Sunday, April 26, 2015

Q&A with author AJ Nuest

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a multi-published, award-winning author who lives in the middle of a cornfield in northwest Indiana. Like, really. I’m not kidding when I say there is corn on all sides. My loving husband and two beautiful children inhabit the halls of my lunacy and, in exchange for laundry service and three squares per day, have agreed to stay and put up with my abnormal behavior. While I spend most days crafting romance across a multitude of genres, an underground coup has been percolating. The dog just informed me the cats are secretly vying for dictatorship.

Q ~ What’s your favourite pastime?

I have so many it’s hard to list them all. I love watching movies, doing crossword puzzles, reading everything I can get my hands on, crafting...really any artistic project cranks my knob. I also love to bike, hike, camp, go boating with my husband and kids. Right now, we’re in the midst of some major home improvement projects that have been really fun. I love to an entire room or a wall. LOL I’m very high energy and a bit of an organizational freak so my hobbies are many and varied.

Q ~ What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

Hands down, I would say being a mom. That job right there can test a person in more ways than I can count. Seeing my children grow, watching them mature into the people they are becoming is an amazing feat to me. I’ve absolutely loved every age they’ve been. Being a mom is my biggest accomplishment without question.

Q ~ What is your biggest pet peeve?

Any loud an unexpected BANG that comes out of nowhere and scares the crap out of me. Nothing good ever follows a loud bang. Also, passive-aggressive behavior. It drives me nuts. Just say what you have to say and be honest with me. I diagram characters for a living. Trust me when I say folks can save themselves the trouble of trying to circle around to what they really mean. It doesn’t work with me. LOL

Q ~ If you could have lunch with one person, dead, alive, or imaginary, who would it be and why?
Holy crud. Tough question. There are so many people I admire and would love to speak with, choosing just one is nearly impossible. would probably be someone who studies/studied Plato or Aristotle...because I find that whole concept fascinating. I’m also completely obsessed with the idea of Creative Visualization, so any conversations pertaining to that topic or Transcendental Meditation always keep me riveted. Hmmm...maybe I need to find a swami?

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?

These questions can be answered simultaneously with two words: Romantic Fantasy. I fell in love with the idea of princes and princesses in romantic fiction when I was a kid and that same attraction has followed me through to today. Give me an epic fantasy with strong elements of romance any day. A really thick book that’s almost hard to hold because it’s so heavy. And if there’s a map inside the front cover? BAM! I just died and went to Heaven.

Q ~ Do you have a favourite author? Do they influence your writing?

My favoritism continuously changes based on what I’m reading, but yes...if I fall in love with an author’s voice and/or style they definitely influence my work. I don’t think writers can help emulating authors they love. Imitation is the biggest form of flattery, right? For my favorites, I look to Jacqueline Carey, Patrick Rothfuss, J.R.R. Tolkien, Theodore Sturgeon, Terry Goodkind, and a whole host of other fantasy authors.

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?

When my youngest started kindergarten, I found myself with a couple of uninterrupted hours every day, so one morning I sat down at my husband’s old discarded laptop and began writing. I’d always toyed with the idea of writing a book, but I had never completed anything up until then. A month or two later, I finished my first manuscript...and the rest is history. I became fully addicted to being an author.

Q ~ What’s the best thing that’s happened since you began writing? The worst?

By far the best thing is all of the wonderful people I have met on my journey to being a published author. The women (and some men) who are part of the romance industry are without a doubt the most generous, fabulously talented people I have ever been blessed to know. An angel was sitting on my shoulder the day I decided to become a writer. The friends I’ve met have shaped my life in ways that have transformed it into an incredibly rich, wonderful experience. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not taken the plunge.

As for the worst, there really hasn’t been one for me. Even the rejections and occasional bad reviews have been a positive experience...because each of those moments taught me something about my craft. What areas I needed to work on and improve and how to make my writing better. I can’t consider those a negative because, ultimately, they made me a stronger writer.

Q ~ What are your biggest influences in life? Who are your biggest supporters?

Everything in life influences me. Everything. I think that’s the natural order of things when you’re a writer. It’s a really odd existence because, while an author spends most of their time distracted by the characters in their head, they also tend to pay really close attention to everything that is going on around them. Inspiration can strike at any time so it’s imperative an author live in the moment.

My biggest supporters are my writing pals. A group of girls I became fast friends with during my journey. We help celebrate each other’s victories, cheer each other on, pick each other up when the chips are down and have even been known to provide a swift kick in the pants when the occasion calls for it. I’d be lost without my Floozies.

Q ~ Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? What is your go-to snack while writing?

I have to have a clean email inbox before I can write. It’s a terrible habit, but one I can’t seem to shake. I’d probably be way more productive if I stayed off-line while writing.

The snack I usually go for is coffee and chocolate. Or White Cheddar Cheez-It crackers. I love those damn things. So addictive.

Q ~ What are your five favourite verbs to use during a love scene?

Verbs. I love them all. To me, there is nothing more fabulous then a well-placed, strong, active verb. They can be used not only convey action, but also sound, mood...the tension or tenderness of a scene. To narrow the list to just five is like pulling teeth. Maybe we should consult the playbook. Okay, pulling up a love scene from my latest book, five verbs I used were: writhed, fisted, hissed, thumbed and flexed. LOL!

