Good afternoon, everyone!
Today I get to introduce you to A.J. Antony, the author of the highly entertaining Jackson Kross and the Dragon Girl–our Sweet Fantasy Instafreebie Giveaway Book of the Month.
Before we begin, I want to tell you all how much my husband loved this book. He devoured it. If you or a guy in your life enjoys witty epic fantasy with just the right amount of grit, check this one out!
Let’s get on with the interview!
Thank you for joining us, A.J.! We’re excited to get to know you. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Thank you for this opportunity, Shari. I’m a twenty-six-year-old physician who also happens to write stories. My debut publication, Jackson Kross and the Dragon Girl, went live on Oct 31, 2017. I’m also an unapologetic fan of chai, cakes, chocolates, ice creams, and have a penchant for wine and scotch-whiskey.
How long have you wanted to be a writer?
Ever since I read the first Roald Dahl book, which I think happened in my fifth grade. But I had already begun writing from my first grade, when I wrote a short story which bored everyone who had dared to read it.
However, the real dream of being a writer got nailed in my brain when I was thirteen—when my best-friend (maybe out of sympathy) applauded a story I wrote about mutants training in a medieval castle.
If I recollect it right, his words were, “Dude, you could be the next J. K. Rowling!” Considering my age and innocence, you can’t blame me for believing it. But the adult folk pointed out that being a writer was an impossible task, and I’d probably die single and shriveled in some shack—the reason I decided to get a “real job” first.
What inspired Jackson Kross and the Dragon Girl?
A lot of things, to be honest.
After reading Harry Potter and Narnia, I wanted to create a parallel universe to escape. More like a portal through which we could escape into a world of magic, knights and dragons, complete with a school for magic and chivalry/knighthood.
I asked the school librarian for a world like that and when she said, “Sorry, I don’t think a world like that exists,” I decided to create it. Later, I was introduced to Lord of the Rings and Eragon, and that helped me get acquainted with the fantasy tropes like dwarfs, elves and dragons.
Regarding the characters, Jackson was originally created to serve as an important side character in my first (unpublished) YA fantasy. Shelly was a character I created in a fairy-tale that was meant to be my sister’s birthday gift. (I’m revamping it and releasing it by Jan 2018.)
The idea for the story occurred to me after I read about the trials of Joan d’Arc, medieval knights and their ideals. They swore to protect the children, the women and the weak, but they were also seen to murder them under orders of a royal authority. Instantly, I had this character in my head, torn between duty and morals. This man later fleshed out to become today’s Jackson Kross, with a separate series written for him.
What are you working on now? Is there a sequel to Jackson Kross in the future?
I wrote Jackson Kross and the Dragon Girl as an open-ended standalone novel. I wasn’t really confident in my first book, and I doubted whether readers would accept the genre-bending nature of the story.
So I decided to make it a stand-alone novel, leaving enough space for a sequel if people loved it. Now that I have readers asking me to type the words faster and nagging me to release the next book as soon as possible—yes, there are sequels, and I’m working on book two of Jackson Kross series right now.
Besides the Jackson Kross series, I’m also working on a novella series set in the same world, as well as a LitRPG project.
Are there any other genres that interest you? If you could write anything but fantasy, what would you write?
I’m a fan of crime thrillers. I had a biotech-crime thriller plotted out during my years at the med school, but I haven’t touched it yet.
Yet, at times when all the thrillers, adventures, knights and dragons burn me out, I think of writing a cozy Rom-Com, but I haven’t really done anything about it.
So it could either be a Thriller or a Rom-Com. Maybe I’ll flip a coin when the time comes—or I’ll ask my readers.
Who’s your favorite author? Did you enjoy reading as a child?
I enjoyed reading from the time I could read. My first favorites were Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling (duh) and C.S. Lewis. As I grew up, Michael Crichton shaped my author mindset. Being a physician in real life, he’d achieved some really great accomplishments, which inspires me every day. Moreover, his works inspire me to do meticulous research and weave it into a thrilling adventure.
Tell us a little about your workspace and your writing process.
I really don’t have a workspace other than my study table, a laptop and a disheveled collection of papers with outlines, character sketches and world-building details.
I scribble the ideas as and when they come, try to sketch out a rough plot, make the characters ease into it. They then dictate the rest of my story, and in the end, they trick me into changing everything about the rough plot I had in mind.
Do you have any non-writing related hobbies?
I used to be a philately nerd and a drawing enthusiast back at school. But these days I just listen to music or occasionally strum my guitar—if I get my characters’ permission to leave my laptop, that is.
How can readers connect with you?
Existing fans of Jackson Kross can sign-up at Ennfort Academy (https://ennfort.com), a virtual School of Magic and Chivalry which is in construction phase. It tries to simulate the Jackson Kross experience into a website. It comes with ‘honor points’ and coins used in the Empire, and I’m releasing ‘lands’, ‘soldiers’ and ‘titles’ soon. I envision it as a place where my readers can hang out and read more about my world.
Thank you so much for joining us, A.J.! Can’t wait to see what you come up with next!
Be sure to check out Jackson Kross and the Dragon Girl, our Sweet Fantasy Instafreebie Giveaway book of the month.