Author Q&A with Gretchen S.B.

Jas Bond has sold everything from elfin wedding china to a life-size dwarven statue he doesn’t like to talk about…– #GreenGooGoblin #JasBondSeriesBook 1 by @GretchenS

Author Q&A with Gretchen S.B.

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

I have been writing and telling stories since I was very, very little. I didn’t think seriously about writing and publishing my stories until I was in college. But this was before the Kindle and all that, so I sent out query letters to agents and publishers and no one was interested in publishing my work. Then in 2013 a friend of mine, who published his book independently via Kindle publishing, told me about Kindle publishing and how easy it had been for him and after weeks and months of talking about this I finally published Lady of the Dead. 

What is something unique/quirky about you?

Something quirky about me, oh man, one of the funnier ones is that I volunteered in different positions, at haunted houses for about 10 or 11 years in my late teens and early 20s. I love working at haunted houses. I was the casting director for a while and it was so much fun. I love it so much! It was such a large part of my life for those years. The quirky bit, the really funny part, is that one of the haunted houses the group I worked with was, is actually where I met my husband. It took 2 or 3 years before we started dating. When we started dating we spent that whole season dating in secret, which looking back, was pretty entertaining. I was the casting director and he was the pirate captain for the ghostly pirate ship.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Halloween loving, world creating, kook

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself a writer around the time I was working on my fifth or sixth book. My first three books were across three different series and I had them mostly, if not all, written by the time I got around to publishing them. My fourth book I wrote from scratch and my fifth one I think had a few thousand words in it when I settled down to publish it. Once I published those two books I proved to myself that I wasn’t a one book wonder, could write across multiple genres: at that point I had paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and wholesome romance. I considered myself a writer because it wasn’t just books I already had finished that I was publishing. I was writing them expressly to publish them and I remember thinking that I wasn’t a writer when someone called me one and then one day after or during the fifth book that mentality changed. It was a really gradual process for me. 

Do you have a favorite movie?

Oh man, I switch between the Saint with Val Kilmer, Ghostbusters one and two, Brotherhood of the Wolf which is a French film that takes place in 1700s rural France, and Bride and Prejudice which is a Bollywood/British hybrid of Pride and Prejudice. Those are my tried-and-true favorite movies and they jockey for first place depending on what mood I’m in.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

I think it’s a tie between the Jas Bond series, I think Jas would make a really good TV show. As well as the Anthony Hollownton series, a homicide detective who gets an un-Orthodox introduction, via a murderer, into the supernatural world. I could definitely see Tony being made into movies but I would be super excited if any of my books got made into TV shows or movies

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was in early elementary school. We wrote stories and then drew pictures with them. My stories were moderately creative for that age. The older I got when I got writing assignments the more creative and outlandish they got. But when I was younger I wanted to be an actress so that was more my creative outlet in writing which meant that my storytelling was more just that, storytelling and not being written down. I didn’t start writing down my stories until I was a teenager and even then it was just bits and pieces I would occasionally work on but since I was writing by hand I was constantly losing them. Once I had my own laptop for college I was taking writing more seriously because I saw how many ideas I had that I just yearned to write down. Wanting to publish was a dream but at that point it wasn’t really available to me and then in October 2013 I published my first book and I have never looked back. 

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

My characters definitely come to me as I write them. Every once in a while a world will occur to me first and then I will backtrack and see what sort of characters could live in that world. But usually there is one character and I want to see how they react in a given situation. Sometimes there will be two. By the time I start world building and creating the story more characters will pop up as I’m writing. I usually don’t have a solid idea of the entire cast of characters until I’m at least partway into either the first book in the series or partway into that one single solitary book if it’s a standalone. 

The one exception is the clean romances where it’s just one set of main characters male and female. Those I tend to know from the get go even if I don’t have a more fleshed out idea of what they’re like. Secondary characters are more fleshed out, like with my Lantern Lake series which takes place in a small town. With a small town romance characters who might be the main character in one book will show up as reoccurring side characters in others. 

Do you see writing as a career?

I think writing is a perfectly possible career choice. But it is very hard to break into. I currently have a day job that pays all of my bills and writing is a, I don’t want to call it a side hustle, but it’s something very similar. If I could be a full-time writer and make that my career I would be over the moon. I just keep working at it and working at it and hopefully someday I will be able to reach that goal.

What do you think about the current publishing market?

I think the current publishing market is a fascinating place. When I started it was easier to get people to read your books. There weren’t as many books at the end of 2013 as there are now. There are now more than, I think last I saw, 10 million titles on Amazon which is insane and that’s just the e-books I believe. It’s become much harder to find readers and so you have to be savvy about your marketing, which I definitely am not. It’s a fascinating place to be and there are so many of us so there are more likely to be people that you can connect with however there are so many of us and the network is so vast you can’t always find them really easily. So overall it’s a really interesting place but it is definitely saturated and you just have to be more strategic then you did in even 2016 when it comes to how you place your book and how you market.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

I love to read, though now that I am working so hard on being an author I do not get to read as much as I want. Since covid started I do eat through audiobooks a lot faster. It used to be that I would just listen to them on my commute, my commute into work is about 70 minutes each way so I would listen to audiobooks or music to and from work on the bus. And that’s my main way of consuming literature. I read across the same genres that I write. There’s a lot of paranormal thrillers, urban fantasy, paranormal romances, some clean and wholesome romances. The one genre I would love to break into that I haven’t yet that I read his cozy mysteries. I love cozy mysteries especially paranormal cozy mysteries and my goal is to one day write in that genre as well.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

It varies for me. If I am actually writing like fingers to the keyboard I need music in the background to distract my mind, I guess is the best way to put it. It can’t have a lot of words so it can’t be an audiobook. It has to be music and nothing that’s incredibly catchy so that I want to sing along because than I get distracted and I’m not writing. If I’m dictating it’s harder to have music going because sometimes the mic will pick up the lyrics from the song or get confused and then that gets into the dictation which can be funny but also a little frustrating. So if I’m dictating it tends to be in silence if I’m writing I will have music going and I tend to have that music match the genre that I’m writing. I’ll listen to darker music or something like death metal if I’m writing more of the urban fantasies. If I’m writing the clean romances it’s more upbeat music usually from the mid to late 90s and 2000s so I’ve definitely built myself environmental niches depending on what I’m working on.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

I do not write one book at a time. I’m getting better about it but distraction is a big thing for me. I struggle to write one series at a time so writing Jas Bond has been an interesting development for me because I have gotten through 3 ½ books and I mainly concentrating on that series. It’s been interesting to be just focused on one series as normally I will be world building in one book, writing another, and editing in a third. I don’t consistently stay in one world which is probably bad but I’m hoping to pick up better habits as I go. 

Advice they would give new authors?

Go at your own pace. Writers do this whole thing drastically different from person to person. If people tell you how they world build or how they write, try it, see if it works for you. If it doesn’t don’t get discouraged or feel embarrassed. We are all different in how we do this. Stevie and I talk about this on our podcast Exceptionally Average Authors Explain it All. Almost every step of writing is done differently and it’s all about finding what works best for you. If you need to be in a crowded café to write the pandemic probably isn’t the best time for you but you know that’s how you have to do it. If you have to be at home in a specific chair with specific lighting and specific candles burning than do it. If you have to edit as you go or you have to plot ahead of time or you have to write on the fly. Don’t be afraid to try new methods but definitely don’t get frustrated if other people’s methods don’t work for you. Also work on sustainability for you. If you’re going to write just one book awesome good for you but if you’re planning to write a bunch find a plan that is sustainable for you. Don’t try to rapid release if it takes you longer to write. Either wait until you have finished writing all of it or maybe piece your releases out farther apart so that you’re not stressing yourself in writing too fast. Find what works best for you and do it. That’s the best advice I can give is due this crazy thing in a way that works for you.

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? 

I used to be strictly a fly by the seat of my pants kind of writer. It wasn’t until I was maybe a dozen books in that I started to incorporate outlining in a meaningful way. I don’t outline in the traditional sense. I might know the major plot points or beats to the story and I pants my way to each plot point. What I tend to do is just start the story until I hit a point where I’m not sure what comes next and then I will do a paragraph outline about what the next steps are the character needs to take or what steps are further down the road. Which gives me a better idea on how to get there. So I still pants the beginning of books but once I’ve started them and have a feel for them I then do an outline of sorts for the rest of the book so I guess I’m a combination writer.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Ideas, I get ideas in my sleep, I get ideas from reading stories, watching TV, or just from doing something in my day-to-day life. When I get a new idea if it’s even somewhat sound I want to write it down and I want to work on it and I want to flesh it out and I struggle with being that easily distracted and producing the books I need to do. You can see this pretty evidently from the fact that only one of the four series I have been working on is complete. My Night World Series has 20 some odd books planned but only five are out. Because I don’t work on the stories back to back and skip all over the place because I get a new idea that I want to work on I don’t release things as fast or as consistently as I should and that is definitely my kryptonite. I get really excited about new ideas and that I want to play with them.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Finish one series before publishing. Or at least write consistently in one series before publishing a new one. I published the first book in my Night World Series first, then the first in my Berman’s Wolves series, then the first book in my Hollownton series before going back and doing book 2 in the Night World Series. I thought at the time that it would be great because I was writing across several fantasy subgenres but in actuality, I was confusing my audience because they wanted the next book in that series and then had to wait years. And then once I had started doing that I felt I had to continue writing one book in each series at a time which meant that there were 2 to 3 years between books and I would definitely tell younger me to knock that off and just work on one at a time.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It depends on the length and how busy I am at my day job. I finished my book Lady of the Dead in seven months, the first Jas Bond book, which is much shorter, took me nine days. Then there’s my second Berman’s Wolves book, which took me almost a year and ½ to complete. It varies on how long it is and my interest on what I feel like writing. Because once you started a series you have to finish it in my opinion and when you want to write something else it makes it harder to maintain what you should be working on. So it definitely takes me a while to finish my books because I get so easily distracted and because I have a day job with a long commute so I can’t spend as much time writing as I would like. 

