J. A. Huss, the mastermind behind the I Am Just Junco Dot Com trilogy, discusses the trilogy, Fledge‘s place in the middle of it, and who she would love to work with.
Fledge is the second installment in your I Am Just Junco Dot Com series. Can you tell us a little about it?
In Clutch, Junco learned she is half avian, which is a winged being that lives elsewhere in the Solar System. In Fledge, her metamorphosis into an avian is complete and she’s now living with them on their main habitat. But there’s a catch – several actually. Her “love interest” in Clutch (Tier) is now on trial for not killing her as instructed, and while the culture is similar to humans in certain ways, the ways in which they differ present huge problems for Junco. This book deals with two conflicts – the battle to save Tier from his punishment and the battle for Junco to integrate into this new society and still be able to live with herself. She’s also fighting her way through a series of death fights to prove herself worthy of being part of the alien culture. It’s quite emotional and violent, much more so than Clutch was.
What was the hardest part of writing Fledge?
The hardest part was communicating the alien world in a way that both lets the reader make it up as they see it in their own mind’s eye, yet still be able to visualize the important details correctly so they can follow the story. It was also pretty tricky trying to fit all the puzzle pieces together in the right order… since the entire series is in the first person present viewpoint, I was very limited in how Junco got information. This made it challenging because if Junco didn’t have the information, then the reader didn’t either.
How long did it take to write?
Fledge took about six weeks to write, but I had the whole story mapped out before I was even finished with Clutch. Editing took another six weeks or so.
Junco, Tier…there are some unusual character names in the I Am Just Junco Dot Com series. How did you come up with them?
Clutch takes place in the area where I live in Colorado and juncos are little winter sparrows that live in the pine trees. I knew I wanted Junco’s name to be connected to a bird in some way, to play on the whole winged alien thing, and I took a picture of a little sparrow about a year ago and tried to identify it, but was unable to. When I finally chose Junco as her name, I was surprised to learn that it was the bird in the picture I took. It was a pretty cool moment. Tier’s full name (Raubtier) means animal or predator in German. I wanted a name that presented him as a bad guy. He is a bad guy; in fact, pretty much everyone is a bad guy in this series. Some more than others, but there are no clear good guys, that’s for sure.
All the other names, with very few exceptions, are plays on Bible names or names from ancient Sumeria.
Do you have a method for developing your characters or do you just let the characters develop as you write? (List of attributes, character sketch, etc.)
I do, I actually use Donna Dixon’s book called GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. It’s a roadmap to developing complex characters. Of course, all that changes once you start writing, but it’s how I start with a new character.
What is the most extreme thing you have had to do in the name of research?
In order to write Junco convincingly I had to learn how snipers are trained. I actually studied a book called The Ultimate Sniper for several weeks. She doesn’t use much of this skill in the first two books, but book three – Flight, has her sniping and shooting quite a bit.
What POV do you prefer to write in? Why?
I would prefer first person past, but Junco had to be written in the present to be convincing. She’s got a lot of memory issues and that only works in the present. I like first person, I think it really gives you the opportunity to be the character when you’re reading.
If you could work with any other author, who would it be?
Richard K. Morgan. I love his Takeshi Kovacs series and in fact, that character is who inspired Junco.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I enjoy reading (of course!) and spending time with my family.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you reside?
Probably right here in Colorado. It’s hands down one of the top ten most beautiful places on Earth.
Thanks for having me on your blog, Jessica! Answering your questions was a lot of fun.
No problem, it was my pleasure. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me!
Well-trained soldier or genetically engineered monster?
Junco Coot can’t even remember her trip off Earth; she was too busy being morphed into her new avian body. But reality hits her hard when she wakes up to find her new life is not what she expected. Not even close.
Tier is on trial for treason, the avian president wants her dead, her new military team is hostile, her body is being taken over by an illicit AI, and her only friend is a ten-year old throwaway boy.
In most places the avian Fledge ritual would be nothing more than mass murder, but here in the capital city of Amelia, it’s called growing up. Junco has two choices: fight to the death to prove her worth, or get sent back to Earth in the hands of her enemies.
In a foreign culture and surrounded by people she can’t trust or count on, Junco must find a way to save herself and Tier without losing her immortal soul in the process.
Genre: New Adult
About the Author
J. A. Huss never took a creative writing class in her life. Some would say it shows. Others might cut her some slack. She did however, get educated and graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S. in Equine Science. She had grand dreams of getting a Ph.D. but while she loves science, she hated academia and settled for a M.S. in Forensic Toxicology from the University of Florida.
She’s always packing heat and she is owned by two donkeys, five dogs, more chickens and ducks than she can count, and of course, the real filthy animals, her kids. The I Am Just Junco series was born after falling in love with the ugliest part of Colorado and the Rural Republic is based on the area of the state she currently resides in, minus the mutants, of course.
Win a $50 Amazon card, a signed paperback set of the I Am Just Junco Dot Com trilogy, or swag at this Rafflecopter. The giveaway ends on December 27, 2012.