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Monday, February 7, 2011

Interview with Jana Oliver and Swag Giveaway!!

Today we have a very special guest. Her name is Jana Oliver and she is the author of The Demon Trapper's Daughter.

Welcome Ms. Oliver and thank you for answering my interview questions.

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’d written stories off and on since I was a child, but the “I *have* to write” switch got permanently flipped to “On” in 1998. I woke up one morning and started on a story. And kept going from there. Why it happened I have no clue, but it doesn’t seem to be abating so I might as well keep creating those stories.

2. How long does it take you to write a book?

It used to be over a year, then I trimmed it to nine months. Now I’m running on about a seven month turnaround which is as fast as I can do them. When I start a story I have a rough idea where it’s going and I know the first and last scenes. Everything in the middle is a field of chirping crickets. That’s why it takes me longer than some authors who know the complete story before they write the first word.

3. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I don’t always write linearly, scene by scene, from beginning to end. If I get stuck I’ll pop ahead and write a scene that I can see clearly. If I do that a lot it gets tricky weaving all those scenes together when I finish the first draft. I call it patchwork writing (sort of like a patchwork quilt) and it's certainly not recommended for beginning writers. For me, as long as I’m getting something down on paper (or in my case on the computer) I’m happy. I have fellow authors who wince when I say I do this kind of hopscotching. Not everybody can handle that. Fortunately, not every book requires this technique.

4. What do you think makes a good story?

Now there’s a good question. What one reader might think would make a good story, another wouldn’t care about at all. That’s why a story can be called “Awesome, Breathtaking, One of a Kind” and “A Total Waste of Dead Trees” even though it is exactly same book.

From my perspective two elements make a good story: compelling characters and a dynamite plot. You can have either one and the book will work. If you can put both of those elements together you have an unforgettable book. Stephen King often talks about having the reader to fall through the whole in the paper. That's the goal: allow the reader to immerse themselves in your world, have them feel they’re walking beside your character (or feel they are one of your characters) as the story plays out. I know when I’ve read a great book I keep thinking about those characters, wondering what happens to them after the last page. That’s a sign of great storytelling.

5. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
My characters will withhold secrets from me until exactly the right moment. I think I know them pretty well (I created them after all) but then BAM they’ll drop something on me out of the blue. There’s a couple revelations down the line in the Demon Trappers Series I didn’t know about until I wrote the words on the page. I blinked and said, “Are you sure about that?” and the character gave me a thumbs up. So it must be true. 

6. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I read a lot. I’m a very fast reader and I cheat most of the time by going to the end of the book and finding out how it ends. Then I watch how the author builds the story all the way through. It is very hard for me to turn off the editor portion of my brain so when I find an author who pulls me into a story so completely that I'm not grousing about how they constructed a sentence, I know I've got a winner.

7. What does your family think of your writing?
My husband is extremely supportive and often helps me noodle out plots and book titles. He has the “real job” in the family and a steady paycheck which has allowed me to pursue my writing dreams. I owe that man a lot of hugs.

8. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I try to make my messages subtle because nothing annoys me more than an author with an agenda. I want my readers to walk away from my books thinking "What would I have done in that situation? Would I have done this or that? Would that decision have been right?”

In previous books I’ve touched on poverty, homelessness and abuse of authority. In the new series I’m looking at religion, our concept of Heaven and Hell and the individual choices that have a ripple effect through our lives and our society. I really enjoy examining the unintended consequences of our everyday behavior.

9. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The first draft stage is pretty gnarly. Since I’m not a scene by scene plotter this draft is a really untidy mess. It’s all jumbled up, scenes are out of order, things change midway through. It’s a dog’s breakfast (as the British would say). The first rewrite cleans a lot of that up. But that first one is painful because I’m never sure if the story is going to work, which is why I’m pretty grumpy when I’m in First Draft mode.

10. Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Events from my own life have crept into my novels, but always altered to make them more interesting. Often my characters will reflect little parts of me. Riley Blackthorne (my heroine) just won’t back down when she’s faced with a challenge. Where that sounds admirable, I’ve learned that isn’t always a good trait to have. I’ve created characters based on people I know, taking some of their characteristics and incorporating them. I try not to copy people wholesale as the character doesn’t come across right. I think of myself as a mad scientist, combining bits of this person with that and giving “birth” to an entirely new creature.

Random Questions:

1. Tell us 5 weird things about yourself.

My spices are alphabetized.

I don’t like tunnels that go underwater.

I don’t like elevators.

I have “adopted” sea turtles and ferrets

My legal name has changed four times.

2. If you were a crayon what color would you be?

Black. It hides the stains.

3. What are you listening to right now?

Runrig’s An Toll Dubh, but I’m a musical omnivore. It could easily have been Alter Bridge or Peter Bradley Adams.

4. What was the last movie you watched?

In a movie theater: AVATAR. On Netflix: THE FIFTH ELEMENT

5. Hugs or Kisses?


6. Chocolate or Vanilla?

Chocolate. Any other answer would be heresy.

7. Night or Day?


8. Right-handed or Left-handed?


9. How many pillows do you sleep with?


10. What is the last book you read?

Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead (part of her Vampire Academy Series)

Thanks again Ms. Oliver for being here today! Now for a giveaway. Ms. Oliver was so kind in sending me some Demon Trapper Swag to giveaway. 

I'm giving away 4 swag packs!

Enter HERE!

It is INTERNATIONAL! Ends Friday Feb 12th!

Good Luck!


  1. Loved this interview! It's so interesting that she writes in a patchwork style, I would thoroughly confuse myself if I things weren't in order, it's probably a good thing I'm not a writer. And chocolate is always the right answer, I completely agree any other answer would be unfathomable!

  2. Thank you so much for this interview ! I really can't wait to read Jana Oliver's book !! A big thank you for this awesome giveaway and especially for making it international : since I'm French it's really great !!

  3. LOL! I'm a "kisses" person, but I don't judge huggers.

    Super fun interview. I loved the random questions. Thanks so much for the cool giveaway.

  4. Savy!!!! This is one of the best interviews I've read in a while! She reads like I do :) I don't ming knowing the ending if the middle is rocking my socks off. Thanks for the great giveaway, too!

  5. What a great hubby! I read like that too, I try not to sneak to the ending but its hard not too but that doesn't stop me from continuing the book

  6. Thanks for the interview (and the giveaway ^^) It's really interesting!
    I so much wish I'm a fast reader too... Well, my TBR-pile keeps telling me to hurry up lol
    I LOVE the answer about Chocolate vs Vanilla =D

  7. Thanks for having me come by, Savy. You ask fun questions.

  8. Really fun and interesting interview!
    And thanks for having this contest open internationally!

  9. So cool that Jana loves the music of Peter Bradley Adams! I work with Peter and he loves his fans. In fact, he gives them free songs too without any expectation in return. Found at

  10. @Mishara - I found out about Peter's music quite by accident. I'm listening to "Better Way" as I write the third book. It SO sums up what's happened between the heroine and Beck during Books 1 & 2.


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