“On the Verge” is a thrilling dark fantasy tale about love and loss, set in Lerim, a world inhabited by elves, mermaids, demons and mages – by RJ Jojola.
BOOK I Teaser:
When the World of Lerim becomes Evil’s Playground, Nothing & No One are What They Seem…
Raelle Jowellia & her siblings were never allowed to travel outside their secluded valley. Having never come into contact with anyone outside their immediate family, the gruesome murder of Raelle’s younger brother torments her with a relentless need for answers. But answers reveal much more than she bargains for when the magical practices, daunting creatures, & foreboding demons of her father’s bedtime tales turn out to be anything but fiction.
As a dark force closes in, the shock of Raelle’s family secret renders her completely alone. With only bits & pieces of the puzzle, she leaves on a mission to find truth & liberation. Lost in a world teaming with menacing & malevolent danger, Raelle learns that she is being hunted and is forced to rely on the help of a meddlesome stranger, Chrishtan Vilgare.
Together, will Raelle and Chrishtan be able to outrun their sordid pasts? Or will they let it devour their very souls?
- Where are you from originally? What’s your origin story?
I’m originally from Michigan, but when I was about thirteen years old, my parents dragged me, kicking and screaming, out to Albuquerque, New Mexico (LOL). But as much as I said I hated it there, the diverse population and rich cultural environment taught me a lot and I would not be the person I am today without my experiences there. I made some of my most beloved friends there, whom you saw as characters in my novel. So in the end, I’m thankful for that experience (just don’t tell my parents that. Wink Wink).
2. Why did you first get into writing?
I first “got into” writing at a very young age. Since elementary school I loved and excelled at writing, especially with stories. In my later years, I flourished more in poetry and monologue writing. In college, I had no time for writing (trying to do the adulting thing).
But after graduating with my master’s degree in teaching, I realized something; I’m teaching students to have a passion for writing that I had essentially lost trying to follow the straight and narrow path. My students reminded me of that fact. They reminded me of my younger self who LOVED to write, just for writing’s sake.
3. What was most challenging about the publishing process and how did you overcome it?
Ah, well… for me, I made the decision early on that I would not be pursuing the traditional publishing route as I had in many other areas in my life. After a great deal of research on the pros and cons of both independent and traditional publishing, I sided with the former. I love that I can write my work, and when it’s ready, I can put it right out there for my readers.
There is no “waiting game” like there is in traditional publishing. No rejection letters. No questioning of your entire existence with each and every publishing letter you receive in the mail. Also, I get 100% control over my work and how it is presented. Nothing gets creatively changed. I chose the cover, the presentation, EVERYTHING. I also don’t have to give a portion of my sales to any publisher.
On the negative side of independent publishing, there is a lot more blood, sweat, and tears in the mix. First, because you have to do more work: lots of re-writes, cover selection/design, graphics, formatting, marketing. All of it is in your hands and it can be a very time consuming and tedious process. Especially the formatting part of it. It’s really a trial and error process when trying to make everything fit correctly into a book template.
But, in the end, I think the product matters so much more to you because it’s 100% you. But at the same time, it means that if someone doesn’t like it, then maybe they don’t like you? LOL… I digress, I know all author’s struggle seeing negative feedback regarding their work because writing IS a HUGE part of YOU. And YOU are putting yourself out there for the entire world to tear apart. No matter if you put it out there yourself, or a big publisher does.
4. What inspired “On the Verge”?
Aside from my enormous love for epic fantasy books, movies, and video games, (namely Dragon Age and World of Warcraft) On the Verge was something that came to me during a very dark time in my life. On the Verge was inspired by reals events in my life. Growing up, I lived with childhood PTSD from something that happened to me very early on in life. I never really knew exactly why I was the way I was, because I didn’t know what PTSD was and psychology has come a long way since then. But I had always struggled with anxiety, depression, focus issues, and the like.
