Jordan Castillo Price Interview: Rewind

I decided to interview Jordan again because so much had happened in her life, both personally and professionally, and I wanted to know what was driving her. Was she going through a mid life crisis at 25? Did she come into money and so could afford to quit the EDJ? What secrets was she hiding in the graveyard? Well it turned out to be  … … I’ll let her tell you herself, starting with her new bio:

“Jordan Castillo Price is a writer, publisher, artist and podcaster. Jordan’s writing credits include Hemovore, Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary, and the PsyCop series. She lives in rural Wisconsin where she wanders through the woods and finds mysterious bones littering the ground. Writers, check out her writing podcast at PackingHeat.net.”

Hi Jordan. Thank you for gracing the website again by agreeing to be interviewed.

Hiya Wave! I’ll try not to put everyone to sleep. I can talk about writing stuff forever.

Let’s jump right into what’s new. It’s been just over a year since I last interviewed you, last May to be exact, and I understand that there have been some changes in your life. You have given up your day job and are now writing and publishing full time. If I may ask, what was the reason behind your decision? And a follow-up question, now that you’re writing full time, is it as creatively satisfying as you thought it would be? What else would you like to tell your rabid fans about what you have been doing? This is an “adult” site so you can say anything. 🙂

Oy, this has been the big-assed year of ginormous changes for me. I had two huge and stressful changes happen back to back: I quit my day job of 9 years and ended a relationship of 14 years. Enough change for now. I’m still trying to find my equilibrium.

Why the change in job status? I had been wanting to be a full-time writer ever since PsyCop: Partners came out in paperback at the end of 2006, but I needed to wait until I made a little more money from my writing before I was able to do that. (Okay, and a really ugly moment at my day job convinced me that the stress there wasn’t worth it.) What money I did make writing early on, I stockpiled and reinvested in my business so that when a business expense came up, I could cover it without breaking a sweat. In general writing doesn’t need to be a costly pursuit, however there are occasional expenses that are over 1k, such as buying a block of ISBNs, that seem all the bigger because they’re unusual.

The full-time gig has ups and downs. When it’s going well it’s totally satisfying, and when it isn’t, I think, “Oh God, I have to go flip burgers if I don’t shape up.” I’m only semi-serious about that, since I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to work for anyone else again. I want to do things my way, period. And I really love the idea that I will fail or succeed on my own merits. When you have a day job, so often your attention to detail can go unnoticed, and your work can be taken for granted. But when you work for yourself, the only one your work can reflect on is you!

Do you plan on signing other authors to your label JCP Books as soon as you have all the details worked out? Is there something or someone in the works that you can tell us about?

It’s tempting to try to foster the types of stories I’d like to see written by publishing more authors, but the more I think about it, the more I come down to the intent of creating a space where I could write what I want and produce it the way I wanted it produced. That was my core reason for striking out on my own, and I need to keep reminding myself of that so I don’t get carried away with all these different things I could do. I’m cautious because I don’t want to tip the balance and become more of a publisher than a writer; that would be contrary to my reason for creating JCPBooks to begin with, and I see other writer/publishers who have slipped down that slope.

Recently you and Josh Lanyon released the Petit Morts series and you alternated writing each book, rather than a joint exercise. This series, which was very well received, would be an excellent jumping off point for you to work on similar series projects.  Are you and Josh planning another series or continuing with the Petit Morts stories?

We’re continuing on with Petit Morts. I’m at work on my second batch now. I suspect they’ll be ready in the fall. I’ve already told Josh the way I plan to wrap up Chance’s story arc on book #15 in the third batch and gotten the thumbs up from him. I’ll be excited to begin the cover art for batch #2. I got such great reaction to my illustration on batch #1’s covers that I’m really inspired.

I have a very important question about the next book in the PsyCop series, like most of your fans. Do you have any idea about your plans to finish and release Book 6, and does it have a name as yet?  Will it be a JCP Books release?

If things go well, the mysterious and yet-unnamed PsyCop 6 could be ready by the end of the year. Absolutely, I will release it at JCP Books! Now so much of my legwork is done: that mammoth block of ISBNs is bought, the accounts with third party vendors are established, the procedure for copyright registering the work is in place. I don’t have to figure out all that stuff again, so hopefully, all that’s left to do is write and produce content.

One question I ask authors who write series books is this: When do you know it’s time to say goodbye to your characters? I admire Josh Lanyon for closing out the Adrien English series which he did at 5 books, even though the characters and the series were still very popular and many fans had not had enough and wanted more, more, more. However he felt that the series had run its course and the story arc had been completed. Is Book 6 going to be the final PsyCop book?

For the past couple of years I’ve been envisioning PsyCop as a seven-book series. The first three novellas I was such a new author that I was just splashing around writing stuff, and I probably started thinking about Vic’s character arc in a really broad way with Secrets. I decided that Secrets (book 4) was about how much Vic was willing to trust Jacob or not, Camp Hell (book 5) was about him coming to terms with his past, book 6 is about him dealing with his power, and book 7 about him dealing with himself as a person. I think each of those issues needs its own book.

Now that the Sweet Oblivion series has been completed, all of the fans are anxiously awaiting the print release. Is there a chance that we might see it within the next 6 months or so? I love my print copy of Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary and I can’t wait for its bookend, Sweet Oblivion. 🙂 (Is that enough of a hint)?

Hint received loud and clear 😉 I’m thinking we’ll see four print novels from me this year: Hemovore, which came out last month through Samhain; Sweets to the Sweet, the anthology of Petit Morts batch #1; Sweet Oblivion anthology; and Zero Hour.

You have a new story, Sleepwalker, that was released recently. What can you tell us about the story and where can fans find it?

Sleepwalker is an m/m thriller set in a museum. I used to work at the Art Institute of Chicago so I’m familiar with the back rooms and non-public parts of museums in a way that most people aren’t. I created a town in northern Illinois for Sleepwalker named Faris. Faris is famous for an F-5 tornado that ripped through 15 years ago and leveled exactly half the town, and the disaster relief money Faris received allowed them to build the Faris Natural Sciences Center. Unfortunately, Faris didn’t have the population or money to support the project, and it’s sliding downhill, fast.

Our heroes are Web, a 24-year-old grad student who ended a promising career in biology to take a dead-end job on the museum’s security guard staff, and Jesse Ray, the taxidermist who’s racing against the clock to help the Center prepare for an important grant meeting.

It’s a novella just under 40k words, but it’s packed, and I mean PACKED, with the fruits of my research–from my own personal experience in museums, to interviews of tornado survivors, a taxidermist and a neurosurgeon. I think the only way to get the kinds of details I was looking for is to do this kind of legwork. “Making stuff up” will only take you so far.

Sleepwalker can be found at JCPBooks.com and Amazon for the Kindle. Later this summer, when it’s no longer a new release, I’ll start placing it at third-party vendors like ARe.

Where is Jordan Castillo Price now in terms of your writing career? Are you where you want to be?

Wow, that’s an interesting question! I feel like I’ve just gotten started. I’ve been thinking lately about genre expectations and how limiting they feel. I wish there was room for me in mainstream fiction somewhere. Maybe after I finish PsyCop that’s something I’ll pursue.

I’m thankful that epublishing allows me to place my focus on my writing and my internal worlds. When I tell people at conventions that I was able to quit my day job, they’re really blown away, so I suspect I’ve achieved more than I’m able to give myself credit for at this point.

What new releases do you have planned within the next 6 months that we can look forward to?

