Friday, August 28, 2009

Interview with Jess Granger

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Jess Granger. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Beyond the Rain. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Beyond the Rain is the story of two people caught behind enemy lines of a dangerous war. She’s a warrior nun with a death sentence lingering over her head. He’s a tortured slave who had his blood leeched to make sexual narcotics for the shadow trade. As they travel from planet to planet, bringing them closer to their homes, they discover the power of freedom, of choices, and the terrible price that must be paid for both.

Beyond the Rain is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

I wish I could take credit for that one, but alas, I can’t. I’m terrible at naming books. I’ve got no ear for it at all. For the longest time, this book was called Futuristic #1. I wish I were kidding. When I started entering it in writing contests, I settled on The Halls of Honor, then punched it up to Chains of Honor. When the book sold, they wanted a title that reflected the deep emotions of the story, and felt those titles were a little cold. So the marketing team at Berkley settled on Beyond the Rain, and I’m so glad they did.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love the genre. As a kid I used to watch Star Wars, and Star Trek, Transformers, Voltron, you name it. If it was high flying space adventure, I was on board. Heck, I even went to Space Camp as a kid.

I discovered that dark and sexy space adventures suited my narrative style, I loved world building, and I had so much fun using alien cultures to create extreme character conflict.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

The idea for this book came from a challenge to create two characters with such a huge personal conflict, people wonder how that is ever going to work out.

It still makes me laugh when I tell people that the book is about a warrior nun who gets stuck with a hormonally addictive sex-slave.

What are your favorite science fiction research books, and why?

I don’t know if there are too many science fiction research books out there. I get some of my best ideas from exploring the world around me, then investigating things I find interesting first hand. I watch a lot of science documentaries, on anything and everything from extreme engineering to how the early chemical composition of the Earth’s atmosphere affected the climate and weather patterns, and consequently the size of the animals living at that time. I think part of writing science fiction is having a healthy thirst for all sorts of random knowledge.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Vicca, hands down. Okay that makes me laugh, but Vicca is my heroine’s alien fox who is trained as her war scout. She’s probably the smartest and funniest character in the book, and she borrowed a lot of her personality from my Siamese cat, Suki. I think a lot of people will fall for Vicca. She’s adorable.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and world affect your character development?

My characters always start with a problem. After that, I give them a name. Then I have a group of friends pepper me with random questions so I can discover what makes them tick. Once I start to understand them, I can sink into their heads and the story unfolds. I don’t do anything as formal as character sheets. This is one area I tend to be more loosey-goosey. I like to let my characters tell me who they are without forcing them into a pattern or a personality I’ve decided on ahead of time.

How do you go about building your world? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

For my world building, I have to answer a constant string of “Why?” I go through everything from land composition, gravity, suns, moons, biome makeup of the highly populated areas, number of mass cultures residing on planet, natural resources, intergalactic trade economy, cultural politics, planetary politics, then galactic politics.

After that I dig into the culture. What do people look like? How are the classes separated? Who holds power? Why? How? What are the taboos? Why? What are their spiritual beliefs? Why? It’s endless, and always evolving. Each new book brings new details and more questions. I love it though, it’s like a game to me.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I really love Susan Grant’s work. She has strong romances in her stories, but all of the stories I’ve read have had some connection to Earth. I wanted to get some distance from our planet and explore strange new worlds.

Surprisingly, I’ve also been influenced by Christine Feehan. I always liked the intensity of the romance with Feehan’s work. I tried to capture some of that intensity through creating very high stakes for my characters as well.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I’m very proud of my website and blog. I want them to become fun places on the web for fans of my books to hang out, interact with me, and explore my worlds in more detail. I’ve also got an interactive adventure going on my blog every other Wednesday. The Many Adventures of Ethel the Space Pirate is available as a free read on my website, but you have to help decide what happens next by voting on my blog. The Ethel readers have gotten her into some interesting situations so far. It’s a lot of fun.

What do we have to look forward next?

Beyond the Shadows is the sequel to Beyond the Rain, and should be released next spring. While both books firmly stand alone as strong individual romances, the characters of the second book will be familiar to readers of the first book. It is fun, it is super sexy, and I just can’t wait. The hero gives me chills.

Thanks, Jess!

You’re welcome! Thanks for having me. It’s been a pleasure, and very therapeutic.

To celebrate her book release, Jess is offering a free signed copy of Beyond the Rain to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (make sure to check the blog Monday night to see who won) She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Jess Granger grew up in California where she spent her childhood obsessed with animals and books. After years of tormenting her two brothers, she went off to college to earn a degree in literature from The University of California at Davis.

Now she enjoys spending time with her family and caring for her butterfly garden.

Check out author’s website at



Anonymous said...

Good morning Jess. Thanks for joining us today. Love it. a warrior nun. :) So were there any scenes that you or your editor cut for the final book? I always love to hear tales of the "cutting room" floor.

Jess Granger said...

My editor didn't cut any scenes out of the book. When I worked through the very early drafts, I did cut out a scene where the hero and heroine were on a roof in the Hannolen ruins and spying on the enemy. But then he almost falls off the roof.

I felt like it was a little gratuitous and like the heroine was coming to the hero's rescue too much. I don't miss that scene. It really wasn't very good.

joder said...

The book sounds amazing and I'm very happy to hear there will be a sequel. How many books are you hoping to have out in the series and do you have them all planned out?

Jess Granger said...

Oh, I don't have a set plan for the series. When I designed it, I wanted it to be open, so I could go anywhere and do anything, without the series being locked in to too many plot threads that you have to know about from previous books, or have the world building limited in a way where every book becomes the same "problem" for the characters.

I'd like to do books for Rensa, Tola, Maxen, and Xan. Beyond that? I don't know. I guess we'll have to see what characters we meet, and who is interesting.

Yvette Davis said...

Jess I'm looking forward to reading it, especially since Linnea Sinclair recommends you!

dogmom2six said...

I'm a big science fiction fan, so your book sounds like a fantastic read. Thanks for doing the interview!

Estella said...

Hi Jess,
I love the sound of your book.It is definitely going on my To Buy list.

Jess Granger said...

Thanks everyone! As far as the science fiction spectrum goes, this book is definitely in the fun adventure space opera, don't take it tooo seriously because no one really wants to hear me try to explain how sentient trillide within the energy converters allows the ships to leap macrospace. Honestly, how sexy is that? I don't think that conversation would even start to get me warmed up.

That said, I'm very proud of the solid detail and foundation of my world building, but this story should be read as a romance novel.

A really wild romance novel.

A nice, steamy, heartwrenching, OMG-how-are-they-going-to-make-it-out-of-this? romance novel.

Jennifer Leeland said...

Fantastic interview!
Hey Jess, do you find you have a running theme in your stories? Like do you emphasize the conflict between the H/h? Is there an aspect involved that always crops up?
I find I lean toward genetic mutations and things like that. Is there something in your work that keeps reoccurring?

Jess Granger said...

I've got a bit of a dark streak. If I've got a recurring theme, it's how easy it is to ignore the suffering of others if that suffering is out of sight and mind.

I've also got some trust themes that come up in the three books so far. I believe the foundation of true lasting love has to be in real trust, so I enjoy that theme a lot.

I also toy with one common sensual fantasy in each book, even though the stories aren't erotic. I'll leave it to you guys to figure out what fantasies I played with in each book.

Suzanne Rock said...

HI Jess! Great interview. Wow - I'm seeing this book all over the place. I've recently discovered space opera and I think I'm in love, lol. Glad to hear you are working on a sequel. The blurb sounds fantastic!

Lori T said...

Hi Jess~

Beyond the Rain sounds so interesting and I am really looking forward to reading it.

Any fun weekend plans? I pretty much have the same old, same old weekend planned...working and babysitting.

Have a great weekend.

Ella Drake said...

Have you considered putting more info on the Beyond the Rain world on your website, in case readers want to learn how sentient trillide within the energy converters allows the ships to leap macrospace?

(no need to enter me in the contest, since I have Beyond the Rain!)

ilona said...

I like the sound of this book. Unusual characters and even more unusual storyline. Please tell me that you intend to continue writing stories like this.

Jess Granger said...

Well, for the weekend, I'm painting and decorating the bathrooms in our new house. So I guess that's officially work, but they're the last rooms we have to "settle in" so if I get that done, the house will really start to shape up.

And the sequel to this book comes out in May. It's called Beyond the Shadows, and it is seriously awesome. I can't wait for you guys to read it.

Also, currently on my website, I've got character profiles, and the intergalactic dictionary that explains some world building details such as "What is a squira, and who would want to monger one?"

Eventually I've got plans to do planet profiles, and put up a gallery of my costume design sketches. It just all takes time to write out, and I have to fit it in. But I'm working on it.

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Congrats, you've been nominated for the Kreativ Blogger Award! Visit to find out how to claim your prize :)


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