Today we’re talking with Joan Hazel, a lovely person and an author-friend whom I met through our former publisher. She is one of the founding members of our mutual publishing group, Myrddin Publishing. Over the last two years I’ve become quite good friends with her.
She is a talented author, whose new novel, Burdens of a Saint, was released yesterday. I had been lucky enough to be a beta reader for her on the early manuscript and really loved the characters of Janet Beesinger, and Saint.
But first, the Blurb:
Your life will change today…
When Janet Beesinger writes the words in red on her calendar, she has no idea what they mean. But, as a psychic, she knows when the universe gifts you with personal information, you listen. How was she to know the Universe meant an irritating and sexy shape-shifter who would challenge everything about her life?
Saint Wolfe can feel the gravity of his arrangement with the goddess Hel closing in around him, forcing him to confront his past and the betrayal of the woman he was to marry. Needing to make peace with his past, he returns to New Orleans in search of forgiveness, only to be confronted by his own immortality. His only hope for atonement lies in the hands of a woman claiming to be a psychic. Will she be able to help Saint find salvation before his debt to Hel comes due?
And now–the interview:
Me: Where did you get your original idea for a fantasy-romance involving a society of shape-shifters from?
Joan: Would you believe they walked out of the bushes while I was mowing the yard and said “here we are, now tell our story”? It sounds strange, but that sort of what happened. I was doing yard work and thought what would happen if you found out you inherited a mansion and the surrounding lands, and while you were tending the yard four hot guys walked out of the woods and you found out it was your responsibility to take care of them? And, by the way, they are all shape shifters.
Me: I like that. I think we often find our inspiration in the most mundane places. When you are mowing the lawn, your mind is free to move about the airplane, so to speak.
What is your personal connection with Norse Mythology?
Joan: I have always had an attraction to Norse Mythology and Vikings. It may come from my Germanic roots or it may come from a past life. LOL. Even when I sang opera I specialized in Wagner which is deeply steeped in Norse Mythology.
I just always felt the Norse gods were more connected to the common man more so than the Greek or Roman.
Me: I agree. I’ve always felt the Norse gods were too closely involved in human affairs for our own good, lol! (Loki, please make mischief elsewhere, thank you….)
So I understand you use Dragon Naturally Speaking software. What is the evolution of your manuscript—how do you take it from the first draft to the completed stage? Is there some point where you switch to a standard word-processing program?
Joan: This is why it takes me so long! I do use Dragon, but only after I have written the manuscript in longhand. For me there is something magical about the brain-hand connection when it comes to weaving these stories.
After I have the written manuscript, I then input through Dragon into a Microsoft Document, then go into that and work formatting, etc. The hardest part for me in using Dragon is the fact so many of my characters have unusual names. So far I have been unable to get the software to recognize names like Apple-y and Aegir.
Me: Wow–that seems time consuming. I don’t have that sort of patience.
Like me, you’re an indie author. What is the most difficult part of this process for you?
Joan: The most difficult part of the process for me is finding the time to write while juggling everything else. It seems that quite frequently I will be in “the zone” chugging away when the my hubby yells at me from the other room or the dogs try and get my attention. Plus, my muses have an irksome way of popping up at those times that I can do nothing about it, like when I am driving or taking a shower. I have tried using a recorder, but listening to the sound of my own voice irritates me.
Me: I know! I am always embarrassed by the sound of my own voice. And distractions are something we can all relate to.
What is your next project in this series and who will be the main character?
Joan: That is a great question. There are two books left in the series; one for Fergus Wolfe, who is the alpha of Delta Pack and the other, is for Ghost Thorolfur. The two are kind of battling it out to see who goes next. Originally, I had planned for Ghost to be next, but now I am not so sure.
Me: They are both intriguing characters, and I really can’t decide which one I am more curious about! You also write romance novels. Do you have any other books in the works?
Joan: How much time do we have? There are probably 10 books jumping around in my head at the moment. There are two in particular that I have begun work on. One is a medieval fantasy set in an imaginary kingdom in Scotland. The other is a western set in post-Civil War Texas.
Me: You know me! I am all about the medieval fantasy! What advice would you give an author who may be struggling with the decision of whether or not to go indie?
Joan: In my opinion going the indie publishing route is one of the best things a writer can do, especially if your storyline doesn’t quite fit into the mainstream (i.e. commando shape-shifters created for the goddess Freyja).
I like being an indie author and having the creative control over my babies. There are days you will want to bang your head against a wall and days you will want to jump for joy.
My word of caution, don’t go into it blindly. I learned a great deal about the business of being a writer, and believe me, it is a business. You can find a lot of information on the internet and there are small, indie publishing companies that will help you publish. Keep in mind, even if you signed with a large house, unless you are J.K. Rowling or Nora Roberts, marketing, branding, organizing book signings, or anything else for that matter is left completely to you.
Me: Joan, that is good advice. I would add that a quick glance through the list at Preditors & Editors will give a new author some idea of small publishers they may not want to go with.
But thank you so much for stopping by, and for answering a few of my questions. I have really enjoyed it.
Joan: Connie, thanks for letting me stop by and share my thoughts. It has been fun.
Just so you know, Joan is an awesome person! To find out more about Joan and her books check out her website, and these other fine social media:
BURDENS OF A SAINT
Available in print and for the Kindle
Joan Hazel has found success at virtually everything she has ever put her mind to doing.
A native of Corinth, Miss., she is an accomplished actress and vocalist who has performed with theater and opera companies across the eastern United States. She has also dabbled success-fully in theater as a director and vocal director for numerous award-winning productions.
She completed a double major in music and business from Delta State University and went on from there to earn a Master’s Degree from East Carolina University with another double major, in music performance and pedagogy.
She has spent time as a vocal and piano teacher at both Troy University and Enterprise State Community College. As a teacher she is much sought after for her skills and often works privately with students in her home. In 2010 she was a guest instructor at the International Music Theater Festival held in Venice, Fla.
In her spare time, she plays with a cast of characters who live in her head. She has written four novels that range from historical fiction to reality-based crime fiction to science fiction/fantasy.
Hazel is passionate about the protection of animals and supports a variety of animal conservation efforts.
She currently resides in DeLand, Fla., with her husband, Ricky, and their two dogs.