Aside from the paperbacks we talked about above, my hope is to get three Petit Morts novelettes completed (and two from Josh!) and roll out PsyCop 6! Next year I also plan a sequel to Sleepwalker, the third and final batch of Petit Morts, and if I have time, the final PsyCop. That’ll be some pretty intense empty nest syndrome if I finish all those series in 2011! Maybe I’ll reconsider. [What do you mean reconsider?? Now you have promised in print you can’t change the dates. If you have empty nest syndrome get a puppy. 🙂 ]

How do YOU measure success now that you have achieved so much in your writing career?

Cripes, girl, where are you thinking of these questions? They make me blush! I’ll probably sound like a head-case in this, but I don’t feel like I’ve achieved a lot although I would be the first to say that I’ve been working very hard. Maybe I have a fear that if I wake up one morning and say, “Gee, I’m so successful!” that’s the day everything I do will start to suck. I suppose I measure how well I’m doing in terms of how many readers really, really like the stories, who like them enough to remark on them and tell their friends about them. My current benchmark of success is the re-read. When someone says, “Let me know when PsyCop 6 will be out so I can re-read the series right before it does,” that’s heady! It makes me feel like JK Rowling!

One of your characters that I would like to see in his own book is Crash. You gave us a taste with Striking Sparks which was a wonderful, dazzling hot slice of Crash that had me entranced just as much as Andrew, the other protagonist. Is there going to be a novel about Crash soon when he gets his man? Now that you’re no longer working full time I’m sure you have a little kernel of a plot bunny about Crash that you’re working on. 🙂

Crash is one of my all-time favorite characters and probably the one I’d most like to hang out with, but since he doesn’t strike me as someone who needs to be half of a couple to be fulfilled, I don’t have any plans at the moment to pair him off. I’m also not sure that anyone could stomach him as the protagonist of a novel. He has a highly developed moral compass that I think would be exhausting to read about for 200+ pages. I’ve started and abandoned a couple of Crash stories, actually, so I think my instinct is telling me to let Crash keep his aura of mystery. (I would be satisfied with a book, any book,  about Crash even one where he didn’t get his man and consequently lived to screw around another day) 🙂

Last question. How do you write such steamy sex scenes that are exciting and never boring? You are probably one of 3 authors who can write an entire book filled with sex scene after sex scene and I would enjoy the book and not want to throw it against a wall. Is there an art to writing sex so that the reader is not bored to tears?

Wow, that’s a huge compliment! Watch it, or I might start feeling successful  🙂

The sex scene is always about something else, and you can never come right out and say what that something else is, because the characters shouldn’t be aware of the subtext. But the “something else” should inform the actions of all the characters. I’ve eavesdropped on some readers saying that they skim the sex scenes in books where the scenes are too numerous, and I think if there was something else going on internally while the characters were doing the deed, there would be no way they could possibly skip ahead.

Before you leave, can you tell us something you do for fun that really scares people? (other than your books of course.) 🙂

Here’s a scary one! I was making soap with someone–the traditional kind of soap where you mix oils with a lye solution–and we didn’t have a glass container to mix the lye in. Lye is reactive with most metals, but not stainless steel. My soapmaking partner got a pot out of the basement and assured me that it was stainless steel, so we mixed up our lye.

Imagine one of those volcano displays from a grade school science fair project. Now imagine it giving off a horrible smoky chemical smell and spewing LYE.

We ended up hustling the pot out to the sidewalk and CALLING THE FIRE DEPARTMENT. All that work, and the batch of soap didn’t even come out!

Thank you Jordan.

Thank YOU, Wave! That reminds me, I’ve been meaning to make some soap. If I don’t respond to this thread, someone may want to contact the sherriff and send someone out to check on me. (I’ll never ask you to make soap for me. I have this picture of you with singed eyebrows, or maybe none at all.) 🙂

BTW, the boyz in the hot tub send their love. They’re pissed at me because they didn’t get another chance to interview you since they have read all of those sex scenes we were just talking about. I think they were going to get down and dirty and ask for details about your “research”.  I saved your bacon so you should thank me!! Maybe I won’t interview you next time – they will ask the penetrating questions instead of me. Good luck with that 🙂

Jordan Castillo Price Contact Information

email: jcp.heat@gmail.com
JCPBooks website: jcpbooks.com
Jordan’s personal website: www.jordancastilloprice.com

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

20 comments

  • The sex scene is always about something else, and you can never come right out and say what that something else is, because the characters shouldn’t be aware of the subtext. But the “something else” should inform the actions of all the characters.

