J. J. McAvoy, thank you so much for allowing us to interview you and get to know you better.
For us, it all started with The Prince’s Bride! However, before we get to the book, we would love to give our followers some background information about you. Shall we?
First off, J. J. McAvoy is a pen name. Is there a reason you use it rather than your real name? How did you come up with this name?
J. J. McAvoy: My pen name arose from a combination of things. I chose it when I was a freshman in university. I knew I wanted to separate my personal life from my writing. It was just easier to compartmentalize everything I was doing. Another thing that crossed my mind was that maybe my full name would make people think I was writing an Africana inspired book.
I just wanted something free of preconceived notions. I’m not sure now it would have made that much of difference. But I am glad I used a pen name because I know immediately who my fans are based on what name they call me.
Speaking of not wanting people to think you are writing an Africana inspired book, most people might not know of your African heritage. Tell us about your heritage and if it serves as an inspiration for writing?
JJ: I am Nigerian. And for me, there is no way my heritage wouldn’t inspire me. Though I was born in Canada and spent much of my life being raised in America, my household and upbringing were 100% Nigerian.
While my writing is not about Nigeria, being a daughter of immigrants always made me curious about other cultures – how they were similar or different from mine. I found myself being a people watcher, always interested in how different situations or backgrounds crafted people…even myself.
When did you start writing and why?
JJ: I started writing poetry when I was about 12 or 13-years-old. I wrote my first novel when I was 16-years-old, but I never published it. I did it more to prove to myself that I could write a full story. I started writing because it allowed me space to say anything I wanted to say.
Who or what inspired you to be a writer? Why?
JJ: I think other books in general inspired me. I would read a book I loved; and I would love it so much that I wanted to create my own. Along the way, I was blessed enough to have teachers who believed and encouraged me to keep at writing.
What is your writing process?
JJ: I’m not sure if it is much of a process. I honestly just sit around or go about my day until suddenly an idea or “what if” scenario comes to mind. I think on that for a few days, then look for names that fit the character I want. After that, I simply write until I can stop thinking about the story.
Given the length of your books range from 200-400 pages, how long does it take you to write a book?
JJ: If I have a good grasp of the plot in my mind, most of the times it takes about six or seven weeks to write it.
Do you research your characters? If so, how do you research them?
JJ: It depends on the book. I try not to do a lot of research because I can end up going down a lot of rabbit holes. However, if the characters are coming from other cultures or backgrounds, I do my best to find out as much as possible about those people and their community before writing.
Please correct us if we are wrong. You are under the age of 30 and have written 24 books in seven years, correct?
JJ: Yep, all correct!
Wow, that’s incredible. How is that humanly possible? And, how do you keep track of so many book series, characters, and plots?
JJ: I’m not sure how it’s possible. Though I do have a bad habit of not sleeping enough (laughs). And while I was in university, I barely ever left my dorm either.
But I don’t think it’s as hard to keep track of series, characters, or plots. In fact, I feel as though everyone does it almost every day. People might not be writing, but a lot of people are able to love various TV shows and books. They remember all of the plots in them as well. I think it’s the same for writing.
We never thought about it that way. As a follow up, how are you able to write so many books with characters from many diverse backgrounds and world experiences?
JJ: See this is where that Nigerian in me comes into play, again. When you come from a different place, you are always able to see the differences between others, as well as yourself. Seeing those differences allowed me to pay attention to other cultures.
Now, I’m not saying non-immigrants don’t also do this. But for me, personally, I feel as though my cultural distinctions from other people boosted my interest in those same people. I add them to my books because they exist in my real life.
No, we understand and it makes sense. Now, what we really want to know is this. Of all the characters you have created, who are you most like and why?
JJ: Funny enough, I don’t think I am really like any of my characters, at least not completely. There are bits of me in each character. Sometimes a character is created based on only one or two feelings that I have inside me. I’ve written characters who only exist for me to vent. While others, like Odette, have some of my introverted tendencies.
Speaking of Odette . . .
THE PRINCE’S BRIDE
Let’s talk about your latest book, The Prince’s Bride.
[Full disclosure: Some of us were given an Advance Reader Copy and have read the book more than once.]
It seems so different from your other books. Where did these characters come from? Tell us why you wrote this book and what you want the readers to get from it?
JJ: Yes, my latest book, The Prince’s Bride, is completely different from any of my prior books.
Gale and Odette came from a place of hope. I think. Throughout literature, royal tropes have always been used to inspire people. The best example being Cinderella. With so much negativity on the news about certain other royals, I wanted something to uplift my spirits.
I believe that is also what I want readers to get out of the story – a sense of hope and a bit of fairytale magic, which can touch anyone, no matter their background, even when things are at its worst.
