E.M. Jaye - Romantic Suspense in a Futuristic Society
E.M. Jaye has a passion for storytelling and science. A former science teacher, E.M. has always enjoyed finding ways to explore the world around her and share her joy with the world. E.M. always strives to put some true facts into her books, so that while you are enjoying a wonderful story, you are also learning without realizing it. A book is not a book without romance, so every book that E.M. writes is packed full of romantic suspense.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Claimed Queen is about
The Claimed Queen is the first book in a four book series that follows a young woman, Eleanor, as she gets thrown into a new and dangerous world. Eleanor grows up in horrid conditions, extreme poverty and abuse from her mother and step-father. Her way of life is in no way unique, Earth has suffered in the aftermath of the Purge War, leaving behind a shattered and divided planet. The war came from an attack from an alien race that decimated over two billion humans in a matter of days.
Fortunately for Earth, another race of alien warriors stepped in and saved the remaining humans. For a price, of course. The warriors, the Gelders, required one major sacrifice of the inhabitants of Earth. Every year, all eligible women must submit themselves for claiming. If claimed, a woman is escorted from Earth to an unknown future with her new Gelder male.
This book begins one hundred years after the Purge War, on Eleanor’s first time in a claiming day. She is destined for great things, but she has to overcome her own past if she hopes to survive in her new world with her new mate.
Was there anything in particular, an incident or something you read, that made you want to tackle this?
Not particularly any specific thing, per se, as this was a story I have been thinking of for about a decade. I have always been an avid reader, reading on average 4 or 5 books a week since I was child. Likewise, I have always been telling stories to myself. It is a habit I got into to help me sleep when I was young that has continued into my adult life. I would create my own worlds and characters in my mind, and eventually the stories began to all merge into one cohesive story. Recently, I felt I had to do more than think about these characters. I decided to finally bring these characters to life and share them with the world. This is what drove me to write the True Immortals Series.
This specific story is a combination of many small pieces from favorite books over the years, such as the elemental power they can control, but I changed and tweaked all of those so that they fit naturally into my new world. The majority of this story came to me once I began outlining the books. But I like to think that all of my favorite authors and books have had an impact on how this world was shaped.
Why did you pick a futuristic society as the backdrop for your book?
The futuristic society was almost organic with the plot line. When I began formally drafting this book, I knew I wanted Danion to be a warrior king with very specific powers. To do that I knew I could either create a new fantasy world, or I could place him more into a normal world that could be possible for us to experience.
I felt like creating a story that could be true, a future that is not impossible for us, was more intriguing. There is always the possibility of extraterrestrial life out there in the cosmos, so I enjoyed both the challenges this presented and the creativity this allowed me. Particularly, I liked the potential it opened up for me to play with our own history and legends. In books two and three I have new takes on rituals that occurred in our past, the Bermuda triangle, and even the creation of Rome. Along with hints on how the myths in our cultures come from (Like vampires, etc.).
When I read, I love books that give a new take on something in real life, such as books with twists on the vampire legend, or Atlantis, or even dragons. Just something new, I read so much I love a book that is different. It was something I wanted to be able to do myself. Create a new story that adds to the wonderful myths and legends that we all have heard before. Maybe make us think about them in a new light.
My background before becoming a writer was actually a science teacher. I have a degree in biology, and one thing I love is working real facts into the story and creating a twist on them. Within each book I make a point to have at least a handful of little known facts in the story line, almost like a teacher quirk I never quite let go of. Having my readers learn something without it being a hassle or chore.
Tell us more about Claiming Day
Claiming Day is a ceremony held annually that is used to gather all women, ages twenty to thirty, around the globe to see if they were claimed by their Gelder protectors. Women are assigned a meeting area, and will sit with other women of their same area class. All women know that they must submit to a claiming to ensure that we do not lose the protection that the Gelders give us.
Since the Purge War and the panic that followed, Earth experienced a drastic shift in social class. There are no countries, and there is very little freedom. Each and every person is ranked socially, between areas of one and ten. One is the bottom, accounting for the vast majority of the population. Area Ten is reserved only for highest ranking government officials. Rising in rank is virtually unheard of, and life is very hard for those in the bottom five areas.
