On Monday, I talked about the recently-released NA fantasy novel, Oak & Mistletoe. Today, I get to introduce you to the wonderful author, JZN McCauley! Below, she talks about writing, researching, and what she’s working on now. After reading, make sure you check out her book, which is now available!
Hi JZN! Let’s start at the beginning! When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing when I was a teen. It was mainly fan fiction, or silly stories I co-wrote with friends. I did it for fun. But even before that age I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to because I’ve always been a creative person, and since I loved reading I knew I wanted to be like the authors I loved and make books others could enjoy.
Are you a pantser or plotter?
Describe your typical writing day.
I write for a couple of hours in the morning, then attend to my family for the rest. Twice a week I get to write all day.
I read that you enjoy travel, and your upcoming release, Oak & Mistletoe, is set in Ireland. Have you traveled to Ireland? What have been some of your favorite destinations?
Yes, I have traveled to Ireland. I went for a summer over 5 years ago. It was a great experience. I stayed in a hostel like my main character experienced, but in my case in a room of 28 people or so. Haha, that was crazy. My favorite destinations would have to be Japan and Ireland. Highly recommend you visit both if you never have before!
How much research went into developing the world of Emerald Isle in Oak & Mistletoe?
Well, the research was mainly in the ancient druids from 2000 years ago. Not much is known of them, besides the ritual of oak and mistletoe. I love history, so it wasn’t daunting at all. There was a bit of research for smaller areas as the scenes were written. But it was mainly fact checking. One of my best friends is Irish and lives in Ireland, so I got a lot of help from them as well as researching books and online. Everything else came from my imagination.
The sequel, The Oathing Stone, is scheduled for release in October 2017. How many books are planned in the series?
Only these two. Oak & Mistletoe was originally going to be a standalone novel, but during editing last spring I thought of the sequel. My editor loved an idea I’m going to bring along into it. Catherine’s world will be finished with The Oathing Stone. I’m excited about it.
Tell me about your journey to publication.
Well, I’m a self-published author. I looked at all the options, including traditional publishing, and decided this was the best route for me right now. I wanted to get my stories out there. So I planned, and worked my butt off. I wanted to be serious with my writing from now on, so I did everything professionally. I found a fantastic cover artist, and a great editor who had years of experience with top publishing houses. I had a second pair of editor eyes proofread it, and after all that work the book was done. Everyone I’ve worked with, beta readers and all, have been extremely honest and supportive. All of which made everything an awesome experience.
You’re re-releasing your current novella, A Bell Sound Everlasting, as a full-length novel in 2017. Where did you draw your inspiration for Evelyn Bell’s story? Why did you decide to expand her tale?
A Bell Sound Everlasting, to be honest, was originally a strange and vague image in my head that came from a picture of a horse I saw one day. I had so much going on in my life in my early twenties that it took me a long time to figure out what the idea actually was and then publish it. Since then, the publishing world changed (as it does often) and I was researching and learning so much. I quickly realized I made some mistakes with it that I wanted to fix. It needed to be edited professionally, reformatted, and the cover changed. Plus, I was not satisfied with the publishing company I chose to first self-publish it through. (I learned through that experience that you really need to research that thoroughly.) Evey’s main story is set, I couldn’t expand it. But I thought of elaborating more of her other story. (You’ll have to read it for that to make sense to you, sorry. I don’t want to give out spoilers!) This way it will make the story deeper, and provide more details to show the reader the complete story without taking away the mystical feel.
What are you working on now?
Besides The Oathing Stone, I’m working on a YA Fantasy series. It’s set completely in a fantasy world, and I’m absolutely in love with it! I plan to release the first book late 2017 if all runs smoothly.
Who is your biggest supporter?
My husband! He’s great! I don’t know how he puts up with and champions over my artist madness.
Are there any websites or resources that have been helpful to you as a writer that you would recommend?
No, I wouldn’t say any one website. The writing community is a very helpful resource. I enjoy learning new things, the new changes, and meeting other authors/writers. It’s great to be a part of a community where everyone can succeed and lift each other up. It’s not necessary to compete, it’s actually really stupid to try when people do. It’s a friendly environment for the most part. I recommend talking with other authors on social media. Checking out their blogs, and books on the many writing subjects is helpful too.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m super busy with my family and life. When I get a spare moment otherwise I like to draw, read, or catch up on my favorite/re-watch TV shows.
Where can we find you on social media?
I’ve been super busy so I need to get back into the full swing of social media. But I check Facebook daily most of the time. Hope to talk to you soon! Thanks!
You can find all of my social media links together on my website: www.jznmccauley.com. Also, you can subscribe to my monthly book newsletter for news on releases, appearances, and giveaways at www.jznmccauley.com/subscribe
Oak & Mistletoe, by JZN McCauley
A Druid Curse, A Prophesied Love, A Consuming Vengeance…
Catherine Green, along with her twin sister and older brother, travels to Ireland on a college graduation trip. Her vacation takes a permanent turn when she lands her dream job at an art and history museum on her beloved Emerald Isle. She meets a handsome stranger named Bowen, an expert of sorts on local ancient studies. Though their first meetings are turbulent at best, Catherine finds herself drawn to him.
Unaware that she is the key to breaking a hidden curse, Catherine unleashes the evil madman Conall and his druid followers, imprisoned since ancient times. Tragedy and loss ensue, sprouting within Catherine the deep seeds of rage that thrust her onto the damaging path of vengeance. Confused by the enigma that is Bowen, his mixed signals, and her own feelings, she is swept away with him on an unexpected journey surrounded by myth and long-forgotten knowledge. In order to stop the evil plans of Conall and his reunified army, Catherine must entwine her fate with peril. Her survival is trivial to her as long as Conall dies. She’ll do whatever it takes.
J.Z.N. McCauley resides in lovely New England, where she loves wearing jackets and boots in the unpredictable weather there. She is a wife and mother who enjoys life to the fullest. Also, being a nerd across many genres is something she expresses openly.
McCauley spends most of her spare time writing, drawing, or reading. She loves archeology, mythology, history, music and many other forms of art as well. Always having a variety of interests and talents, she could never pick just one. When the chance pops up to travel to any of her favorite places, she takes way too many pictures. Otherwise, she is exploring a mystical land in a daydream. Which all provides fuel to her immense joy of writing.
She is the author of the novella A Bell Sound Everlasting as well as the fantasy novel Oak & Mistletoe. She is currently writing The Oathing Stone (Fall 2017), a sequel to Oak & Mistletoe.
Huge thanks to JZN McCauley, and congratulations on a wonderful book! If you could ask JZN anything, what would it be? Let me know in the comments below!