Fantasy author Jeremy Shory is with us in the forum today. He’s the author of The Journal of Forgotten Secrets, and his obvious passion for work and life shines through with every word he speaks. I'm looking forward to learning more.
Tim Greaton: It’s great to have you here Jeremy. I’m anxious to talk about your book, but first I was hoping you could tell us a little about your childhood.
Jeremy Shory: I actually had a very gifted upbringing growing up in Orlando. Not gifted in the sense of having gobs of money, but gifted by having the luxury of major theme parks in my backyard. I have always felt that people travel thousands of miles to see Disney World and Universal Studios and Sea World/ Busch Gardens, so why not take advantage of my close proximity. Truth be told, I really love the theme parks. It’s a way to escape from day to day issues and just live in the magical moment. Because of being able to visit these magical places on a regular basis, I feel like I’ve always had a passion for replicating that feeling for those that can’t make it by transporting their mind via a story.
Tim Greaton: A lot of authors I talk with, Jeremy, have unusual pastimes, but you’re more of a guys’ guy. Can you tell our audience about that and how you use your interest to help others?
Jeremy Shory: I’m a big football junkie. I love just about everything involving the sport, from college on up to the pros. I’m a big Florida State Seminoles fan (grew up with them being the premier team in the 90’s and have painstakingly stuck with them ever since). For a while I was serving as chief ACC correspondent for a college football website called FantasyCollegeBlitz, which has since shut down. Now I tend to fill my football desires by co-operating a local flag football league that pairs inner city kids with adults to help guide and mentor through the sport. We play some ball and have some heart-to-heart discussions in the process. It’s as rewarding as it is fun.
Tim Greaton: Even though you’ve spent a lot of time at the Florida theme parks, I understand there is another magical place that has impacted your career.
Jeremy Shory: Ah yes, this is a good one. I’d say the place that will always stand out to me as being vital to my life as a writer is the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. I know, it sounds like a strange place to consider influential, but if it wasn’t for Atlantis I don’t think I would have come up with The Orion Chronicles concept. My wife and I were vacationing at the amazing resort and it literally was paradise. If you haven’t been, you must find a way to go at least once in your life. You won’t regret it. But anyways, so my wife and I were having a great time and I said to her, “You know, I just need to write the next pop-culture phenomenon that way we can just stay here any time we want.” As silly as the comment was, later that night, which was our last night on the vacation mind you, I was lying in bed and I couldn’t get to sleep. Now I don’t know if it was because of anxiousness about leaving the next morning or what, but I like to say it was because my mind was racing with all these fantastic ideas for a new story. I started jotting them down into my phone (see I wasn’t lying about that) and before I knew it, I had enough to get The Journal of Forgotten Secrets started. So Atlantis played a crucial role for me in my writing career and for that, I have to say it was possibly the best vacation I’ve ever taken.
Tim Greaton: Who are the authors who have influenced your work? And I suppose the next natural question would be do you model your work after any particular author?
Jeremy Shory: Consider me your next Stephen King mixed with J.K. Rowling , Dan Brown, Kurt Vonnegut, and Rick Riordan. Okay, not really. I think that would be pretty impossible to be all of those combined. But to answer it honestly, I’d say I don’t think anyone can write a Young Adult Magic Fantasy about a teenager without saying J.K. Rowling had some influence on them in some way. But the person I feel I most compare to from a stylization standpoint would be the great Dan Brown. He has a way of keeping his chapters short, but eventful. In addition, he has a unique way of injecting internal thought monologues for his characters and that’s something I really liked, so I infused it into my stories as well.
Tim Greaton: I love to ask writers about their creative systems. I, for instance, prefer my office to be quiet or to have classical or movie soundtrack music in the background. What kind of writing environment and process have you developed?
