Cassidy: Welcome, Jami Christine! Please give our readers an introduction of yourself and a little about your book, The Transcendent.
Jami: Hi, Cassidy! Thank you so much for this opportunity! I’m from a small town in Southern Illinois, and it’s been a dream of mine since early grade school to write a novel. I’ve always loved creative writing as well as other arts, such as painting and music. I am 34, have been a massage therapist for 11 years, and currently own a wellness center. I am also in school for life coaching and hypnotherapy.
The Transcendent is about a young girl who can leave her body to assist souls to the Other Side if they’re dying alone. The ability runs in her family, but there’s a bit of a family mystery and drama around it. It gets more exciting when she finds out she’s able to bring a soul back to their body and “cheat death.”
Cassidy: I’ve just started reading, The Transcendent, and I must say I’m enjoying the supernatural and mystery aspects of the story. *smiles*
What inspired you to write your book?
Jami: My Granny passed away in 2013, and I had the honor of being present, along with other family members, when she crossed. Nana is the one character who is really modeled after someone, and that’s my Granny (everyone else is either completely fictional or a blend of different elements of myself or important people in my life). After she passed, I thought about how beautiful it was that her loved ones got to be with her for her passing, which led me to wonder what happens when people die alone. That’s how I came up with Lessie, whose gift is to solve that problem, so nobody ever really has to die alone.
Of course there’s more to the story than that – I’ve been at “rock bottom,” or “the dark night of the soul” as some call it, and I’ve done quite a bit of work on myself to rise up from those ashes. I incorporated elements of my own healing journey into the mental and emotional healing process my character goes through after coming back from the dead (and the aftermath of a disfiguring accident), and Lessie’s mental and emotional growth as she comes to accept the many challenging layers of her gift.
Cassidy: I can certainly relate, and I’m sure our readers can as well. Genuine, soul-searching stories are a work of heart. I’m sure your book will resonate with people who have the opportunity to read it.
On that note, is there a message in your novel you want readers to grasp?
Jami: There are quite a few messages in this story, and actually I had a hard time labeling it “Young Adult” because I feel that even though the main characters are all in their late teens, there are messages of growth and healing that can speak to all ages. Self acceptance is a big message, for Lessie (whose gift is also a curse as she randomly spaces out during high school and gets unmercifully picked on for it) as well as the character who cheats death, and many other minor characters who have their own journeys of growth.
Another main message is that of the Phoenix, burning to ash and then rising from those ashes. Many of my characters portray their own phoenix story of major setbacks, life changes and challenges, and what seems like their own personal destruction. In actuality, those events all lead to journeys of healing and growth, resulting in them becoming better, stronger, wiser versions of themselves. The message I hope readers receive is to take a look at their own challenges in life and find a way to see the blessing in them – how those challenges led them to grow to become better people.
Cassidy: I love the theme of the Phoenix, and it’s personification of rebirth. It is often a theme in my own works, so it is quite dear to me. *smiles* Personal growth and transformation make for strong character development; I’m glad to hear you focus heavily on it.
If you had to briefly describe your book, what five words would you use?
Jami: I have so many words, how do I narrow them down to five? I actually had one of my beta readers help give suggestions for how to describe it! How about intriguing, thought-provoking, emotional, spiritual (not in the religious way but in the soul-searching, soul purpose sort of way), and metaphysical.
Cassidy: Hmmm, in a sense, they are interconnected. My first thought when you said metaphysical took me back to the words, intriguing and emotional.
I’m sure our readers are also intrigued at this point. Would you mind sharing a highlight from the book with us, please?
Jami: I think one of my favorite non-spoilers is when Lessie learns about astral travel; she’s a natural at it. She’s suddenly able to project her spirit/energy/consciousness (whatever you want to call it) anywhere in the world, and it adds to the adventure and excitement of her gift (and it’s one of a few exciting abilities unlocked during the story!)
Cassidy: Lessie discovering her powers is endearing, and I’m excited to hear I’ll find out about other twists and turns in her adventure as I read.
What part of the book or character was the most fun to write? Which part was the hardest?
Jami: Hands down, the character Lessie brings back from the dead was the most fun. This character became my catharsis for a lot of unturned stones in my own healing journey, and I got to process a lot of emotions without having to relive my physical experiences. This person’s soul evolution was so much fun for me to create and write about, and I hope they inspire the reader on their own soul journey.
The hardest part was probably some of the more minor details of character and setting development, filling in the back story and building the elements that give the reader an emotional connection to the characters.
Cassidy: The energy expended to maintain detailed story telling and character development requires tons of focus. How do you combat writer’s block in such cases? Do you have any advice for other writers?
Jami: I usually beat writer’s block by sitting back and taking a look at what’s got me blocked. Am I bored? Am I disengaged? Am I unsure of what’s supposed to happen next? I make note of this, usually typing out questions to myself for me to answer later (either in the comments in the margins or highlighted in the text), and I skip over to a part that’s more exciting to write. I’ll usually see dialogues or events play out like a movie in my head, and then I get excited to capture that in writing. I record those more exciting elements and save them for when I’m ready to tie them into the overall story, and usually that helps fill in the blanks between major events, making those parts easier to write. My advice for other writers is to ask themselves the same questions when writer’s block hits, and maybe have a little Q&A journaling session with themselves. I feel like writing is not just a creative outlet, but an opportunity for personal growth. Make the most of that!
Cassidy: Those tips are going to be helpful to others, especially in terms of personal growth.
Now that we’ve discussed the storytelling side of writing, let’s get down to the dreaded marketing side. *laughs* I jest, of course, but marketing is something most writers either love or loathe.
What marketing techniques have you used to sell your book and which ones have been most successful?
Jami: Honestly, I’m new here! I’m learning as I go. I originally wrote this book for the reasons I shared earlier – creative outlet and emotional catharsis – but it was also an escape from the world. I finished writing it in 2017, and suddenly my life exploded with all kinds of adventures – I opened my wellness center, got a divorce, and went back to school. The Covid shut-down was a blessing in disguise for me, slowing me down enough to realize this was my chance to finally get all my hard work in print. I took advantage of the new freetime to do some final editing and researching, hired a designer through the publishing company I went through (IngramSpark), and she created the cover and interior and gave me step-by-step instructions on how to get it in print. I’m doing things a bit backwards, which is releasing the book BEFORE having a good marketing strategy. But word of mouth has worked well in my local area, and making connections on social media has been beneficial as well (which is how I’m here in this interview!).
Cassidy: And I’m glad we made the connection. *smiles* Covid has caused many creatives to change how they interact and engage with their audiences. I am impressed by the ingenuity I’ve seen.
After self-publishing your first book from start to finish, do you have any other projects in the works?
Jami: Of course I want to see where a few of my characters wind up after this story, so I’m writing another novel that is both a stand-alone story as well as a sequel, following the life of a few secondary characters from The Transcendent. I’m also still in school for life coaching and hypnotherapy, running my business as a massage therapist, and now homeschooling my two sons. I’ve got a lot going on!
Cassidy: And that’s a fact! I pray all the best in your literary and business endeavors. I hope we can collaborate again soon. I also want to thank you for your time.
Please share your social media and book contact information, so we can support your work and share it with others.
Jami: Sure! You can purchase The Transcendent on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Transcendent-Jami-Christine/dp/1735724807/.