J. L. O’Faolain—A New and Again Provacative Author Interview

LS: Welcome back to the blog, J.L.! You are the first to make an encore appearance at sylvre.com. I’m looking forward to catching up, perhaps learning a bit more about you as an author, and getting some updates about the work you have out and what you’ve got planned.

JLO: It feels good to be back. I love joining you here!

Q: I realized that during our last interview I never asked about your origins, J.L., and I’d like to remedy that. I see you were brought up in the South. What part of the country do you live in now? You’re Section Thirteen series is set in New York City, quite a ways from your original home. How do you find your southern roots influences your writing, if at all, even when your characters are at play someplace quite different?
A: I’ve lived in the same region of the South all my life. I still hang my hat in Central Mississippi, though I’ve entertained thoughts of leaving since I was around five or so! Lol

When it comes to writing about different places, I try to picture what those places look and feel like. This usually involves research, though sometimes I research things as I go, then make corrections as needed. I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and used to pretend I was a world traveler. Fantasizing myself in far-off places is no great stretch for me after all these years.

As for my southern roots, I’ve never been much of what most people would call a ‘true Southerner’. I don’t have quite the same drawl that people in this area carry. I tend to enunciate carefully, and it makes me stand out. It’s something I was teased about all my life. Most people assumed I grew up somewhere else before living in Mississippi, but I’ve never been outside the state for an extended period of time.

Q: A little bit about your writing technique, perhaps: one of the things that happens when authors write in “other worlds,” be they space, or ghostly or Sidhe, etc., is that the stories require more description, so the reader knows where they are and what it’s like. Reading your work, I always feel like I’m right there, so much so that the settings begin feel familiar to me. Can you tell us a bit about how you accomplish that without resorting to long descriptive passages.
A: I tend to babble on about a subject in a conversation, so I keep that in mind while I’m writing so I get the point across without boring anyone. It’s good to hear I’ve been successful with that so far. Again, this comes back to me picturing things happening as I go along. It always feels more like I’m the narrator following along with events as they unfold. The twists and turns surprise me often enough. I’ve never deluded myself into believing that I have total control of a story, and what happens inside of it. I’m more of a cataloger than anything else. It’s just nice that my characters are willing to allow me the chance to tag along.

I’m grateful.

Q: On the fantasy aspect of your writing, you delve into a sort of Fey underground, including everything from Pixie’s to Titania’s wolves. How much research do you do—or have you done—into the old lore, ancient stories of Faerie? Do you have a favorite source? When you create one of your otherworldly characters, or settings, how close do you try to stay to the spirit of the legendary beings and places?
A: These types of things have always fascinated me. I grew up on them, much to everyone’s chagrin. Believe it or not, I’ve been so heavily involved with this kind of stuff for so long that I often just recall things as I go. If I need to do research, usually it’s just for some specific details that escaped me.

My favorite source is actually just Wikipedia, or a search on Google. I’ve very grateful to have the Internet at my fingertips. I never enjoyed having to pour through tomb after tomb for school projects. The tedium would get to me. I try to stay true to the spirit of the lore, though. Sometimes, things deviate, but no one from any gender, species, or race has ever behaved in a straight line, so when things seem contrary, it’s only because any sentient creature is contrary by nature.

Q: During our last interview, I asked about romance, and you said that it would develop in the series over time, that if readers read more books they would see how important it would be. (Also, that sex got hotter farther into the book.) In The Thirteenth Pillar, main character Cole definitely seems to be involved in romance, or at least sex. I don’t suppose I can ask whether the discarded (or departed) lover Corhagen ever makes a come back? Or was he ever really a lover? Is the current love or sexual interest long term? Well if you can’t answer that without giving away too much, how about this: how did you ever get the idea to have Corhagen summon Joss and Cole with his summoning spell just at the least opportune moment. Interestingly, Corhagen does seem to really mind…
A: Corhagen sees his past with Cole as something he’d like to forget. Cole sees them as former lovers. I do see Joss and Cole as long-term, but as I stated above, I don’t have control over these things. That will no doubt sound exceptionally weird, but I do hope for the best when it comes to them. Corhagen…

I just don’t know. Something tells me he and Cole would never work out, no matter what the circumstances. Then again, I’ve been proven wrong before. As for the summoning spell, Corhagen just has terrible timing. That wouldn’t change no matter who he slept with!

Cover: The Thirteenth Pillar (#2 in Section Thirteen Series)


Q: Your cover for The Thirteenth Pillar is just superb. Although I do enjoy Paul Richmond’s art in general, your covers seem to hit the nail on the head even better than most, and they’re quite graceful. Can you tell us anything about the cover for Pillar? Did you specify the elements? Have any input into color scheme, etc? What was your reaction, initially?
A: I love Richmond’s work. His art is superb, and it always feels as though we’re on the same wavelength whenever it comes time for me to describe how I would like the cover to be. When I saw what he’d done with the cover for ‘The Thirteenth Child’, I was breath-taken.

I had two different covers in mind for ‘The Thirteenth Pillar’. Both, I thought were good, but the one Dreamspinner Press went with is most definitely the steamier of the two. I try to describe something that is both eye-catching, and relates to the story at the same time. In short, both are beautiful, and I can’t wait to see what Richmond does in the future. If he just so happens to read this, I like to take the opportunity to tell him thanks for all his hard work. You rock out loud, dude!

