Jaime Reed: Richmond’s up-and-coming young adult author

RVA has its very own up-and-coming YA author in our midst. Jaime Reed is the author of the new Cambion Chronicle series. I got in touch with Jaime Reed and asked her to open up about herself, YA literature, and cats that may or may not be plotting our demise.

Speaking of paranormal young adult literature, RVA has its very own up-and-coming YA author in our midst. Jaime Reed is the author of the new Cambion Chronicle series. In the first book, Living Violet, Samara Marshall is working at a bookstore over the summer when strange things start happening with her co-worker Caleb Baker, a guy with a “peculiar glow to his eyes.” (He’s not a vampire though!) I got in touch with Jaime and asked her to open up about herself, YA literature, and cats that may or may not be plotting our demise.

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QWhat drew you to the paranormal genre of YA? 

AI’ve always liked otherworldly dealings, but I’m not a big fan of high fantasy with other worlds/dimensions/planets. I enjoy unnatural occurrences that can happen to everyday people and have them react to it in a realistic way. I think it’s more frightening to know that there’s some other element right under your nose that Man has yet to master or understand. 

As for YA, I have no idea. It’s funny, I read nothing but adult books when I was a kid and now all I seem to read now is teen books. I guess looking back I can appreciate the time more. We all did some crazy, reckless, and possibly illegal stuff back then, but despite your criminal record, it was still a simpler time, and the adult world desperately wants to get back to it. I know I do.

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QWho are your favorite authors and why?  I know I tend to put authors in categories, i.e. I have favorite “adult” authors, and favorite “YA” authors, so if you’d like to categorize, please do!

AI don’t really have a favorite author. I don’t really have a favorite movie. It just depends on my mood. But I do go for the absurd, Ex: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Going Bovine, Fight Club, and Fat Vampire. Or those cool coming-of-age stories: Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

Most of my favorite authors are guys, strangely enough. Chuck Palahniuk, Neil Gaiman, James Patterson, Stephen King, Paulo Coelho, John Green, and Cormac McCarthy.

I will say that I’m not a big fan of sappy, angst-ridden romance. I’m sorry, having that hot guy ignore you in school is not the end of your world, no matter how fragile your self-esteem. But if it has funny, exciting, realistic characters, I’ll probably love it.

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QDo you have any thoughts on the multi-cultural/minority landscape of the Young Adult genre scene at the moment? 

AYeah, like “where is it?”

That was part of the reason I wanted to write The Cambion Chronicles. This may sound harsh, but the literary world is no better than Hollywood regarding how they portray minorities or whether they will even try. People are lumped into these tired cliché roles that the public and the marketing world has just accepted as gospel. If you’re gay, you’re a flamer with an annoying lisp. If you’re black you are the most ghetto, loud, obnoxious, and ignorant person in the room, if you’re Hispanic, you’re poor and in a gang, if you’re Asian, you are super smart or can do martial arts. Why not switch it up? And this is just for contemporary teen fiction. Good luck looking for much diversity in the paranormal/fantasy realm. 

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QDid you ever work retail as a teen? Samara’s commentary when she’s working at Buncha Books reminds me of some of my own retail days!  Well, minus the demons. 

AYes. I actually worked at a bookstore, and I’m afraid some of my experiences leaked into the story. I don’t read a whole lot of books in my genre that have kids working. Money and resources just magically materialize. When I was a kid, EVERYONE worked, whether after school or on weekends. It just seemed more realistic for me to write the story that way.

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QThis is a pretty good list of minority YA books…do you have any recommendations for readers?  (If the books are on this list, a reason why you recommend it is fine!)

AI’ve seen that list too. There’s nothing I would add to it. They were all the books I was going to mention. It’s a great selection. The Perfect Chemistry series is smoking hot with sexy Latinos. That right there is enough to get me reading. Liar by Justine Larbalestier is a great mystery that keeps you guessing.

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QAny advice for wanna-be YA authors?

AWriting is not for the lazy, impatient, or the overly sensitive. Not everything you write will be spectacular. It’s all a process, every bit of it, from the first draft, the queries, waiting for agent replies, to the rejections, to the editing, to the reviews. ALL of them are tools to sharpen you and see if you have what it takes to succeed. 

Pay attention to the market of your genre, see what’s getting popular, not what already is popular. If it’s all over the shelves, avoid that like the plague, because it’s at least a 2-year-old trend and you’re only seeing 2% of what lands on agents/ editors/publishers’ desks. Look for the fresh and new.

Also, before you submit to any agents, have at least one other book on standby. The next question they’re going to ask before the ink dries on your contract is “What else are you working on?” It’s that old saying, “You’re only as good as your last big hit.” To save time and stress, have at least one story waiting in the wings. This is also handy in case you receive too many rejections, you have that extra manuscript to submit. That’s how Living Violet got picked up. It was my backup, a side story I wrote just for fun.

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QI don’t want to assume that just because you’re a paranormal author that you’re a cat person, so I’ll just ask for the fun of it: Dogs, cats, or Nutzy [the RVA Flying Squirrels mascot]?

AI’m a dog fan all the way, so why I have a cat is the question of the 21st century. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a pretty face. Cats are low maintenance, but they have a hella superiority complex. They just have that way of looking at you like they’re better than you. Even as I write this now, my cat is staring at me…judging me…possibly plotting to kill me. But dogs are awesome; you can act stupid in front of them and they will join right in. So dogs, all day, every day! That flying squirrel thing sounds pretty cool though.

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Hayley DeRoche

Hayley DeRoche is a librarian with a penchant for cardigans and corduroys. Luckily, her professional life revolves more around technology & information than fashion.

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