July 12, 2014

The Mirror Stage and an interview with J.J. Stone

Fans of thrillers and suspense novels, I'm pleased to announce the release of The Mirror Stage, the debut novel of author J.J. Stone (no relation, but what a cool name!) and the first book in The Imago Trilogy! J.J. has also graciously agreed to participate in an interview that you can find below.

Ada Brandt wants everyone to think she’s normal. A writing professor at a local Seattle college, she personifies the saying “those who can’t, teach” after a few failed attempts at becoming an author led her to the classroom. She owns a chic little house, drives a sporty car, and comes home to her dog after a long day at work. You’d never know she’s the daughter of one of Seattle’s most infamous serial killers — a fact Ada has labored her whole life to bury.

Then the FBI’s BAU team arrives to investigate a recent murder spree and Ada is strong-armed by the BAU’s bull-headed lead agent James Deacon into helping with the investigation. As Ada and the BAU dive deeper into the case, two things become glaringly apparent: this is not a typical murder case, and catching their suspect is only the beginning of an investigation that will alter the lives of everyone involved.

You can buy The Mirror Stage at:

Interview with J.J. Stone

1) How long have you been writing and how did you get started?
I wrote my first “story” when I was around 11. I was a huge Star Wars geek, so I think it was some form of fan fiction. I just remember having this story replay over and over in my head, and I finally got so fed up with it that I decided to type it out. And then realized that writing something was not as daunting a task as I had imagined!

2) Who were your favorite authors when you were growing up?
Like I said, I was a Star Wars person, so I loved Timothy Zahn and Troy Denning. I also loved to read Mary Higgins Clark and John Grisham. My reading preferences have always been a little all over the place, but I like to think of it as “broadening my palette.”

3) In twenty words or less, what is The Mirror Stage about?
Oh man, twenty words is not a lot! I’ll try, though. “A serial killer’s daughter teams up with the FBI on a case that is not at all what it seems.”

4) How did you come up with the idea for The Mirror Stage and The Imago Trilogy?
I got my MFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. Given the school’s entertainment industry focus, the thesis project for the program was a full-blown script and corresponding pieces, depending on what format you chose. I went with the One-Hour TV Script, which is the category shows like Criminal Minds and The Following fall under. We were encouraged again and again to write something that we ourselves would want to watch, which for me is a crime show. I don’t think I’ve ever met a crime procedural that I didn’t get hooked on. (My recent obsession was True Detective. Amazing show!) So I got to work coming up with my list of 10 loglines for potential scripts. The idea behind The Mirror Stage, which was called Analysis at that time, was the fourth or fifth logline that I wrote. Once those words were on the page in front of me, I was hooked. I don’t even remember what the other nine options were. I just knew that Ada Brandt was where I was headed. When I graduated and realized that my time with Ada and James and everyone was done, I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I couldn’t leave them like that. So I decided it was time to do what I had always wanted to do but never knew how: write a book. I took my thesis script and changed it into The Mirror Stage. When I got to the end of The Mirror Stage, I looked back through my thesis portfolio and reviewed the show bible I had created. I had 13 episodes that I had planned out. So I decided then and there to condense those 13 episodes into another two books so that I could tell the whole story, not just the first act. And that’s where The Imago Trilogy came from.

5) The Mirror Stage is your first published book. How do you feel now that it's released? Is it what you expected?
I feel like it’s not real, and I don’t mean that in a cutesy way. I mean I still can’t believe that something that has only existed in my head and my hard drive is now in the hands of other people. My mother-in-law texted me after she finished reading The Mirror Stage, and we talked about what aspects of the story she liked. And she started naming the characters and discussing details about them and their interactions with each other, and it was just the oddest but coolest thing ever. All I could think was, “I’m talking about Dade and Brenda with someone?! This is crazy!” I hope that more and more people discover The Mirror Stage and decide to stick around for the rest of the trilogy. I’m brand-new at this, so word about the novel hasn’t really gotten out there yet. It’s all about word of mouth for me, at this point!

6) What is your writing process like? Are you a planner or a pantser?
When I changed The Mirror Stage over to novel format, I had a completed script and a ton of supporting documents to guide me through the story. So I made a really rough outline, but I knew that story after spending a year and a half with it, so I didn’t really need anything solid. With Book 2 of The Imago Trilogy, I was starting with nothing. So I created a chapter-by-chapter outline. I hated it when I was making it, but my goodness do I love it now. It has really helped keep me focused and organized, and I feel like my editing process will go a lot smoother because I didn’t just write whatever popped into my head. Granted, the outline still gave me some creative liberty in regards to the content of the chapter, but the general subject of the chapter was something that I made sure to dictate. I have to give my imagination direction!

7) What do you like most about being an author? What do you like least?
I love telling a story. I love creating characters that end up becoming as real as anyone I know. I love orchestrating these fictitious lives that go to hell and back. And I love when other people connect with my characters and story on the same level that I do, without any influence on my part. Something that I don’t like about being an author would have to be the insecurity. I tend to not be the most secure in my abilities or actions. And in writing, if you can’t own what you do and believe in it 100%, you will be a miserable nervous wreck. I’m so thankful to my husband, because he is the best at getting me out of my insecure funk and back on track.

8) Is there anything that you wish someone would have told you about being an author? Anything that you wish someone can tell you now?
I have been so fortunate to have a lot of amazing people offer me stellar advice. I can’t really think of anything, honestly. If I absolutely had to pick something, maybe how long the whole publishing process takes, even if you are self-publishing like I am. Once you’re done with the writing, chances are your book will now go into a few more pairs of hands and that means a bunch of different schedules. So just learn to be patient with the process, because it will lead to a finished product that you can really be proud of.

9) What does your family think about your writing career?
My husband has been my #1 fan since I first told him I was going to start writing. Even though I’ve called him out over and over for saying nice things about my writing because he “has to,” he insists that he means every word. My parents were a little surprised at first, I think, but then they saw how committed I was to it and now they’re on board.

10) What do you have planned next?
Well, the first draft of Book 2 of The Imago Trilogy is almost written. Once I get that into the editing phase, I’m going to go into the outline phase for Book 3! And then I have a few new ideas cooking in the back of my brain, but I’m not sure when those will see the light of day.

11) Tell us something that most of your readers don't know about you.
My husband and I honeymooned in Seattle and stayed on Whidbey Island the whole time we were there. So when it came time to pick a setting for The Mirror Stage, I knew I wanted to base it in Seattle. It’s my hat tip to the city I fell head over heels for, and I can’t wait to get out there again someday.

Thank you, J.J.!

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