Today we have an interview with Jesse Nolan Bailey, debut author of ‘The Jealousy of Jalice’ a new dark fantasy novel. This book looks really good, so I had to invite Jesse over to tell us more! First, a synopsis of the new book:
The Realms have split apart, the Stones of Elation have been hidden, and warnings of dokojin drift among the tribes.
The land and its people are corrupted. The Sachem, chief of the Unified Tribes, is to blame.
It is this conviction that drives Annilasia and Delilee to risk their lives. Afraid of the aether magic he wields, they enact a subtler scheme: kidnap his wife. In her place, Delilee will pretend to be the chieftess and spy on the Sachem.
Unaware of this plot against her husband, Jalice is whisked away by Annilasia. Pleading with her captor proves futile, and she rejects Annilasia’s delusional accusations against the chief. After all, the Sachem has brought peace to the land.
Yet a dangerous truth hides in Jalice’s past. As she and Annilasia flee through a forest of insidious threats, they must confront the evil plaguing the tribes and the events that unleashed it.
Hi Jesse, your new book ‘The Jealousy of Jalice’ is due for imminent release! (Congrats by the way!) If you could only describe it in 3 words, what would they be?
Jesse: Selfish decisions exposed!
This being your debut, was there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you? Was this quite a relief for a labour of love or did it all come quite easily?
Jesse: It all was a surprise to be honest. I took the self-publish route, so I had to learn from internet sleuthing how to go about publishing a book on my own. I think some of the biggest surprises were the ins and outs of marketing the book (which I’m still learning and tweaking), and the amount of rewrites that go into a book to make it polished and presentable. I didn’t realize how painful a process rewrites were and that my beloved favorite authors went through such a process with their works. I think it’s safe to say it was certainly a labor of love. I enjoyed writing it, but neither the writing nor the publishing is a simple process.
The cover art is visually striking and really professional looking! How much input did you have into the design?
Jesse: Self-publishing allowed me the luxury of being in control of a lot, including the cover design. I knew I wanted something to rival what a traditional published book would have, and so I hired a professional designer to do the cover. It certainly wasn’t cheap to get that kind of quality, but the end result was well worth it. Credit for the cover’s allure and beauty certainly goes all to George Cotronis. I gave him a lot of flexibility with what to work with, but when I did have notes and changes, he applied those flawlessly.
The Jealousy of Jalice features two female protagonists. Many writers have expressed their frustrations that their adult fantasy books have been classified as YA, putting it down to their female leads. With this being a dark adult fantasy, has this been a concern for you at all?
Jesse: Color me naive, but I had no idea that was occurring! How strange. Perhaps that is because of the trend and appeal of female protagonists in general within YA (think the explosion of female leads because of The Hunger Games success). Also, YA is incredibly popular currently, so I could understand the market choice in doing so. However, it would somewhat frustrating for my book to be classified that way. Not because of any kind of distaste for YA, but because I don’t think the material and themes in it is suited for that age group. My book doesn’t shy away from gore and creepiness, so I certainly had an adult crowd in mind when writing it. In addition, I think the relatability that is found in YA characters is lacking in my type of book, and that’s because I didn’t write the characters to be relatable in that sense. These characters are messed up, to be frank, and they make horrible decisions.
Your book has some dark and horror elements – would you say it will appeal to people who like anything in particular? A film or series perhaps – or would you say it’s quite unique?
Jesse: This is tough, I won’t lie. A trend in book marketing is to have one’s book comparable to other books, in order to draw in those fans that might also enjoy your work. I’ve struggled with that due to my lack of dark fantasy consumption up until a few months ago. So I’m going to try and explain the vibe of my book using other forms of media entertainment. To start, I’m a sucker for serious, no-nonsense stories. Think anything by movie director Christopher Nolan, particularly Inception or Interstellar. There’s very little humor in them, and they pursue deep questions and themes. I like that. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy humor in fantasy stories as well (like Jaskier in The Witcher Netflix show), but I don’t excel at that. I write what I like, and I like grim, serious storytelling that explores the issues of mankind. So take that type of storytelling, combine it with the gore of the Castlevania Netflix series or the grim moments of the Witcher, make the cast mostly female, and you’ve got the blueprints to my book.
You say on twitter your novel features themes of atonement and self reflection. How important is it to you to avoid purely ‘good’ or ‘bad’ characters?
Jesse: I think purely ‘good’ or ‘bad’ characters create caricatures, and those aren’t relatable or realistic at all. Yes, I mentioned earlier that my characters aren’t quite relatable, but they are still very complex and raw, and that makes their decisions and emotions relatable on a human level. My readers won’t agree with many of the character’s decisions, but they’ll find the underlying emotions driving those actions relatable. That’s because my characters are neither completely ‘good’ nor completely ‘evil’. No one in real life is, in my opinion, and so my characters reflect that belief. Morally grey, or at the very least flawed, characters are far more compelling to consumers/readers because they become life-like in those complexities.
Finally, who is the most interesting character in The Jealousy of Jalice and why?
Jesse: Sheesh, that’s like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. A good writer tries to make every character, main or minor, the most interesting character they need to be. However, if I must choose just one, I will say Annilasia (Jalice and Delilee is a close contender). Without giving away specific spoilers, her character arc starts in a bad place, and it just goes downhill from there. I enjoyed writing her because she’s someone that has good intentions on paper (no pun intended), but she lets her jaded emotions sway her decisions. This leads to a messy complexion where she believes that the means justify the end goal, which is hard to justify.
And some questions just for fun so we can get to know you a little better!
Read anything recently that really grabbed you?
Jesse: Yes: The World Maker Parable by Luke Tarzian. It’s a novella, and isn’t your typical story format (best if consumed in a short amount of time because otherwise it might get too confusing to keep up with). I recommend it to anyone who likes fantastical mythology with gods involved, and is interested in a bizarre journey through emotions like guilt and loss.
All time favourite book/series?
Jesse: I’ve never finished the series because I’m a slow reader, and life just gets too busy to really chug through them, but I really enjoyd the six or seven Robert Jordan books from The Wheel of Time series. I also love The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, and Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.
Go-to drink whilst reading/relaxing?
Jesse: White Chocolate Mocha for writing sessions; a margarita or mimosa for relaxing.
What is the next step for Jesse Nolan bailey?
Jesse: More books! For one thing, a sequel to The Jealousy of Jalice is already in the works. TJOJ is not a stand alone book, and I actually plan on announcing the official series name on launch day, May 19 7-8pm EST, during my YouTube Live Stream celebration. In addition to the sequel, I am working on my first ever Novella attempt. It’s going very well, and my goal is to have it out before the end of 2020. It’s another fantasy, not quite as dark as TJOJ and disconnected from that universe, and will be made available through my Newsletter. More news to come on that throughout the year!
The Jealousy of Jalice is available to pre-order now! Ebook released 19th May, phsyical copies available 22nd September.
Be sure to check out the upcoming Storytellers on Tour blog tour, beginning May 24th!