It’s that time again, kids! RJ Sullivan is in the house today and pimping his new book!
It promises to be a good one too…check it out!
Punk, blue-haired “Blue” Shaefer, is at odds with her workaholic single mother. Raised as a city girl in a suburb of Indianapolis, Blue must abandon the life she knows when her unfeeling mother moves them to a dreadful small town. Blue befriends the only student willing to talk to her: computer nerd “Chip” Farren.
Chip knows the connection between the rickety pirate boat ride at the local amusement park and the missing money from an infamous bank heist the townspeople still talk about. When Blue helps him recover the treasure, they awaken a vengeful ghost who’ll stop at nothing–not even murder–to prevent them from exposing the truth behind his evil deeds.
Haunting Blue is Book One of the Adventures of Blue Shaefer.
20 Questions with RJ Sullivan
The Foundation Trilogy
Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan
My answer to the mundanes is Time after Time by Cyndi Lauper. It is the less known Fearless by Cyndi Lauper.
Best daydream ever?
Six Months on the New York Times Bestseller List. *sigh*
When choosing reading material, what factors are important to you?
I am not exploring new authors. I’ve been sticking with familiar series and books by peers. For a new, random SF read, I am getting very tired of the dystopian trend and lean toward optimistic futures, such as space opera or heroic adventure.
Of your backlist/coming soon agenda, what’s your favorite story? Why?
I have a weird western tale I hope to find a good home. It’s unlike anything I’ve done before and I am always pushing myself to try something new and different.
How many genres do you write in? Which is your favorite?
Broadly speaking, two, Paranormal thrillers and science fiction space opera. I am known for my paranormal thrillers and I love the attention that has brought me, but I hope to expand my footprint in SF because it’s my first love.
Horror Authors: Which type of horror holds more appeal for you and why: situational or psychological?
I suppose the psychological state of a character in a situation? The horror of a tale that I like to explore in stories such as Haunting Blue is watching how a character makes the decisions that put them in their dilemma, and then joining them as they cope with the consequences.
Horror Authors: Do you prefer to scare your audience with a subtle build of terror or a big monster-behind-the-door reveal?
Horror to me is about a series of choices that seem like a good idea at the time, and then dealing with the consequences. So a subtle build of terror.
Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors: World building: fun game or awful chore?
The setting should only intrude on the story as much as it has to. If the story stops to tell us how future money transactions work or to go over the specs of a megaweapon, it’s getting in the way of the story, which is the character and the consequences of their choices. If it’s a chore for the author, it’s probably a chore for the reader as well.
Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors: Do you feel non-human characters are required for a good story?
They can be incredibly fascinating. A fun challenge in my short story “Robot Vampire” was showing the waking of the first truly sentient artificial intelligence and making that character relatable and sympathetic to the reader. Robot Vampire is in Vampires Don’t Sparkle edited by Michael West.
Your inspiration – is it from your imagination or from personal experience?
I’m an avid reader (and that includes comic books as well as classic genre) and junkie of genre TV and classic//current movies. I rarely just watch something as a casual viewer with “my brain turned off just to be entertained” as I hear so many people say, but as exhibits to study.
Of course, not everyone will agree on the benefits of TV, and even less with what I’m about to say. I don’t go out of my way to watch bad television, but even horrible TV can be a teaching tool. By knowing what came before, knowing what’s current, knowing what’s being tried, a storyteller is best able to know what direction has not been explored. I could write about punk girl Blue and paranormal investigator Rebecca Burton without having seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the classic TV show The Night Stalker. But by knowing what’s come before, I can better gauge what qualifies as a new direction of an old idea, what ends up being derivative and what idea had been done better before the latest attempt. (*koff-koff* Almost Human *koff-koff*)
Give us your opinion: Editors – are they friends or enemies?
Any writer who thinks that “they have arrived” and that their stories are beyond the need of an outside point of view is on their way to a fall. That said, every editor is offering an opinion–sometimes a highly qualified one, sometimes not. We have to judge each source. An editor can help a storyteller enhance a vision and bring it to greater life. Where an editor may cross a line is when they try to change a storyteller’/s vision for their own. If I reject an editor’s input, it’s usually for that reason.
Plotter of Pantser? Is there an advantage to either?
I’m a “plants-er”, that is, option three that combines both. I follow a basic outline but leave myself open to inspiration to where the characters may take you. I didn’t start that way. I used to be 100% seat-of-the-pants, and have learned the hard way the headaches of writing myself into a corner without a plan to get out. Now, a short story might begin as five or six bullet points that I feel I need to hit, then I start writing, going in the direction of each one, but letting the characters wind around on the path a little. That’s where the magic happens.
How do you go about researching your stories?
I try to stick with what I know, or where I have an expert I can ask. I picked up on this through my business writing, where I interview experts in a variety of fields. If I need to know about the techniques of EMTs, for instance, I have a person. I’ll use the internet for research, and I’ll admit, I’m a bit lazy about it. That’s why I’ll never write good historical novels. It’s not worth the work to me.
What comes first, the plot, the characters, or the setting?
I start with a character and a situation, exploring how that situation affects that character. The setting is usually defined by the genre I’m writing in.
Think fast: give me the silliest plot line you can think up!
Title: Inheritance. Cockroach scientists discover evidence the Earth used to be populated with pale monkeys that destroyed themselves in a nuclear war.
Religion in fiction: useful tool, dangerous weapon, or better left unsaid?
I play with religious backgrounds in my story quite a bit. I think religion, or lack of religion, can be a powerful influence on who a person is and how they perceive their world. Religion and the supernatural, particularly in Virtual Blue, is a major influence on many of the characters within. I’m not sure I came to any conclusions, but it’s a topic I’m still exploring. Stay tuned.
Haunting Blue is the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer. This is the 2014 revised edition by Seventh Star Press. Seventh Star also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second book in Fiona’s tale. R.J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith: Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His newest project is the Red Lotus series of science fiction novelettes.
R.J. resides in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks coffee from a Little Mermaid mug and is man enough to admit it.