Hi, Pam! Thank you for joining us today. How long have you been writing? What inspired your quest to become a writer? I think my first finished story was in fourth grade (it was a mystery – the case of the missing skateboard!) but I have always loved reading – adventure, mystery, history, contemporary, whatever I could get my hands on. I remember being six and getting in trouble at school because I was sneak-reading a book under my desk instead of listening to the teacher so as far as I can tell, I’ve been escaping into fiction for most of my life.
By junior high, I was reading at least two books per day. It would have been more, but the school library had a limit on how many you could borrow at a time. That’s where I discovered Asimov and Heinlein and the limitless possibilities of science fiction.
I was inventing worlds and characters far before I actually wrote a story start-to-finish. The sci-fi series I’m working on now actually grew from me being bored in high school. Which was three decades ago. I would write bits of stories but didn’t complete a story until college. I still have that, somewhere.
I started writing fanfic in college. Got published in an honest-to-God paper ‘fanzine’ that came in the mail. (I considered it a series of short stories, but maybe that was my first novel. Hmm.) The first two stories were in one volume, and the other two were in a second volume, printed later – and for that, I had someone volunteer to do custom artwork. You should have seen me jumping up and down. I was dating my husband back then and I remember him saying “I wish I could make you this happy.”
Tell us a little bit about Whispers in the Dark! It’s Beauty and the Beast, but without the Stockholm Syndrome – he’s not keeping her prisoner, so she’s free to ignore him. The setting is the near-future, a post-zombie apocalypse kind of thing. The ‘zombies’ aren’t dead and don’t eat brains, but they do kill – what very few people know is that they need emotional energy that they can’t generate, and scared, dying people put out a lot of it.
Leo starts out Mindless – technically alive but perpetually zoned out – but then he meets Karen. She’s a young preschool teacher who’s curious enough to see his potential, and her emotions are waking him up. He saved her, but can she save him?
What’s the greatest praise you’ve received about the book so far? Someone said that I “elegantly” reworked the zombie mythos, which made the story far lighter than it would otherwise have been. Bonus: favorite reaction-while-reading was “Leo is amazingly adorable for a semi-zombie.”
Describe your writing style in three words. Conversational. Snarky. Lyrical.
What’s your favorite thing about writing? What’s your least favorite? Favorite thing: when characters and plot come together and the story just flows onto the page, and it’s like I’m watching them deal with whatever I threw at them, and writing down what I see.
Least favorite: having others point out problems – readers, critique group, editors, that kind of thing. Also, I, apparently, don’t understand, commas.
Your most creative ideas come when. . . I’m in the car and can’t write them down.
Share a line that makes you laugh! Internal monolog: Good for you, dude. You’re now officially my favorite zombie.
Dialog: “God promised never to flood the earth again. Never said nothing about a zombie apocalypse. Don’t you worry, though; He’ll fix it.”
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? Read a lot. Write. Keep writing. Grammar can be fixed, so don’t worry about that on the first draft. Write the beginning, write the middle, and for goodness sake, write the end! Lots of people don’t know how to end a story. Get in touch with other writers – local or on the internet. Participate in National Novel-Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Self-publishing probably isn’t as hard as you think, and there is an audience out there for you.
Can you give us a teaser about your work in progress? It’s the 22nd century, humans have colonized another planet, and the colonies are discovering they have more in common with each other than with anyone on Earth. In the first one I wrote, a domed city is invaded and the water stops working. A leader in the invading army is determined to fix it, and goes looking for an expert – who happens to be female and pretty – and makes her his personal prisoner of war. Marcus is a decent guy, so Valentina agrees to help. Once the mission is accomplished, they’ll have to go back to being enemies – unless they can redefine the sides. That book is called Shifting Alliances and there will be at least seven in all, at various points along the way as the colonies work towards declaring their independence. Lots of opportunities for sneaking around and covert cross-colony relationships. Also lots of fun banter. They’re primarily fun adventure/space opera, but each one will have a romance plot, too. You can see more on my website’s Free Kyra page – (https://www.pamjernigan.com/free-kyra).
What is your favorite Leo quote? I love Leo’s first prayer, but it’s a spoiler. I’d quote his first joke, but out of context the word “No” isn’t nearly so funny. So, I’ll go with something else. He’s not very articulate early on in the book, but I do like this narrative passage:
She had talked to him.
She had listened to him.
And she wasn’t afraid.
Those three thoughts kept bouncing around inside his head the rest of the night. Leo sat, leaning against the wall, staring at nothing, keeping his expression blank. Which was actually kind of difficult because his lips kept wanting to turn up at the edges. This was a new feeling, and he liked it. He thought it might be called happiness.
Pam started writing in elementary school and never quite got over it. She enjoys sci-fi, fantasy, and almost any variation of Beauty & the Beast. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two almost-grown children, and two cats.
Her website is www.PamJernigan.com, she’s on Twitter as @PamJernigan and her Facebook author page is https://www.facebook.com/PamJerniganBooks.