New Dark Content and an Interview with TJ Fier – The Bright One.
I read The Bright Ones over Christmas and I was so bowled over by it that I interviewed the author. That follows below. Great book and great fun interviewing her.
First though. There’s a new short out, set in Dark, featuring Dun and Padg. The only place it’s available is on my mailing list, as a giveaway for completing a quick survey. Not on it? Easy. Click here. MAILING LIST WOOP!
Not only will you get a copy of the new short ‘Sword-Spear in the Dirt’, you’ll also get a copy of Darkish, the collection of all the previous shorts.
Ok. Let’s crack on:
Interview with TJ Fier – The Bright One
PA So today I’m doing an interview on the blog, with a writer you won’t have met, but I think you’ll really like. Welcome TJ Fier. Why don’t you introduce yourself?
TJ I’m T.J. Fier, I write contemporary fantasy, dark fantasy, and some horror. My debut novel is THE BRIGHT ONE, an unconventional unicorn story, was released via Three Little Sisters publishing on December 15th, 2020. When I’m not writing I’m Associate Professor of Set Design at North Dakota State University. Before the pandemic, I also worked as a freelance set designer and scenic artist. Hopefully, I will be able to return as scenic charge this summer at American Players Theatre for my sixteenth season.
PA Let’s get straight into the book then. For a book called ‘The Bright One’ it’s pretty dark. When I saw the cover I was expecting My Little Pony, what I got was something more like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
TJ Yes and YES! Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favourite show of all time. It’s especially influenced a current project I’m working on. I think that’s why the unicorn story was tough to sell because everyone has preconceived ideas of what unicorns can be. Should be. I was a huge fan of Tanith Lee’s Unicorn series (much of it is out of print) because she explored the unicorn idea in many unexpected ways.
PA One thing I clocked early in the book was this bit by Alexa our protagonist:
‘This class…They came from families much like her own, who believed in the sacred duty of intellectual rigor. When anyone stumbled, they smelled blood in the water; sharks ready to take a bite.’
PA How much of that is based on your own High School Days?
TJ Plenty! I was not nearly as withdrawn as Alexa, I wanted her to be the “shadow girl” on the periphery of everything. I was involved in a ton of extracurriculars, however I loved to draw. I even teach drawing and rendering classes now as a professor. Alexa is more quiet, more fragile than me. I loved the idea of this quiet, fragile person being thrust into an impossible situation.
PA Now, I know something the readers don’t here: that you teach on a Theatre Course, but I think that explains how ‘screen-worthy’ nature of your writing jumps off the page.
TJ I started as an actor but thesedays I’m a theatrical design professor — specifically set and scenic painting.
PA How to lay out a scene and the detail in it really shines out from that. Especially in the dialogue. That’s something new writers often have trouble with. You don’t seem to.
TJ I love writing dialogue. I try my best to embody my characters when I write them.
Having honest, real-life dialogue from my characters is very important to me. Even if the circumstances are extraordinary.
PA I think the thing you’ve triumphed with, where *so many* fantasy writers come a cropper, is that you’ve written believable dialogue for characters going through the impossible. Their reactions to the unicorn and then the fact it thinks they’re all morons is both perceptive and hysterical.
TJ It’s tough writing those kinds of reactions and keeping them honest. Una really changed from when I first thought about the unicorn.
PA The unicorn is *so snarky* I love it.
TJ The snarkiness of Una developed as the story developed. I realized a benevolent, pretty unicorn is just not that interesting.
PA And it also gives you that beautiful tension where no-one is really sure whether to trust the Unicorn or not.
TJ I like messing with my readers!
PA I think it works great without being annoying!
PA Ok this is the traditional point in the interview where you get asked more fluffy, fun questions so… Since we’ve established that you weren’t a shy and retiring violet like Alexa, what was the worst thing you got into trouble for at school!
TJ Unfortunately, I was a very good kid. Excellent student.
PA Hmm… you must have done *something* naughty? Not even a late library book?
TJ My biggest rebellion was wearing baggy clothes and trying out the “grunge” chic.
PA Ah, the grunge! The music in this was something else I was going to cover: It feels like every scene, even the internal dialogues, have an underscore to them!
TJ Yes! I even put together Alexa’s playlist in the Spotify.
PA Oh hell yeah! I hope you’re plugging the hell out of that, because it’s a great idea and a great soundtrack.
PA Ok, last question. What will readers not know about you, that informs your book?
TJ Ooh, that’s a tough one. My love of unicorns started with my love of horses. Because what little girl doesn’t love a magical horse? I liked to imagine unicorns living in the woods outside my home. I could picture them in my mind. I never thought, as and adult, I would write a unicorn story. But the idea: what would you do if you found a unicorn in a bathroom?
PA Well, it’s been a pleasure TJ. Where’s the best place for people to get a hold of your book and follow you and all that good stuff?
TJ Here’s my author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/iamfierless
Twitter handle is : @iamfierless
PA TJ Fier’s book ‘The Bright One’ is available from here: linky.
And that Spotify link we were talking about is here: linky
She tells me there’s a sequel out next year, that trust me, if you read book1 you’ll want to follow.
The blog will be slightly more regular now, since I have hired a genius marketing elf to help push me along! So more soon, there are reviews of books I’ve read and sneak previews of Darkest, which is now out with Beta readers.
Till the next one…