Interview With Jan Sikes
A mystical stone, a ghost soldier, a feisty female on a Harley—these are some of the elements of Ghostly Interference, the first book in a compelling new series by Jan Sikes. Jan, an award-winning author, is visiting with us today to talk about her White Rune series, her impressive backlist of biographical fiction, her approach to writing, and more. (Hey, if you ever spot her on karaoke night, be sure to drag her to the mic!)
Greetings, Jan—and welcome to my blog!
Hi, Kimberly. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my new book, Ghostly Interference, with your followers. It is an honor to be here!
I love the title Ghostly Interference. Can you tell us a little bit about the book?
The idea for this story came to me smack in the middle of writing my second biographical fiction novel, The Convict and the Rose. Of course, I couldn't stop my current WIP and work on it, so I made a few notes, wrote the first chapter, and pushed it to the back burner. I didn't return to it until I completed the entire biographical fiction book project, which encompasses four books plus a book of poetry and art.
The main idea of Ghostly Interference is a reverse romance. That means the male character, Jag Peters, is not a buff he-man who rushes in to save the day. He is a computer geek who lives a safe, comfortable, stable life, with his main goal being that of keeping his karma slate clean. The female character is the complete opposite. Rena Jett is rough around the edges, tough, and rides a big red Harley. She grew up in a broken foster care system. Because of the abuse and deprivation she suffered, a wall has formed around her heart. She's determined that no one will ever get close enough to hurt her.
Then there is the ghost aspect of the story. Rena has only one family member, her brother, Sam. He joined the military, was deployed to Afghanistan, and never returned except in a body bag. Sam cannot move on into the afterlife until he knows his sister will be okay, loved, and have a happily-ever-after. He will go to great lengths to make sure that happens. He does that through a final letter in which he encloses a White Rune with the Wunjo symbol. This stone represents a happily-ever-after. He also makes himself visible to Jag, which is the paranormal aspect of this book. Imagine Jag's shock at seeing a soldier in full desert camouflage uniform with a rifle slung over his shoulder standing next to Jag's car in the parking lot of an upscale bar. As the story unfolds, Sam's interference, the rune's magic, plus an undeniable longing for love bring Jag and Rena together. They have much to learn from each other.
Ghostly Interference is the first book in your White Rune Series. What can you tell us about the series?
There will be three books in the series. Each book has a different paranormal aspect, with the White Rune as the common thread running through all three as it gets passed from book to book.
The second book, Jagged Feathers (working title), is complete and submitted for publishing. The main character is a soldier, best friend of Sam Jett, who delivered the final letter to Rena in book one. Vann Noble carries deep scars from the war both inside and out. The same IED that killed Sam Jett took part of Vann's leg. He is desperate to reclaim his life and settles in a cabin on a creek bank outside of the town where Rena and Jag live, Cedar Springs, Texas. Rena has passed the rune to Vann, giving him the hope of finding a happily-ever-after.
The female character in this story, Nakina Bird, has a gift. She is psychic. But she is frustrated and frightened because she doesn't fully know how to use her gift. When her boss, a prominent attorney, shoves a bus ticket and package into her hands with instructions to deliver it to an address in Dallas, Texas, her entire life changes into one of survival. The Montoya drug cartel will stop at nothing, including murder, to get the package. Vann finds her running down the main street of Cedar Springs early one morning. He has no choice but to help when she collapses on the street. It is a romantic suspense novel with the paranormal aspects of the rune and her psychic abilities.
The third book's main male character was introduced in Ghostly Interference and played a significant role in Jag Peters' music adventures. Colt Layne inherited a ranch from his grandfather and has turned it into a horse sanctuary. He leads a highly popular band in which Jag Peters plays keyboards. Colt has the uncanny ability to communicate with animals. The female character, Sage Coventry, in this book, is a medium. Sage Coventry can communicate with spirits from beyond the veil. Colt seeks her help for some answers that only his grandfather can provide. Vann Noble passed the White Rune to Colt in the second book. I am only a few chapters into this story, but the magic of the rune will help Colt and Sage find common ground and, of course, love. It will also include some mystery and suspense.
You have an intriguing backlist. Can you give us a one-sentence summary of each of those previous biographical fiction novels?
I would love to, Kimberly. First of all, they are true stories. Everything in the books happened, but because of the deeply personal connection to the story (I am one of the characters) I chose fictitious characters to tell the story.
Flowers and Stone - A hot Texas summer, dim-lit honky-tonk barrooms, a young naïve fledgling go-go dancer, and a wild rebel Texas musician set the stage for this story of passion and heartbreak.
The Convict and The Rose - Convicted of a crime he did not commit, Luke Stone loses everything he treasures, including the woman who holds his heart. He slowly learns to be positive and productive, even locked away in a cage.
Home At Last - A second chance at life, love, and family—but not without struggles that would discourage even the most determined.
'Til Death Do Us Part - With sand in the hourglass running thin, two lovers seek to take full advantage of each grain. And yet, won't there always remain one last unsung song?
To complete this story full-circle, I also published a book of poetry and art, Discovery.
Are you an outliner or pantser?
I think the honest answer to this is a little bit of both. Of course, creating a true story is totally different from fiction. Writing the biographical fiction stories was more like putting a puzzle together and making the pieces all fit. Fiction is so freeing. I think of it as going to the grocery store to purchase cereal, and there are so many choices it's hard to make a decision. But, I let the story ideas come to me and always invite the characters to lead the stories. I've published nine fiction short stories, and it's the same with each. I always know ultimately where the story is going when I start, but what happens in between is often a surprise. I get excited about that part of the process and love it when the characters tell me what they need.
What comes first, the character or plot?
That is such a great question. With Ghostly Interference, the plot and characters showed up hand-in-hand. Mostly it's the characters who show up first, and then they have to tell me their story.
What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
The best advice I can give to any aspiring writer is to make the three P's your friend. Practice - write something every day, even if it's just a paragraph. Patience - creating a full-length novel takes great patience as the story unfolds. And Persistence - stay the course. It can be overwhelming to look at writing a book as a whole, but when you zero in and focus on a line, paragraph, and chapter at a time, it's more manageable. And if you stick with it, before you know it, those paragraphs and chapters add up until you are writing "The End." The other piece of advice I would give any aspiring writer is to read everything you can get your hands on and venture outside your comfort zone by reading genres that might not usually draw you. We learn so much from other writers.
What are you reading right now, and what kind of books do you enjoy?
I am an avid reader. Since the time I could decipher words, I've had a fascination with stories. I read fifty books in 2020, and they were from all different genres, including dystopian and non-fiction. I am just starting Friends Who Move Couches by Wild Rose Author, C.J. Zahner. I love reading in the fantasy genre, but steamy romance is always my favorite. I am not a fan of sweet romance. I want something that will get my heart racing and blood flowing.
Okay. We'll end this interview on a fun note. It's Karaoke night, and your friends just dragged you to the mic. What will you sing?
I love this question. I have sung karaoke and had so much fun doing it. Of course, a few glasses of wine helped. But I always gravitate to "Give Me One Reason" by Tracy Chapman and "Long as I Can See The Light" by Credence Clearwater Revival.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about any of my answers to these questions, so let’s chat!
Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn't a "he", it's a "she", a dark-haired beauty.
Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag's apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother's final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for "happily ever after" have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?
Book Trailer Link: https://youtu.be/NHaLVSe_flI
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Social Media Links
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CS9K8DK (Author Page)