Today marks the official kickoff of the Amethyst Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour, and throughout the week we’ve got a great lineup helping us feature Amethyst, Jesse Nolan Bailey’s recently released Fantasy/New Weird novella! I thoroughly enjoyed Bailey’s The Jealousy of Jalice, so I personally can’t wait to give this one a read. I looking forward to hearing what our hosts have to say in the coming days, so be sure to keep an eye out for some incredible content.
Jesse was kind enough to stop by to chat about what led to the creation of his new book, his research process, and what he believes makes for the telling of a good story, so keep scrolling for the tour schedule, more info about the book, and the interview!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Amethyst. This is what we have going on, so make sure to check out each and every one throughout the week for some brilliant content, including reviews and more.
November 8th–The Welcoming
Whispers & Wonder
Cover to Cover
The Writer’s Alley
OllieSpot SFF Book Review
Sadie’s Spotlight | @sadiesspotlight
Spells & Spaceships
Beneath A Thousand Skies
I Can Has Books?
The Unicorn Writer
November 14th–The Encore
For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.
Rashell’s brother has vanished. When the local villagers express no concern, she enlists the help of a stranger from a faraway city to find Teth.
Investigator Derrik discovers the people worship a massive stone known as the Amethyst. Even more bizarre, an ancient relic of a mummy fuels their reverence.
Given limited time, Rashell and Derrik confront these mysterious elements at play, all the while striving to uncover what happened to Rashell’s brother.
Meet The Author
Enthralled by the magic that written stories contain, Jesse Nolan Bailey has always wanted to be an author. With his debut novel, THE JEALOUSY OF JALICE, and his shorter fiction, AMETHYST, released to the masses, he can now claim such title with relief. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he has embraced the equally-gratifying lifework of hosting a trio of spoiled cats and two mini-aussies.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Jesse. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
Cat lover with an obsession with the paranormal.
Give us an idea of how Amethyst came to fruition.
I’ve wanted to do a creepy story for a while now. With Amethyst, I wanted to tap in more to the paranormal, weird stuff that seeped into my debut fantasy novel, The Jealousy of Jalice. Something very Lovecraftian mixed with M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. So that was the vibe I was going for.
As for the circumstances, just before quarantine, I had played with the idea of attempting something much shorter than a full-length novel. I knew, based off failed attempts in the past, that writing something under 50k would be a challenge. I’m a very wordy writer, and I like complex plots. Trying to fit plot, character development, and interesting world-building in under 50k is no easy task. I commend those that can do so.
Then quarantine happened, and this challenge kind of took the reins. I knew that whatever I wrote during this time of upheaval and change-of-routine wouldn’t be of the same caliber as my debut. With that understanding, I shifted my focus off of the sequel of TJOJ over to Amethyst, and used quarantine as a time to experiment with story and word count.
Can you share with us something about Amethyst that isn’t in the blurb?
The main character, Rashell, is a trans woman. This identity isn’t central to the plot of the story, but it does come up briefly in her interaction with investigator Derrik. In all my stories, I strive to insert diversity and representation, especially LGBTQ. It was an opportunity to have two characters interact around this subject and it be a positive outcome rather than the notorious, and often violent, rejection that trans people have faced in literature and in real life.
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for Amethyst?
Having a trans character required some research since I don’t personally identify as trans myself. I wanted the representation to be as loyal and true as it could be within a short-story fantasy, even if it’s only mentioned briefly. It was my first time hiring a sensitivity reader, and they offered some insightful notes and critiques to help this aspect of the novella.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
It depends. I think for Amethyst, the plot happened first and then the characters evolved to populate the story I envisioned. That isn’t always the case—the ideas for my debut novel, TJOJ, started with character and then a plot surfaced to help host the emotions and interactions I wanted the characters to have.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
Favorite character in Amethyst would have to be Derrik. He’s like a quirky mixture between Mulder from X-files and Sherlock Holmes. I have him dressed in fancy black leathers and a flashy frock coat, and his hair is a strange orange red color and greased back. As an investigator, his mind works a little differently than others, but its what makes him a good at his job. In general, I wrote the characters in Amethyst to be a bit more likable than those I created for The Jealousy of Jalice. So writing someone like Derrik was a breath of fresh air, and a needed break from the ever-stoic and conniving characters in TJOJ.
What do you think makes a good story?
In my humble opinion, and speaking only to fictional stories, I look for emotion and atmosphere. Some stories are good because they have relatable characters, and other stories are good because of the adventure they offer. But I think a story is powerful if it can evoke some sort of emotion from the reader. We consume stories because we seek something that reflects back at us what we value, what we fear, and what we desire. I think a story devoid of some sort of emotional toll might be missing the point of storytelling.
But that’s just me. The fantastic thing about stories is that, as art, they are subjective. What I think makes a good story may not be the same as what someone else deems as worthy storytelling. And that’s perfectly fine.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Here’s the tip: don’t let writing become something that is no longer fun for you. Go at your own pace, set realistic expectations of yourself, and create the writing career that works for you.
I’ll elaborate further on that below, but just wanted to put that first.
I think something I’ve learned recently is to stop putting so much pressure on myself. At the risk of sounding super existential, life is too short to inflict unrealistic expectations on oneself. After my debut came out, I felt this pressure, both from myself as well as enthusiastic readers, to crank out the sequel quickly. These days, consumers are all about binging, and an author risks losing readers if they don’t produce in a timely manner.
But this year has been tough, and it took a toll on my mental health. Adding to my anxiety and depression was this expectation that I needed to be working on this sequel, that it had to be as good if not better than its predecessor, and that I needed to just push through and get it written despite all of the crisis happening around me.
It was an unsustainable pressure, and eventually, I took a step back and realized that it was ok to take this slowly. Writing is supposed to be fun, and if it turns into something that isn’t fun, then I don’t want to be doing it. Sure, I want my readers satisfied, and I aim to entertain. But not at the expense of my mental health.
So I’m going to write this sequel as my mental health allows. Its coming together. I just want to enjoy this process, and I think in the end readers will find a more fulfilling story if I do.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
I just can’t with tea. I don’t know why. Sorry tea drinkers.
Winter or Summer?
Winter. I despise unbearable heat, and its so humid here where I live. Oh, and I get tired of looking at all the green leaves on trees. It looks like an ogre sneezed all their boogers on the trees. So give me cooler weather and some leafless (or fall colored) trees.
Physical books or Ebooks?
Mountains or Oceans?
Beer or Wine?
I reaaallly don’t like either (would prefer a mixed, sweet-tasting alcoholic drink), but between the two, I drink beer more.
Books or Movies?
Cowboys or Aliens?
Pie or Cake?
Cake. Pie is just a wannabe cake. It’s an imposter. (I’ll eat pie happily if there’s no cake available though. I’ve got a terrible sweet tooth)
Rural or Urban?
Work hard or Play hard?
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Jesse. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
Thank you for having me Justine! What you and Timy do with Storytellers On Tour is simply amazing for both authors and readers. Keep being awesome!
As for what lies ahead, I am devoting my creativity and time to Book #2 of A Disaster of Dokojin. It would be fantastic to have it out by the end of 2021, but as I mentioned earlier, I’m taking this at a pace that helps me keep my sanity, so that timeframe is flexible
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Amethyst tour page over at Storytellers On Tour (https://www.storytellersontour.online/2020/10/09/tour-schedule-amethyst-by-jesse-nolan-bailey/) to see what the other bloggers have to say!