It is with great pleasure I share todays interview with author RJ Sullivan. His newest release is a reprint with his new publisher Seventh Star Press of book one in the Blue Shafer series. Book two is available and I am sure he is hard at work on more for readers. The new rerelease has the lovely art work that anyone familiar with Seventh Star comes to know and expect. I’ve got a couple of these to share and they look great as always. The cover art and internal pics are done by artist Bonnie Wasson
I’ve interviewed RJ previously and had to pick his brain again. I thank RJ and Seventh Star Press for letting me be part of the tour.
My interview with RJ below, the previous interview from back in 2012 should also be checked out
You’re very much an 80’s man, what about this decade has so much more
impact on you than others?
Well, that’s obvious. In 1981 MTV came out they put music on TV. TV makes everything better. J
Actually, I don’t think this is all that different from anyone else. Most music lovers fell in love with music in their early teens first, and their love and knowledge grows from that starting point.
I know several friends a few years older than that that swear by disco (I swear by disco, too, but that’s slightly different) and a few years older than that who swear by the 60s as the greatest era of pop music (they may have an actual case).
I love a wide array of pop and rock music, from the 50s through today. Also some eclectic jazz and genre soundtracks. I do think I was lucky to grow up with 80s music but it’s by no means the only music I listen to (even my Cyndi Lauper fascination is as focused on her under-appreciated 90s material as it is on her 80s hits). Among my favorites today are Pink, Paramore, Adele, Taylor Swift, and I have an on and off love affair, musically speaking, with Katy Perry.
Please tell us about your fan girl crush on Cyndi Lauper.
You mean, why of all the music from the 80s, do I fixate on her? I could go on and on, (and I did here with the Cabin Goddess ) I will point to a few things that to me make her different than many others. First, her fearless individuality resonated with my 10th grade self, at a time when kids are all under a great deal of pressure to conform, she was doing her thing in 1985 and taking a lot of crap for it by the industry, but she soldiered on anyway. Not that I was some crazy rebel, but I needed to see that. I will share this video from 1985 that absolutely floored me.
1994 was a very interesting time. Cyndi’s pop career in terms of her relevance had died, even I had thought much about her music for awhile. She was no longer a concern for her record company; she had more creative freedom than ever before. She recorded the first of two under-appreciated albums, Hat Full of Stars and Sisters of Avalon, respectively, her most interesting music, contemplative, artistic, but also not particularly radio friendly. At the same time, social media was blowing out–email morphed into Yahoogroups sorted by topic. Fans of Cyndi’s current projects found each other online, and looking back, it was like being in a secret society. I found another fan local to the area as well as a handful of others I connected with, people who over the years became close friends and concert buddies, some going on 20 years.
Connected with that, getting backstage and meeting Cyndi became much easier then than it would have been in the 80s. I had my first “meet n Greet” in 1997. They say never meet your idol, but I can honestly say, that warning didn’t apply here. We’ve met several times since that first time. It would be an exaggeration to say we’re friends, but she knows me, knows the group I travel with, and is generous with her time. She helped out with a friend who had cancer. Now when she comes to our side of town she knows she’ll hear from us and she does her best to make time for us, though she is busy again, and that’s a good thing. So yeah, it’s a pretty cool thing.
A couple years ago I channeled these experiences into a short story, with seeds of truth and LOTS of fiction, called Backstage Pass. The story includes an appearance by Rebecca Burton and is still available as an e-book from Seventh Star.
Who would play Blue if it was made into a movie?
Great question, I wish I had a great answer. My kids enjoyed Victorious and now enjoy Sam & Kat, so I have seen a lot of Ariana Grande, who is quite the comedian on that show, and I suspect she has the acting chops to switch over to drama/horror. Of course, she just won a Grammy for her music and I’m sure her career is about to take off in a big way.
How has your writing changed from when you started to now?
I’m assuming you mean other than that I wrote on an electric typewriter and that for the first ten years a paper manuscript backup was a given because even in the first few years of MS Word, a hard drive backup was too unreliable.
Like any other writer, I went through the process of being bad before I became less bad. I made all the beginner’s mistakes…passive tense, no immersive point of view. I stuck with it, learned, and broke those bad habits. But even more so, I’ve learned to not worry about what I’m going to do with the next project. It’s a great relief to “score” those first few sales, because it means almost everything I write is either pre-sold for an impending release or I have a good chance to find something to do with it. I wrote recently on my own blog about revisiting Haunting Blue, how I shoved everything into the story I could think of, because this was my “one shot” and my thinking was that I may never get another one, so I made it count by cramming it with plot and themes.
