I first met LJ at the Denver Comic Con back in 2016. I was drawn to her table by the badass book covers and amazing artwork on display. My thought was this is an indie author I need to know more about! We chatted for a few minutes and I ended up buying the last set of books she had with her. Lucky me! I left with a promise to be in touch and learn more about her work, the Triorion series and anything else she’d like to share with me. The result was getting to read a rough draft of one of her upcoming books, and a delightful chat at a local coffee shop were she spilled her guts about Triorion, publishing, and life in general!
LJ has created an amazing world in the Triorion series. Think of it as Ender’s Game meets Stranger Things! I won’t spoil anything for you and will do a full series book review at a later date, but for now I will let you read our chat below and perhaps drool a little over what is to come. And there is a lot to come!
Let’s get this out of the way first. Do you have a truly hideous name? why do you use initial’s?
Hmmm. There are some clues to the reason why in my new book, The Laws of Attraction.
I can tell you that I was given the nickname LJ when I was three years old, and it stuck. I (very briefly) tried to switch to my given name when I moved out to Colorado, but playing as many sports as I have, my name – even my nickname – winds up getting shortened. On one of my soccer teams, they just called me “L.”
When was the Triorion Series born in your head? When did it finally hit paper so we could all enjoy it?
The idea first struck me in grade school. I remember the moment well – it was nighttime, I was supposed to be going to bed, but I wanted to imagine myself on an adventure. However, as I ran through the cache of movie and book characters I’d always fallen back on, I realized that I wanted my own world and my own heroes. Right then and there I started coming up with scenarios and characters that delighted my eight-year-old brain, and it wasn’t long after that I started writing the details down.
However, what started out as a silly adventure turned into something very serious, an outlet I depended on in my late teens and early twenties. The characters, now fleshed out and developed, gave me hope, even in their darkest hours, and the trials they endured and the secrets they shared kept me going, especially as I faced one of the biggest challenges of my life: coming out.
At twenty-two, publicly outted but terrified and ashamed of who I was, I poured all my anger and frustration into what would become book one in Triorion: The Series. I pitted my characters against the worst enemies and situations I could think of, caving in their world, stripping them of all they held dear – and yet somehow, some way, they persevered. That outcome, even when I didn’t believe happy endings were possible for me or my characters, awakened me to a new world, one that I felt had to be shared.
You have some very robust characters through-out the series, if you had to pick a favorite which one would it be and why?
Noooo – don’t make me pick! It’s cliché and cheesy, but they’re all so important to me. How about this
Character I’d want to:
Party with: Bossy
Be my bodyguard: Mom
Be my life partner: Triel
Be my best friend: Jaeia
Be my teammate/fellow soldier: Jetta
Be my advisor: Jahx
Be my “bro”: Reht
Which character is most like you?
Ehhhh… I think every character is an extension of the author in one way or another. *winces* Yeah, that means even the dark ones. But if I had to narrow it down, I’d say I’m a blend of Jetta, Jaeia, and Jahx. I always viewed them as the id, ego, and super-ego anyway.
Which characters are based on someone you know?
Actually, I didn’t do that consciously in Triorion books 1-4. However, I did base two of the main characters in my new romance/science-fiction novel, The Laws of Attraction, off of my best friend at work and my wife, and some of my favorite characters off of co-workers and a very outgoing pediatric gastroenterologist. That book was a ton of fun to write just because I could hear my friends saying their lines, and the story practically wrote itself.
The illustrations are amazing; how did you go about finding the right people for the job?
It took a long, long time, and a huge vetting process. I met a lot of great artists at conventions and through random connections, but sometimes the timing would be off, we’d have mismatched schedules, or other factors prevented us from having a long-term business partnership. I actually met MJ Erickson at Denver ComiCon in 2015, and we seemed to hit it off from the start, and she’s been a blast to work with. We’ve done a few conventions together now, and I’m hoping our schedules permit us to continue to work with each other in the future.
How long did the process take?
More than a decade. Not joking.
How long have you wanted to be a writer? And how long did it take you to finally get around to doing it?
I don’t think I ever thought, “I want to be a writer.” I’ve just always felt the need to write, even as a little kid. I recently went through some old storage bins and found spiral notebooks full of random stories, journal entries, and hilarious action/adventure tales. I even found a letter I had written to George Lucas telling him that I’d created my own “Star Wars.” I think finally sitting down and writing a full novel just came down to timing, and what better time to do it than when you’re at the height of your biggest emotional challenge?
Why did it take so long?
School, sports, and general life got in the way. However, once I entered the working world, I decided my own schedule and dedicated myself to finishing the first novel.
Tell me about your writing environment, quiet corner of the house on a computer, typewriter, coffee shop…what works for you?
Oh gosh – I love writing on a laptop because I’ve taken to doing all my work in my backyard hammock as the dogs run around and chase squirrels. There is nothing better.
What time of day is your writing most fruitful?
Early morning, right when I wake up, when I feel caught between a dream and the waking world.
Who are your biggest influences?
My friends and family by far.
What was the last book you read?
“Black Boy” by Richard Wright. I love non-fiction books that put me in someone else’s shoes so I can learn from their experience, understand life from a different perspective. And the last page and a half brought me to tears. What he had to say in those last few paragraphs touched me, especially as a writer.
You have a lot of things going on in your world. Nurse, writer, drummer, teacher, world champion, family… how do you keep it all together and manage to stay focused enough to get it all done and still have time for any of it?
Well, you have to sacrifice something. For me, it’s usually breaks and sanity. I work a lot, but I really enjoy what I do, and the people I get to share my passions with.
I know you have a lot of projects in the works, which one are you most excited for or proud of?
I finished Shadowless last year, a YA novel that my beta readers decided is a cross between The Legend of Korra and The Grisha Trilogy. I’ve also completed The Laws of Attraction, my science fiction/romance novel that is best described as Fifty Shades of Grey meets Sense8. Right now my agent and I are looking at traditional publishing options for both those books. I also have Triorion: Nemesis, book five, ready to go, but I want to see what happens with Shadowless and Laws before I put that on the market. It’s frustrating since I have a lot of new material to share, but I’m trying to be patient and see what opportunities are presented.
Here at Groovey.tv we also ask the hard-hitting questions:
What is your philosophy, motto?
Be loving, be kind, and leave this world a little better than how you found it.
If you could join any band, alive or dead, which would it be?
Hey, I’m already in Wolfgirl, the raddest band around. But if I had to choose another band, it’d be Sevendust or A Perfect Circle.
What really pisses you off?
You mean like really, really pissed? Insulting my friends or family. That’d do it.
OMG… I am Jetta. Dang-it.
Who would win in a knife fight Tom Cruise or John Travolta?
After practicing Doce Pares Eskrima since 2005, I can tell you that nobody wins a knife fight.
Wine or beer?
I’d rather have a milkshake.
Last song you listened to?
“Shine” by Sevendust.
What was the last thing the voices in your head told you to do?
Eat the last of the Halloween candy. Which I did, and now I am full of delicious chocolate and regret.
I enjoyed hanging with LJ and getting to know more about Triorion, the whole process of publishing, editing, and finding the right path to get you to where you want to be as an author. Make no mistake this is a hard industry to break into and find your way. I have major respect for anyone willing to make this happen and get their work in front of the public. On that note LJ wanted me to let all of her fans (and future fans) know that she loves to hear from you. She wants to know what you like, what you don’t like, what you would like to see happen in her next book and anything else you’d like to say.
I have it on good authority that sometimes her fans end up in her work! And as always we encourage you to share your love of indie books with others. If you like something, say something! Post a review on your favorite book site or social media!
Connect with LJ and her series: