in the Songs of Magic series, is due out this month. Read my interview and be sure to check out the Songs of Magic series, starting with book 1, Fairy Metal Thunder (Free on Amazon Kindle).

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. I’m really excited for Fairyvision!

Thanks for having me on your blog, Amy!

FairyMetalThundersm1. Fairyvision is part of a longer series, The Songs of Magic. Could you briefly tell my readers who may not know the series what it is about?

The story follows a teenage garage band from small-town Wisconsin who steal some fairy instruments, which enchant crowds and make them into international stars.  They find themselves on the enemies list of the fairy queen, Mab, who is trying to keep magic and fairies very secret, so they’re constantly battling dangerous supernatural monsters, like unicorns and teddy bears.  The story also follows the fairy troupe whose instruments were stolen, which lets us spend a lot of time in the fairy world.

2. Most of your published works fall into this series or another great series, The Paranormals. Do you prefer to write books in a series rather than one-offs?

Not particularly, it’s just worked out that way.  I didn’t expect to write any sequels to Jenny Pox at all (the Paranormals series).  With the fairy books, I knew there would be several, because the fairy world is a very rich, fun place full of surprises, and I just love exploring it.

3. I try to be Indie-Friendly at this blog. What advice do you have for aspiring authors who are considering self-publishing?

The best thing is to really spend time to learn your craft.  That will take years if done properly.  If you don’t offer work people will enjoy, the no amount of pretty packaging or marketing will really help you.  It’s also very important to have your books thoroughly edited and proofed.  Finally, I would suggest that you write whatever you want rather than trying to fit into a commercial trend, because you actually never know whether a particular book will be successful or not.  Writing whatever is authentically inside you is your best chance at having something unique to offer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4. What is your favorite part about writing the Songs of Magic?

Everything I make up along the way!  I enjoy the settings–sugar swamps, the glitter volcanoes, the Abominable Mountains.  Creatures like werewalruses and saber-toothed ducks.  Muffin-trap plants that offer cupcakes and pastries between their big green jaws.  Sometimes my favorite things are just small, passing details, like the glowing green zombie cows in the Hauntlands.

5. How many books do you plan for this series?

Seven books.  The new one is number five, and then I plan to write two more within the next year or two.

6. You mention in a recent post on your blog that you may be taking a break from Songs of Magic for some new projects. What project on the burner is the closest to reaching readers’ hands?

The closest is probably this dystopian story with a dash of time travel, since it’s fully outlined and several chapters are already written.  I’m really enjoying it.  It’s a bit dark and more of a serious story, closer to Jenny Pox than the fairy books.  I like to go back and forth between different tones and genres.

You can read the first Paranormals book, Jenny Pox for free on Kindle as well as Fairy Metal Thunder. To read my reviews of some of JL Bryan’s books, head on over to the reviews section of this blog. Look for Fairyvision this month. Happy reading!

JL Bryan Tweets at @jlbryanbooks

Cover Love

You know they say…

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

That’s usually true, but we do anyway. I think that a good cover can attract a reader, but the real impact is a bad cover. As shallow as I feel admitting this, I won’t buy an indie book with a hot mess cover. Too many fonts? Obvious photoshop filter over a licensed photo of a supermodel? Just too dang much going on? Sorry. My 99¢ isn’t worth much, but my reading time is valuable.

M.R. Merrick blogged about covers today (I write this a few days before posting to keep ahead of my busy life) and it got me thinking. What do I love about some covers? What are my favorites? Here are five I love (4 indies, 1 from the Big 5) and what I love about them.

Exiled by M.R. Merrick

One of the reasons I first picked up Exiled was its cover. This image caught my attention with its limited palette and the beautiful, stark tree that takes center. The fonts are well chosen, one grungy, bold title and then a simple, classic font for the author credit. There are no characters on this cover, just elements. We see a tree with fire and water. We know from the presence of these elements in a field that their appearance is likely supernatural. Old, awesome-sauce trees like that usually have some mysticism around them. This is just a clean, simple cover that gives us an idea about the themes without giving anything away. It’s perfect for the book and it lured money out of my wallet. It did exactly what it was designed to do.

Looking For Alaska by John Green

John Green hates the candle. I love it. To me, the candle, which is subtle in dark purple on black, is a hidden symbol. The original design was meant to resemble cigarette smoke, which is certainly a prominent element in the book. As a stark black cover with curling smoke, I’m reminded of the simple, symbolic covers of books like The Catcher in the Rye. That classic book certainly influenced Green.

Now, apparently the publisher was afraid to put cigarette smoke on a YA novel’s cover, so they put a candle under it. That’s pretty silly, as cigarette smoke on the cover is probably the least of concerns for the reactionary-censor-moms. What I like about the candle, is that– at first glance– it is cigarette smoke. Then the candle reveals itself. The candle is a symbol. The candle snuffed out stands for death. Death is a central theme of this book.

So John Green may hate the candle, but I like it. It’s like a great work of art, where things reveal themselves as you look at it.

Jenny Pox by JL Bryan

Phat Puppy Art did the cover for JL Bryan’s Jenny Pox. The cover is simple: a girl, some birds, a tagline and a title. The title itself serves the book so well. What this cover does is set a somber mood that is made surreal by the presence of birds. Jenny’s loneliness oozes from this cover. It’s a beautiful cover for a beautiful book.

Edit May 1, 2013: Dude, those are paper cranes!

Fairyland by JL Bryan

The original Songs of Magic covers were alright. They featured some cute art, but the new photographic covers by Phat Puppy Art are awesome. Specifically I like the cover for book four, Fairyland. What do I love? The light. The color. The composition. The mood. The titles. The simplicity. I love an awful lot about this cover.

We still see Aoide’s pink hair, but the wash of gold light gives a feeling of peace, beauty, and otherness that the fairy world should have. It was worth whatever JL Bryan paid to redo the covers. This cover sells this book. It’s awesome.

Vs. Reality by Blake Northcott

I finish off with an awesome self-made cover by Blake Northcott. This cover was made from a few stock photos, but it does everything it needs to with style and flare. The open mouth, tongue hanging out is provocative. The labeled, electric-blue pills conjure images of silicon valley pharmaceuticals. The powers written on them invoke images of superheros. The clean-then-crumbling font tells us that this is not our father’s superhero book. It’s minimal on text, simple-yet-provocative on image, and full of bright colors that pop off the page. Best of all, it doesn’t look like any other book cover out there. It’s a brilliant original.

Book Review: FairyLand

Book Review: FairyLand

★★★★★

My review of Fairyland, the 4th Songs of Magic book by JL Bryan. I got a sneak peek of this book before release and did some proofing for JL Bryan. This book is amazing, check it out on Kindle!

Note– My birthday joke was poorly planned. I didn’t realize when I recorded it that he would get the book out the day BEFORE my birthday. Thwarted! Meh, it was a lame joke anyway.

Book: Fairy Metal Thunder

Book: Fairy Metal Thunder

by JL Bryan

★★★★★

I’ve been working on reading more Indie books, which is hard because I still have so many classic books to read and so many school books to read… my reading list is like my Netflix queu (I’m adding titles at a rate faster than I can consume them). I did get the chance to read JL Bryan’s Fairy Metal Thunder over the last few weeks. He’s a really friendly guy on Twitter, always willing to have @mention conversations, and I decided I needed to get into his books.

His Jenny Pox trilogy was a bit intimidating at first (because I have so much on my plate right now), so I decided to start with a series that was just starting. I picked up Fairy Metal Thunder and it was awesome. I did a video review for this one. Hope you like it!