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Interview – J.S. Snow, author of The Metal Prodigy Series

JS Snow

Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by J.S. Snow, author of Redemption: Book One in the Metal Prodigy Series. Welcome to our Showcase Lounge, J.S.

J.S. Snow: It’s a pleasure to be with you and thank you for inviting me into the Showcase Lounge on this special day.  One year-ago on this day, I typed the first words for Redemption.

SPS: For any of our readers who haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?

JSS: I have been in the administrative office field now for twenty-eight years.  Twelve of those years I ran my own virtual assistant company out of my home.  I have always been a big fan of literature and invariably referred to it as my favorite hobby.  I’m a huge fan of music of all genres, but Heavy-Metal in particular.  I’m now the mother of a twenty-year-old adult child who is at the moment off to begin her life, and I am currently going through “empty nester syndrome.”

SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?

JSS: I prefer to run over ideas and add to my outlines over my lunch hour.  Then when I implement those ideas and actually write, I prefer to write in my office with no distractions and complete quiet.  I live alone so that’s no hard to do.

Because I work full time, my writing time is limited to evenings and the weekends.  The occasional holiday comes in very handy.  My vacation time I took last year was dedicated to finishing Redemption versus flying out to see relatives.

SPS: Can you put your finger on the moment that you decided that you wanted to publish your work?

JSS: Not really, publishing what I wanted to write proved at first to be quite daunting to me.  In actuality up until a year and a half ago I had no idea that writers could indeed self-publish.  Call it naïve, but there you go.  I honestly believed in order to sell a book you had to be signed by a publisher.  When I started reading various works from numerous authors and discovered in their copyright sections, they published the work themselves, I started doing research into it.  I was delighted there was a way to self-publish.  Not to make myself sound ignorant, but to this day, I haven’t the first clue how to either obtain a literary agent or how to submit my work.  Being self-published, I don’t have to worry about that anymore.  I’m sure there are a ton of books out there on how to do this, I just haven’t had the time to read them.

SPS: Why do you think it is that you decided to write your first novel in the genres that you did, and do you see yourself ever writing in other genres?

JSS: That’s actually a tough question.  I’m surprised at myself, in fact, that I chose this genre to write in.  Considering my book shelves are full of horror, paranormal, military suspense and self-help books, it would make one think that I would gravitate to one of those.  However, after my accidental discovery of the world of romance novels, it looks like this is the genre that fits the outlines and story ideas I have come up with so far.


SPS: So, tell us about your debut novel, and where your inspiration came from?

JSS: Redemption actually began in my head over twenty-years ago.  However, its concept and end product would have been way different if written back then.  Twenty-years ago women were still struggling in the workforce to gain equality and respect.  This was the time frame of the whole Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill controversy.  Sexual harassment in the workplace was the hot topic of discussion and that highly publicized case of a then Supreme Court Judge Nominee, and his former assistant brought change to many corporation’s policies world-wide on the matter.

Women in rock who also played an instrument were a rarity to see.  Lita Ford and of course, the Wilson sisters were the only females widely known and accepted in the rock genre at the time.  Women had a difficult time being taken seriously.  So this book started out as more of a women’s lib movement type of a book.

Twenty-years later, that premise no longer works.  Women have made major milestones in the work force and in music.  We all see today more and more women taking the stage and melting our faces off in one way or another.  Sure, some of them still have a hard time at it due to instilled preconceived notions that some men continue to have, but mercifully those are now looking to be rare.

SPS: What can you tell us about your lead character, Alex?

JSS: She’s quite delightful to write actually.  With being exceptionally gifted both with musical abilities and intelligence, she is missing the maturity she should have by now at this age.  Instead of experiencing common things that all teenagers typically go through, she chose to instead stay in the comfort of her gifts while growing up.  Despite being a late bloomer, she is beautiful, both inside and out.  She is stubborn and opinionated, but is always conscious in how she speaks to people and how she makes them feel.

Now couple that with growing up in a unique environment and by two extraordinary people who by their professions were never supposed to be parents, and you have a wide-eyed innocent young woman who led an ideal life that is now growing up before our very eyes.  Finally, she takes a chance and throws herself right in the middle of five foul mouthed sex-a-holic tattooed Heavy-Metal rock stars and watching her interact with them is, in my opinion, a good time.

