Hi there, bet you’re wondering why I’m using my initials M.J. instead of my full name. Honestly, I didn’t want to scare male readers away from considering my book but then, my publisher and I agreed that an image of the main characters eyes on the cover would add to the mystery of the book… and we all know that guys don’t like walking around with a book that might remotely hint at women or love… even if it’s not “women’s fiction” or “romance” – so I sort of shot myself in the foot there. But I don’t mind. All throughout high school my teachers and peers called me M.J. at my request. After semester one of grade 9 I realized that there were an awful lot of girls with the same name as me in my year. So it’s really not such a ridiculous moniker to be known by.
Actually, with science fiction being a mainly male enterprise I also didn’t want potential readers wondering if a new female author could stand up to ‘the big guys’ on her own two feet. Well, seeing as how these feet live in sneakers and not high heels, and I prefer playing sports to watching my man watch them on TV, the slight possibility of anonymity regarding gender made sense – even though my main character is a woman… but Taya’s more like Lara Croft than Leia Organa (even if Leia has her tough-girl moments).
If you can believe it, prior to writing Time’s Tempest I focused on fantasy and adventure/quest-based writing. The problem with an idea is that sometimes it takes you places you never expected to go. Since the basis for the book came from my husband (then boyfriend) being paranoid and more than a little depressed about Y2K (and he just happens to be an avid reader and watcher of sci-fi), it only made sense that the world I created to analyze this fear would manifest around that genre. Besides, I liked sci-fi flicks and shows… even if A Wrinkle in Time was the only book of its genre to grace my shelves prior to marrying this man of mine, it doesn’t mean I was ignorant of the genre.
But it did take time… a lot of time… to get it right. I was in college at the time I started my ‘vomit’ draft and I’d transferred to a university program after only one year, during which time I realized that the story wasn’t finished yet; studying to be a Drama and English teacher while taking several courses on creative writing and literature opened my eyes to that fact. So, I studied and learned and wrote and rewrote and added chapters until I didn’t think I could work on the book any more. If you can believe it, in the ten years that followed my post secondary education, I pulled the manuscript out several times, enlisted the help of beta readers and started attending writing conferences, workshops and groups – that’s when I learned about what publishers really wanted and Time’s Tempest underwent another dramatic change. After nearly a year of submitting to agents I decided to focus on small publishers for six months. Can you believe it was when I finally decided I’d self-publish that my last query to a publisher landed me a contract? Was it fate? Destiny? Or had I somehow learned the truth of the profession in order to gain this foothold?
Nah. I still think I just got lucky. I finally found a publisher open to considering science fiction – not an easy task. But speaking of fate, destiny, and truth these highly contentious elements became the glue to hold together that spark of an idea I got way back in 1999 – if you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the insanity around Y2K let me just say the world was pretty divided: there were people like me who trusted that the powers would not let an unforeseen date change take down the financial and digital infrastructure of the world; and there were people like my then boyfriend who were buying bottled water and safety supplies just in case all the computers in the world up and died leaving us in some kind of post apocalyptic nightmare… needless to say when the world might be coming to an end it interesting to see how people react – couple that with fate and destiny and suddenly who really knows what’s true anymore? How could I not write this story!
Plus, one of the best things about writing sci-fi is that I can intertwine my love of astronomy seamlessly into the fabric of the story. More than that, archery, my one year stint in college in the broadcasting journalism program, and my love of kicking butt found ready homes adding to the believability factor of the book – after all, if I’ve lived it why can’t my characters too?
While Time’s Tempest is my debut novel, did write a series of Lost Chapters as prequel shorts to entice potential readers into the world of Xannia and the motivations behind the two main characters, Taya and Dezmind. They’re still available for free download through Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.
I’d love for you to join me on this amazing journey. You can find me at the following locations: