Already we are mid month, which means… it’s time for another Q&A session. Today we are joined by the fabulous J.C. Keough. Like many of the authors I have had the pleasure of interviewing, I first came across her through World Indie Warriors. After reading the blurbs of Keough’s novels and delving into the themes of the series, I have to say that I’m excited to add them to my enormous (Please don’t judge me, it could have been shoes.) tbr pile.
J.C. Keough grew up and attended university in small Texas towns. She lived and worked for twenty-five years in Dallas, Texas. In 2016, she and her husband Paul moved lock, stock, and dogs to Kenmare, Ireland. Since the move, Jamie has been creating the urban fantasy mystery series, The Laramie Harper Chronicles, set in Dallas, Texas.
The first two books in the series, Dying in Dallas and The Blood Will Tell, hit the shelves in 2020, and the third book in the series is coming out in October 2021. Jamie writes about Texas, vampires, wine, dogs, and murder. Sometimes voodoo, beer, and werewolves make the cut.
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When I started writing my first novel, I intended to go the traditional publishing route. But I didn’t know where to start. While I was researching the submission process, I kept coming across interviews with traditional authors who had gone indie. Reading their reasons—more control over both their creative content and their business practices—I thought that indie sounded like the better model for me. Sink or swim, I like to be in control. But what about marketing?
It all sounded like so much work, and wouldn’t it be better to have a publisher do it all? Then I read a book by a popular, best-selling, traditional author and she dedicated a chapter to marketing and events. The author pays a full-time employee to do her marketing, run her website, and schedule in person events for her. Not her publisher, her. That clinched it for me.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Travel is my first love—okay, third behind my husband and our fur babies—so I do that as often as possible. I love being outside, and that usually translates into walking or hiking. If I can combine a trip with hiking or another outdoor sport, even better. And reading—anything, anywhere, anytime.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Having this whole other world in my head, filled with friends, enemies, adventures, and mysteries, that I can visit whenever I have a few moments.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process?
Writing process? What is that?
Seriously, it changes week to week. Currently, I try to write for a few hours in the morning and again for at least an hour in the late afternoon. I write at a desk using a MacBook Pro on a stand with a Bluetooth keyboard. The stand and keyboard are new. My shoulders were killing me from hunching over the laptop. I write in Scrivener and am trying to get my head around Plottr. I follow (mostly) the Save the Cat writing method for outlining my book, and then I just write.
How do you get inspired to write?
I mostly have to set aside a time and make myself sit down to write. The belief that because I had to force myself to write meant that I wasn’t a “real” writer, kept me from writing for years. I figured if I didn’t just write and write and write in my spare time, then it must not be my passion.
Finally, I read a book that used an example of how a writer had to set aside time to write each day to get more done. And the lightbulb came on that there wasn’t anything wrong with me, writer wise, that many people need the extra push to move the ideas from their heads onto paper.
However, if I’m struggling with a story, a walk on a sunny day usually helps me untangle whatever knot I’ve hit.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Write. Not someday, now. If you have a writing group in your area, join it. I wasted so many years thinking ‘someday’. I believe if I’d been in a writing group, it would have pushed me to write more, instead of just thinking about writing.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Let me start by saying that I don’t have five favourite books. There are so many books I’ve read over the years, I really can’t just pick five. So, I’ve listed a mixture of five books and series that made lasting impressions on me.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare – This was a book that I read when I was young, and despite there not actually being a witch in it, I reread it every few years. I love that it shows just because someone is different or believes differently from you; they are just that, different, but still worthy of love and caring.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier- I know that this is another old one, but the first time I read it, I was hooked. The way the protagonist jumped to conclusions about her husband, the way he let her, the evil she that surrounded her, and the mystery of it all mesmerized me. This is another one I reread every few years, and it never gets old.
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King – I saw the 1970’s television production of this when I was quite young. It was my first brush with vampires and began my lifelong fascination with them. I read the book as soon as I was old enough to check it out of the library, and it was so much better than the movie.
The Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters – This historical mystery series begins in the late 1800’s and follows Amelia Peabody. Amelia is a no-nonsense English woman who wants to be an archeologist and isn’t too concerned with following the traditions of her times. The books follow Amelia and the family she builds with archeologist Emerson Peabody for thirty-nine years, nearly as many murders, and many digging seasons in Egypt. I love books that are entertaining while teaching me about history at the same time.
Almost anything by Nora Roberts – I love how she weaves fantasy with reality, sets budding love and relationships in the middle of quests and danger, the snappy dialogue, and her unique turn of phrases that are threaded through all of her books.
How do you discover the books you read?
Before I started writing, it was mainly recommendations from friends and whatever caught my eye at the library. I’ve never been a genre specific reader and mainly read whatever crosses my path. Since I’ve started writing, I’ve added into the mix what my fellow author friends have written, and research for my own books.
What books are on your reading list this year?
I started The Lies of Locke Lamora several weeks ago and didn’t finish it before it had to go back to the library. I’m on the waitlist to recheck it out. I’m currently working my way through both of M.C. Beaton’s series, Agatha Raisin and Hamish McBeth. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series—somehow I have read none of the books, and I need to rectify that situation.
Dying in Dallas – The Laramie Harper Chronicles
Viciously attacked. Framed for murder. Turning thirty.
Laramie Harper is having a horrible weekend. Strangers viciously attack her, she finds a dead body, and the police arrest her for murder. The worst thing, though? She is turning thirty.
When young widow Laramie takes a break from renovating her Victorian home to celebrate her birthday, she just wants to live a little. But when she becomes an unwitting pawn in the hunt for a centuries-old relic, she gets more action than she bargained for.
After a rough night out, Laramie returns home with a killer hangover and vague memories of being attacked, only to find a dead community activist stuffed into her dumbwaiter. As if that isn’t bad enough, the police believe she is the murderer.
Her dead husband’s best friend, Van, vows to help her. When he tells her that her attackers were werewolves and a vampire saved her life, Laramie’s sure one of them has gone around the bend. But her dog, Bodacious, fears her, and she can’t deny the changes happening in her body, or her craving for blood.
With only seventy-two hours before The Change is complete, Laramie must prove her innocence and find the vampire who turned her so the process can be reversed. She wants to trust Van, but he comes from a long line of vampire hunters, and he seems to know a lot more about what’s going on than he is willing to share. Is he there to help her, or to put a stake in her heart if she can’t stop The Change?
Dying in Dallas is the first book in the Laramie Harper Chronicles. If you like vampires, voodoo, dogs, and wine, then you will love J.C. Keough’s debut novel.
What inspired you to write Dying in Dallas?
There were so many points of inspiration for Dying in Dallas. I see many writers start with asking themselves, “what if?” I always think “how cool would it be if x?”. I like wine and dogs, and I thought how cool it would be if there was a dog-friendly wine bar and wouldn’t it be the perfect setting for a murder mystery series?
I’d outlined the first part of the novel when I visited a museum in Ireland with a small display on famous female pirates. I thought how cool would it be if one of the pirates was a vampire, she survived for centuries, and is living in the modern world? That was the final catalyst I needed to sit down and start writing the first book in The Laramie Harper Chronicles.
Is there going to be a follow up to Dying in Dallas?
Dying in Dallas was the first book in The Laramie Harper Chronicles. The second offering, a novella, is The Blood Will Tell and is set completely in The Whine Barrel, Laramie Harper’s wine bar, on Halloween. The next book in the series will be another murder mystery and the action is divided between Dallas, Texas and several locations in Ireland. It should be out in late 2021 or early 2022.