An interview with Victoria Jayne
Indie interview #8
Welcome to an indie author, where you can find interviews with self-published “indie” authors - a growing community.
These interviews are curated by Jasraj (hi!); you can find him on Twitter @Jasraj0 - he’d love to connect with you!
Whether you’re a writer, reader, or both, I hope you enjoy this week’s interview with Victoria Jayne.
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Hi Victoria! Where did you grow up, and what were your childhood years like?
Hello, I grew up on the Jersey Shore, and no. it’s not like the show. Well, I mean kinda. So, yes, those people do exist on the shore in the summer, but the people from the shore, no. They do not act like that. I spent my youth normally, I mean nothing super remarkable happened. Pretty standard. I have parents, two brothers. Grew up with a dog. Nothing of note really happening.
Oh, cool. I’ve been to the US a few times, but you’re the first person I’ve ever ‘met’ from Jersey Shore... What has it been like to grow up and live in New Jersey?
I’ve really only lived in New Jersey, so I really can’t compare it to anywhere else. I can say that New Jersey, though small, is sort of divided. The northern part of New Jersey, the shore, and the rest of New Jersey (affectionately referred to as “southern Jersey) have completely different cultures. I grew up on the shore where going to the boardwalk for no reason, sitting on the beach talking about the latest highschool drama, sitting at the dinner all night talking, and midnight swims in the ocean were how you spent your summer. Even in the winter, with the boardwalk closed, we would bundle up and just walk up and down the wooden planks. I went to college in northern Jersey and was introduced to the culture shock of not having the ocean in your backyard. When I met my husband, I went to south Jersey and really learned about how rural New Jersey can be. It’s an amazing place that gets a bad rap. Yes, our taxes are astronomical, but there is no other place like it in the world. Plus, we gave the world Porkroll, and if you don’t know what that is, I suggest taking a trip to find out about the salty goodness.
Above: GoogleMaps shows us where New Jersey is on a map of the USA.
Your website bio says you started writing in your teens. What made you get started writing creatively?
I LOVED reading. I enjoyed getting lost in worlds about ghosts and love. RL Stine lit up my life, I had so many of his Fear Street series. I also like Lurlene McDaniel. I remember that a substitute teacher asked us to write a story (to keep us quiet for the period), and it just took off from there.
I loved RL Stine’s Goosebumps series! I devoured those books as a kid. When it comes to your writing, what was the first piece of creative writing you can recall, that you were proud of?
I wrote a short story in English about skipping school with my friends. Sort of my take on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Unfortunately, mine ended with one of my friends getting shot. I really thought it was cool, and was proud that I was able to take a story from beginning to end, even if it was short.
That short story sounds cool. Interestingly, I started writing a Toy Story 3 movie when I was a kid, at the time when only Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2 had been made.
I’ve actually never watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but I know that it’s become somewhat of a cult classic. So, I’ve noticed you’re into the Romance genre. How was it you got started on reading Romance, and what were some of the first Romance books you read?
The first romance I read was Lurlene McDaniel’s Don't Die My Love. I cried. Ugly cried. I was thirteen. What did I know of love? I don’t remember reading much romance after that. I remember reading Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae, but I wouldn’t call that Romance. I read Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. That might be a bit closer. Then I read the Sleepy Beauty Trilogy by Anne Rice, and that, that got my motor running. But I didn’t consume romance then the way I do now. I roleplay in Second Life a lot, and someone made a recommendation for Suzanne Wright’s Phoenix Pack series. I was hooked. Then I read Fifty Shades of Grey, and was underwhelmed and read Cherise Sinclair’s Masters of the Shadowlands. They took my breath away. When I had worked my way through those, and all the Paranormal Romances I could find. I decided to try my hand at a Paranormal Romance, and started writing.
This is all really interesting. I also didn’t realise that Second Life was still a thing. For those readers who may not know what ‘paranormal romance’ is, could you tell us about that genre?
Paranormal Romance is a subgenre, or category of Romance. So, on top of there being an epic love story, there are also paranormal elements. Some popular Paranormal Romances are The Twilight Saga, or True Blood. They feature paranormal creatures (vampires, werewolves, faeries, etc).
Talk to us about your The Prophecy series of books. How long were you thinking about them, before you got started?
I probably should tell you about how I lamented about my first series for years. I should speak about how I slaved over it night after night, and it took half my life to make it. I won’t. Because, that’s not how it happened. I’d written one and a half paranormal romance manuscripts a few years before that, but didn’t get any traction. I’d been enamoured with the idea of being published, and read everything I could find. I had tried to be published in my late teens and failed with short stories. I had another 2 manuscripts I wrote when I was still in high school, but my writing was not at the level it needed to be. I also never did more than a first draft (ackkk, oooohh, hiss. I know. I was young, dumb and didn’t know better). So in November of 2017, I participated in my first NaNoWriMo. I wrote the first draft of The Witch of the Prophecy in 30 days. This one just felt different, and I committed to it. So, I did several revisions of my own. Then I figured at draft 3 or 4, I could shop it around. I got one request for a partial which was later denied due to the substantial edits needed.
So, I found an editor on Twitter, who was recommended and she got me in a good spot. I reapproached the original publisher who had expressed interest and she graciously accepted to give it another look. I sent it to other publishers. And I got 2 contract offers. Meanwhile, I had written half of The Wolf of the Prophecy. When The Witch of the Prophecy was published in December 2018, I was riding high. I finished the Wolf of the Prophecy a few months later. It was released in July 2019. The first draft of the Vampire of the Prophecy is done, I am working on edits. I have also started writing another series for which I am almost done with the first draft of the second book.
I didn’t start writing (again) until well into my twenties, so your teen self was way ahead of me knowledge-wise with this stuff! You mentioned a 3rd / 4th draft… how many drafts do you tend to do for your novels? Approximately how much time do you spend working on them?
The 8th draft of The Witch of the Prophecy and The Wolf of the Prophecy are the published versions. The Witch of the Prophecy took me less than a year from conception to publication. The same for The Wolf of the Prophecy. The third, and final, book in the trilogy is written, The Vampire of the Prophecy, but I am halfway through the first set of revisions.
Your Prophecy books look fascinating. Can you share with us what are they about?
Ultimately, the Prophecy Trilogy is about a prophecy and how it impacts three individuals. The prophecy has to do with who will rule over vampires when the vampire emperor dies. It outlines how the next ruler will be picked, and what will happen if the wrong vampire is chosen. The first book introduces us to the prophecy, and the linchpin of the prophecy: the witch. She gives the future emperor of the vampires his heartbeat back by being his true love. However, she is not meant for him. She is the mate of a wolf shifter. It is the vampire who lets her be with the wolf that is said to be fit to rule the vampires. However, if the vampire whose heartbeat is returned by the witch and he keeps her, supernatural kind will be outed to humans and the consequences are dire. The three books offer us insight as to who is the witch, the wolf, and the vampire of the prophecy and how we find out who they are.
Wow, really cool. What was it that inspired these books? Would you say you’re more of a ‘planner’ or a ‘pantser’, to use NaNoWriMo lingo…?
All of the books I’ve read, and some of the television shows I watched inspired me. There are pieces that could be considered “oh, that reminds me of True Blood,” or “That sounds like something I read in the Phoenix Pack series.” And it’s probably true, because they greatly influenced me.
For The Witch of the Prophecy I completely pants’ed it. Since then, all the books I’ve written have been planned. I don’t really do an outline so much as I list plot points I’d like to hit, and then cross them off as I go.
Tell us about how you found writing the 1st book, The Witch of the Prophecy?
It was exciting. I had no outline. I just had these characters in my head, so I went on the same journey my readers did. The only difference was, I had a deadline.
What was the self-publishing process like?
Expensive. That is really the biggest thing for me, because The Witch of the Prophecy was originally picked up by a publisher, and after 6 weeks of being published, she dropped it and gave me my rights back. What I didn’t like about being with a publisher, is that I had no idea what my sales were. I had no way of measuring if anything I did helped or hindered sales. When I self-published, I got that. I know when I sell and what I don’t. That helps with knowing what advertisements work and which don’t.
Having originally gone down the ‘traditional’ publishing route, what made you then turn to self-publishing?
Being dropped made me go the self-publishing route because I really felt that my being dropped had nothing to do with my writing or the quality of my story. It had to do with my inability to market. So, I didn’t want to take my book out of circulation. Plus, I had already finished book 2, and plotted out book 3. I felt I owed it to the readers who wanted to continue the journey.
And you describe the self-publishing process as being expensive; where was it you were allocating your resources, money-wise?
I wanted to keep everything the same. I wanted the same cover. I wanted the same editors. I wanted to do the same exact thing. I went to the same cover artist, who is an absolute sweetheart. I went to the same editing company, and they were pricey. The only thing I couldn’t do the same was the proofreader. That is where I skimped. So, I probably didn’t allocate my resources well at all, and am suffering for that now.
How did writing your 2nd book, The Wolf of the Prophecy, compare to your experience with writing the 1st book?
The Wolf of the Prophecy I did differently. I had an outline and I knew where I wanted to go. I knew the overall journey we were going on. It also took longer because I was wrapped up in publishing The Witch of the Prophecy.
Are there any lessons you’ve learned from the writing or publishing process so far?
The Writing Community on Twitter is amazing. They will be your champions when you think you’ve lost control. They are an excellent resource for not just moral support but any other support you need. If you need an editor, they will have suggestions, if you are looking for marketing advice, they can steer you in the right direction. They cheer you up when you are down, and they celebrate your victories. If you aren’t a part of it, they will welcome you with open arms.
I hear you, completely. Twitter is such an awesome platform for writers, I feel, and that’s a lot to do with the fact that there’s such a strong community of writers on there… and especially around this time of year, the season of #NaNoWriMo. What other books do you have planned?
After devouring Joanna Wylde’s, Madeline Sheehan’s, and Kim Jones’s motorcycle club romances, you bet your sweet bippy I am trying that out. I can’t help that I am a sucker for alpha males. I have written the first draft of the first of a new series, and am on the cusp of finishing the second book.
How exciting! Best of luck with those. Now, away from writing, do you enjoy any blogs or podcasts? (writing-related or otherwise)
I’m not big on blogs because I really don't have a lot of time to sit down and read. I listen though, so podcasts are my jam (when I’m not listening to a book). So, the podcasts I love are:
Thank you! And I also hear you enjoy a Netflix binge… anything you’ve been enjoying recently?!
We are super late to the party, I know, but my husband and I just finished binging on Schitt’s Creek, and started Shameless. We are 4 seasons into Shameless. On my own, I’m watching The Society (I used to work with one of the actor’s mother which is cool), Working Moms, and I’m re-watching Spartacus (Blood and Sand).
Oh, I was also pretty late to the Netflix (and Amazon Prime) party but I love them both - there’s so much to choose from!
So we’re getting to the end of our interview now. Writing aside, do you have any other outlet for your creativity or self-expression?
Yes. I am an active roleplayer in Second Life.
What advice do you have for your younger (writer) self?
Don’t be afraid to edit. It’s not scary. Don’t be afraid of editors, they will help you, not mock you.
That sounds like great advice. With regards to editors, you mentioned you found one on Twitter previously who had been recommended to you. Do you have any advice for writers who want to find an editor who provides a high-quality service and is a good match for them?
Twitter is a great resource for writers. I know it sounds weird, but the #writingcommunity wants nothing more than to build you up. When looking for an editor, talk to them. See what they like, see what they’ve done, who they have worked with. If you see someone who tackles mostly Sci-Fi or Young Adult, they might not be the right choice for your Romance novel. Don’t rush anything. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Where can we find you online, & where can we purchase your books?