Authors In Depth: Josie Jaffrey

Josie Jaffrey, Author of A Bargain In Silver

Last Friday we posted our review of Josie Jaffrey’s introductory novel to the Solis Invicti series, A Bargain In Silver! Over the weekend we had the privilege of holding a bit of Q&A with the lovely author and would love to share with you! Alexander Skarsgard – drool – and Mila Kunis – walking perfection! Check out our questions and Jaffrey’s responses below! It’s a great read!

How did the Solis Invicti series come about? Was the intention to create a series or was it after the first title, A Bargain In Silver, in which you decided to add more to the tale?

A Bargain in Silver grew out of a novel, that became a graphic novel, that became a novel once more in the form of the final book. I had always wanted to write a UK-centric vampire romance, set in London, because the storytelling possibilities presented by the London Underground were too good to pass up. In the end, the Solis Invicti series actually barely features the tube system, and the society I portray within it is much more regimented than the lawless wasteland I imagined when I first designed the concept.

I always intended A Bargain in Silver to be the first in a series, but I actually expected it to be three books rather than four. The third was a bit of a surprise to me, but it ended up being one of my favourites in the series.

What was the inspiration behind the characterization of Emilia?

We all love a kickass female character, but at the time I wrote A Bargain in Silver I was beginning to find them a little monotonous. Those characters are aspirational, and I think that honestly most of us would never really behave in the idealised, heroic way that characters like that are portrayed as doing. We don’t have the perfect plan or the snappy comeback; we think of it afterwards while we’re lying in bed rehashing all the things we did wrong that day and trying to square them with the image of ourselves that we carry around in our head.
With Emilia, I wanted to create a character who tries to be kickass, but gets it wrong because she’s scared, or stubborn, or arrogant, or just plain stupid sometimes, like we all are. In a horror movie, she’s the one who would suggest that she and her friends should split up to cover more ground, then be bossy enough to make them do it. She’s not aspirational; she’s human.

If you were to cast current actors in a film adaptation of the Solis Invicti series who would your selections be and why?

That’s a tough question! Sol would obviously be Alexander Skarsgard (because he’s everyone’s favourite blond vampire) and Ollie’s appearance is actually based on Lorenzo Richelmy, but his personality is pure Ryan Reynolds. Emmy and Drew are trickier. Emmy would probably be someone like Mila Kunis. Drew is impossible to cast, but I think I’d go for a young, long-haired Colin Farrell.

Which were more interesting for you to describe – The Silver or The Weepers? What makes one more dangerous than the other?

The Weepers are interesting for their mob mentality, and their sheer force of numbers. Like with all zombie creatures, there’s real horror in the obliteration of their humanity. I also enjoyed writing the creeping of their consciousness throughout the series, as the other characters question to what extent they are in control of their actions.
But for me, it’s all about the Silver. Their intelligence is what makes them so dangerous. With thousands of years of life behind them, they’re a true gerontocracy that has amalgamated so much knowledge over the millennia that playing politics is almost automatic. It also makes human life more disposable, so while they’re not actively gunning for the humans in the same way the Weepers are, they also couldn’t care less if any particular human lives or dies as long as enough remain to support the blood supply they need to survive. That apathy, the concept of caring for human life only as a commodity, fascinates and horrifies me. It’s tied so inextricably into the mentality that allows slavery to exist.

Through your characters and your storyline what was it that you wanted to convey to your readers?

One of the strange things about being an author is that your readers are unlikely to pick up on your motivation unless you signpost it in neon within the story, and in the end it doesn’t really matter because everyone takes something different from a book. The important thing is that they enjoy it.
That said, I actually wanted to explore power dynamics, and vampires are a great vehicle for doing that. My particular interest is power imbalances in relationships rather than in politics (although that is a significant part of the Solis Invicti series), which is why the relationships in the series roll out in the way they do. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but I wanted to play around with different romance tropes and relationship dynamics that I think can be damaging, putting them alongside more positive ones to see how sustainable they are in circumstances where one party to the relationship is ridiculously more powerful in every respect than the other. That’s the reason for the love triangle (and also, I love a good love triangle!).

When writing how much of yourself do you think becomes incorporated within your novels?

It’s inevitable that a lot of me ends up in what I write. I try to counteract it to an extent, because we all have intrinsic biases that I want to level out, but there I things I gleefully admit into my stories that have more to do with my personal tastes than with any demands of the story. Nix the kitten is an obvious example, as is Emilia’s obsession with cake in the second book. There are also a fair few references in the series for my beta readers, little things to make them smile and situations I know they’ll particularly enjoy.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the writing process for you?

Trying to carve out a career as a self-published author is tough. There are a lot of distractions from the main business of writing that make it difficult to find the time simply to sit down and write. I find that particularly challenging because I’m a binger when it comes to writing (and cake!). I like to sit down at the computer with twelve free hours in front of me and know that I can write until bedtime without needing to keep an eye on the time. With a day job to juggle too, it’s a difficult balance.

What has been the most rewarding in the process?

Without a doubt, it’s the fact that readers have connected with the story. After spending such a long time nursing these novels in the privacy of my mind, being able to turn them loose into the world and find readers who actually respond to them is crazy. I’d written them just for me and my closest friends to start with, the only people I know who also enjoy paranormal romance, but being able to reach out into the world through the wonder that is the internet and find an audience who feel the same way I do about the subject matter is just… mind-boggling.

The best writers are readers! What are you currently reading and what brought you to the title?

I’m currently reading The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin. It’s the first in the Broken Earth trilogy, which was actually a Christmas present. I’m only three chapters in, but it’s already remarkable.

I actually run an online book club, The Gin Book Club, through my website, where we do video and written reviews. It’s a really good way to keep on top of the latest releases and to make sure I keep reading, which is utterly essential for all authors!

What has been the driving force for you as a writer?

The stories. It’s always the stories.

I come up with a few ideas a year that I consider good enough to invest writing time in, but I can only write one or two books a year. It leaves me with a constant backlog of stories I want to tell, but don’t have the time to write, and that backlog grows every year. I have seventeen at the moment (I think!), and the ideas keep coming. I just want to get them all out of my head and onto the page.

What is ahead for you? Any current works that are soon to be released? Planning?

I’m currently writing the first book in the sequel series to the Solis Invicti series, which will be out later this year. The second will also be out in 2018, with the third (and final) book to follow in 2019. There’s more of a young adult focus to the sequel series (which is called Sovereign), so things are a little less steamy, but there’s still plenty of romance. There will be some familiar faces and lots of new ones too.

I’ve also written a standalone historical young adult novel that I’m seeking representation for at the moment, so we’ll see what happens with that.

In the retelling of your life who plays you and what would you tell the actress about yourself to ensure she really embodies the role?

Kate Beckinsale, but she’d need to eat quite a lot of cake first. She’d really need to appreciate how central cake is to my life; everything from cupcakes through lemon drizzle and Victoria sponge to brownies and macaroons. Once she had the cake, a sofa and a laptop, she could easily handle my daily life. It would probably be a bit boring to watch, though.

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