Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Hi, I’m A.J. Downey and I write real and relatable romance for the masses. I’m most known for the Sacred Hearts MC books, which chronicles the inner workings of an outlaw motorcycle club coming to terms with past decisions and who are attempting to turn a new leaf. I actually have four series out right now, The SHMC followed by The Virtues which is about another club you meet in the SHMC books. Then I went back to the SHMC with the Sacred Brotherhood series picking up where the story arc of the first series came to a close with these new books. Finally, my current series that I am working on is the Indigo Knights which chronicles the lives of an MC on the right side of the law made up entirely of law enforcement and first responder types. All of my books are available on all platforms, so Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Nook (Barnes & Noble) Google Play, etc.
What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
None of the stories are real life per se, but they all do have relatable elements. Prime example is all of my guys in fitting with their lifestyle hold regular jobs, mostly blue collar, and each relationship has hardships that the average American (where the books are set) relationships have. Some surrounding money, a few surrounding being on the brink of homelessness, and how having the right support system makes all the difference.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
I have no clue, actually. I just sort of sit down and do… I don’t have a formula. I just get an idea and run with it. I write very much on intuition and the books and stories that I wanted to read but couldn’t seem to find.
How do you deal with creative block?
Wait until my stress levels return to ‘tolerable’ and work on other things while I wait for it to pass.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Not having things properly edited by a professional. Not listening to an expert designer about the cover and when you find that an existing cover doesn’t seem to be working with your target audience, being too stubborn to change it on the grounds of either pride or money.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
Go look at the top one hundred books in your target genre. Find a flow on cover art that is selling in that genre and model your covers in line with them but make sure you have your own flare added to them. Don’t copy cat, but make sure they do jive. As for titles, I am really fond of my naming conventions and am probably the last person you want to ask about titles. LOL
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I approach it pragmatically. Are they complaining about something specific? Is that specific thing something that is fixable, such as grammar and punctuation or the characters on the cover clearly don’t match the description of the characters inside the book? Those types of technical things can be fixed either revamped in the book they are talking about or addressed in future installments. However, on the flip side, if they are complaining about elements such as ‘too much of this’ or ‘not enough of that’ you have to take it with more of a grain of salt. Likewise, there is negative feedback you do get to disregard altogether, such as the ‘this book wasn’t for me’ because you can’t please everyone and you definitely shouldn’t even get yourself into the deathtrap of trying. All you do in that case is set yourself up for failure.
How has your creation process improved over time?
I’ve managed to whittle things down to the important bits that keep the story moving forward. Cutting the fat, so to speak. Additionally, I have streamlined the editorial process as well as the upload and marketing process for the most part, allowing myself more time to create.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
You know, I honestly don’t know if I have an answer to this one. I am reading and rereading the question and am drawing a complete blank. I think honestly, the most surprising thing, is that so many people have liked my books and that I have a solid core group of people that encourage me every day to keep writing and feeding their reading habit. I didn’t think in a million years that would ever happen.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
Why not both? I absolutely do balance the two. There are some angles I take because I am hell bent in my creative process that is the way things should be. Meanwhile, I have readers who message or comment they would love to see X, Y, or Z in the next book about a certain character and a good portion of the time I realize that what they are asking for will fit here or there in the storyline and won’t take any time at all and so I’ll do it. It’s not an exact science by any means but it’s been pretty mutually beneficial to the author/reader relationship.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
When writing romance every role. There are scenes I write where I am bawling my eyes out and need to take a break. There are other scenes I am so angry writing it I also need a break. These things translate in the end, I believe they absolutely do. If you aren’t feeling it, the reader isn’t either. It makes for a very real and authentic experience in translation.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
Not really, no… I mean some things are written to music. Some to silence. Some have the same movie playing on repeat in the background while I work – I think that might be what you are asking here. In that case, yes? All of the things.
What are your plans for future books?
So many. I have four books to finish out the Indigo Knights series and two more books for the Virtues. Then I have an entire new series devoted to the SHMC PNW chapter I plan on writing. The first book of that is just taking shape now.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I’m a serious caffeine addict, a cat mom, and use the f-word like a comma when I speak… (and sometimes when I write. It depends on the biker.) So while I appear well spoken here, I’m telling yah now I write waaaay better than I talk which is why I don’t go out much. Um, I’m tattooed but can go years without the bite of the needle and am very selective on my tatts and what I get where. I only have two visible to polite company on my inner forearms, a phoenix on one arm and a waterbird on the other.