Many of you on Facebook have voiced your desire to read interviews of artists of all kinds. Well you're in luck since this has spawned a brand new segment that has been aptly named 'Meeting of Artistic Minds'. Today we spotlight photographer and author Etta Jean who is having the second book of her Chronicle series, Chronicle of Summer, being released February 14th. Speaking with her, this young woman who seems to have a multitude of muses has not only a handful of other mediums she enjoys but has a personality as colorfully woven as the worlds she creates.
Of the various mediums, what was it about photography, clay miniatures and writing that captured your attention to the point that you wished to focus on those?
As is my way, I got into my various mediums almost on accident. I never set out thinking "I'm going to do this." Photography was actually inspired in me by my uncle. I was twelve, and we had gone to Disney World. I had a point-and-shoot, and he had a 35mm Mamiya. He and my mother realized I had taken the better photos and urged me to try a class. I figured "why not?" and did so. I was immediately hooked. There's something about the capturing of a piece of time, of permanently making a memory, that moves me. Something about showing someone that they are beautiful—even against society's conventions—that drives me.
Clay miniatures . . . I have to blame my best friend, Cheyenne, for that one. She started playing with clay, and I'd been admiring mini food art, and I just decided to give it a try, and again I was hooked. It's rather therapeutic to make adorable mini versions of food that I can't eat for whatever reason.
My writing . . . wow. It consumes such a large piece of my soul. It is my salvation in so many ways. I've always loved to read, loved worlds and words and escaping into make-believe. I had a teacher push me into writing a ridiculous short story, and it was a gateway drug. The doors had opened. The characters I have created—three in particular come to mind— are a living, breathing, piece of me. A small part of me doesn't think they're merely a figment of my mind. Somewhere, in another plane, they exist, and they tell me their stories so that they are not lost to time.
For your photography and writing, was there a specific source of inspiration or influence that has been influential to each? If so, could you please share?
My photography has been influenced by the works of Ralph Gibson , Edward Weston (1886-1956), Ansel Adams (1902-1984), and Annie Leibowitz. The first two for their stark and wonderful dance with light and dark, Ansel Adams because of his eye for detail and making the mundane spectacular, and Annie Leibowitz because of her ability to connect to her subjects and bring out a powerful sense of intimacy. All of those elements are what I want to bring together into my work. I want to create connections and draw out breathless delight and sometimes I even want to inspire tears. Life is laughter and pain, and I want to show life in its whole.
My writing has been influenced by Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Kay Hooper, and Christine Feehan. I will grab every book they write even if I don't know yet what it is about. They drag me into their worlds where I can't escape until I'm done. I'm an insanely fast reader to begin with, but I'll knock out whole books in two hours because I can't put it down. That's the kind of thing I strive to create in my own work: a world you feel so deeply that you just have to know what happens next. Supposedly I'm succeeding. I've been accused of making people miss their bus stops. Whoopsie!
When it comes to your writing, is there a genre that you prefer writing in more than others?
I'm a romantic, so there will always be a romance at the core of my stories. Saucy romances, of course, because the spice is half the fun. Branching from the romance base, I prefer to move into fantasy or paranormal. A fantasy world where I make the rules, or a paranormal one where I bend the rules to my whims. There is so much mundane about my life, about many of our lives, that being able to step through the veil and find some faeries or magic helps bring a renewal. I can face the everyday grind if I can go home and throw some fireballs in text.
Some authors enjoy having fan-made art based off of either their characters or situations that occurred in their stories. Is there a character (or characters) that you would like to see an artistic interpretation of? If you could have any artist whose style you enjoy to do a piece of work for your writing, who would you choose?
I would probably squeal like a little girl and jump up and down if someone made me fanart! I would love to touch an artist deeply enough that they see my worlds/character so clearly that they just have to express their fandom via their chosen medium. To me, there is no greater gift to an artist than the gift of art from another.