SPS: Debut novels, in particular, often contain situations from an author’s personal life. Is there any of you in Alex?

JSS: Well, up until my early teenage years, I never cursed.  It was something that wasn’t ever allowed in my parent’s home.  As far as similar situations, the only thing that she and I have in common is the conservative religion’s we were both raised in.

SPS: Why is she so set on playing Heavy Metal over other music?

JSS: For Alex, the music genre just spoke to her above all other genres.  She’s classically trained and is being groomed to one day play the violin professionally.  However, when she hears the complex riffs that can be produced from an electric guitar, they sound similar and as challenging to her as say the complexities of Beethoven, Mozart or Bach.

SPS: How does Alex grow as the novel progresses, and is there any particular situations she struggles to deal with?

JSS: Alex struggles with adopting her stage persona A.G. as her own in her real life.  She puts a lot of pressure on herself to live up to the masterful guitar playing of her idol, Seth Batista.  She is constantly struggling with her emotional decision to forgo things we all take for granted like love and physical intimacy with someone due to the severe scarring on her legs.

As the U.S. part of Hells Redemption’s Aftermath Tour continues, Alex is plagued with nightmares she can’t understand or comprehend due to that she has no memory of how she came to be raised by Sister Maria Therese and Father Martin, but suspects her past is where they came from.

SPS: Can you tell us a little about her band mates?

JSS: Ah, the sexy men who comprise my fictional band, Hells Redemption.  You’ll forgive me as I take a moment to sit back and simply smile.  These guys are just a joy to write.

Seth Batista is the band’s leader and co-founder.  Due to a climbing accident in Moab, Utah, he’s forced to temporarily relinquish his lead guitar duties while his arm heals.  He’s still in mourning from the death of his wife who was killed in a car accident in South Florida and dealing with a lot of guilt that he won’t share with anyone, including his best friend and band co-founder, Drake Mitchell.

Drake Mitchell is the band’s rhythm guitarist and is the son of a four-star military general who also happens to be on the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff serving the President of the United States.  Drake is the only member of the band that suffered at one time from a drug dependency problem and is the reason for the no drug policy the band adopts.  Drake is dealing with a lot of inner demons and is a bit self-loathing at times.  Drake Mitchell badly desires A.G. Hattabaugh.

Hiatt Stevenson is the band’s drummer.  Hiatt comes across to everyone as a stoner airhead surfer guy, but in actuality is very intelligent and most of all, honest.  His lack of brain to mouth filter just floors everyone he comes in contact.  His observations that most of us would never make let alone say give this story comedic relief.  Being raised in a hippie commune in the southwestern desert of the United States everything is new to Hiatt and worth learning about.  He currently has it in his head that he should plant his seed in multiple gardens and have his own harem and have about thirty little Hiatt Jr.’s running around in the world.

John Lucas is the band’s lead bassist.  John is literally the strong silent type.  John never verbally speaks.  It is unknown as to why, but he communicates with his eyes.  He’s extremely talented on his instrument of choice.  Now while he cannot speak, he sometimes does to his best friend with whom he grew up with, Hiatt.  John is Native American, very tall and let’s just say you want him on your side if you were ever cornered in a fight.  John Lucas is also madly in love, with Alex Hattabaugh.

Cole VonSnyder is the band’s second bassist and sampler/sound programmer.  Cole is the second half of the comedic duo that his Hiatt and Cole.  Cole is the oldest member of the group by about ten years, but you would never know it if you met him.  He’s a charmer with women and has an obsession with them.  Not necessarily exclusively on a sexual level, but on a spiritual one as well.  He loves being in their space to just drink in their auras.

SPS: Was it always your intention, back before you wrote Redemption, that this would be a series of novels?

JSS: Actually, no.  Twenty years ago, Redemption itself was its own story and not written as a romance story at all.  As I outlined what Redemption is now, I found myself outlining several books, one right after the other until the complete story had been told.  Being inspired by other writers in this genre gave me the courage to do that.


SPS: Resurrection, book two in the series, comes out in September. What can we expect this time around?

