This week’s Spotlight Author is the wickedly talented Joci Grace Morgan. I ws introduced to Morgan’s work when I was offered an ARC of her debut book, Rise of the Raven. I swiftly fell in love with her writing. So imagine my surprise when I found out that Joci Grace Morgan was actually two of my favorite people and authors, Darlene Tallman and Liberty Parker. I was so stoked to interview them for this Spotlight. For those of you who don’t remember I have interviewed both of these authors separately for this blog but Joci Grace Morgan is totally different from those interviews (make sure you read those to get a full view of these talented ladies).
How hard is it to co-write a series and blend so beautifully together? Before knowing that it was two authors I was swept away with the series, but finding out that it was indeed two authors totally blew my mind because it was seamlessly done. I couldn’t tell where one author ended and the next started.
Hahah the short answer is Lib is a control freak (her own words, no lie)! Actually, what helps us create a seamless read despite the two of us working on it is the fact that we’ve been writing under our names (Darlene Tallman, Liberty Parker) since December 2017. So nearly four years of working together, whether we’re in the same room or on the phone, has honed our abilities to be able to anticipate what the other is thinking. We communicate often about all of our cowritten books regardless of what names we’re writing under and tend to feed off of each other’s thoughts as we write in Google docs!
What was the hardest part of writing this series?
Several things come to mind, the first is that building a whole new paranormal world with a pen name that no one knew meant that we needed to ensure all of our “I’s” were dotted and “T’s” were crossed. Also, because it’s a continuing series, with several storyline arcs that carry on and over from book to book, we had to make sure that we maintained a continuity with the world, the characters that had already been highlighted and what we foresee for the future books. Verbiage in the paranormal realm is different as well so we’ve found ourselves on Google quite frequently looking up various resources to ensure that if we have a demon speaking, we’re capturing him/her correctly, or if we’re referencing the Fae realm, we need the correct words. It’s been a lot of fun and we have a ton of notes for the future books!
A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain? Was there a real-life inspiration for her?
We tapped into the “mean girl” mentality that seems to be so flipping prevalent these days, plus drew upon experiences from when we were in high school.
What type of research did you do to bring your world to life?
How do you develop your plots and characters?
Typically, one of us will say “I had an idea”… and in the case of Joci and her books, Liberty had wanted to bring a witch coven “to life” for years but she wanted to do it under a new pen name since she has a strong MC background (with some PNR from the Rogue Enforcers and Dark Leopards MC worlds) and I (Darlene) have a mixed bag of story genres as well. We kind of wanted the “no pressure” aspect of a new author (Joci) building something. So, back to how – Liberty had the idea and we started talking about it. I think we probably discussed it multiple times over a six month or so period before we ever started writing. We had names, who the girls’ mates were going to be and what they were going to be, a very very basic idea of what was going to happen plot-wise and then, we hit the keyboards! With regard to the characters? We’ll be like, ‘I was envisioning him like this’ or ‘her like that’ and because of our years writing together, we’ve learned to compromise so that we bring the best to the characters when telling their stories!
How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?
Quite a bit actually. We usually start with an idea and it can be as vague as “a quartet of sisters who come into their powers and then everything changes” which is kind of what happened to start this series. From there, it tends to marinate in our heads and since we both have notebooks, if she calls and says, “I had an idea” I grab mine and ask her which story so I can jot stuff down. The notes are definitely vague, sometimes shorthand in nature but we know what it means (mostly. Sometimes one or the other of us needs clarity…ha).
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
I think we like each of the sisters for different reasons, if that makes sense. Sometimes when we’re writing, Liberty “drives” the story and I’m following behind and adding things or tweaking others; then there are times when I drive it and she follows adding action, more description, that kind of thing. Right now, we’re working on Willow and Osirus’ story (book four) and Osirus is proving to be a major pain in the butt wanting things told “his way”….hahahahha
How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written for Joci? Can you tell us about one?
Well, not to give too much away but we initially thought that the battle that has been gearing up since book one would happen in book four. Now? We have added a book five that will have that in it, bringing all four sisters and their mates together with multiple POVs to tell how they (hopefully) defeat Dora and end her reign of terror. And then? If you’ve read her you know the sisters have cousins and they’ll be getting stories. We foresee many exciting things for Joci!
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
I think it’s that sometimes, there aren’t enough hours in the day to try to accomplish those “adult” things like laundry, paying bills, taking care of pets plus also write all the words on all the projects! We’ve been very fortunate that we haven’t really been “blocked” and I suspect it has to do with the fact that at any given time, we have between three and seven works in progress between our cowrites and our solo books.
What is you favorite part of the Indie Book industry?
When a brand new reader finds us – regardless of the name they find us under! We have both gotten reviews that say something along the line of “I don’t usually read XYZ, but I’ve read everything that Ms. Parker/Ms. Tallman have written so I read this and one again, she sucked me into her words.” We’ve had good feedback with regard to Joci and can’t wait until folks “find” her as well!
Aside from that, I’d say it’s the connections/friends we’ve made in the industry when attending signing events. We get a chance to meet those who read us, usually after having spent quite some time chatting with them online in our groups, plus also reconnect with author friends we’ve made through the years. When that happens, we tend to find our creative juices flowing even more than normal!
Joci is a pen name for the writing due of Liberty Parker and Darlene Tallman. These ladies are hardworking women who enjoy a good romance novel and anything that contains the world of the supernatural. They enjoy spending endless amounts of time with their closest friends and family. They are entrepreneurs of the written word and love to use their imagination when it comes to anything outside of what’s considered the norm.