Monday, August 12, 2013

Venture within author Jillian Neal's realm

Please give a warm welcome to author Jillian Neal!

What was the inspiration behind 'Within the Realm'?
I woke up one morning with Rainer in my head. I couldn’t think of anything but the story. This kid that had the weight of the world on his shoulders simply because he was his father’s son. Instead of bucking the system or using his name to gain power for himself, he tries so hard to live up to the ideals that his father gave the “Gifted” people. What would that mean for his life? What is the aftermath of a revolution? To the people that go on when others gave their life for a cause. There are stories about actual revolutions both real and fictional, but I wanted to write about the lives of the people that lived on. What did the revolution do for them?

So, after I got my kids to school, I sat down and started writing. It became an integral part of my day. My life’s blood hinged on me getting the story down on paper. I had to write it because I desperately wanted to know what was going to happen. I wrote and wrote and eventually (eight books later) the original story was told. That wasn’t the end of the drive, however. I’m still writing. I am currently working on the sibling series to “The Gifted Realm.”
Which character spoke to you the most during the writing process?
As my series is told from multiple perspectives, then it would probably have to be whoever is telling that part of the tale at the time I’m writing it. I love the Fitzgerald quote: “Writers aren’t exactly people… They’re a whole bunch of people trying to be one person.” That definitely applies here. Each of my characters is a part of me, a piece of my soul, and my mind, and my heart. When one needs to tell their part of the tale, I have to listen to them.
Which scene was your favorite?
Honestly, I love the scene told from Logan’s perspective about his last conversation with Cal. I feel like you learn more about Logan Haydenshire in that one conversation than in any other part of the book. I also love the perspective offered when Governor Haydenshire walks Rainer around the lake, and I enjoy the twist of Rainer getting to say his peace at the breakfast table. Dinner with Grandpa Haydenshire and The Hayloft would rank right up there near the top, as well.
This book is the first in The Gifted Realm series. How many more do you anticipate? When can we expect the next installment?
The original series is written in eight novels. They are written, but each must be edited and reworked before publication. If all goes well, (and don’t hold me to this!) the second book “Lessons Learned” will be available for purchase late in October.
What kinds of "gifts" do you think you have to offer?
As I did not create a Predilect for storytelling, I would say I’m probably a Receiver. I must not be very strong in my Predilect though because I’m not nearly empathetic enough to be a great Receiver like Emily of Fionna. If my husband is worried or upset, I know it instantly, even if he’s at work and I’m nowhere near him. I’m the same way with my boys.
Describe how someone has touched your life with his or her own "gifts."
Well, I certainly think everyone has “Gifts” to offer the world. In my case, certainly my husband’s belief in me and in my writing was a gift that I could never have fathomed. He’s the reason the world has access to this story. His faith in me never waivered; even when I had none in myself. I remember standing in my kitchen the day before we were supposed to do the photo shoot for the cover, and I was crying.

“I just can’t do this. It’s just too hard. I just want to write and for you to like it. I want to quit!”

Those were my constant sobbed confessions. He stood there and held me and let me ruin his shirt until my tears ran dry and he looked at me and said: “I know it’s hard, but I will be there for every step of this. I will help you do anything that needs to be done, but this story is amazing, and the world needs to know these characters. Your story has made me a better man, and I’m not gonna let you quit now, because I want to watch you make your dreams come true!” I don’t know how I somehow managed to get a guy like that, but I know I’ll never deserve him!!
Do you have any other writing projects in the works, beyond this series?
I do! I’m currently working on a “sibling series” for “The Gifted Realm.” For the time being, Rainer and Emily’s story is told, so this series has very little to do with them; though, we’ll still see them very briefly. We’ve changed location and antagonists.
How does your family drive you and your writing?
Usually, I’m hoping that my writing doesn’t drive over my family! I can’t ever seem to strike a perfect balance between motherhood, being a wife, keeping up with my house, and being an author. But, I do the best I can just like everyone else. I think every person I encounter, every situation I live, becomes a part of me, and the fabric of my life weaves itself into my stories.

I will say, my eldest son suffers from severe dyslexia. He’s going into sixth grade and still doesn’t read well, but he loves a good story. My kids certainly aren’t old enough to read my books, but he has forced me to talk and to tell him a story rather than writing in my own head. My preferred medium and my voice is print, and that just won’t work with a dyslexic child. He has taught me so much about dealing with difficulties and learning around your troubles.
In your blog, you talk about your extended family making appearances in your books, whether intentionally or not. How do they factor into your writing?
I certainly don’t have any characters that are exact duplicates of any of my family members, but little pieces of my grandmothers’ wisdom will burgeon in a few of the women in the story. Personality traits that I experienced growing up might surface any number of places. (I had a few “Grandpa Haydenshire” moments with relatives growing up.) I think drawing on my own experiences makes my characters more “real” for my readers.
What are some of the greatest lessons you have learned from your family?
So, so many things-- My little brother is a Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corp. He has served three tours of duty in active war zones. So never giving up certainly resonates from his dogged determination and his heart of gold. (Believe me, I do think about that when I’m sobbing in my kitchen over publishing a book! Your baby brother risks his life everyday- get over yourself!!)

My mother’s quiet grace, wisdom, and sense of humor gets me through those moments where you don’t really know which end is up.

My stepfather’s ability to love us and care for us just like we were his biological children always astounds me. The Haydenshires’ ability to love Rainer and Adeline, though they are not their biological children, definitely came from him. My 91 year old grandmother has survived The Great Depression, WWII, raised three children in a two bedroom home with an outhouse on a farm, raised teenagers through Vietnam, and most recently survived the devastating tornadoes that ripped through Tuscaloosa, AL.

We rushed to her, after the storms had passed. She still lives alone, as she has no intention of leaving her home as long as she’s able bodied. She’d barricaded herself in a closet in her hallway as her home was torn apart all around her. When I got to her and hugged her for a solid ten minutes she said to me: “I just decided if God was ready for me to go home, then He could come on, that I was ready, and if He wasn’t, then I was gonna have a real mess to clean up when that thing was done.” So pluck and grit and fortitude were added in heavy doses throughout my life.
You live in the Atlanta area. I have fond memories of visiting my family members there. What are some of your recommended destinations for visitors?
Atlanta has changed so much over the last few years. It just keeps growing and expanding. I love watching the laser light show at Stone Mountain with my boys. I love to cook, so the Dekalb Farmer’s Market is just fascinating to me. I actually really enjoy the more eclectic areas like Ponce de Leon where the farmer’s market is located. My boys think eating at the Varsity downtown across from Georgia Tech is the greatest thing ever. I remember going to Mary Mac’s Tearoom with my mom and grandmother. It’s a southern tradition and the food is delicious! I know there are several newer hotels downtown, but I’m still partial to the Peachtree Plaza. The views are outstanding and the rooms are elegant and romantic!
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I was terrible at Science when I was in school!! English and writing I have always loved but not Science. Then when the Energy concepts came to me for the series, I knew that I wanted the transformations to be as plausible as possible. One of the major themes in my writing is that I want my readers to wonder if my “Realm” could really exist. So, I had a lot of learning to do! Suddenly all of that stuff my teachers and professors tried to cram into my mind in school, I desperately needed!! I did a tremendous amount of research and a great deal of “Ok, honey, here’s the scientific principle I’m using, now explain it to me so I’ll understand it.” Like I said before, I have a very, very patient husband!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just that I hope everyone enjoys reading the story and getting to know my characters as much as I’ve enjoyed telling their story!
Thank you so much for your time!

The Gifted walk among us. They are unseen, but in plain sight. The Earth’s energies are as visible to them as the tangible world is to us and they can harness and bend these forces to their will. Atop the Pentagon resides the government of the Gifted Realm.

Rainer Lawson is set to join the ranks of Elite Officers in the Gifted Police force. With his fellow officers, they will work together, using their abilities, to try and end the most sinister criminal organization in existence. His parents fought and died to re-establish the Realm, and he won’t allow them to have sacrificed in vain. The will to protect those he loves has always driven Rainer, but his desperation to protect Emily, the love of his life, consumes him. While passions ignite and vengeance is sought, Rainer may discover that all of his money, fame, and power, could cost him the only thing that has ever truly mattered. -

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Author Bio

Jillian Neal is the author of “The Gifted Realm” series of novels. She has a passion for telling strong, character driven stories that stretch the imagination. Her debut novel “Within the Realm” was released in 2013, with the next installments of the series soon to follow.

She lives near Atlanta with her husband and children. For more information, visit her website at

Follow: Twitter -@ jilliannealauth Website -

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