Her first novel, due out summer 2015, A Poisoned Mind, features protagonist Dr. Mary Gray, a criminal profiler and poisons expert with a secret past and an eerie gift. A child prodigy with an unhealthy upbringing, followed by an event in her twenties that would have catastrophic repercussions, Gray teeters on the brink of a mental breakdown whilst hunting a serial killer.
J. New's writer influences include Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Clive Barker. A staunch supporter of Indie-authors, she loves scouring bookstores, both physical and virtual for her next favorite writer. She currently lives with her partner and three rescue dogs, where she drinks too much coffee and is a slave to her keyboard.
1. How did you first become interested in writing thrillers?
As a reader, I've always been interested in mysteries and thrillers, and probably half of my bookshelf is made up of that particular genre. When I made the decision to begin writing full-time, it was natural for me to create something that I loved and wanted to read myself. Writing something you are passionate about translates into much better words on the page, and consequently the readers and fans of your work have a much better experience.
That said, I'm not a great fan of pigeonholing an author's work into a particular genre. My work includes elements of suspense, drama, mystery, crime, psychology, and the supernatural, so trying to fit it into a particular box is almost impossible.
I've also penned a short story entitled "The Yellow Cottage" which is available FREE on my website for those who would like to become part of my reader group, and that isn't a thriller at all, but as with everything I write, it has a great twist. I've had some wonderful correspondence from readers about that one.
As an author, whilst I write because I love to, and have an almost visceral need to create, at the back of my mind, always, is the fact that I'm writing for my readers. Without my fans, (those that buy or download free everything I produce), I wouldn't be able to continue. So my responsibility and promise to them is to produce the best and highest quality work I can.
2. What do you most enjoy about the genre of flash fiction, and when writing the pieces in your recent collection, did you limit yourself to a specific number of words per story?
I absolutely love writing flash fiction. It's an incredibly disciplined way of working, and I love the challenge. It's also a great tool to help with the self-editing process for longer works. Surplus words have no place in this style of writing, so you have to make every word count. You'd be surprised how many ways there are of saying the same thing. Flash fiction is an art in itself, and requires you to produce a very short, but complete story in around 500 to 1000 words. Whilst it may sound simple, it's actually more difficult than you would think.
I also like to include twists in every story I write, regardless of length. With flash fiction you have room for just one, so you have to make it count. Many of those who have written to me after reading my latest collection have said they were wowed by the twists and didn't see them coming. That's the best feeling in the world for a writer, knowing that your work has achieved exactly what you wanted it to: that your reader has become emotionally involved in the story.
My latest collection Predator or Prey – Short Tales With A Twist, is a combination of flash fiction and short stories, with the shortest being 560 words and the longest around 1,600. It wasn't a conscious decision to limit myself in terms of words for each piece. I wrote what was best for each story, eliminating words I didn't need, and increasing the pace and suspense, so that the reader experience was the best it could be, and the integrity of story wasn't compromised.
3. Why did you choose to publish your work independently?
It's all about retaining artistic control. Contrary to what a lot of people think, being an independent author does not mean being an amateur. It means being a professional, who prefers to retain control of their work, in order to provide the highest quality for their readers. With the advent of self-publishing in recent years, it's become much easier to get your work into the marketplace, and many well-known, traditionally published authors are now choosing to independently publish their work, in order to reach and grow their audience. With e-readers and Kindles it now takes seconds for a customer to purchase and begin reading your book. That's incredibly exciting for authors and readers alike. And of course, one thing which is important to me is that retaining control means I have a direct link to my readers, which I love.
4. What are you working on now, and what future projects do you have planned?
I'm currently working on my debut novel, A Poisoned Mind, which is a murder-mystery thriller. When a young college student is found murdered in bizarre circumstances, Dr. Mary Gray, criminal profiler and poisons expert, is called in to consult on the case. It soon becomes apparent that this is not a one-off crime; there is a serial killer on the loose. When a second body is uncovered, it becomes a race against time to find the perpetrator before he strikes again. As the clock ticks down and her "gift" kicks in, Mary Gray teeters on the brink of a mental breakdown as the past she has tried to conceal collides with her present in spectacular fashion. It's based in the UK and is a pure joy to work on. I'm planning on releasing it in the summer this year.
Alongside that I'm currently planning out the first of a new series. It's a murder-mystery collection based in Victorian England, so sort of a Conan-Doyle meets steampunk, but with a thriller edge to it.
5. I like that your website includes a Writer Toolbox, resources for other Indie-authors. What are some of the resources that have been most important to you in your journey from writing to publishing?
I'm a huge advocate of indie-authors, and over the last couple of years I've been publishing, have learned a huge amount. It's important for me to be able to share with others what I've learned, especially those who are just starting out. Indie-authors aren't in competition for readers, the way it used to be in the traditionally published world. It's so much easier for people to get their hands on books now, and they are reading more than ever before.
In terms of resources I use and learn from regularly, the blog and training of author Nick Stephenson is one of the best. Another is the website of Joanna Penn, an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. Both Nick and Joanna are incredibly successful within their fields, and continue to provide up-to-date and immensely useful information about the industry.
For setting up your writer platform, then you need look no further than the site of Kimberley Grabas. Simply called Your Writer Platform, it provides everything you need to get up and running. Two of the most well-known indie-authors are Johnny B Truant and Sean Platt, and they produce the popular Self-Publishing Pod-cast, and are also the authors of Write, Publish, Repeat, one of the best writing craft books there is. There's much more on my website.
If you are a writer, then sign up for my Readers Group email--you'll get my free short story "The Yellow Cottage," and just drop me a line and let me know you're a writer. I periodically send resources and information which I find to be invaluable, covering everything from starting out, writing courses, marketing, software, and anything else I think will be useful to you in order to make your writing life easier.
If you sign up as a reader, then I'll send news of my releases, book recommendations, competitions, and freebies I've found. I only send it once or twice a month, but it's packed with great stuff for book lovers.