What is your name, where were you born, and where do you live now?
My name is Joni Parker, and I was born in Chicago, Illinois, a long time ago. My family moved away when I was eight, and we moved to Japan for four years. When we came back, we moved to Phoenix, Arizona. I graduated high school and started college, but dropped out to join the US Navy. After a three-year stint as a photographer’s mate, I got out and went back to college. This time, I got a Bachelor’s of Arts in Accounting and an MBA in Finance. I went to work at a local utility company in Florida, but left to join the Navy again, this time as an officer. I completed nineteen years more and retired with twenty-two years of service. My husband and I spent a few years living in our motorhome and toured the United States until he passed away. I got a job in Dallas, Texas and have stayed in the area ever since. I retired again to devote time to write.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be?
I didn’t have any plans to be a writer. In fact, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to be, which is why I dropped out of college the first time. When I went back to college, I still couldn’t decide, but I had to make a decision. I thought all businesses needed an accountant (computers were new at the time), so I changed my major to accounting. To be honest, I didn’t even know what a debit or credit was, but I stuck with it. After I started working in the field, I decided that it wasn’t for me. The degree was a ticket back into the Navy as an officer. Although the Navy had positions where my degree would be useful, I also knew I didn’t have to work in that field, so I didn’t. I held a number of positions from administration to management.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I used to. I was working a full time job here in Dallas when I got the writing bug. It was hard to do both, because I was dedicated to both. Finally, something had to give and I was old enough to retire, so I did.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest book is “Blood Mission.” Tasked to kill a rogue Elf or die trying, Alex, a young female tracker, takes on a blood mission.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I self-published my first book, “The Black Elf of Seaward Isle.” I had no idea what I was doing, but I learned a lot in the process. When I was preparing my second book, I decided to get a professional editor. I finally found Teresa Kennedy who edited my book, and I had her edit my first book. At the time, she was just starting Village Green Press, LLC, and she offered me a contract to publish the Seaward Isle Saga which includes “The Black Elf of Seaward Isle,” “Tangled Omens,” “Blood Mission,” and a bonus book “The Island Game: The Inside Story of Seaward Isle.” By the time you read this interview, my publisher should have print versions of my three books available on Amazon.com. The bonus book will remain an ebook.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on another series in the same genre that takes the main character, Alex, to the next level. It’s called “The Chronicles of Eledon” and the first book’s working title is “Spell-Breaker.” By the way, Eledon is the name for the Elf World.
How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you to write?
I wrote short stories and poems in grade school, but after the eighth grade, I developed a writer’s block that continued until four years ago. At that point, I had developed a story in my head that kept growing and growing. It was based on “Lord of the Rings” and took place after the last book. Finally, it got to the point where I had to write it down before it drove me insane. For three months, I spent every moment at my computer at home to write it down. It was a great relief when it was done, but it got me hooked on writing.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I choose a title first because it helps me know what I’m working on. However, I’ve changed titles as the book was edited and re-written. For instance, my second book “Tangled Omens” started out life as “The Horseman of Seaward Isle.” I knew I was talking about the code name for the pirate spy, but no one else would, so I changed it to “Pirate Stronghold.” However, when my editor gave me a suggestion to the opening fortune-telling scene, I changed the name to, “Tangled Omens.”
How do you come up with characters’ names and place names in your books?
Sometimes, the name will pop in my head out of nowhere, but I have to be careful I don’t choose names that are too similar. One time I had the name Barley for one character and Barkley for another. I knew the difference, but my editor didn’t. I will also use lists of baby names if I run out of ideas. I have the same issue with place names, and I found my dictionary had geographic entries in the back. I don’t want a place name that has been used before if I can help it.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I do have a basic plot in my head before I begin writing it out. I don’t write it down or outline it. I’ve tried and just can’t stick to it. I let the writing flow and start with chapter one. Sometimes, when I go back over it, I have to make major changes, but I don’t really mind. I’ll work on a book for as long as it takes and then, I’ll send it to my editor. I enjoy the process.
Have you ever suffered from a “writer’s block”? What did you do to get past the “block”?
I did suffer from a writer’s block from the eighth grade till four years ago. That was a long time. I made a few attempts, but without success. I got past it when I had a story that could grow and expand until I had to write it down. I can still get a “block” when I try to write without a place to start. In other words, if I have an idea what I want to write about, i.e. a gem of a story, then I can write. If I just stare at the computer screen, I get nothing.
What do you think about book trailers?
I have two book trailers and both are fun and interesting, but they don’t sell books. I don’t know why.
Here are the links to book trailers:
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
I thought about using my maiden name to write under, but decided against it. I’ve used my married name for longer than my maiden name, so it’s actually more familiar to me now. I don’t think I would ever use a pen name. It was interesting to find out that JK Rowling used one.
What piece of advice would you give to new writers?
Keep writing. I’ve been told persistence pays off in the end. Don’t quit your day job, and don’t expect to be an overnight success unless you already have name recognition.
My Blog/Website: http://www.theblackelf.com/
Social media information:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Joni-Parker/e/B004FS3YC4/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
LINKS TO THE BOOKS:
The Black Elf of Seaward Isle:
BLURB from Goodreads
Trapped on an island, shipwrecked time travelers struggle first to survive and then--to escape. Elves, Dwarves and mortals mingle in a world filled with pirates, political intrigue and magic. Their fates rest in the hands of one young woman, the orphan Lady Alexin. Part Elf and a descendant of a Titan ancestor, she trained as a warrior, to avenge her parents' deaths, unaware that only she has the power to save them all.
BLURB from Goodreads
Alex takes on her new role as a Tracker, and she’s on the trail of a spy called the Horseman who is in cahoots with the pirates to steal Elfin gold. His trail leads her deep into the pirate stronghold where she finds intrigue and mystery around every corner, and she experiences new aspects of her own gifts bestowed on her by her Titan and Elf ancestors.
Barnes and Noble: Planned in the future.
BLURB from Goodreads
When the lives of the two most powerful Elves on Seaward Isle are threatened in a plot by the rogue Elf Mellen, Prince Darin of the Water Elves and Lord Odin of the Tree Elves charge Alex, a young female tracker with a Blood Mission—to hunt him down and kill him, or die in the attempt. Blood Mission puts the fate of the kings and the safety of the inhabitants of Seaward Isle in the hands of a teen-age half-elf warrior. Can Alex survive her mission long enough to discover her own true destiny?
The Island Game: The Inside Story of Seaward Isle:
BLURB from Goodreads
When a modern day reporter is stranded on the mysterious Seaward Isle, she begins an investigation into its location, its history and mythic origins even as she and her husband struggle to make their way in this strange, uncharted world.