An interview with JR Mitchell

JR Mitchell

Interview conducted by Snjezana Bobic

"If you have ever had a moment in your life where you feel driven to achieve something inspirational, than you will know how I feel about writing.”

JR Mitchell, or Joanne as her friends know her, is Australia's most prominent emerging Fantasy Fiction Writer. Born in the Tweed River in Northern New South Wales, Australia, Jo discovered her love of fiction at an early age and believed in fairies, goblins, dwarfs and other mystical creatures. Creating mythical creatures from her imagination as a child and adult, JR Mitchell is a rare author who can transport you into another world, without you even noticing the change.

I spoke to Joanne about her journey to the mythical world of The Immortals.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up the youngest child, my parents spent a lot of time at work and I was, what I like to call a “key child”. My childhood was a lonely one from a friendships perspective, but the loneliness I experience allowed me to develop and create vivid creatures like no others. Some may say I'm peculiar, I say I'm lucky because my imagination can take me anywhere at any time.

So you found solitude in your characters?

I think that being able to create another world has enabled me to create something magical for my readers; at least I hope it has.

Where did The Immortals Trilogy originate?

For several years I thought of the world that lay secreted away in my diary and every now and then I would write a few more lines, taking the story a little further. I found that as time went by, the story kept unravelling itself to me and when I couldn't stand it any longer, I finally reached the point where I had to put my fingers to the keyboard to complete what I had started.

The characters in your books are nothing like any of the fantasy novels that have been on the market, what sets your books apart from others?

I kept having a recurring dream, and every night it would intensify, the storyline, the characters and their journeys in life. I realised that these characters were characters people could relate to, whether it was in this life time or a past life, I had to write about what I saw, felt, touched, but most of all, the experience of the tale.

I'm curious by nature; so I had to explore the dream further to see where it ends.

Tell us a little bit about the characters and the story line?

The worlds of The Immortals are set in a mystical universe, hidden and controlled by the power and might of one powerful individual. We follow the Journey of Azrah, Theron and Ommran who are brought together under formidable circumstances, which have joined them together since their births. We travel through the universe searching for the truth, exploring our deepest and darkest desires, while trying to figure out what life is all about.  The Immortals Trilogy is about self discovery, about the lengths and depths some are willing to achieve to gain power and how love, real love may just be enough to save us all from ourselves. It's a journey that must be taken, with valuable lessons to be learnt from each and every character in the book.

As one of my readers said, “ I have never been able to look at a bird the same way again.” Once you read the series, you will come understand what this phrase means.

The Journey itself will transform you into the characters, when they are sad you will experience the emotions, the pitfalls and the triumphs that come with the end of the game. We all want answers to life's questions, but how far is one willing to go to get these answers, and that's what Ommran, Azrah and Theron will discover and teach you along their own personal journeys.

What influenced you as a writer? Did you travel to gain more perspective about the characters, places?

I travelled to Scotland to gain a visual perspective of where I wanted the characters to be. I'm a visual person, so when I write scenes I want the readers to feel as though they have travelled there with the characters and me. It's also much easier to describe to the readers what you're writing about once you've seen it yourself.

How did you go about getting published?

I have gone through five editors and I'm finally happy with my current editor. It's very important to have the right kind of editor who understands your vision and your books and what you want to achieve. There is no point in having an editor who doesn't understand your vision and your storyline.

I have been searching for a major publication to take on my books. I've sent out numerous scripts, but unfortunately, Australia's book market isn't as broad as the UK or the USA. I decided that I would create my own publishing company, Aquagem Publications. This way, I was able to get my books in stores and get responses from readers.

You need to have an imagination to understand books.

Did you experience any apprehension when your first book came out?

I was ecstatic. My heart was in my feet because I really didn't have faith in myself that I could do this. It's my readers, which have boosted my morale. Sometimes even writer's worry about what their audience will think of their work, we are only human.

What has the response been like from your Australian readers?

The responses from my readers have absolutely blown me away. I never thought my dream would come true. I have so many stories to tell and it's wonderful to see that my faithful readers have accepted my writing and my genre.

What do you hope to achieve with your books?

I would love to have a major publishing company pick up one of my books and sign me on, but I'm still working on that. I'm currently travelling the USA and UK to promote my books, to gain more exposure and to get myself out there.

Most people look at JK Rowling and assume that publishing deals just fly out the window, but it's hard work. You need to have thick skin in this business. There will be times when you will want to give up, but if you surround yourself with loving people, good editors who understand your visions and you, only time will tell.

As for me, I am currently working on another book, it should be complete sometime this year. I hope that my current fans will admire this book as much as they have loved The Immortal Trilogy.

What advice could you give to new authors?

If you believe in yourself, even in the darkest of hours and you believe your story is worth telling, don't give up. Keep at it. Draft and redraft until you're completely and utterly happy with you story that you can't change it any more.

Get a few people to read your manuscript; whether it's an editor, your next-door neighbour or a friend, an honest opinion about the story's contents and characters will be brought to your attention. Don't take it to heart if someone doesn't like your tale, not everyone likes the same genre, so when you are sending out a query letter or your edited manuscript, research your audience and market. Understand that it takes time to become established and respected and noticed. It will take time to get where you want to be, but don't give up no matter what.

Mostly, understand the market. In some countries the market may not want your particular tale at the time of your submission because the market acts on what genre is most popular, lucky for me, fantasy seems to be a solid market.

We all need to escape once in a while, so writing and being recognised by readers is the perfect ending.

I would love for someone to one day to turn my novels into films, but one small step at a time.

My best advice, get yourself a good editor who understands you, I can't stress how important this part is. Without the help of your editor you are bound to make small mistakes, which big publishing houses are sure to pick up on.

The road to getting published isn't always a smooth ride, but it's worth the journey.

For more information on JR Mitchell and her work, visit http://www.jrmitchell.com.au/.

JR Mitchell books reviewed

Professional Reader 10 Book Reviews