It’s my pleasure to share an interview with J.R. Tomlin conducted via email earlier this month. Author interviews are always interesting because you never know what they have to say about their work or their work style. Here’s my review in case you want to know more about A Warrior’s Duty before reading the interview. You can visit Ms. Tomlin online at http://jeannetomlin.blogspot.com/.
Amber: Do you have any writing practices or rituals?
J.R. Tomlin: Not really. I spend two hours a day writing new material and aim for at least 2000 words a day, but can’t say I’m always successful at the word goal. For me, it’s just, as they say, BIC at the keyboard.
Amber: I understand you’ve written short stories in addition to your novel, A Warrior’s Duty. Did you change your writing practices for novel writing and editing?
J.R. Tomlin: I don’t feel that I’m very good at short story writing although I’ve had four published. I mainly concentrate on novels. The practices are the same, but all my short stories tend to get the same reaction from readers: That’s nice as the first chapter of a novel! *sigh*
Amber: What was the inspiration for A Warrior’s Duty?
J.R. Tomlin: I have wondered about that. Maybe it’s that as a country we’ve spent so much of my life at war. We tend to not think about the costs and I often question when war is justified and when we really do have a “warrior’s duty”. But it wasn’t anything straightforward either since I tend to start my stories with a character. The first time I met Tamra was when she was in bed with Jessup–what was at one time chapter one. It soon became obvious that they had a story I wanted to tell.
Amber: Several characters journey on horseback to get from one destination to another. Did you have a sketch or a geographical map as reference when writing those scenes?
J.R. Tomlin: Yes, I did map the world. It’s hard for me to keep things right if I don’t do that. I don’t make as detailed maps as some writers, but distances and time of travel is important.
Amber: Did you have a playlist or listen to specific music when writing Warrior’s Duty?
J.R. Tomlin: I almost always listen to music when I write. It helps keep me in my “writing mode”. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics though. I listen to the LotR soundtrack and the Soundtrack to Last of the Mohicans among others.
Amber: Tamra, the warrior referenced in the title, is a pragmatic lady. Why do you think she lets herself fall in love?
J.R. Tomlin: Interesting. I never thought of her as pragmatic. She experiences a lot of emotion in the terrific losses she goes through. But I suppose she is in that she tackles what she has to do. I’m not sure “letting herself” was quiet how she thought of it. She always knew that she shouldn’t love Jessup–he is such a classic bad boy in many ways. I had several beta readers who suggested (rather strongly) that he should be killed.
Amber: Was there one character you identified with the most?
J.R. Tomlin: Oddly enough, I don’t think I identify very much with my characters. I can frequently feel their emotions when I’m writing from their PoV but they aren’t “me”. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt I wrote a character that was based on me.
Amber: Your battle scenes are detailed but still easy to follow. Do you have any experience with swordplay or archery?
J.R. Tomlin: Thank you. That pleases me more than I can say to hear.
I’ve done both, as a matter of fact. I strongly advocate at least trying out any weapon you write about using. So many people get it totally wrong–the concept that swords are very heavy is one that annoys me as a reader. Swords are not particularly heavy –although they feel it after you swing if for a few minutes. But the typical long sword only weights about 3 pounds!
Amber: When you’re not writing what do you enjoy most?
J.R. Tomlin: I’m an omnivorous reader, not surprisingly. I think that’s typical of writers. I hike also and do horseback riding when I can which isn’t as much as I’d like since I no longer own a horse.
Amber: Are you working on any new projects?
J.R. Tomlin: Well I co-authored a novel (Talon of the Raptor Clan from E-press Online) with C. R. Daems that is out and he and I have a novel which will be published by Double Dragon Press later this year. I also have another solo novel that is being “pitched” by my agent in a different genre. Meantime I’m working on two new novels. Well, three if you include the one that is finished but needs to be edited. ~chuckle~
I try to stay busy.
Amber: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
J.R. Tomlin: I just hope people enjoy my work. For writers out there, I recommend reading and abiding by Heinlein’s rules. It’s a tough market but worth the struggle.
Pleasurable reading to everyone.