Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus (FSF): Hey Jessica! How are you doing? How has this last year of total insanity been treating you?
J.E. Mueller (JM): Overall, good! It’s been a very strange year, but I’ve been making the most of the nonsense. Thanks for asking!
FSF: So you’re a day away from re-launching your newly re-named “A Tune of Demons” box set with Fallbrandt Press. How do you feel about that? What’s going through your mind at this moment?
JM: I think the best way to describe it is just nonstop mental screaming. When I first wrote Fire’s Song I hadn’t expected it to turn into a series, let alone a trilogy, and now a boxset. It’s been an amazing process and now everything with Fallbrandt? Words cannot describe but dkfjngklsnlkjgns sums up the feeling fairly well.
FSF: I’m not going to try to pronounce that but I do understand the sentiment. So what I’d like to begin with is the beginning of course. When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and can you take us through the journey that led to the initial self publication of Fire’s Song?
JM: I’m not sure when exactly I realized I ‘really’ wanted to be an author. I had said it enough as a kid, but it didn’t exactly feel obtainable until sometime in college. I had written plenty by that point but most of it was unfinished random ideas. The push was finally wanting the ultimate gift for my best friend’s wedding. I’ve known her since kindergarten and I wanted something that best showed our years of friendship. That’s when the idea came to not only write a story but to finally publish. I chose to redo one of the ones she enjoyed reading in high school, and so Fire’s Song came to be. It was so much fun being able to gift her one of the first copies. I don’t think many can boast that as a wedding gift.
FSF: So since this is a big re-branding why don’t you give our reading audience a taste of Fire’s Song, and the overall gist of “A Tune of Demons?” Why is this a binge worthy series?
JM: The nice thing about this whole thing, even more so with a box set, is that it’s completed. You get to see the curses, the plague demons bring, and how normal people deal with the day to day nonsense magic and packs (both good and bad) bring. It has a fun, gripping start before taking a darker tone. Demons are bad, but there is a lot of grey area that gets explored in the second book. Just because we call them ‘angels’ does that make them so? The best thing about fantasy is that rules can be broken. Everything is meant to be tested. Finally, you get to see exactly where the chose goes, how it’s impact on this one realm in particular pulses and ripples. Things could crumble, and best yet, I got to use the phrase ‘dead dead’. I love ghostly shenanigans. The best thing about this rebranding is it all can be found in one place now. No more flipping between books, unless of course you’re like me and have to own them all if you enjoy them.
FSF: Sounds amazing! So before Fallbrandt, you self published. What have been your biggest joys throughout the process? What were some of your biggest challenges or obstacles?
JM: My biggest joys have to be connecting with readers. I love the tags and random messages I’ve gotten. It’s so fun hearing what people think as they read, when they’ve finished, or even just seeing the book out in the world. The biggest challenge has been finding ways to market to readers. It’s just not my strong point, so most everything for me has been word of mouth. That’s been so much fun though. Getting to hear “my friend told me to read this and omg!” is a rush like no other. Someone recommended my book? Thank you random person!
FSF: Do you write with a certain audience or market in mind, or do you write for yourself in the hope that readers will come along for the ride?
JM: I write for myself and see what the story leans to then edit with that audience more in mind.
FSF: Many authors tend to use their own characteristics, and those of people in their personal lives in their writing. Is this something you do? It so provide some examples.
JM: Oh for sure. I am no exception there. My favorite example is probably from An Unexpected Brew where Arnessa says something along the lines of “do to who I am as a person, I’m going to be late” and it’s a direct reference to some writers I used to meet with all the time. No one was ever on time, and someone was always over the top late. In Fire’s Song Lee is referred to as a goody-two-shoes who wants to do everything to help everyone. That is directly my friend, who I wrote the book for. It is so much fun inserting those little things. I could really go on all day with examples.
FSF: Who are some of your influences that helped shape your work? Draw not only from books and authors but also, film, television and other media sources if you have them.
JM: I really love this question. The book side I talk about a lot, Ella Enchanted was huge in shaping my love of fantasy, intriguing plots, and that sweet happily ever after. For other media, well, it’s no surprise I am a huge cutesy movie fan. I love Disney, and Studio Ghilbi. The different fairytales, friendships, and small insights into different tales pulled from history and folklore are wonderfully inspiring. If I have a movie on in the background it is likely from one of those two.
FSF: How important is reader interaction to you as an indie author and how to you most prefer to network with your readers?
JM: I love reader interactions. I think it’s very important to be around to chat with readers when possible, and I’m usually around in the evenings to do so. Right now, I’ve been using facebook the most to interact with everyone. I have a group and page. I do use twitter a fair amount too.
FSF: So aside from “A Tune of Demons”, you have another completes series that Fallbrandt will be releasing later in the year. Can you talk a bit about that series as well as what you have in the works currently?
JM: The next series Fallbrandt is releasing is a little different from A Tune of Demons. The Fairytale Adventures series is a collection of three different fairytales done in a modern setting with the fourth and final book pulling them together for one last bigger adventure. Two of the story concepts are very well known, a Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast retelling. The third involves a prince who just does not want to have a ball. He much rather just chill and do things with his guild. Of course, things never go as planned since parents only sorta sometimes listen.
As for projects in the works I am in the editing and revising stages of another trilogy. It involves portals, realm hopping, and magical essence. I am really having a blast exploring a universe where magic is like a core. It’s in a single place, pulsing outward. The places closest have more magic than those further away until you get to places like our own world where there is no magic whatsoever. It’s been hilarious using modern slang and inventions in worlds it doesn’t belong with characters being confused since things like cell phones aren’t needed where you can use a pearl to do sort of a hologram communication on a whim. Compared to the other books there are a little darker notes, but it’s me, so things will end well. Eventually.
FSF: Sounds awesome! Now can you recommend some indie fantasy or sci-fi that you’ve read recently to our audience?
JM: Always! Recently I’ve really been getting into Annette Marie and her books, specifically the Guilded Codex: Spellbound series. Her main character Tori is the perfect combination of disaster, trainwreck, and hilariously witty. I’ve also really enjoyed rereading Kelly Blanchard’s Chronicles of Lorrek series. I know sometime in the nearish future she’ll be launching another series and want to be ready. Her deep fantasy scifi mesh universe is so vast I cannot wait to see what happens next. Lastly, while it hasn’t been my most top-rated read I haven’t been able to get Omeron by Alexander R Davis out of my head. I love when authors can pull you in that way. There was just something so different and fun about that universe it’s really hard to nail down what, but well worth giving a try if you haven’t checked it out yet.
FSF: And finally I like to end all of my interviews with this question. What piece of advice can you offer to new and aspiring authors?
JM: Get into a writing routine. It doesn’t have to be daily, but finding a certain time to dedicate just to writing is so helpful. Then use it. Waiting for inspiration sounds nice, but sadly there is no editing or fixing a blank page. It’s better to write a bunch of things you’ll fix or change later and get the project done than to never get it done at all. Just write -the easiest and yet the hardest advice to follow some days.
FSF: Well it was amazing talking to you, and best of luck with your huge year!
JM: Thank you! It was a lot of fun. I cannot wait to see how things go and where this path leads.