I’d like to welcome award winning- B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Justine Avery to Layered Pages today. Professionally, Justine Avery first traversed the murky corporate world of writing and designing technical documents to navigate through writing countless travel stories, reviews, personal essays, and articles. She is now the multi-award-winning author of numerous short stories and novelette-length works.
Personally, she has been writing since first falling in love with reading and words themselves, always viewing everything happening around her—and in her imagination—in the form of images translated into poignant phrases and intriguing sentences. She has written under many different names in many different genres, and is finally coming “home” to write, as herself, the stories that transcend genre.
Avery has lived countless stories, takes note of the infinitely more all around, and loves and appreciates every kind. As an avid reader of all genres, both fiction and non, she knows we, as readers, may have preferences, but we’re all—just as naturally—fans of every genre… when we find the stories with real intrigue that have no bounds, that have universal appeal. Those are the stories she prefers to find… and write.
“Story’s in everything we say and do. Story’s what drives us, scares us, changes us. We live stories, imagine them, fear some of them. They’re who we are. I’m a story reader, writer, and seer. I find everything about life and in this big, wide world (and beyond) utterly fascinating. Stories should be the same. I hope you enjoy the hell out of mine.”
Thank you for chatting with me today, Justine! How did you discover indieBRAG?
Thank you for the invitation! I discovered indieBRAG by relying on a Google search to lead me to award programs or other recognition offered for independently published books and authors—if there were any at all. I was so glad to find there are organizations, readers, reviewers, etc. devoted to discovering, critiquing, honoring, and publicizing indie books. And indieBRAG is and does all of these!
Please tell me about your story, The End.
The End is a novelette-length psychological suspense story with a bit of mystery, drama, and adventure tied in with a techno-thriller element. It comes to life around a particularly eerie “what if” question: What if you find you’ve actually filmed the scene of your own death—actually caught it on camera?
How is Trevor influenced by his setting?
Trevor’s a “weekend warrior.” His choice extreme sport is freeride mountain biking. He spots a line, makes his own path, cuts across the canyonlands of southern Utah. It’s his much-needed escape from the monotony of corporate life. In the great outdoors—risking his life, using his learned skills and his own fitness—he temporarily frees himself from the suffocating chokehold of an unfulfilling life.
What are some emotional triggers for Trevor and how does he act on them?
Trevor’s biggest emotional trigger is feeling stifled, caged in, as situations and events in his life are not what he really wants them to be: his job, his marriage, his first child on the way, being confronted with his own mortality in the midst of it all. He’s constantly striving to juggle his personal needs with his commitments. And, being a naturally caring individual—often thinking of others before himself—his quest is all the more challenging.
What was your inspiration for this story?
I love a great “what if” question, and many, if not all, of my stories have begun just that simply. The question popped into mind one day: “what if someone’s death was actually caught on camera—if they had the opportunity to witness their own death?” A “what if” instantly leads to more questions, the answers being the story: how would the character feel, what would they think, could it actually happen and what would cause it, would they think it was then guaranteed to happen or would they try to fight it, to change fate? The characters, their own stories and motivations, the mysterious circumstances, all unfold from there.
Will you share an imagery of what Trevor captures on video?
To not spoil the read, I’ll set the scene a bit. Trevor always wears a helmet-mounted GoPro video camera when he goes for a ride. He captures every jump, slide, and swerve, all from his point of view. As The End begins, Trevor sets out on just another Saturday ride as the sun comes up over the canyon. The reader rides along with him, through every thrill and a spectacular jump. Only later, does Trevor take a moment to casually play back the footage, relive every exciting moment amid the beautiful setting, and find the video ends in a completely different way than he remembers.
What are the challenges of writing a thriller?
There are many! A thriller is intensely fun to write as it’s just as thrilling for the writer, in the moment, as it is to read. But that’s also part of the challenge: to get the pace right, to build up the tension, to make the moments that are most intense, frightening, and urgent for the character to feel the same for the reader—and to try not to give away the ending! And hopefully, none of the little realizations along the way.
How long did it take you to write this story and what was your process?
Great question. I keep a record of my daily writing—what I’m working on, how many words written—just to find how my writing habit evolves, and it’s great to recognize when I reach some achievement, such as the most words written in a single month. There’s also a nice little phone app, Wordly, for keeping track of writing time, goals, rate, etc. for different projects. So, apparently, The End was written over 13 days, in about 22 hours, but there were many gaps between writing sessions. I really struggled with the beginning, with creating a character whose hobby was not one of my own. There were many additional hours spent researching mountain biking itself: the gear, the lingo, the specially designed bike, the entire experience of it. Luckily, the setting of southern Utah was one I’ve visited and explored myself!
Where can readers buy your book?
The End is available at all Amazon sites, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, iBooks, Smashwords, etc. My personal site links directly to the book at all retailers: http://justineavery.com/books/the-end.
What are you currently working on?
Another great question! …because I’m personally so excited about the answer. I’m currently writing my first novel-length work, a huge idea in the speculative fiction genre. I’m fighting to finish the first draft by the holidays. Currently, the novel is over 110,000 words, which will be edited down in revisions—guaranteed.
Please share what you love most about telling a story.
The best question of all! Hands down, I love the discovery most of all. Sure, the “magic” of storytelling—how a simple notion, single character, or very tiny idea turns into an entire tale—is terribly fun and a thing to behold; but I love going on an adventure myself, as author. I love laying down one sentence that leads to another, then another, the whole story unfolding as I type, discovered in the moment by me, and hopefully, just as exciting for the reader-to-be. What we can’t or wouldn’t or just won’t get around to experiencing in “real life,” we get to experience, learn, and discover as writers. It’s a never-ending adventure.
Be sure to check out The Life—and Art—of Writing: Justine Avery Interviews Film Director Devon Avery, here!
Justine Avery loves to connect with fellow readers and writers, explorers and imaginers. You can find her at JustineAvery.com, on Twitter.com @Justine_Avery… and between the lines of that new book you’ve been reading.
A message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Justine Avery who is the author of, The End, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The End, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.