DESTINY/SUMMER. Being a photographer, I found the perfect models for Tariah, Dominic,
and Kelsey, but my little Kin Fae have eluded me. There's actually another character I'd love to see even more but she's from a story not yet released, so I can't say much about her—yet.
I have three artists whose work I love enough that I'd FLIP if they just randomly gave me
fanart. One is Brianna Garcia (dA). She has such a wonderful style, and she does awesome things like turn characters into My Little Ponys without losing the character's style. So fun! Another is Charlie Bowater (dA). She has a more realistic style and her range of depth and color is yummy. The third is actually YOU, Ms. Dawn Star Wood. As if the way I'm always dogging your heels and hiring you wasn't a clue! (By the way, my birthday is in August. Just a hint.)
With your new novel approaching its release date, is there a memorable excerpt from either Chronicle of Destiny or its continuation Chronicle of Summer you wish to share with readers?
This is a fun bit from SUMMER where we're getting to know one of the main characters, C.J.
He and his best friend Cole . . . well, there's a reason I loved writing those boys.
"They won't turn my skin blue, will they?"
"Blue?" She blinked then hid a smile. "No, they won't, I promise. You might be a little
more sensitive to the sun though, so take care not to get a burn." She put the herbs in a bowl
and began to expertly grind them into a fine powder. "I'll make it into a lotion you can rub into
your skin. It's more effective than eating them. And anyway, they might make your stomach
"I've eaten Cole's cooking and survived."
When Cole didn't say anything, Kappa lifted a brow. "No witty comeback?"
"I can't argue with the truth," was the dry response. "If they really want to get rid of the
Elite, they should feed them my attempt at sweetbread. It's probably more lethal than a fireball
from a Master Fire Magi."
She bit her lip to hide a smile. Without another word, she finished grinding the herbs.
She then added a liquid serum from some desert flowers to make it into a spreadable
condition. "The only side effect other than the sensitivity to the sun will be that you might smell
"I'm a Soil Magi," C.J. pointed out. "I frequently smell like anything that has to do with
growth. Spring is the worst. The findral keep trying to chew on my hair."
"That's why it's so short," Cole offered. "We couldn't get the findral away fast enough."
"Are you sure you're not brothers?"
The males grinned at each other. "Well, in a way we are," C.J. admitted. "We've been
best friends ever since I was twelve. No one knows me as well as Cole does. Actually, I've
never been comfortable around anyone but Cole, so that's part of it as well."
Thanks for having me on your blog, Dawn! The coffee is on me next time.
Many thanks to the lovely and delightful Etta Jean for taking the time to answer some questions and taking me by surprise by some of her answers. If you're interested in getting a copy of her Chronicle of Destiny or her upcoming release Chronicle of Summer, here is some information for you to check out:
Amazon.com: Chronicle of Destiny (Kindle) - $2.99
Amazon.com: Chronicle of Destiny (Paperback) - $13.21
Genocide. It marks the history of the Chronicle race. The populous Magi erased their more powerful cousins from the face of Lucksphere two thousand years ago, and any Chronicles discovered in the time since are murdered on sight. Tariah Chronis is a Chronicle. Her survival lays in a combination of her parents' love and a crafty disguise by a sympathetic member of the Kin race. Her continued survival hinges on her control of her emotions. When those emotions are released, her identity is revealed and her destiny secured. Now she is on the run, following the map buried within the lines on her body that will lead her to her other half: a Fury. Dominic Whisperer is a Fury. He has lived three centuries waiting for the day he will die. A Fury always feels the birth of their Chronicle, and they always feel their death. A Fury whose Chronicle dies will suffer endlessly until put out of their misery. Twenty years ago, Dominic put his affairs in order and prepared for that day. It didn't come. Now Tariah and Dominic will have to fight for their right to live, and to do it, they might have to save the very world that wants them dead.
Want to follow the wonderful Etta Jean via social media or check out her other work? She has you covered: