This week I spoke with indie author Jamie Wyman about Uninvited, the latest installment in her Études in C# urban fantasy series, which comes out on October 18, 2016.
Dharma: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
In school, I worked on school newspapers and excelled in my writing classes. I used poetry and fiction alike as emotional outlets.
I put writing away for a while as I pursued other dreams, but in 2008, when I was down with a back injury, I mentioned a story idea to a friend of mine. He said I should write it and finish it. I did and I haven’t looked back.
Dharma: You latest book is Uninvited, the third book in the series. What’s it about?
Jamie: The series as a whole follows Catherine Sharp, a technomage beholden to a trickster deity. In this third installment, Marius—a satyr who cannot feel physical pleasure—has come to her for help. Half of the supernatural community wants to see him dead, and the other half is glad to watch.
Cat is the only person willing to help him. But she’s got demons of her own. Not only is she on a hit list or two, she’s battling past betrayal and current affection, all while learning even more about her powers as a technomancer.
Dharma: We meet some classic characters from mythology in this book. Who can readers look forward to seeing? And was it difficult to bring some of these deities to life in such a way that they felt as real as they did?
Jamie: Throughout the series, readers meet several trickster deities. In the first, for example, we see a poker game among Loki, Eris, Puck, Maui and Coyote. Uninvited has a lot of ties to Greece, so we’re going to meet members of that pantheon while visiting some old friends from previous books as well.
Dharma: Unlike the first two books, Uninvited has a romantic subplot. What inspired you to dip into the romantic elements and explore this particular relationship more deeply?
Jamie: I felt like it was very organic to these characters and a natural progression of their interactions with one another. But I didn’t want a stereotypical romance plot.
For starters, Catherine is bisexual, and the “normal” rules of “girl needs man” do not apply to her. But I also wanted a very human reaction, not something borne of tropes and “because I said so” plot styles. It was a lot of fun to soften the edges of what in past books has been a very fiery relationship.
Dharma: You’ve left us with a bit of a cliffhanger, as well as a few other dangling story threads. Will there be a book #4?
Jamie: Yes! When I started this series in 2010 I knew it would be a five book story arc with a novella or two and some ancillary short stories to fill in a few gaps between novels.
Book 4 has a very basic outline and half of the first chapter written, however, it will be a while before I can devote time to writing the rest.
Dharma: Your characters all have very distinctive voices. Do you imagine a particular actor playing a given character when writing?
Jamie: I do cast them in my head, however, I generally prefer not to openly share the specifics because I love hearing who readers put in the role.
I know that there are times I see/hear an actor in a book I’m reading and when the author says, “Oh, no, this is who I based the character on,” it totally skews my reading of the work after that. Like it just doesn’t always fit. So, I prefer to give readers the option.
If you’re curious, you can check out my Pinterest feed and see various images of actors I’ve used as either physical or emotional muses for these books.
Dharma: Were there some personal experiences or elements you included in the story?
Jamie: LOL Yes! There are a few scenes that are Easter eggs of sorts for friends. One of them is an exchange of dialogue that actually happened between me and a loved one. But no spoilers, sweetie.
Dharma: The name of the series is called “Études in C#”. How does the series name relate to the stories?
Jamie: When I started the series I knew I wanted the main character’s name (C Sharp) to be a musical pun. Because I’m a total dork. “Études” is French for “studies”, and any classically trained musician will tell you all about how they had to play endless études in school.
Also, Cat is a technomage. C# is a computer programming language. So, the series title is a big bag of wordplay.
Dharma: You have chosen to go the indie author route for this series. What inspired you to choose indie rather than traditional publishing?
Jamie: So, as some people know, Wild Card (Book 1) was published by a small digital-first romance publisher. However, as you noted earlier, the first books aren’t exactly romances. After some understandable static with that publisher, we parted ways.
My agent and I did shop the sequel Unveiled to other publishers, but the awkward publishing history made things difficult. (That and the fact that urban fantasy is a harder and harder sell.)
But, the book had fans and I had stories yet to tell. So I put the project up on Kickstarter to see if it would be possible to get the books out. It was, and here we are.
Dharma: What was the Kickstarter experience like?
Jamie: Oh gods, do I have to answer? I am eternally grateful for my Kickstarter backers and supporters. Their enthusiasm keeps me going. However… if I never have to do another Kickstarter in my life, I will die happy.
Campaigns are exhausting for me. Even when I plan them out with content that’s going out on this day, or that ad will go out… it’s 30 days of anxiety. My family watches me get more and more frazzled. It’s not easy around here. (So if you buy my books, know that you’re making it that much easier for them!)
Dharma: You’ve also written “alt.sherlock.holmes” stories for Abaddon Books. What was that like?
Jamie: So much fun! David Thomas Moore at Abaddon said he wanted some Sherlock stories where we recognized the core characters, but they weren’t detectives in Edwardian London. Take them out, put them anywhere else in any other time or setting. Are they still Sherlock and Watson? I loved that thought.
One of my favorite hobbies is circus history. So I decided to put two great tastes together. My Sherlock and Watson are carnies in Depression Era America. It’s great fun to write and I hope I get to do more in that universe very soon.
Dharma: What are you working on currently?
Jamie: Right now I’m working on a story about necromancers working for organized crime outfits in Chicago, and an assassin who shoots all their plans to hell.
Dharma: What authors or genres do you like to read?
Jamie: My tastes bounce all over the place, but down at the heart of it, I love reading urban fantasy. I’m a big fan of Jim Butcher, Neil Gaiman, Lilith St. Crow and Delilah S. Dawson. I also love to read Christopher Moore. His humor is very much what I aspire to.
Dharma: What are you reading currently?
Jamie: When I’m in heavy work mode it’s hard for me to find the extra time to read. I started Christopher Moore’s Secondhand Souls months ago and haven’t gotten any further. No fault of the writing, just me not being able to focus.
I also want to read Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath, and Jim Butcher’s new steampunk Cinder Spires series.
Dharma: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you or your work?
Jamie: I also draw! I do a lot of mandala work, and I color for relaxation. I post my work on my website and Instagram.
In terms of writing, I also post a lot of free flash fiction to my website, and exclusive stories to my Patreon.
Dharma: Where can people find you on the web?
Jamie: I’m everywhere!
Blog/Personal Website: www.housepajamazon.com
Twitter: @Pajamazon (Link: https://twitter.com/Pajamazon)
Instagram: (I post a lot of coloring and personal artwork here!) www.instagram.com/housepajamazon