    I’ll mention it again because it made me sit up and say “Yes! Exactly!”

    I’ve taken to skimming sex scenes in some books for that very reason. If the house is on fire the characters should not be ripping their clothes off until they are outside the house and away from the fire! Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much in some cases.

    Some writers do seem to be following an obscure formula that says there must be a graphic sex scene every x thousand words no matter what else might be happening with the plot. I’m greedy and want plot to happen during sex, not just as something to link the sex scenes.

    Or maybe I’m just missing the subtle clues of plot and character development hidden in the thrusting and grunting.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad that idea resonated. I guess it really wasn’t too abstract!

      I would rather read a well-earned sex scene than one that suddenly appears like a toadstool just because the requisite number of words has been reached, so I figure my readers feel the same way.

      Maybe you should go study those scenes a bit harder to determine if you’ve missed the subtly infused plot and character arcs 😉

      Reply
  • Davina – I can’t hear you, la la la….

    Chris – We had perfect disguises as dowdy middle-aged women for our meth lab cover, too.

    Val – I’m so happy that quote about the sex scenes being about something else hit home for you. I wasn’t sure if it would just read as theory, but it’s really important. I’m pleased you repeated it!

    I actually worked at a school attached to the museum and would have to go in “staff” places whenever I dealt with human resources. I also interviewed in the textile department so I got to see their lab. But one of my first early jobs there was a computer lab monitor in this awful basement space behind the museum restaurant, and OMG, that hallway always reeked of that weird sour milk and rot smell. Bleah. I can still recall it like it was yesterday.

    About not making stuff up – Tornado survivors have good stories, although there’s a rehearsed quality to them that’s not present in other people who haven’t told their narratives dozens of times, like asking the taxidermist, “Do you do other crafts and projects? You seem handy.”

    Reply
  • Awesome interview, Jordan, with great questions by Wave!

    So PsyCop 6 is about Vic coming to terms with his power? Wow, I am totally looking forward to this. That’s been one of the most compelling elements in the whole series arc for me — those hints that he’s a whole lot more powerful than he thinks he is.

    And I love what you say here in conjunction with Sleepwalker: “Making stuff up” will only take you so far. Isn’t that the truth?

    I hadn’t known you worked in a museum before, but I’m not surprised. All the details were so precise and vivid. I love how you conveyed this worn-out, run-down feel to Web’s workplace as if the museum had once aspired towards the status of the Smithsonian but then gradually decayed to where it is now.

    I’m with Wave on my interest in more Crash fiction. You said, “He has a highly developed moral compass that I think would be exhausting to read about for 200+ pages.” That moral compass thing actually sounds very intriguing to me.

    And this: “When I tell people at conventions that I was able to quit my day job, they’re really blown away, so I suspect I’ve achieved more than I’m able to give myself credit for at this point.”

    Oh, yes, totally! You’re one of the very few who have pursued this unique entrepreneurial self-publishing destiny for yourself in our m/m genre.

    This is so impressive as is what you said yesterday in Josh’s post about being able to pay your staff with money (not just free copies) out of your profit margin promptly like clockwork. That’s a level of success and professionalism that sets a good example in our field.

    And this (I’m saving the best quote of the interview for last here) is such an insightful thing to point out:

    The sex scene is always about something else, and you can never come right out and say what that something else is, because the characters shouldn’t be aware of the subtext. But the “something else” should inform the actions of all the characters.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! We should all print that statement out and tape it to our computer monitors! 🙂

    Reply

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