Jeremy Shory: My cell phone has about eight different pages full of different notes about The Orion Chronicles – plot notes for the overall series, plots for specific books, character names, monsters – you name it, I have it written down. I feel this works the best for me because I always have my phone on me no matter where I am, and ideas come to me constantly. So my cell phone gets quite a workout as I add and remove notes to it. Then I always make sure to have it next to me as I sit down to write the next chapter so I can look for any standalone pieces of information I might be able to work into the story somehow. I listened to my iPod when I was writing The Journal of Forgotten Secrets, but now I almost prefer silence as I write. I feel too distracted with any blasting music nowadays.
Tim Greaton: I’ve never been a fan of dense writing, which often comes in the form of huge chunks of encyclopedic information being dumped on the reader or even as endless descriptive details delivered every time a character enters a new scene. You definitely don’t have that problem, Jeremy, and in fact readers have told you just the opposite. Could you talk a little about that?
Jeremy Shory: I have been told that I have a unique way of injecting specific details into the story without bogging it down. I personally struggle reading a piece that seems like all I’m getting are the details—how long, how much, what color, what cut someone’s hair is for example. I feel there is always a way to infuse the details into the action. This gets back to the age old rule of “Show, don’t Tell.” If I said someone had voluminous curly, auburn hair that covered her head, you’d get the picture. But what if I said she tucked her auburn hair behind her ear, moving the curly strands out of her face. There’s a difference…there’s action. It’s the same information, but not like you’re reading a laundry list of features. I’ve worked hard at that concept and I appreciate those who notice.
Tim Greaton: Okay, first I have to say I LOVE the cover for The Journal of Forgotten Secrets. Could you tell us about it…the book, I mean?J
Jeremy Shory: The Orion Chronicles: The Journal of Forgotten Secrets is the first installment in my Orion Chronicles series. It’s about a teenager who finds himself inadvertently lured into a sadistic plan, a game of life and death if you will, that was specifically designed for him by a mastermind that was thought to have vanished almost one hundred years ago. The more Orion dives into this evil scheme, the more he uncovers about his family and how everyone he’s ever known has been keeping dark secrets from him. Ultimately he decides he’s had enough and he determines he’s going to take matters into his own hands and start controlling his own fate. At least he thinks he is anyways.
Tim Greaton: Sounds like a great premise, Jeremy. In a lot of ways, I see parallels in how we work. For instance, one of my sisters reads everything I write and has served as a “first reader” for many of my novels. You, too, have some family help. Could you tell us how that works?
Jeremy Shory: Oh gosh, I don’t think there’s any way I could have ever completed The Journal of Forgotten Secrets without the help of my sister, Kristy. I consider her my resident Orion Chronicles expert because she’s read so many drafts of it she could probably recite it in her sleep. This is a great question because it really gives me the opportunity to thank those who really helped in my writing process. As I mentioned my sister read every version, every small edit or plot change, and did it with a smile (I know how mundane it had to have been for her reading the same thing over and over). She was a big factor in shaping the story into what it is today.
Tim Greaton: Are there others involved in your production process?
Jeremy Shory: My brother, Jason, and best friend Shereena, were my early editors of sorts. They read the very first version of the story, looking for plot holes and giving feedback on the overall flow. My editor, Carissa Rossi, was a big influence and really helped guide me with some excellent advice on how to tell a clear and precise story. I’ve become really close with a well-known author named Shaunna Rodriguez, and I’ve recently leaned on her in regards to my writings as well. She’s been super supportive; it’s been wonderful to have an author companion like that, especially someone who knows the industry like she does. And of course my wife…she was there listening to every note I was jotting down or plot point I wanted to throw in the story. I really can’t thank these people enough because they were so influential throughout the entire process.
Tim Greaton: When you say Orion Chronicles, I hear series. What can we expect next?
Jeremy Shory: The Orion Chronicles is scheduled to be five parts. The Journal of Forgotten Secrets is out right now and I’m working on book two, which is titled Curse of the Phantom Brotherhood. The second story really builds on the first by picking up right where it leaves off. It answers some questions raised in book one, but more importantly we start to see some of the seeds planted begin to sprout into more complex, overarching storylines that will be carried throughout the series. Orion and his three friends, Grayson, Cremmel, and Zora will remain the focus in each story, but I promise, there’s room for many more characters and each of them will have their moments in the spotlight as the series continues.