Q ~ Why did you choose to write fantasy romance as your primary genre?

Because it’s difficult to write. Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment. The thing is, fantasy contains so many elements of other genres—paranormal, mystery, suspense, thriller, action, adventure, danger, romance... My series is a time travel fantasy so I also get to play with the contemporary AND historical genres as well, and that’s incredibly liberating. But besides all that, fantasy also contains a multitude of layers and I love the challenge of making sure I’ve worked in all the important elements I need to convey in the story. There is always a riddle to solve. A bad guy followed by a bigger, badder bad guy. Magic plays a role, as does a host of fairytale creatures. I get to build a world from the ground up and, while this can be extremely difficult, it keeps my writing sharp. Toss in a well-built, sword-toting handsome prince and I’m toast.

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release The Golden Key Legacy and what inspired you to write it?

The Golden Key Legacy is the spin-off series to the original set of four fantasy novellas released last year, The Golden Key Chronicles. The books are written as a serial, set up almost like episodes of a television show, with each installment ending in a cliff hanger. While both the books in Chronicles and Legacy were released one month apart, each series is also offered as a standalone time travel fantasy romance for folks who prefer to read the entire collection all at once.

Q ~ What prompted or inspired you to write these stories? Are any of them rooted in some sort of truth?

As I was coming up on the end of The Golden Key Chronicles, I realized I was presented the perfect opportunity to leave two important threads open. I stepped back and began thinking about what would happen in the future of both worlds and if there was a way to continue the story. When I struck upon the idea for what could happen, I knew I had to write it. It was too good to leave on the table.

No, none of the stories are not rooted in truth...but, for God’s sake, if you or anyone else out there stumbles across an old, beat up armoire that contains a magic mirror leading to the Austiere Kingdom, you must immediately let me know!

Q ~ When you write, do you lay out a solid outline before beginning, or start writing and iron out the kinks later?

I can’t write from an outline. I find it too constraining and the characters invariably want to head in another direction, which consequently stresses me out. LOL I generally plot the whole story in my head, but I hold it very loosely. I know what *has* to happened in order to move the plot forward, but other than that I let the characters pretty much tell me what’s happening. After all, I’m just there taking dictation. They’re the ones telling the story.

Q ~ What was the most difficult part of the process while writing?

For me, it’s always moving time. Meaning, dealing with that space between action scenes where time moves forward in the story. I hate filler...and dead space in a novel is career suicide. It’s always important to keep things interesting during that time lapse, so moving time is always difficult for me.

Q ~ What is your process for choosing character names?

Generally, once my characters come to me and tell me their back story, about their history and life experiences, their names are included as part of the package. This is especially true of my heroes and heroines. I sometimes have to work a little at arriving at the proper name for side characters, but this usually never takes very long. That being said, things went a little differently during the writing of The Golden Key Chronicles, and I think this was because so many of the characters are from an imaginary 14th century kingdom. I wanted the names to sound authentic and, at the same time, a little different...but not so different they were hard to pronounce. I played around with spellings a little, did a little research into historical names and, in the end, also decided to work through the alphabet to make sure none of the names started with the same letter. Not sure if anyone picks up on this while reading but we have...Aldrych, Braedric, Caedmon, Denmar, Eibel, Fandorn, Gaelleod, etc., etc.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?

I actually have two books sitting on my laptop that are completed and have been collecting dust for a while. My goal is to get these two manuscripts polished and ready for release in 2015. They are both women’s fiction with strong romantic elements—stories I wrote several years ago that need to be sent out into the world. It’s time. They are both projects that are very near and dear to my heart. After that, I’m diving into one of about eight different stories I’ve got simmering in my head. One of them is another time travel fantasy series under the working title, The Branches of the Willow Tree. However, unlike The Golden Key books, the three stories will be standalones.

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
Read! Read everything you can get your hands on. Read authors you would like to emulate. Read books on the craft of writing. Read articles on market trends and publishing news. Read reviews from bloggers you respect. Read everything and anything to do with the world of publishing. That, and never give up on your dreams. Not ever. Write every day, even if it’s one sentence. Keep going and learning and honing your craft. Failure is not an option.

About the author:

Multi-published, award-winning author, AJ Nuest, lives in the middle of a cornfield in NW Indiana. Her loving husband, two beautiful children and a bevy of spoiled pets have agreed to stay and, in exchange for three rations per day and laundry service, tolerate her lunacy. While she spends most days happily ensconced in crafting romance across a multitude of genres, an underground coup has been percolating. The dog just informed her the cats are secretly vying for dictatorship.

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Check out these upcoming promotions with author AJ Nuest!

Starting May 6th, The Golden Key Chronicles & The Golden Key Legacy will be on sale for $0.99.

He's Got Dibs is going to be sales priced at $0.99 for two weeks starting Friday, May 8th. This is a coup since the regular price on this bad boy is $4.61. It's currently got 60 five star reviews and can be viewed on Amazon here:


  1. Oh my gosh, Jonel! Thank you sooooo much for the fabulous post of the interview! You are the BEST EVER!!! xoxo Thank you!

  2. What an enjoyable interview! <3