*air guitar*

Q: You’ve written something very different in Blue Ninja, and that will be coming out late this spring, I understand. I’m going to post an excerpt, below, and here’s a blurb:

Ichikawa Aoshi is a twenty-three year old nukenin, a ninja on the run. Hiding in plain sight under the nose of the clan who wants him dead, he has managed to carve a life for himself in Tokyo working with a small band of misfit rejects. Among them is his friend and mentor, Aoi, who helped Aoshi find solace after several years of running non-stop. Together, the team of elite specialty ninja tackle jobs no one else in the criminal underworld will touch, but only for a price. Because of his youthful appearance, Aoshi’s most recent mission has lead him to a typical Japanese high school to catch a sexual predator responsible for driving a student to suicide. While there, his search leads him to make a startling discovery about himself that will affect the lives of his friends and every ninja clan across Japan.

Deep inside Aoshi’s chest beats the hungry heart of a lustful deity. Imprisoned in his bloodline for centuries, the Kyuubi-Onna, or Nine-Tailed Woman, whom his clan once worshiped, has been freed seemingly by chance. With her power steadily growing, Aoshi finds himself the bearer of a force he can barely comprehend and wield with only a minimum of control. Enraged at her incarceration, the Kyuubi-Onna only wants revenge, but the Hyakuzyu Tenko clan that Aoshi once hailed from has other plans. Hoping to appease her vessel, the shadow masters of Aoshi’s former clan offer him asylum and a promotion within their ranks in exchange for his return. Events grow more complicated, though, when a former rival swears to kill Ichikawa even at the cost of becoming a rogue ninja himself.

With enemies on all sides and rumors of a war between clans, Aoshi plays a very dangerous game, pitting his enemies against each other while his allies quickly get dragged into the front lines. Against his better judgment, Aoshi begins to feel the rush of the Kyuubi-Onna’s power as her wants and desires pull his heart in two different directions.

Aoshi has lived the life as a killer but can he survive being the servant of a goddess whose lust for male flesh is matched only by her fury?

Q: Can you give us a bit of background on how this story came to be written? Were your characters developed first, or plot? How do you see this as similar to, and different from, your Section Thirteen books? Will there be a Ninja series?<<
A: Blue Ninja is a three-part story. It was originally posted on adultfanfiction.net. During the fall last year, I went through and made a few changes and corrections, then submitted it. It’s been taken down from the site since then.

Blue Ninja is a different story from the Section Thirteen series, though they share similar themes. I first wrote Blue Ninja as a method of coming to terms with my sexual orientation. It was essentially my way of saying ‘This is who I am’ to myself. The story takes place in modern day Tokyo, and involves different clans of ninja who have maintained a delicate peace with one another for four hundred ears. It’s a mesh of mystery, urban fantasy, action, adventure, science fiction, political thriller, and even satire. If you are a fan of anime or manga, part of the fun while reading it will be spotting the inside jokes and references, but I kept those farther back for the readers who aren’t familiar with the genre, so they can still enjoy a good book without missing out on some of the subtext.

Both the characters and the plot evolved over a period of time, but the characters were there before I fully understood where the whole of the story would go. More characters followed after, until I had a whole cast of them. Balancing them all out was no small task. I’m anxious about how people will respond to this. I hope it does well. This is one book that’s rather personal for me.

Q: Well, my infamous question has rolled around—you know the one about which of your characters is the sexiest. In this case, I have to change it a little. Heck, I think we know in the Section Thirteen books Cole is the sexiest at least over the long haul (correct me if I’m wrong). But how about this: Is James Corhagen sexier, or Joss Vallimun? You did, in your last interview described Joss as “primal manliness.” Sounds pretty sexy. Can anyone compete? Anyway, this is an essay question, J.L. Please elaborate.
A: Eh, I’m still partial to Vallimun. Corhagen is far too repressed. Staffelbach has grown on me fast, though, and I see big changes for his character, and how he fits into the Section, later on.

He’s just too adorkable!

I wouldn’t mind seeing Cole hook up with both of them at the same time, to be quite honest!

Q: Finally, how about a little look into the J.L. O’Faolain crystal ball? We know we can look for Blue Ninja this spring. What else is coming up for your readers? And if you have any “appearances,” or guest blogs and such coming up, we’d love to hear about them as well.
A: I have one other blog appearance in February that I have to double-check on. Right now, I’m working on the sequel to Blue Ninja, and the first in a new storyline about superheroes. I’ve been a writing madman as of late, forsaking our mother star to lurk in my quiet den of corrupted decadence!

(That was a little too ‘purple’, I’m sure!)

I’ve had a lot of fun writing the superhero story, though. It’s about a superhero who is something of a poster boy for the organization he works with for being the first openly-gay hero to join their ranks, and also for being the only hero who supposedly has a legitimate super-power. He and his best-friend/roommate/unrequited love interest are charged with bringing on board a super-powered former criminal, and showing him the ropes.

Action, explosions, hijinks, and lots of sex ensue.

LS: Thanks for coming back to visit and let me badger you with questions. I enjoyed it, and I’m pretty sure readers will. I hope you did, too, and please come back again!
JLO: Anytime you’ll have me! It has been a privilege.

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