When you see your favorite author’s name, what genre do you associate them with? This is a topic that I have thought a lot about, both as an author and a reader. Some authors choose to take on a pen name when they write in different genres so that readers can easily identify them and the type of books they produce. While on the other hand, some authors have taken on a pen name because they had a book or series get so much attention that they want to see if they can write in another genre and have readers genuinely enjoy it without buying it just because of who the author is.
Personally, I fear that readers will think I only write YA (Young Adult) paranormal romance books since my first novel, Destiny Awaits, was in that genre. I hope that isn’t the case because I love to write other types of stories. Many readers don’t know that I have a police suspense short story titled “Blind Justice” or another story, “The Reluctant Seamstress,” that is a paranormal horror. Another short story of mine titled “Pure Harvest” is a western religious thriller while a novel that I’m currently working on is an adult paranormal thriller. My point is that I think it is great to diversify, and I don’t like putting limits or labels on my writing. I want to share my stories with my readers regardless of what genre they are. I hope that I can entertain readers with my words, no matter if they are fiction or non-fiction. I do fear, however, that some readers may not want to read some of my work because they took a chance on one of my titles and it wasn’t to their liking even though they may have liked another of my stories.
As a reader, would you read an author’s book or short story because you have read some of their previous work or would you only read the genres you enjoy? If you’re an author, do you stick with one genre or do you branch out? I’d love to hear your feedback!
Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I was born in California, but we moved when I was just a few months old. I have lived in South Carolina for the last fifteen years, so it is my home now. My location doesn’t influence my writing, but the act of packing up and moving does, mainly because I had to move every few years of my childhood. My YA paranormal romance, Destiny Awaits, opens with the main character moving.
Tell us your latest news!
I’m currently putting together a new anthology for CHBB titled Lurking in the Shadows. I can’t wait until it is released on June 28th. I’m also trying to polish some short stories that I have sitting around so that I can publish them as freebies for readers.
When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve written stories since I was little but never a full-length novel. Then, when I was a freshman in high school, my teacher had us read a book. I don’t even remember the title, but I remember that it was a boring story. After we were done, she gave us an assignment. We were to write the next two chapters of the book however we wanted. I loved this! There was no right or wrong answer. I was able to write whatever my imagination wanted and throw in some twists that would liven up the story. My teacher loved my work and suggested that I become a writer. That was when I knew I wanted to write.
As for what inspired my first book, that’s easy. The book came from a dream. I saw the whole thing playing out like a movie in my head, and when I woke up, I remembered it. So I took down some notes, and the process began.
What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
The Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel has been a huge influence in my life. I read it growing up, and it attracted me to the written world and provided me with an escape. The series began with The Clan of the Cave Bear and was published back in 1980. The sixth book, The Land of Painted Caves, was published in 2011. Many had thought the author had given up on the series since it spans such a long time. I think that has influenced my writing in knowing that it may take a few years to get a new book out, but I will get there.
Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
I have too many characters swirling in my head. Alayna and Jayden, the main characters in Destiny Awaits, have been with me for a while. They will always be special to me since they are in my first full-length book. Violet also appears, and she is eager to get out. She will be the main character of book two in the series, and I can’t wait to share her story with everyone.
A character named Molly Kenway pops up from time to time. She appeared in a suspense short story that I wrote, and I want to dedicate a book to her. She is very complicated since she is a criminal profiler who was blinded in a car accident and so not only does she have the struggles of doing her job while not being able to see, but there is a lot of stigma around her. Is she able to do her work while being impaired? Should she just quit? Why does the need to feel superior always drive her? She’s interesting, and I like her and her dark secrets.
What motivates you to write?
My beautiful daughters. I am always encouraging them to use their imaginations and that their dreams are possible. I think the best way I can do that is to show them that I’m doing the same.
What is the hardest part of writing?
Finding time. I tend to put others before myself and so for the last several months I haven’t had any time to write one of my works. I’ve been too busy helping others. I’m trying to find a balance so that I can write for me and help others.
Where do you get your ideas?
They mostly come from dreams. My first book came from a dream and the night I finished it, I had another dream that will be my next release. My short stories tend to be based on events that occur in real life or that just pop into my head. One short story, The Reluctant Seamstress, came to me while I was driving to pick up my oldest from school. I wrote the whole thing while waiting in the car line.