JSS: A continuation from book one of course.  In Redemption, I throw out not one, not two but three cliffhangers.  In Resurrection, I answer one of them in the first chapter as to not leave my fans hanging and then through that answer bring the reader to the answers on the other two.

My fans will discover more layers to not only Alex but each of the band members.  Alex will grow both personally and professionally.  To see how she deals with new choices she is being forced to make is a big part of this series, and she’ll have to make some tough ones this time around.

SPS: Are there any new characters that you are particularly excited about your reader’s meeting?

JSS: Not really a character per say, but an unfinished element that was originally due to go into Redemption.  In the end, I took it out.  What is it?  Well let’s just say this, you thought Vic Davone was something else?  Wait until you meet daddy.

SPS: Are you planning to continue with your Metal Prodigy series after Resurrection?

JSS: That’s a huge yes!  There will be five novels plus two novella’s total in this series.  In addition, there will be for certain at least one offspring series with room for two additional ones.

SPS: How have you found reader reaction so far to your work?

JSS: So far, extremely positive.  All that have left a review love the book, and I’m very pleased they do.  When I describe the premise to anyone, I speak with, I can tell it intrigues them, but they are not quite sure about it.  I can then tell when they are actually reading it, because they are genuinely surprised because it isn’t what they expected.

SPS: Can you take a moment to tell us how you came up with the cover for Redemption?

JSS: I selected the image from one of the many royalty-free image sites that is out there.  While I like what I have chosen for Redemption’s cover, it wasn’t ideally what I wanted.  It proved difficult to find just the right picture of a female rock star that didn’t look slutty, sad but true.  When I decided on this image, I was happy with because it tells the reader that this story is about a woman and the model for the picture is how I saw in my mind Alex playing guitar during her time at Juilliard, and before she was discovered by Hells Redemption.  Resurrection’s cover is her stage persona A.G. Hattabaugh and was inspired by the camera store scene in Redemption.

SPS: It’s probably a good time to ask, what we can expect next from the pen of J.S. Snow. A book three, or something different?

 JSS: Definitely be expecting a book three, book three point five, book four, book four point five and finally a book five in this series.  While you take a minute to absorb that, under my pen name of J.S. Snow, there is a total of twenty-one books that I plan on publishing.  Granted, most of them are still in outline form, but they are there.  I’ve also been entertaining a collaborative effort with another writer.  Under another pen name, I have nine outlines laid out to write.

Now as I smile as I register the shock on your face, I will tell you that it took me forty-two years to find my passion.  I want to write.  This is what I always wanted to be when I grew up.  I am a writer.

SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?

JSS: I’ll reference you back to your previous question about wanting to publish Redemption to begin with.  Being self-published for me is the only way I know right now.  I am finding that I like the control of my own work and not being accountable for anyone but myself.

SPS: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?

JSS: I’m still so new to all of this.  I can’t really answer that question right now.  I’m enjoying it so far and learning something every day.

SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?

JSS: Don’t over think it, just write it.  I tweet one of my favorite quotes by writer Neil Gaiman from time to time that sums it up perfectly, “This is how you do it:  You sit down at the keyboard, and you put one word after another until it’s done.  It’s that easy, and that hard.”

SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…

JSS: Well, I’d be remised if I didn’t recognize my literary hero and the man who had me reading novels at an early age, the master himself, Stephen King.  Due to his gift, a creative seed was planted in my cerebral cortex.  Next to the series queen, J.R. Ward whose masterful story telling with a modern edge just inspires me that you don’t have to stay in the box all the time.  Finally, to my literary inspiration who is the master of this particular genre, I am now a part of, and that showed the doubting critics that one can write multiple characters at one time and keep it all together, Olivia Cunning.

SPS: Thank you for joining us today J.S. and all the best for the future.

JSS: Thank you Paul.  You and your team here at Self Publisher’s Showcase have been the greatest advocates and promoters to all self-published writers who are a part of your showcase.  When one becomes a part of the Self Publisher’s Showcase community, they know a great team has their back and will do everything they say they will do.  It’s been a reassuring experience, and I for one cannot recommend you all more.  I wish you all the best to your success and to your team’s success.

SPS: For more information on J.S. Snow and her Metal Prodigy series, please do visit her Author page here.

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