The memories of my trauma did not resurface until I was about 27 years old. I began having flashbacks and horrible episodes. This dark time led me down a path where I was using unhealthy means to escape it and put myself in situations I shouldn’t have been in. That was when I hit rock bottom. My therapist suggested that I go back to my roots and channel my pain into writing. That’s when Raelle’s valley came to me. My valley, my safe place.
The place that overshadowed the dark times of my childhood. That valley had helped me to be somewhat “normal” until I was old enough to face my past head on. The valley was the positive memories of my childhood. The good times. That protective cloud of denial; what I thought my life had been… But at 27, I was forced to leave that valley, venture out into my past, no matter how difficult.
Because if I didn’t, then it would haunt me forever. On the Verge is the story of having to leave the safety of your sheltered home, and venture out into a world that is full of pain, horror, bad people/spirits, and loss/death. Much like the real world, it’s difficult to know who to trust a lot of the time. Lerim shows our main characters the realities of growing up in a world where nothing is what it seems, much like our real world. But the dangers of Lerim are fantastical and epic. A true metaphor for anyone who has felt lost and riddled with pain.
5. I really enjoyed the world that you created around your characters, especially with all the references to Lerim’s elaborate history and mythology, mentions of The Architect and The Destroyer caught my interest, as did the Shimmering Coast and Lantern Forest. Can you tell us about the world building process?
The world building process is incredibly fun. If you’ve ever played an RPG video game or board game, the process is similar. It all revolves around your character(s). You explore the world through them and they introduce it all to you. Even sometimes I don’t know what it all means or what it all is until the characters show me or come across it. I’m what Steven King calls a “gardener” style writer.
I don’t have strict plans for how the world is or how the story goes, most of the time even I don’t know what’s going to happen or how. The characters make the rules. As far as some of the more visually stunning images from the novels, they come from years of subconscious visual data collecting over my entire life of sights that intrigued me (some in real life, others in movies or video games, photos, etc…) Then I add a twist of fantasy to them.
6. Who inspires you the most and why?
I wouldn’t say that there is a particular who that inspires me the most. But other writers inspire me to keep working. Whether they’re book, television, or movie writers, the stories that really touch me are the ones that inspire me.
Of course, if I’m going name drop – LOL – Sylvia Plath, J. K. Rowling, Terry Goodkind, Claudia Gray, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson, Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica 2004), to name a few.
7. What are your future goals and aspirations?
My future goals and aspirations lie within getting my story out there to as many people as possible. And also a production deal. I wrote this series in the same way a writer might write episodes of a television show because I want it to read like watching a movie or a show. This story was meant to be SEEN as well as READ. So, we shall see.
8. I know a lot of fans are probably on edge about that cliff hanger. How’s the second book coming along?
Book II, From the Void, is available now on Amazon.com. A lot of thrilling new characters and surprises in store to mix things up in a whole new way. After book I, when you think things couldn’t possibly get any worse… they do… in both an intense and thrilling way.
9. Is there anything you can tell us about “From the Void”?
Sure, how about I give you the teaser for BOOK II:
When Deception & Murder, Imprisonment & Suffering Reign Over Truth & Light, Trust Becomes a Wavering Notion…
Following the tragic death of one of Mirilan’s most beloved heirs, a long lost companion returns Ellios to expose a dark & vicious truth. Now aware that Lochran is no longer their only enemy, the remaining heirs must find a way to defeat the foul demons that have entered their living world. With each & every day that passes, the power of the light grows dim & evil more potent. Allies are difficult to come by & faith even more rare…
Ensnared in a dark world of trickery & chaos, some are left with a far more sinister truth, that one must embrace evil in order to defeat it. In the end, it is up to each heir to decide which path they will choose. With life on Lerim hanging in the balance, one wrong decision could result in the destruction of all life & light for all time. Will the descendants of Mirilan escape the twisted web of lies & find truth? Or will they let it drag them to hell?
“From the Verge” is available now on Amazon. RJ Jojola will be signing at Megacon 2016!