*Tell us a little about Crystal Promise: The Shattered Crystal (genre; description, etc.):
(I stole most of this from my synopsis…but it does a good job of describing the book, I think!)
Crystal Promise is a coming-of-age, urban fantasy novel about young love and tough choices, set against the backdrop of a late-industrial era nation called Novem.
Most of Novem’s technology runs on crystals mined from the ground, but many consider them to be more than just a power source. The Church of Novem worships a ‘Great Crystal’, which is thought to be a liaison between the gods and humanity. Those who can alter crystals at will, known as crystal-speakers, are an important part of that link between the earth and the divine.
For finishing school students Jacoby, Timori, Racquela and Crystara, concerns about crystals and the church are overshadowed by school, dances, sports and summer vacations. But when the Great Crystal selects its arranged marriages that year, a chain of events is set into motion that threatens to upset the entire nation. Betrothal promises are made with rings of crystal, but if they shatter, hearts are not the only things that will break…
*Why did you choose this particular cover art? (Feel free to plug your cover artist!)
David Baumgart and I had been looking for a project to do together for a while. Originally we wanted to make a webcomic, but he’s pretty busy making awesome video games (http://www.gaslampgames.com/). However, when the opportunity came up for me to choose my own artist for the cover, he was the first person to come to mind.
I had this picture in my head of the main characters looking down from a bridge, with the city in the background. David started working on it, until his amazingly savvy partner and graphic designer Megan Seely of Chestnut St. Pixel Foundry (http://cspixelfoundry.com/) told him that writers have no idea what they want, or what looks good. She was right, of course (at least in my case)…she designed the subsequent cover, David drew it, and the result has a lot more pop than anything I had in mind.
*Tell us something about yourself both on a personal level and as an author.
I created my own tabletop role-playing game when I was a teenager. Designing it nearly cost me a passing grade in physics class, but I learned a great deal about storytelling from the campaigns I ran, which benefited me when I began writing longer works of fiction.
*Do you outline or write a synopsis before you begin the actual story, or do you just start writing?
I tend to just start writing. I have a general idea of where I want the story to go and I write down a lot of notes, but it’s all mutable once I get into the narrative. I don’t like to strictly plan out every plot point, because characters tend to surprise me when they react organically. I feel that when I allow the story to change as I go along, the reader is more likely to be surprised, as well.
*Please tell us about any current projects you are working on.
Currently I’m working on the sequel to Crystal Promise, which continues right where the first novel ends. I’m also writing a character-driven science fiction series about how we define the human experience and the nature of spirituality.
*If Jacoby was a real man today, who would be his favorite author? (Besides you, of course.)
Jacoby grew up on tales of heroism and romantic ideals. A lot of Noven stories feature talented crystal-speakers, which appeals to him greatly. However, central to Crystal Promise are the themes of political pressure and cultural identity. I think he would identify greatly with the works of Guy Gavriel Kay.
*In retrospect, what advice would Crystara give to people her age regarding friendship?
Friendship isn’t about earning approval. It’s about enjoying someone else’s company, and forgiving each other for choices and mistakes made. It’s important to find happiness within yourself rather than trying to find someone to make you happy.
*What advice do you have for writers out there who are struggling with getting those first lines down on paper, or are filled with self doubt about the potential quality of their work?
Self-doubt is a crippling thing. Nobody can pick up a paintbrush and paint a realistic self-portrait without practice. Like any skill, the more you do it the better you get. Most artists are their own worst critic. It’s easy to see all of the flaws in your work, but we are often blind to our own talents and the things that make our writing so good. Trust in honest criticism of discerning friends, and accept praise when it is given.
It doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you write consistently. You can’t always wait for inspiration to strike; set aside time to write, set manageable goals, and write. Even if you think it’s garbage, the more you write the better your work will get.
*Give us links to learn more about you and your books (i.e. Amazon links, personal pages &/or websites, etc.).
Here’s my author website: http://jamesfunfer.com
I’m also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JamesFunferAuthor
…and Twitter: @JamesFunfer
And my books are available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Promise-The-Shattered-Book/dp/0615665195/