However, peace on Earth has been achieved, for if there is any transgressions the people are told they will lose the protection of the Gelder. Almost daily the skies are lit up with the burning wreckage of enemy ships on the shields that the Gelders have around the planet. If not for the Gelders, Earth would surely perish, so no one disobeys. Especially not the women.
The largest bargaining chip that Earth has is that for some reason, our women are valuable to these warriors. So every year, all women enter into their Claiming Day with no resistance. Who would hold their own desires above that of their entire planet? For twenty years, not one woman has been claimed. The Gelders have left Earth alone, for all intents and purposes, for two decades and no one knows why exactly. Until it is Eleanor’s time for her first Claiming Day, hers is the first claiming in twenty years, and she is terrified, but determined, to figure out why.
Who is Ellie and what makes her so special?
That is a hard one to answer without giving away too many spoilers, but Eleanor (or Ellie as she prefers) is a lot more than even she suspects. Not too surprising, given her background, is that she has a rather low self-esteem. On the outside at least. She was raised by her mother, who was verbally and emotionally abusive, and her stepfather, who was physically abusive. Ellie has struggled her whole life to blend in and avoid calling attention to herself. Which has never been easy, as she has an inner voice who is constantly demanding that she speak up and defend herself. When she finally escapes their tyranny and moves to her own small apartment in Area Three where she works as a historian, she begins to dream about her future. But almost immediately after, she is claimed.
What really makes her so special, is the strength she doesn’t know she has yet. Throughout book one you get hints that she is more than she appears, and at the end of book one it is confirmed. What I love about her is that she has withstood just absolute cruelty, but has remained kind and good. That is where her strength comes from. She could have fallen into depression and struck out at the world around her, but that isn’t who she is. In book three specifically, you learn about why this is, and why her greatest strength is her beautiful soul. Her capacity for love.
The biggest struggle in capturing the essence of Ellie, is that her strength has been beaten down by her childhood and it will take time to fully emerge. In the beginning of book one, she is not like many classic heroines. She is a little weak, tepid and not very good at communicating with her new mate which causes quite a few issues for her. But when you imagine her life, the starvation and the abuse, you know she needs someone to heal her. To help her strength come out, and that is just what Danion strives to help her do.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Hmm, secret skills, you ask? That is a tough one, most of my skills revolve around the written word. Either reading it or writing it. But I am an avid outdoorswoman, and I would say fairly skilled at the sports I enjoy. I am hitting the trails all the time in one form or another. At least several times a month I go hiking and have even enjoyed some backpacking trips. I also am a mountain biker, and love tackling the terrain. I just love being part of nature, and I often formulate some of my more interesting plot twists while I am out and about. I am blessed to live in Arizona, so I can go outdoors essentially all year long. In the summer months, I do tend to stay more towards watersports, but I have been known to wake up early to hike to the back drop of a sunrise.
My family and I love to spend time together outdoors, at least one day a weekend you can find my husband, daughter and myself out and about enjoying the sunshine.
What's an aspect of being a writer that you didn't know about going in?
There are actually a couple I didn’t know about but I think the biggest thing I didn’t know was that editing actually takes longer than writing! I always thought that the biggest time issue is writing the book, but for me the editing stage takes quite a bit longer. Even before I send it off to my editor, I myself read it so many times and add and remove things it takes much more than I originally thought.
The first draft really is just that. A draft. And an outline is great, I always use one. But it is more of a guideline, something that I use to make sure that the major milestones of the plot are hit but the story usually takes me where it needs to go.
What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
The best advice I have ever received has got to be this: if you are bored writing a scene, then your readers will be bored reading it. It seems simple but it makes so much sense, as a writer with deadlines you can become used to writing a certain length every day. But I have learned to not to force it. If I am struggling, I take a step back and let the story hang in my mind for a little bit. I like to say “I am going to just let that percolate a little bit” and will stop writing for a bit. Usually in a day or two, I usually have an epiphany of a better way to write the story.
You choose to end your books on cliffhangers - why do you take this approach?