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Oh heck yes! Writer’s block was not a big deal for me until I hit my second Berman’s wolves book. By the time I got around to writing the second book I had kind of lost the thread on the series. When I originally wrote the first one I didn’t know how many books it was or where it was going. By the time I got to the second one I was struggling with what I had originally wanted the series to be. It was also hard to write in that world coming back so many years after writing the first one. I’d written the first one in 2007 and I think I wrote the second one in 2015. So there was a very large gap and it was very difficult to come back to that and to figure out where the book was going. Writer’s block hit me really hard for the first time with that story which is why it took me about a year and ½ to finish it. 

Jas Bond is the owner of magical items shop called Find ‘n’ Fix.  He comes from a family of witches, but he has no magic of his own, though he can see through the glamours other magical beings use to fit in with the human world. I imagine that comes in handy on occasion. He gets pulled into a murder investigation when a goblin dies in his store and he becomes a suspect.

This story, though way too condensed for my own tastes, does a good job of introducing the series and what will probably be recurring characters. Though this was a quick read it was quite enjoyable. It will be interesting to see a fantasy series helmed by a non magical character dealing with the innate elitist attitudes of magicals.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I received an advance review copy for free through Silver Dagger Book Tours, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Green Goo Goblin
Jas Bond Book 1
by Gretchen S.B.
Genre: Urban Fantasy

My life is one giant cycle of group deniability…As a magic-less son of a witch owning a store full magical objects isn’t easy. But with my unhelpful rottweiler Bailey and a handful of supernatural staff, we’ve sold everything from elfin wedding china to a life-size dwarven statue we don’t like to talk about. Everything is going smoothly until a goblin customer starts coughing up a disgusting green goo. Little did I know as I watch that liquid spew from his mouth that his presence and that goo was going to send my life into a tailspin, leaving me in the crosshairs of a murder.

Check out the goblin and the goo he produces in Green Goo Goblin.
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Green Goo Goblin Excerpts

The goblin nods and grunts once before pivoting and getting two steps toward the door. He begins hacking and coughing.

I take a large step back, toward where Bailey lies against the wall.

The hacking becomes so severe even Bailey stands up and trots around the opening in the counter so she can stare at the goblin. She gives three quick barks which sets my adrenaline on fire.

“Sir, are you okay?” I ask cautiously but I know I can’t help him.

One of the many reasons I adopted Bailey is she can sense active magic. If someone does a spell in her vicinity, she knows about it. If she gives those three quick barks, it means whatever is being done to the goblin is magic and not allergies.

The goblin doubles over, hacking harder. Soon, a thick green foam spews from his mouth with the force of each cough.

“Dammit,” I mutter as I grab the walkie-talkie from under the counter and click it on. “Sven, I really need you out here. Something’s wrong with a customer.”

The line crackles. “I don’t want to be involved,” answers Sven’s absurdly deep brogue over the walkie-talkie.

“Sven, seriously,” I hiss into the walkie-talkie.

There is a huff. “Fine.”

“Sir, are you okay? I’m calling the paramedics. Our type of paramedics,” I qualify so he knows I am not calling human EMTs. Because who-knows-what would hit the fan if that happens.

I throw down the walkie-talkie and wrench my cell phone out of my back pocket before hitting the supernatural hotline I have on speed dial in my phone.

“Supernatural helpline, what is your emergency?”

“This is Jas Bond at the Fix ‘n’ Find. I have a goblin here coughing so hard that instead of coughing up a lung, it’s a foamy green liquid. I don’t know enough about goblin anatomy to know how bad that is.” I try to keep my voice calm, but unease and panic are setting in. And I hope whatever it is isn’t contagious.

“Thank you for that information, sir. I am dispatching two emergency personnel now. They should be there within the next fifteen minutes. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

I hate calling the supernatural hotline; for whatever reason supernatural beings live so long the idea of emergencies doesn’t seem to register with them.

“Not unless you can help this guy through the phone,” I respond frustratedly.

“All right then, have a good day,” she answers chipperly before hanging up.