Tim Greaton: After writing The Journal of Forgotten Secrets, did you wish you could have changed something? Do you think you will address that issue in future sequels?
Jeremy Shory: I like to think that I’m a pretty descriptive writer, giving details via action, but I know The Journal of Forgotten Secrets carried a steep learning curve with it in terms of writing style. I feel like I’ve been able to take the lessons in efficiency I learned while writing it and apply them to each piece of writing I’ve done since then, including Curse of the Phantom Brotherhood. There’s something to be said for the way an author can paint a clear picture using as few words as possible…it’s an art really. As we touched on earlier, I’m not a fan of overly verbose or wordy pieces as I feel it tends to detract from the main concept. So if I had to say there was something I wish I could change about The Journal of Forgotten Secrets, it’s that I wish I would’ve honed that efficiency skill beforehand. It would have saved a lot of time.
Tim Greaton: I can see your eyes glimmer as we talk about having a Hollywood-style, effectively unlimited budget to promote your book. Can you tell us how you’d spend those heaps of advertising dollars?
Jeremy Shory: What a tricky question. An unlimited budget means an infinite amount of ways to get myself into trouble. I think a billboard plastered up in the heart of Times Square in New York City would be the perfect launching point for a major marketing campaign. With the millions of people swarming through there, I’d think it would maybe catch a few eyes. Then I’d follow that up with replacing the Hollywood sign with my series title, The Orion Chronicles…that would get everyone’s attention right? Next, I’d drop a canvas of my book cover that would stretch the whole length of the legendary London clock, Big Ben. If replacing the Hollywood sign didn’t bring some awareness, I think that would. And finally, for the cherry on top, I’d have afternoon and late night commercials run on all the major networks in hopes that I’d be able to get the college kids talking about it. Yeah, I think that pretty much hits all the major demographics. Now I kind of wish I did have an unlimited ad budgetJ.
Tim Greaton: It would be great if you could share your website/blogsite and links to where our audience could directly communicate with you and purchase your stories.
Jeremy Shory: Absolutely, I’d love to share.
The Orion Chronicles: The Journal of Forgotten Secrets is up on Amazon now for the Kindle and can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Orion-Chronicles-Forgotten-ebook/dp/B00BKAZKLS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364751260&sr=8-1&keywords=the+orion+chronicles.
I plan to have it up for the Nook, iBooks, and in hardback and paperback versions within the next few weeks.
My main website, which is doubles as my blog, is www.TheOrionChronicles.com. There are all kinds of neat things on that site including character bios and photos, Rules for some of the games I’ve invented for The Orion Chronicle series (including a really fun card game called Rookie Mistake), and Magical Race descriptions as told by one of the main characters. I have a cool blog series going on right now that are blogs about the characters written by the characters, really giving them a voice outside the novels. You could say I finally have a constructive outlet for all the voices in my head.
Fans can contact me through my site, or email directly at Jeremy@TheOrionChronicles.com. Also, I’m very active on Twitter where I love to follow just about everyone, and people can find me under my twitter handle @OrionChronicles. Finally, I have a Facebook Fan Page where I tend to drop little tidbits and snippets of my current work, and the link for that is https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Orion-Chronicles/254014971329207?fref=ts.
Tim Greaton: Thanks for taking the time with me today, Jeremy. It’s been a lot of fun, and I suspect many of our audience members are now searching for copies of your book.
Jeremy Shory: Tim, I appreciate the opportunity to spread the word about my work. I’m very humbled and grateful. You have a fantastic site and do an amazing job promoting authors, so I cannot begin to thank you for the work you do to help us out. And thank you to your readers for checking me out. Word-of-mouth marketing is the #1 most effective tool out there, so anything you or your readers do for me is such an honor. Thank you a million times over.