Not all of the series will be, but Danion and Eleanor’s story is just so in depth that I just couldn’t fit into one book. Once their fourth and final book is out in the spring of this year, characters you have been introduced to will have their own books, and I am planning on them each being just one book. They will be stand alone, where they can be enjoyed even without the other books being read.
Danion and Eleanor have a special place in my heart though, and they are the big characters in this world. There was so much to them, not just plot wise but character wise too. Both of them have flaws that need to be overcome that just couldn’t fit into one or even two books. Given their unique backgrounds and differences between them, I knew that it would take time for their mating bond to be fully completed. I could have rushed it, but I have always hated that as a reader. I have a few books that I have read that the buildup is so detailed, and the conflict is in depth, and then the ending leaves a lot to be desired. As if, once the enemy is defeated, love comes naturally.
I decided that I would rather have the cliffhangers and get to put more detail into these characters then to cut it short. It is also a preference, I love books on cliffhangers when I am reading. I know I am not the common reader but I also know I am not alone in this. I just love that “Oh come on!” feeling I get when I read a book that was so good I actually can’t to read the next one. That feeling of anticipation and excitement is something I love and hope that I can give to my readers as well.
Do any of your characters take off on their own tangent and refuse to do what you had planned for them?
Oh most definitely! My outlines are always just used to make sure that all key aspects of the story are there. Some characters are bound and determined to tell their own story.
Arsenio is one prime example, he is a character that you are introduced to in book one. He actually transformed into a completely different character than I originally planned, and I bet he is a fan favorite. He is a bit of the bad boy with a troubled past no one really knows all that much about. He is different than a lot of the other Gelders which actually makes him one of the more interesting ones to write about.
In book two though, the biggest character who just won’t stay where I put him is Nix. He was originally going to be a small foreshadowing character that would maybe have his own book at some point, and he has completely taken over a major side story that is so imperative to the war Danion and Eleanor are fighting. It could not be helped, a lot of the time I write what the story tells me to write, and that is how it happened. I never planned on him being such a big character, but now that he is there, I couldn’t imagine him not being there.
Does writing about surreal worlds and enigmatic scenes present any particular problems?
In all honesty, yes. But in a way, that is the fun part. My notebook is filled with sketches (very poor ones) of the scenes and worlds that my story takes part in. For me, I need to have a visual fully created before I try to describe it in words. It does take a significant amount of time every time that I introduce a new character, or setting into the book. In order to get the right feel of the character, or scene, I often draft it first, and then erase the entire thing before creating the final picture.
The struggle is merging our view of reality with that of an unknown world. But it also is freeing, I have my entire imagination at my disposal. There are no real borders I have to stay within. It is one of my favorite parts of my genre. The freedom of creativity.
Do you have any interesting writing habits, what's your average writing day like?
Interesting? More like exhausting…I am just kidding! But seriously, it is a pretty demanding schedule. Writing is not an easy task, especially fitting it into my daily life.
I am a mother to a wonderful seventeen month old, and I am lucky enough to be able to write from anywhere so I get to stay home with her. So my writing is always done while she is sleeping. So my standard day is waking up with my little one at about six in the morning, we do our morning routine until her nap after lunch. At that time, I write for usually about two hours while she is sleeping. Then it is wake up and go go go until bedtime at seven. Then at about eight or nine I am writing from there on from anywhere from two to six hours depending on the muse and where the story is taking me. It is not uncommon for me to be writing until 2 or 3 in the morning. And the next day starts again bright and early! Luckily, I have always been an insomniac so as long as I occasionally go to bed before midnight I manage just fine.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on a couple things. I am finishing up book four, the conclusion of Eleanor and Danion’s story and I am getting it ready to go into editing. I also am finishing up one of my Gelder short stories. These are small, little excerpts that I post onto my blog. They take place in the Gelder universe, during scenes you have read about, but they are from another characters perspective.
I also, briefly, am working on the outline for book five, which will be about one of the characters that you are introduced to in books one through four and will have their own standalone story.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My website is the best place to keep up with any and all of my work and new things I am doing. www.emjaye.org and my blog on that same website has the Gelder shorts available for free. I am also on facebook and twitter, where you can find me as @emjayebooks.