Disgusted, I put my phone down on the counter and begin rummaging through one of the top drawers behind the desk. I have a collection of health pendants somewhere in one of the drawers. My ex-fiancée gave me a handful of them before we broke up.

“Aha!” I exclaim as my hand clasps around one of the ruby red and gold pendants. I slam the door shut and run around the counter, catching myself before I trip over Bailey who decides to move between my legs mid-step.

“Take this.” The man has now coughed up so much bubbling green foam it can fill the small trashcan I keep behind the counter.

The man seems too distracted to hear me, so I reach across the puddle and pry open his free hand, ignoring the scratch I get across my palm from his overly sharp nails and smash the pendant into his hand, re-curling his fingers around it. I watch as the amulet glows bright, getting brighter the longer he holds it.

“Well, this can’t be good,” Sven comments from where he now stands next to me.

I didn’t hear him coming from across the shop, so I jump when he speaks.

After several seconds, the goblin’s coughing slows and the liquid stops coming out of his mouth, for which I am extremely grateful for, because now that I am standing here, the smell is getting to me. It is something between wet dog and microwaved fish.

“Do you know what would do that?” I murmur to Sven.

Sven shakes his head as he strokes his long beard, making the two beads hanging in it clack when they hit each other. “No. But my knowledge of magic isn’t great. At least not this type of magic.”

We both stare at the goblin as his coughing slowly turns more toward wheezing. I look away from him long enough to glance at Bailey, still standing, peering around the counter. The expression on her face and the fact her hackles are still up concerns me. Normally once magic subsides, she goes back about her business. The fact she is still watching sets off warning bells in my head. Not to mention the smell is getting stronger and I have no idea what the best way to clean whatever it is up. I don’t even want to think about how long it is going to take to clear the smell from the shop.

2

Letting a couple of magic dowsers in here to comb through things and prove you don’t have anything that can make a goblin sick could go a long way.”

Anger and frustration flash through me. Even in my mid-thirties, my temper still flashes when the supernatural world looks down on me simply because I was born without magic. Knowing Blake is not to blame for this prejudicial thinking, I divert my frustration. “Are you kidding me? Dousers leave the biggest mess out of the entire supernatural police department. They go through everything and get their grubby hands everywhere. Last time they checked anything of mine, I spent weeks trying to find everything, let alone clean everything they touched. And that’s not counting the half a dozen items that went missing because they have doubts or because you-know-who is a sticky-fingered dwarf, we all know he has a theft problem.” My voice begins growing louder.

“Yeah, but he is the best at his job.”

I glower at Blake, quickly thinking through the possible scenarios here. 

I let the dowsers into the shop to rummage around and clear me as the prime suspect in a goblin murder or I deal with higher-ups in the supernatural police department who are hellbent on pinning this on me simply because as a male child of a witch I must have a large chip on my shoulder and therefore want to murder supernatural beings.

Sighing heavily, I pull out the walkie-talkie and click the button a few times to get Sven’s attention. “Sven, got some bad news. I’m being accused of killing that goblin earlier and now some of the magical dowsers have to come to check out the store.”

There is crackling over the line as Sven let out some very explicit and physically impossible Dwarfen curses. “If they don’t keep their hands away from the stuff in my office, I am going to rip Red Beard’s fingers, one by one, from his palms.”

Looking up from the walkie-talkie I make eye contact with Blake and give him a fake smile. “Well, I think that’s the all-clear to let the dowsers in.”

Blake looks at me warily, and a little relieved. “Do you need me here to help protect Red Beard from Sven?”

“I mean, only if you care about dwarf-on-dwarf violence,” I say with a shrug.

“I’ll call it in and get them out here. But I’m getting you a containment crew first, because that crap freaking smells to high heaven.” Blake pivots and walks straight out of the store.

“Red Beard’s not allowed in here unless I’m watching him like a hawk.”

I jump, startled by the sound of Sven’s voice right behind me. The man needs a bell. He is incredibly stout and appears to the world, thanks to his glamour, like a short, plump, heavily wrinkled man in his seventies

The rest of the time he has long, white-gray hair and a matching pointed beard, a large wart above the right corner of his mouth and only about half as many wrinkles as his human-looking counterpart does. He is also stouter and healthier looking than the glamour would let people believe.

“I’ll be here too, as will Blake.” I try to sound nonchalant as if he didn’t just scare me out of my wits.

Sven starts muttering something under his breath about no one being able to watch a dwarf as well as a dwarf as he turns around and heads back toward his office.

“This is shaping up to be a fun afternoon,” I complain to no one in particular.

Gretchen spawned in the Puget Sound region. After some wandering she returned there and now lives with her husband and the daintiest Rottweiler on the planet. When not drowning herself in coffee, as is custom in the Greater Seattle Area, Gretchen can be found at her day job or sitting at her desk in the home office, flailing her arms as she dictates to her computer.
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