Although the book is about a prince, an arranged marriage and an heiress, it is a heartfelt romance and your characters are not one-dimensional. They seemed so real in the way they bantered with each other and the way they deal with their families. What was your inspiration in/motivation for creating Odette, Gale, and secondary characters the way that you did?
JJ: I wanted the story to feel as real as possible. Although they are super rich and famous, I wanted readers to connect to these people.
Gale and Odette seem so real, and in a way normal, because you aren’t seeing them in the role of “prince” or “heiress” that often in the book.
The readers will see them as young adults trying to figure themselves out. They see them argue or joke with their family and friends. Regardless of the title they have, we can all relate to that. By the end, I want you (the reader) to feel like you are part of their family too.
I also wanted to humanize them as much as possible. The best way I knew how to do that was by creating strong secondary characters. The people around us often shape who we are or how other people see us.
The Prince’s Bride is in two parts but is published only a month apart. Did you write the entire story and divide it?
JJ: I actually wanted to write The Prince’s Bride as one book. But, for some reason, it just didn’t work. I really wanted readers to see the building of Gale and Odette’s relationship and have a good enough grasp of all the secondary characters. By the time I felt like I had done that, I was already 300+ pages in and I still hadn’t finished everything I wanted to say.
Rather than cutting it down, I simply decided to create two books. I didn’t write them as one. I wrote Book 1; then, I wrote Book 2 separately. I just chose to wait until Book 2 was finished before publishing Book 1.
We were intrigued by the dynamics of Odette’s side of the family between the matriarchs and Odette and her half-sister. What was your inspiration for different parts of the story? Did you draw inspiration from somewhere/someone(s) for that?
JJ: In my life, my mother is my best friend. I love her so much. But at the same time, she’s always on my back trying to *gently* push me in the direction she believes is best for me.
While my life is nothing like Odette’s, I knew I wanted her mother to be a huge force in her life. I wanted to explore the dynamics of having four very different women – Odette, her mother, her half-sister, and step-mother – bound together by family, even when they didn’t get along.
All these women have positive and negative traits, even Odette. So, it makes for very lively conversations.
THE PRINCE’S BRIDE – MARKETING
The marketing/promoting of the book is off the chart. We have never seen anyone market a book the way you have from hiring models who resemble Odette and Gale, to pictures of them together depicting their courtship. You even commissioned songs, a soundtrack, for the book.
What made you take this route to market/promote your book?
JJ: Social media was a huge factor and why I chose this route to take. Everything from the book cover to the promotional music is meant to grab attention.
Books are competing with movies, TV shows, YouTube, and other content creators. It didn’t feel like just enough to promote the book as usual.
I wanted people drawn into my content and not just scroll by it. So, my idea was to make it seem as though it was an upcoming show. That’s why there is even music for a “soundtrack.”
[Side note: This is exactly what initially hooked some of the Blacklanderz members. So yeah, it worked.]
I think it worked a little too well because now people message me almost every day asking what channel or streaming service the “show” will premiere on.
How did you find the actors who closely resemble your characters?
JJ: This was actually luck. I spent weeks trying to find them.
And then I saw these two models and I was bouncing in my seat. I was like, “Oooh, them! It has to be them!”
Whose idea was it for the book cover, the artwork and the music?
JJ: I came up with the idea for all the artwork used. Again, it was all part of my hope to draw people’s attention on social media. I’m so happy people are liking it.
We all want to see The Prince’s Bride made into a movie or miniseries. Have you ever thought of becoming a producer/writer for a streaming platform, movie or TV series?
JJ: I would love to become a producer/writer for any streaming platforms, movies or TV shows. The only thing is I have no idea how to go about doing that.
I’ve applied for jobs with services in the past, but never made it through the door. I’m not giving up though. I have so many ideas for shows or movies that I want to share.
The Prince’s Bride (Book 1) – October 29, 2020 Preorder
Is there anything else you want our followers to know about The Prince’s Bride?
JJ: I want them to know that while The Prince’s Bride is meant be a sweet romance, it does touch on more difficult subjects, especially in Book 2.
[Uh-oh! I guess we might have to have another interview after Book 2].
The Prince’s Bride (Book 2) – November 27, 2020 Preorder
Thank you so much for taking the time and allowing us to get to know you. And, just so you know, we are eagerly awaiting The Prince’s Bride Book 2!
JJ: Thank you for the interview. It was so much fun!
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The Prince’s Bride Book Trailer ~ Video via J.J. McAvoy
Contributing Blacklanderz™ Members: Vida (@Blacklanderz), Cathy (@Dr_DoNoHarm), Lorinda (@RindalovesBruce) and Sara (@SaraScofield72).
Disclaimer: We hold no rights to any of the pictures. No copyright infringement intended.