What does your family think of your writing?
They are supportive for the most part. I’m not sure that will be the case for long since there have been some topics I want to write about that may not shine the best light on said topics.
What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Just go for it. You can’t become published if you don’t try.
What book are you reading now?
Don’t Forget to Breathe by Cathrina Constantine
Excerpt from “The Reluctant Seamstress,” featured in the Lurking in the Deep anthology by CHBB Publishing:
I sat on the cold, damp floor of the cave and made quick work of the boy, my shell knife expertly slicing through his tender flesh. I had several pieces of skin stripped from his corpse and lined up waiting for the next step. I didn’t like my job, but nobody was going to do it for me. I didn’t like having to skin Orlish’s victims, but it was the only way for him to walk on land. Wearing a suit of human flesh was the only way for our kind to achieve such a feat. No plant materials or animal flesh would suffice, and we had tried everything we could imagine. A couple of years back, a man had even killed his wife so that he could use her flesh as the tourists hadn’t been visiting much that season. With her skin added to his suit, he waded to the shore and the moment his tentacles touched the dry sand, the skin shriveled around him until there was nothing left but ash. That’s how we first learned the suits must be made entirely of human flesh. That’s why the elders were so strict in making sure that only one was allowed to make a suit each year. It would be mass chaos if our entire race were allowed to lure people into the ocean’s depths whenever they felt the need. We also didn’t want to scare the humans away as they had the advantage of moving farther inland.
Excerpt from Destiny Awaits:
Sunlight caught the crystal that hung from the rear view mirror, and rainbow bursts of color radiated throughout the car. My parents and I had gotten up early so that we could make the three-hour drive to my uncle’s house, but from the line of backed up traffic in front of us, it seemed that it would take us longer. I leaned back in my seat and let the music blaring in my earbuds help pass the time. My mother turned in her seat in the front, and I glanced at her. Seeing her mouth my name, I pulled one side of the earbuds out of my ear.
“What did you say?” I asked.
“I asked if you were hungry,” she replied. “Your father thinks that we should get off the interstate at the next exit and grab something to eat while the traffic clears up.”
“Sure, that’s fine with me. It’s a good idea, anyway, since Uncle John turned vegetarian. There’s no telling what he’s going to try to get us to eat.”
My father’s hearty laugh rumbled through the car. “Do you remember that rolled up spinach thing he tried to feed us last time?”
“How could I forget?” I said.
Mom sprung to her brother’s defense. “It wasn’t so bad.”
“Then how come you didn’t eat it? I saw you slip it to the dog when you thought nobody was watching.” My father glanced at my mother while she tried to come up with a retort.
“If you saw that, then it’s obvious that I wasn’t sneaky enough.” She crossed her arms over her chest and stared out the window.
My dad laughed as he flipped on the turn signal and merged into the right lane, coming to a stop behind a logging truck. I looked at the long logs protruding from the flatbed. “It always makes me nervous when they hang off like that,” I said. A shiver raced through my body.
“It’s okay. They make sure to load them on so that they won’t come off,” my dad reassured me.
I opened my mouth to reply but stopped when I heard a screech of tires behind us. Turning my head, I locked eyes with the man in the driver’s seat of the truck that was hurtling toward us. The truck slammed into the back of our car, and my mother’s scream echoed in the tight space around me. A shower of white stars filled my vision as pain ripped through my shoulder and cut off my scream. As the darkness closed in around me, I heard the faint shrill of sirens in the distance.
Jaidis Shaw currently resides in South Carolina with her husband and two beautiful daughters. With a passion for reading, Jaidis can always be found surrounded by books and dreaming of new stories. She enjoys challenging herself by writing in different genres and currently has several projects in the works.
Jaidis also owns and operates Juniper Grove Book Solutions, voted #1 Best Promotional Firm, Site, or Resource in the 2015 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll. In her spare time, she maintains Scribbler’s Grove, an author-exclusive newsletter that offers tips on book marketing and building your author brand.
One of her main goals in life is to encourage her daughters to let their imaginations run wild.
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