Jami Lynn Saunders Interview

Jami Lynn Saunders is the youngest author to join the 711 Press Roster. Signed at only 19, this young talent is amped and ready to shake up the world of YA Fiction world with post-apocalyptic, paranormal, action and adventure tales. Many know that 711 Press does not accept unsolicited material, so it was no surprise when Jami’s first manuscript, a teen romance, was instantly rejected. But her wit and persistent determination via email and several phone calls (not willing to take no for an answer) worked wonders, getting her a full on audience with 711 Press producer Jaime Vendera. That meeting opened a door of possibilities, yet slammed it shut in her face. Not looking for a teen romance series at the current time, Jaime probed her mind about what other type of stories she liked, turning to movies as the target of inspiration. Discovering her love of horror and fantasy films, Jaime gave her an assignment: watch at least fifty movies and/or television episodes that she truly enjoyed, focus on horror/fantasy, then come up with her own twist on a story in that vein. She did, and she rocked, so she was signed! In lieu of her new book trilogy, which focuses on “werecats”, (not to be confused with werewolves) we’ve decided to interview Jami, so that her YA readers can discover what’s in store for the future from this exciting new, young author:

711 Press: Jami, how did you get into writing?

Jami Lynn Saunders: Believe it or not, I love authors like Jane Austen, so I’ve dabbled over the years trying to write in her style. I’ve failed miserably though [she laughs]. So then I tried writing love stories based in modern times, with young girls dealing with their parents and the pressures of being in school. Sort of like Gilmore Girls, which I love with a sick passion, believe me.

711 Press: That’s great. And I am sorry we turned you down, but we just weren’t ready to release our YA Romance line as of yet.

Jami Lynn Saunders: Well, I'm not sorry. The time you emailed and said you would call me personally, I was soooo nervous. And I was a little hurt when I knew you weren’t going to launch the romance line. But, you have a way of drawing people in, building them up, and making them excited to try anything which is why I was so amped to tackle a new genre. When you suggested I watch at least fifty movies or TV shows, I went nuts. My mom started a Netflix account and I devoured it. I watched a lot of Sci-Fi TV shows like Warehouse 13, Kyle XY, Legend of the Seeker and more, and I also hit the video store to re-watch all the Freddy, Jason and Resident Evil movies. I even watched obscure movies like BeastMaster and Cat People. I even read, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies just to see if I could latch onto my love for that style of writing and tie it into what I was doing. Sad to say, I couldn’t. I loved the book, but I knew the 711 Press guidelines called for a different approach to writing. So I put my love for Jane Austen aside and put on a fresh writing cap.

711 Press: We knew you could do it, which is why we signed you. Your previous writing was really good, but now that you’ve started writing your saga, surely you realize this is your calling?

Jami Lynn Saunders: Totally. I am in love with these new characters and the new writing style.

711 Press: Speaking of new characters, did the movie Cat People influence your decision to rethink and rework the typical werewolf? 

Jami Lynn Saunders: Well, I’d be lying if I said no. Indeed it did! It’s the movie that gave me the concept for Feral and then it grew into a trilogy from there. I knew that 711 Press was looking for something unique in the YA apocalyptic/action/adventure line, and I wanted to give you something unique. I knew the rules going in; the book would have to be summed up in less than 110 pages or so in order for people to read it in the same amount of time it takes them to watch a movie. But, as I began writing, I couldn’t figure out how to get all the stuff I had in my mind into one book with so few pages.

711 Press: What kind of stuff?

Jami Lynn Saunders: I wanted Feral to be Twilight, Underworld, and Resident Evil all rolled into one, but with different characters. I didn't want vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Everybody’s already over-saturated the market with those creatures. That’s when I really thought about my creatures and remembered watching Cat People. I thought to myself, “What if my werewolves were werecats? And they were just as brutal and crazy looking as the beasts in Underworld? And what if my zombies were werecats who’d been so infected they were stuck looking like a werecat, but much worse? And they were hungry for flesh. And what if in the midst of all this, there were human survivors set in a post-apocalyptic landscape that left the US in ruins? Asking myself questions like that made me realize that I had something I wanted to write about much more than teen romance.

711 Press: What about the vampires? You forgot the vampires...

Jami Lynn Saunders: Oh, no I didn’t [more laughter]. You see, as I began writing initial notes for Feral, I knew I couldn’t finish the entire story in one book, even if I were writing a 400-page novel. That’s when books two and three unfolded. And actually, watching all those movies and TV shows really changed my writing approach. I started writing like I was watching a scene on TV, and the more I wrote, the more climactic the scenes became. I think my writing has grown with every book I have written in the series.

