Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
I’m Jaye McKenna and I write stories that sit at the intersection of science fiction, fantasy, and gay romance. I’m the author of eighteen books, most of which fall into one of three series: the Guardians of the Pattern series, which is a blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and romance; the Wytch Kings series, a fantasy/romance which features a group of dragon shifters trying to liberate their lands from the powerful and corrupt Wytch Council; and Kingmakers, which is a fantasy adventure series involving an assassin on the run from his vengeful master. All of these series take place in the same world but at different times, and it’s been a lot of fun weaving the tapestry of the timeline that holds them all together.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Everything! I soak up everything I’ve ever experienced like a sponge, and then somewhere in the depths of my brain, it all gets churned up with dreams and imaginings and things that have caught my attention. Then the Plot Rat (other writers get to have cute furry plot bunnies dancing in their heads… I got stuck with this weird rat-thing) stitches it all back together into something new and wild.
How do you deal with creative block?
I’ve always been stubborn, so I tend to just plow right through it! If I’m blocked, it means I’m stuck on a story problem of some sort. Sometimes that means I need to brainstorm all possible solutions, and sometimes it means walking away for a bit and letting things simmer in the background while I do something else, usually something Not Writing.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Not being true to your characters.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I’m fine with negative feedback as long as it’s being given in a constructive way. My beta readers are great at this. As for bad reviews, they come with the territory. It’s important to remember that the writer only brings half of the story to the table. The other half is coming from the reader, who filters every story they read through the lenses of their own experience. You will never please everyone, and if you try, you’ll never take the risks you need to take in order to grow as a writer and an artist.
How has your creation process improved over time?
I’ve learned to stick with a project until it’s done, even when it’s hard (those are the ones I learn the most from). I’ve also learned to write every day, whether I actually feel inspired or not. It took me a while to realize it, but I find there’s no real difference in quality between the stuff I wrote when I was on fire vs. the stuff that had to be squeezed out word by painful word.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
Best: Getting emails from fans who have enjoyed my work. Learning that I wrote somebody’s favorite book is an awesome feeling, and will never get old!
Worst: The necessity of marketing.
Most surprising: The discovery that I can’t seem to write anything short. My short stories always seem to turn into novels, and my novels become series. My secondary characters always end up having far too much story in them for me to stop!
What are your plans for future books?
More dragon shifters, for certain. The Wytch Kings series will wrap with book 7, which will be coming out in 2020, but it’s by far my most popular series, and also the one I’ve enjoyed writing the most, so I’d like to do another series in that world and with those characters. Other than that, I’m not sure… I have so many interesting ideas waiting for me to breathe life into them that it’s hard to choose.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I have a doctorate in ceramic engineering, a ridiculously large collection of books, and several tattoos. I have built my own fireworks, knitted my own socks, and I make my own bread. I’ve been an avid roleplayer for forty years (mostly Dungeons and Dragons), and an artist since before I can remember.