E.A. Copen is the author of the Judah Black novels, an urban fantasy series. She’s an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy and other genre fiction. When she’s not chained to her keyboard, she may be found time traveling on the weekends with the Society for Creative Anachronism. She lives in beautiful southeast Ohio with her husband and two kids, at least until she saves up enough to leave the shire and become a Jedi.
- When did you first discover your love for writing?
I must have been five or six. I wrote this short story about a girl who ran away from home to live in a rose garden. At the time, I was in a rough place. I was a foster kid and I was always trying to run away. I didn’t have a sense of home. Writing about a girl who runs away from home only to discover how tough life can get when you don’t have a mom…It was cathartic, even if I didn’t understand it at the time. I’ve been writing ever since then. It’s my therapy.
- Do you have a favorite place to write?
In my head because everything sounds way more epic in there! Seriously, though…I’d like to have a tiny little soundproof room but I make do with the desktop in the dining room.
- Do you have a writing routine or process that you adhere to?
The only thing I absolutely have to have when I’m writing is music. I can’t write without it. In fact, I generally pick a single song for each scene and just put it on repeat. While that might be annoying to some, I think it kind of helps me zone out. It doesn’t matter to me if it has lyrics or not as long as the mood fits what I’m writing about.
- Are there any authors or specific books you aspire to?
I’d like to be as good as Jim Butcher one day. Considering that each book he releases is written better than the last, that’s never going to happen. He’ll always be about thirty times better than me. What he did with Changes…That’s what I want. That’s just beautiful writing, cover to cover.
- What inspired you to write Guilty by Association?
That’s kind of a long story and it starts with Twilight. Wait a second and hear me out. See, my step-daughter was obsessed with those books and I just didn’t get the appeal. At about the same time, I was taking a class in college where we had to read Dracula. I’d read it before but, this time, one question really stuck with me. How had Van Helsing gotten so good at vampire hunting? How did he know so much about vampires? The answer I eventually arrived at was that Van Helsing had to be at least half vampire himself. Who better to hunt vampires than a half vampire, right?
With all that in mind, I entered a writing contest where I had to plot, write and edit a novel all in 72 hours. I challenged myself to write a story about vampires that explored the answer I’d come up with and, if it was better than Twilight, I was going to publish it. Back then, it was much more Constantine meets Underworld than it is now and the protagonist was male (and a half vampire exorcist). I’ll leave it to the readers to decide if I succeeded.
- Can you tell us a little about your book?
Well, having just talked vampires to death in the last question, I can tell you there aren’t really any vampires in it. I think there are one or two but they don’t play a major role. This book is mostly about what it means to be a monster. Where do you draw the line between man and monster? Which one is really scarier?
It starts out as a murder mystery but evolves into a story about the people who slip through the cracks, the ones who live on the edge of society because there’s nowhere else for them to go. That’s where monsters are born. It’s also where heroes are made. Sometimes, they’re one in the same. That’s kind of the idea behind the whole series and it starts with the murder of a homeless guy.
- Do you have a favorite amongst all your characters?
I have a particular soft spot for Ed, one of the werewolves. I like to take popular tropes and kind of turn them on their head a bit. Werewolves are supposed to be strong, fierce and threatening. Ed’s anything but. He plays fetch and would rather be at home playing WOW than hunting monsters. Just the same, he gets caught in the middle of everything and shows a certain strength of character that wouldn’t be there if he were big on the machismo.
- Does your book contain a message for readers to consider?
Newton’s third law of motion says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I think that applies to more than just physics. We create our monsters and our heroes. We build them with our words and our actions. Every person you interact with needs a hero, even if it’s in some small way. You’ve got to choose whether or not you’re going to be their hero or their monster. It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as it is in the book. Simple acts of kindness can ripple a long way.
- What would say has been your biggest challenge and achievement in writing Guilty by Association?
The biggest challenge has been overcoming my extreme self-doubt. There’s always this little voice in my head that tells me that I’m not good enough. One day, I decided not to listen to that voice. The voice didn’t really go away or anything. I just ignored it for one day. On that day, I hired an editor. She eventually told me what I had wasn’t complete crap and continued to make it better. I love my editor. My greatest achievement is sort of linked to that big step. By reaching out to others, I’ve gotten to be a part of this amazing community of writers online. I’m no longer that socially awkward grammar nerd writing about werewolves at 2am…Okay, so that hasn’t changed. But I’m not doing it alone anymore. I have friends that understand why 2am is the best hour for such things.
- What have you learned about yourself as a writer through writing Guilty by Association?
I really suck at romance except when I’m not trying. This book has no romance. I tell everyone that who reads it. Yet everyone has come back to me with favorite character pairings. I find it really funny how much chemistry is there even though I actually edited a major romantic arc OUT of the story!
- Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?
If you want to write bad enough, you will find a way. The devil himself won’t be able to stop you. My oldest has moderate to severe autism and I was his primary caretaker while writing this. I also went to college full time and worked full time. Finding time to write is only an obstacle if you let it become one. All the talent in the world isn’t going to make up for the time you need to sit down and spend writing. As my mother would say, “Do it, don’t talk about it!” Tough love, sure, but you didn’t think this was going to be easy, did you?
- Anything else you would like to say?
I just want to remind people to leave reviews for the books they read on websites like Amazon and Goodreads. Those reviews really help indie authors become known and they do make a huge difference. Please don’t forget to leave reviews!
- And finally, do you have any future works planned?
Oh, yes! If all goes well, the Judah Black series is plotted to include at least 16 novels. I also have a space opera series of 4 novels in the works called Broken Empire. The first book of that will probably come out between books 3 and 4 of the Judah Black novels.
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