711 Press: Okay, okay. Let's not give away all our secrets now, Jami.

Jami Lynn Saunders: Oh, sorry!

711 Press: All kidding aside, we believe your writing will continue to grow, but you still haven’t filled us in on the vampires.

Jami Lynn Saunders: Sorry, I am talking away, just like I do in all our meetings [another signature laugh]. I’m a girl, what do you expect? Drusilla knows what I’m talking about. Okay, as for the vampires, they appear in the third book, Nocturnal and may even make a surprise appearance at the end of the second book in the series, Rabid, depending on what you decide during the production of that book. The nocturnals are not your typical vampire. They are a creation of our government before the Final Cataclysm happens (well the current notion of the Final Cataclysm in my books, and not necessarily what LaFleur and Massie hinted at, though we're referring to the same thing). At the outset of Feral we learn that the cataclsym was the last world war. The nocturnals are like werecats, werewolves, etc., meaning they are humans who able to morph into another species, in this case, a bat-like creature. My vision of a nocturnal comes from creatures in the old movie The BeastMaster. In the movie, there are three creatures that are very ominous and tall, and they're covered in wings that can fully encapsulate their enemies, allowing them to eat their prey alive until nothing is left but bones. That’s a nocturnal. But a nocturnal is not just a bat. It’s a genetically altered human, that unlike the werecat, which has been altered with a variation of the feline gene, the nocturnal is a cross between a bat and a sugar glider. Which explains why the lesser nocturnals don’t have full bat-like wings like their three creators. Ya gotta read this stuff to get it folks. Anyway, the variety of the nocturnal’s wings are more like large flaps of skin attached to the arms and sides, allowing them to glide through the air.

711 Press: And then there are the weregators?

Jami Lynn Saunders: Well, they’re not called weregators, because I think that sounds stupid. No offense.

711 Press: None taken. Actually, that's another thing. We usually funnel out the stupid and riduculous during meetings and post-production sessions. But that's beside the point. You were saying.

Jami Lynn Saunders: Right, the gator creatures are genetically altered humans that live in the swamps of Louisiana. They're very dangerous creatures. That was a 711 Press idea, and a good one.

711 Press: It was our intention to spruce up your books with new monsters. We pulled that idea from an Order of 5ive episode from our TV Book line. Speaking of which, as a young author, we’d like your thoughts on our method of requiring our authors to meet and share ideas from book to book to create the 711 Universe.

Jami Lynn Saunders: It helps a lot. We have our meetings and often use the time to focus on one author and their project and ideas. The author talks about the current story they are writing and the rest of us throw ideas at them, incorporating bits and pieces from other stories. For example, the Final Cataclysm was supposed to be the end of the world, but it was stopped in the book Catastrophe Scroll from the trilogy by James LaFleur and Gordon Massie. However, we incorporated it into my book as well, in this case starting with the Final Cataclysm, which eventually happened years after their story took place, that being the year 2077. My story begins fifty years after that. So it’s like we’re building a timeline where all these stories are linked somehow, regardless of whether it’s a horror, action, or fantasy Movie Book. It’s really neat. I’d love to go back in time and write a story based on the kids that were born at the end of Catastrophe Scroll. Maybe explain how the cataclysm actually occurred. But, I don’t know if 711 Press or even James and Gordon would let me do that.

711 Press: Never say never. It may just happen if it falls in line with what you’re writing. Besides, James and Gordon are cool. I'm sure they’d be down for it. Especially since they’re busy working on Shifters and getting ready to start the Fagan’s Quest series.

Jami Lynn Saunders: Well, that’s a thought for the future. I know I need to concentrate on finishing my third book, Nocturnal now that my second, Rabid is already in the editing stages.

711 Press: Plus you’ve got another new book for next year after the trilogy is finished, right?

Jami Lynn Saunders: Yes, and it will be fun. It’s called DNA: David Noble, Alien. I came up with it after watching Kyle XY, Heroes, ET and I Am Number Four. It will be more for the younger YA, not brutal like the Werecat saga. I want to keep it cleaner, not so gory. It’s about a nerdy kid who’s picked on, and pretty much shunned by everyone. One day he starts to change and he discovers he’s actually half alien. I could tell you more, but I know the clincher has to be kept under wraps.

711 Press: That's right. Well, we commend you for keeping your lips sealed. It shows you respect our requests and are tackling this like a pro.

Jami Lynn Saunders:Well, I worked so hard to get you to take me on when I knew that you NEVER sign an author unless you handpick them, so I mean to stay in your good graces. I'm just so thrilled to be a part of the 711 family.

711 Press: And we’re so glad you're part of it too :)

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