Now, in a place where I’ve sold a few things and can reasonably be assured I will sell more, each story can just breathe. Haunting Obsession is just about obsessive fandom. Virtual Blue is just about Blue’s coming of age. Red Lotus is the best space opera I can make it. I’m more relaxed and focused, and I think the stories are better. That’s not to say I think Haunting Blue is bad, but I think it is typical of a first novel by a newcomer eager to make their mark. And that’s okay.
Is there a genre you would like to try writing that you’ve yet to do so?
Maybe some sort of urban fantasy, but besides paranormal thrillers I have been trying my hand at some old school space opera, complete with a spaceship and a very cool Captain, if I do say so myself. The first two Red Lotus ebook stories are already out and if you only know my paranormal thrillers, these are very different, but very much in line with a genre I love.
What is the most satisfying part of writing?
Lately, it’s been building a readership, because unlike most of the time I’ve been writing, I know I have an audience waiting to read what I am working on, and that I will get some sort of feedback on it. That relatively fast turnaround is very nice indeed.
Some people poo-poo the idea of commercial success. Whatever, to me, without an audience, art is mental masturb…er…exercise.J I write stories that I want to be read and enjoyed by others, and I say that without apology. I wrote without an audience for years. This is much better. I wouldn’t go back for anything.
Do you enjoy interacting with readers at cons and other events or do you
prefer social media contact?
I love the interaction and camaraderie of conventions and book signings, but social media has the advantage of being a form of book promotion with no overhead. If I could be “beamed” to the event and back to my own bed every night, it would be a perfect situation. Since that’s not possible, I still do signings and conventions because I love the fan interaction, and that’s the only way to put an autographed book into someone’s hand–and readers dig that. Though truthfully, I may dig it just as much. Or more.
The last time I interviewed you your reading list was quite long. What
are you reading or trying to find time to at the moment?
Yes, I doubt I’ll ever catch up. I just finished Eric Garrison’s work in progress to give him feedback, and am now reading his SSP release Sinking Down. By then the third book might be out. I’ve not read the original versions of his Road Ghosts trilogy; I’m taking the rewrites at face value and enjoying them immensely.
Before that I was reading Sands of the Solar Empire–a fairly epic space opera by Ren Garcia which I am enjoying, and part one of a series, for that matter. So I’ll return to that.
Recently I’ve been hitting the library, catching up on the missed comic book stories of the last several years through collected editions, seeing what my buddy Spider-man has been up to (nothing good, I’m afraid), and the New 52, seeing how the botched Wonder Woman this time, and enjoying Batwoman quite a bit.
Have you ever put someone you know in real life into a book?
Yes I have, but usually as a cameo, not a major character, and always with the person’s knowledge and permission. For instance, my ebook Backstage Pass is a total fabrication inspired by my real-life travels with a group of pop star fans who attend the same area shows together. Those others are mentioned because I needed a group anyway, so why not, if they were cool with it?
Beyond that, major characters are highly fictionalized. I want to emphasize that as the guy who wrote Haunting Obsession, a clear homage to Marilyn Monroe. Maxine Marie is still a fictional character in a make-believe world. Had I been trying to write Ms. Monroe into a story…well, I wouldn’t, but if I did, it would have played very differently. Because Maxine is a fiction, I can, for instance, have her be as despicable as the plot requires.
About RJ Sullivan:
Haunting Blue is the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer. This is the 2014 revised edition by Seventh Star Press. Seventh Star also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second book in Fiona’s tale. R.J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith: Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His newest project is the Red Lotus series of science fiction novelettes. R.J. resides in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks coffee from a Little Mermaid mug and is man enough to admit it. www.rjsullivanfiction.com
The sequel to Haunting Blue – Virtual Blue, available now.
Tour Schedule and Activities
7/14 Jess Resides Here Interview
7/14 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post
7/14 fuonlyknew ~ Laura’s ramblins and reviews Top Tens List
7/15 Deal Sharing Aunt Top Ten’s List
7/15 John F. Allen Writer Character Post
7/15 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post
7/16 The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void Review
7/16 SpecMusicMuse Interview
7/16 Workaday Reads Post on Artwork of Haunting Blue
7/16 I Smell Sheep Character Post
7/17 Bee’s Knees Review Review
7/17 Library Girl Reads & Reviews Guest Post
7/17 Come Selahway With Me Guest Post
7/18 A Haunted Head Author Interview
7/19 Nerd With A View Top Tens Post
7/19 Coffintree Hill Guest Post
7/20 Willow’s Author Love Review