JM Bray has a racing Porsche named Tuffy! Sorry, I know that’s not got a lot to do with the topic for today but it intrigued me and made me quite envious to the point I just had to share it. And there is a short video of a record-breaking lap at the end of the post. JM also touches on the importance of knowing where your work fits, genre-wise. It can make all the difference!
Without further ado, welcome. JM, and thanks for treading the boards with us today!
When you've learned to take possession in stride, love should be easy. Right?
It might be if your life and the lives of people you loved weren't threatened by an invasion of monsters.
Vincent thought saving the world once was a challenge, he didn't figure on retribution putting a price on his head. It means college takes a back seat again as he’s possessed by Coleman to fight a new battle with the Kafla. But this time he’s not alone, Jule, the woman he loves is also possessed.
Together they hope to stave off the invasion and take the fight to the Realm, where only a supreme sacrifice can Mend the Shroud and save their worlds.
J.M. Bray lives in Southern California with his college sweetheart and their two dogs. After a lifetime together, they are happier than the moment they met. In his spare time, he cooks, enjoys family, travels with his wife, and races an old Porsche named Tuffy.
1. Are you inspired most by places, people or experiences and how do these work their way into your writing? Great question, so I hope this doesn’t look like a dodge. None of the above. Though all three do find their way into my writing, the thing that inspires me most are “what if” ideas. Sometimes these come in dreams, sometimes just as random thoughts while I’m going through life. The Shroud Trilogy (Tearing the Shroud, Mending the Shroud and Shrouded) came that way. Wherever heaven or hell is, what if there is another world reality between our existence and that eternal place? What if the Shroud separating us from them became damaged?
2. Please share one of your favourite moments of inspiration with us. I was in Monterey, California staying at a big house with a group of friends. We rented it as two of us were racing our Porsches at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. Trees arc over the roads through the area and fog is a regular thing, causing moss to grow hanging in long strands. The whole atmosphere poured images of scenes into my mind and several went into the third book, Shrouded.
3. How do you come up with your characters’ names? The main character Vincent Muldoon came as a product of his family…yes I know all names do. I wanted him to have a tumultuous upbringing and decided to have his parents be from Italy and Ireland, so his name reflects that. With my other characters, I cheat…I often use names of people I’ve known in the past, on whom I loosely based the character. Then, if all else fails, Scrivener (the program I write in) has a random name generator.
4. Who would you cast for a movie/TV series as your main characters if given the chance? If I could pick from any time and age…again I may be cheating. Robbie Amell is Vincent, to a tee. Coleman would be played by a young Heath Ledger, Jule is a tough one…and I haven’t found a perfect match for her maybe Leighton Meester or Italia Ricci.
5. If you could pick a soundtrack to match your main character’s life, what would it be? I have a huge soundtrack list that I played while writing the Shroud Trilogy, but the one that fits best is the song Vincent and Jule consider theirs, I’ll Melt With You by Modern English. Here is a link so you can dance around the living room: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuN6gs0AJls
6. How many times were you turned down before you finally got published? Thirty agents and three publishers passed on Tearing the Shroud before Kate Cuthbert at Escape Publishing fell in love with it. I love Kate Cuthbert too! Especially for loving my book that comes out a month after yours, JM!
7. What reason(s) did the publishers give for their rejection of your manuscript? The most common comment was that they loved it…but didn’t love it enough. I think, in part, that was my fault. I was pitching it as a Fantasy, which it is…but not fully. When Kate told me she wanted to release it as a Romantic Fantasy I almost slapped my forehead. She saw what the novel really was.
8. What is your favourite book of all time that you can reread a hundred times, and it still feels like the first time? I’m blessed or cursed with a ridiculously good memory. As a result I can’t re-read. Two pages into the book, the whole story comes flashing back and I’m done. That said, the series that I enjoyed the most, that I never wanted to end, that sucked me in and wouldn’t let go is Raymond E. Feist’s Crydee novels, starting with Magician Apprentice.
9. What do you need to set the mood for you to write? I can write just about anywhere, and have. If I’m at home, settling in for a session, I sit where I can see out a window, usually in our family room and put Pandora radio on one of the following stations: Keren Ann, Carla Bruni, A.A. Bondy, or Swell Season. The volume has to be soft though or I get too lost in it.
10. If there is one genre that you have not written in yet, but would love to try writing a book in that specific genre, what would it be? All my novels have a fantasy element, I love it too much not to… I’m aiming at a historical fantasy with romantic elements as the next book after the Shroud Trilogy.
11. How many blurbs did you have to write before the final one? Countless. Thank God for Ainslie Paton, who lent a hand and helped polish it up or I’d still be flailing about trying to come up with something.
12. What are you working on now? Shrouded, book three. In the Trilogy, there is a time pattern to events, every twelve years something happens, or can… I’m not going to say any more, but this pattern plays a huge part in the setting for Shrouded.
13. Would you like to share an excerpt from your writing or a photo or music link that inspires you? This is the meeting of Coleman and Jolie, in Tearing the Shroud:
Flowers. Yellow flowers.
Knee-high fields of them as far as he could see. Green stalks gently moving in the breeze. He walked through them, enjoying the peace.
‘Hello?’ a soft voice said. He turned but saw no one. He was calm. The voice meant him no harm.
‘I need you to try again. I know you’re tired.’
The voice; was it a woman? The voice was right. Tired, so tired. It’s peaceful here. A good place to rest.
Forever. That would be nice. Rest.
‘Don’t give up; you’re doing well. Come to me. Lift the bar.’
What bar? He turned and now saw a door, standing alone in the field. Oh, she’s right, it’s barred. Such a nice voice. I’ll just lift...’
Coleman crashed to the floor, the weight of the bar more than he could bear. Light like the heavens flooded in. A spirit had come to take him to Paradise. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen reached toward him.
So, this is death...
As the Cloister’s Mistress of Healing, Jolie was first through the door when it opened. She lifted the bar from his chest. He spoke; something about flowers, and she saw his face, clearly, for the first time. By the Divine, he’s gorgeous.
14. Please share your favourite cocktail recipe or celebration photo. How about a video? In the lap, you’ll see Tuffy (that’s the name of my car) and I break the track record for my class. The huge thing is that the record stood since 1996 before we came along.