I have always loved the darker fairy tales, not the Disney kind they’re just too…bright and shiny. The real Brother Grimm stories, now those were exciting. Their monsters were scarier because they hid behind masks of normality, think the woodcutter’s wife in Hansel and Gretel.
When I write, I tend to develop my characters first and then their world opens up and away we go. For Raine McCord, the heroine of Shadow’s Edge, her first spark came when I was listening to a favorite group (which I’ll keep nameless for now) and heard the following lyric:
See the animal in his cage that you built
Are you sure what side you’re on?
Better not look him too closely in the eye
Are you sure what side of the glass you are on?
This started me down the spiral of questions and answers until Raine starting haunting me from dark corners. When she finally cornered me in a rain drenched alley in Portland, I just couldn’t refuse her request and Shadow’s Edge was born.
It wasn’t an easy birth either. I’m what is considered a “pantser”, I write by the seat of my pants. Now, I’ll admit over the years, I’ve learned the value of a bare bones outline but I’m not sure I’ll ever graduate to the intricately detailed outline I’ve seen fellow writers use. The rest of my life might be controlled by my OCD tendencies, but my writing? It’s wild and free.
Here’s how it works:
I carve out my niche of writing time which generally involves me waking up early, before the family, sneaking in some quick and quiet breakfast, packing up the laptop and making a mad dash for the car. I will only relax once the house is a fading image in my rearview. This won’t be a daily occurrence, mind you, but on a good week I will manage this at least once.
When I finally reach my destination, a quaint little coffee shop where the baristas know my name…and more importantly, my drink of choice, I will began to herd the cats better known as “daily worry lists”. It takes a few to get them corralled, but once they’re locked up, my Muse will actually meander in. I fuel up, sit down, boot up and….stare at the computer screen.
I may have escaped the devouring maw of outside influences but now I’m faced with the terrifying sea of blank pages. Frantic, I will go back and read whatever I managed to pound out last time.
My inner editor (IE) will decide to make an appearance and comes in for a sneak peek. “Seriously? You really think she’d do that? With him? Pullleezze!”
My Muse responds with a beady eye. “Think you can do better?”
IE snorts. “You have to ask?”
Knowing if I let her loose, my IE will shred whatever hope I have left of accomplishing anything new into tiny, unrecoverable shreds, I lure her away with the promise she can have more spotlight time—later. Maybe, say, next year.
My Muse smirks and sips her not-really-coffee drink, while silence falls and the screen remains blank. I give my Muse a small tap. I’m ignored. I don’t have time to waste so I’ll bump her chair. She’ll spill her drink, flare a lip and huff off to clean up. So now I’m on my own. My eyes will haze over. It won’t help, the screen is still blank. My fingers join the not-so-happening party. Little by little letters will appear, creating actual words, which in turn, create an ENTIRE SENTENCE. And we’ll be off!
Only to stumble in an inglorious heap moments later. Wait! Didn’t I just use that expression in the last page? What happened to that knife? Dear gods, I lost a shifter! Where did he go? Oh wait, found him, but what happened to his pants? Oh for the love of pete…
As hard as it is to get the story out, I wouldn’t trade the frustration of putting it to paper for anything. I love Urban Fantasy, always have, always will.
In Urban Fantasy, your hero or heroine have to be tough. Otherwise all the creatures out there prowling around (vamps, weres, zombies, demons, feral slugs, etc.) will tear them to pieces. Between the magic screwing things up and the massive amounts of supernatural creatures strolling around, their lives are never boring. It’s what makes UF stories great.
For my heroine, Raine, she has quite a few things to overcome. Some are external –human scientists, a twisted killer, a sexy partner, the rain. Those she can deal with, one way or the other. It’s the internal factors that make her who she is. She’s Kyn, the race of supernatural beings fairy tales all come from, and she’s a feared warrior known as a Wraith. She’s tough, no arguing that. Yet, thanks to some creative experiments when she was a teen-ager she’s not just Kyn, but something more, something frightening, even to her.
Shadow’s Edge follows Raine down a bloody trail of bodies into the shadowy world of power plays and half-truths, while forcing her to face the monster crouched inside. Now it’s her turn to decide who’s really the monster–the one destroying the ones around them or the one who’s hunting them?
About Jami Gray
Growing up on the Arizona-Mexico border, Jami Gray was adopted at the age of 14 and suddenly became the fifth eldest of 37 children. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and three minors-History, English, and Theater. Shortly after marrying her techie-geek hubby (who moonlighted as her best friend in high school) she completed a Masters in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix Oregon.
Now, years later, she’s back in the Southwest where she’s outnumbered in her own home by two Star Wars obsessed boys, one Star Wars obsessed husband, and an overly-friendly, 105-pound male lab. Writing is what saves her sanity.
Shadow’s Edge: Book 1 of the Kyn Kronicles by Jami Gray
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…
It takes a monster to hunt one, and for Raine McCord, forged in the maelstrom of magic and science, she’s the one for the job. In a world where the supernatural live in a shadowy existence with the mundane, a series of disappearances and deaths threatens the secrecy of her kind and indicates someone knows the monsters are alive and kicking. Partnering up with the sexy and tantalizing Gavin Durand proves to be a challenge as dangerous as the prey she hunts.
When the trail points back to the foundation which warped Raine’s magic as a child, her torturous past raises its ugly head. Gavin and Raine sift through a maze of lies, murder and betrayal to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.
Shadow’s Edge: Book 1 of the Kyn Kronicles is out now and Shadow’s Soul: Book 2 of the Kyn Kronicleshits shelves Summer 2012.