An avid reader of classic, historical and paranormal fiction, J. McAfee has traveled the world in search of sacred times, places and spaces, and in 2014, she released her debut novel, Healer. The first book in her Knower series, Healer is a unique blending of paranormal and historical fiction that introduces the reader to Grace, a woman who is thrown into a whirlwind of impossible choices and supernatural forces. In an instant, her life is changed when she discovers that she is a member of an ancient race that has sworn to protect humanity from the forces of evil. Now she and the last remaining Knowers must join together with an eclectic group of mortals to defend the planet against a demonic army that aims to destroy everything in their path.
McAfee is currently working on Seer, the next book in the Knower series. To learn more about her and her work, visit www.knowerchronicles.com.
What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?
I come from a working class family with all the challenges that regular life has to offer, including plenty of opportunities to “build character.” I had very loving parents with two very different parenting styles. I sometimes say I got all the soft skills from my Dad and all the responsibility and perseverance from my Mom. I’m very grateful I had the balance…
Who are your biggest creative influences?
I get a lot of inspiration from the classics as well as modern artists. Some examples include: anything Austen, Dickens, or Bronte and more recently, Nora Roberts, Diana Gabaldan, Christine Feehan, Robyn Carr…
What inspired the story of Healer?
To me, Healer represents the journey of each person that walks to the beat of their own drum. Throughout their life, they are bound to experience many of the symbolic obstacles the Knowers do… at times possibly feeling isolated, ostracized, unfairly judged, persecuted for taking a stand for the highest and best outcome. In my opinion, it takes great courage to be your true self. What comes to mind is George Orwell’s 1984 quote: “Courage is when one has the bravery to stand up against someone or something.”
What role did your travels have in shaping the story of Healer?
My travels play a great role. Many of the real life sacred sites, places, spaces, monasteries and castles that I have visited are fictionally woven into Knower Chronicles and the story settings are loosely based on my travels.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do to overcome it?
I don’t tend to suffer from traditional writer’s block because I don’t force myself to write. I always keep writing as a fulfilling pleasant endeavor. My form of writer’s block is getting so busy with work and life that I can’t find time to relax and get into a creative zone. The simple things in life help me overcome it… visiting with friends, taking a walk in nature, reading one of my favorite author’s new releases, seeing a great movie… basically getting my mind off responsibilities and “getting a life.” Works for me. :-)
From your perspective, what are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
I have self-published and traditionally published and they do both have their benefits. For me, what I like best about traditional publishing is there is usually a ready made online social support network of other authors under that same publisher. It helps keep me motivated to see (on Facebook and other medias) what they are all up to and how they are marketing. Traditional publishing can sometimes open up author signing events and opportunities that may be harder to coordinate when self publishing.
What I like best about self-publishing is EVERYTHING is up to me… the timing, the cover art, pricing, what platform it will be published on. One of the challenges of self-publishing is you will either need to learn how to do everything yourself which takes a good year or 2-5 years (depending on how good you are on the computer and how motivated you are) while you’re writing. Or you will need to be able to pull together a team you feel good about for marketing, editing and formatting for upload. Writers Clubs (in person and online) are usually a good way to get recommendations and referrals to a talented team.
When it comes to marketing yourself as a writer, what methods have you had the most success with?
I usually do a combination of in-person speaking engagements and online marketing. My latest talk is called Creepy Castles & Haunts: Myths, Mysteries and Legends Surrounding Them.
In addition, I make sure to do something really special for the launch of each book. For Healer, I launched it at the Reno Wizard Con. I will be launching Seer at the Sacramento Wizard Con. I do a blog about author and entrepreneurial branding, marketing, creating an online presence and building an audience. I welcome your readers to visit the blog and take advantage of the free info. My special gift to your listeners is the tutorial called Wonderfully Webify: How To Create A Brand and Build An Online Audience, which they can access at www.knowerchronicles.com.
If you could take a few weeks off and take a vacation anywhere in the world, where would you choose to go?
I’m fortunate that I travel a lot through work and by choice. What’s still on my bucket list is anything to do with castles, palaces, monasteries and, while I lived in England for a few years, I’m jazzed I have Ireland to look forward to at some point, as well as some of the spooky castles like Bran (Dracula’s) Castle in Transylvania someday.
What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently?
Of course, I loved Divergent and am eagerly awaiting Insurgent. I also have yet to see the second in the Hunger Games series. The second in the Maze Runner series should be coming out soon. I am also a huge fan of Diana Gabaldan’s Outlander Starz series and have a fun Toast Masters review of that available on the Knower Chronicles website.
What are you working on next?
Seer (Sept. 2015), and Knower (early 2016), are the next two in the Knower Chronicles novellas that I’m really excited about launching. I am also a non-fiction inspirational/motivational writer and have a couple heartfelt projects I’m working on, including a leadership book I’m currently writing called Ease In: 10 Secrets to Success in Any Setting.