Episode 30: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet Fantasy, Horror and Sci-Fi Author J. A. (Julie) Campbell. You'll learn ...
Watch J. A. Campbell's Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio only version.
About Author J. A. Campbell
When Julie is not writing she’s often out riding horses, or working sheep with her dogs. She lives in Colorado with a handful of cats, some sheep, Kira and Bran her border collies, her Arabian endurance horses Triska and Cavalier, and her Irish Sailor.
She is the author of many Vampire and Ghost-Hunting Dog stories the Tales of the Travelers series, and many other young adult books. her passions include horses, writing about horses, dogs and writing about dogs. She writes fantasy, sci fi, horror, and all related genres. She’s a member of the Horror Writers Association and Science Fiction Writers of America.
J. A. Campbell Podcast Interview Excerpt
Carly: How did you get into horses?
Julie: I’m pretty sure I was born with it. I don’t actually remember the first time I was on a horse, but I was fortunate enough that my parents provided pony rides and trail rides when I was younger and then lessons when I was older. I didn’t ride as much in high school because I was busy with school, sports, and science Olympiad, but when I got to college in Colorado there were horses everywhere. I started to go a little nuts. I got lucky and found a woman who needed help with her horses. I started riding with her and then eventually bought one of her horses, and I’ve owned my own since then. I got my own horse in 2003.
Carly: Tell us about your furry friends.
Julie: My first horse, Sabaska, was my heart. She was an Arabian mare I trained. We got into endurance riding and trail riding. She was bold, steady, and an amazing trail horse. She loved nothing more than a good long trail ride.
When she died, my in laws found Triska for me in a rescue in Montana. They live in Montana so they were looking up there. She was a half trained Arab in Quarter Horse country and she had been in the rescue for quite some time. I went up and checked her out and decided she’d probably work out all right. I got her in 2013 as a 7 year old. This will be the start of our fourth season of endurance riding and she’s turning into a fantastic trail horse as well. She also loves going down the trail.
Ravenwood Cavalier is my other Arabian. He’s a gelding I’ve had for a year and a half. He’ll be eight in April. He’s also a Montana horse. He’s just starting his endurance training, so I don’t know how he’ll do yet, but he’s got a lot of potential and he’s a pretty solid trail horse. He’s also a lot of fun to ride in an arena.
Carly: What excites you about writing horse books?
Julie: I love the human-equine bond and writing about it. There’s just something magical about horses and spending time with them, even if it’s when writing fiction as opposed to actually riding. I enjoy sharing that love with others too.
Carly: Tell us about your horse book(s).
Julie: I have one stand alone novel about a east coast teen who’s father takes a transfer to “ghost town” Arizona. He’s a geologist, and there’s a good job for him there. She’s a mall rat, city girl, except she also loves horses and she rides at a local stable. So she gets thrown into a totally different culture. However she gets to ride at a local ranch and does the whole cowgirl in training thing. Then she finds a time portal, goes back in time, and has to help save the ranch in the past from a water rights war. And of course, there’s a cute cowboy.
My other horse series is the Tales of the Travelers and the offshoot trilogy, Legends of the Travelers. Travelers are an equine like being that evolved on a world with more magic, so they developed the ability to teleport. They have human-level intelligence and a very strong curiosity. They learned to teleport off world and eventually ran into a race of humans who decided they needed to control the Travelers. Now they’re in a war with the Vanier and they chose partners to help them fight it. The Tales of the Travelers series is set in our modern times and follows a teen from our world who accidentally partners with one of these Travelers and gets involved in their war. The Legends of the Travelers offshoot trilogy tells the story of the beginning of the war and is set a few hundred years prior to the modern series.
Carly: You also write YA, fantasy, sci fi, horror, weird western, equestrian fiction and more. Tell us about your other books.
Julie: I write a lot of urban fantasy. I have a series about a teen who gets turned into a vampire her senior year of high school. A series about a pair of cousin necromancers and their world. I also have a lot of weird westerns set in a world with ghost hunting border collies, and other various short stories in that theme. Most of my stuff is YA friendly. Most of my other sci-fi and horror are also short stories. I write what I like to read, and I like all of those genres.
Carly: Is it difficult to write across genres?
Julie: Mostly no. I think the hardest part is learning the ‘rules’ of each genre and then making sure that the stories I want to write conform to the rules while still being stories I want to tell. The thing I like about all of those genres is that they’re related on one level or another, so it’s not to hard to cross between them. I think it would be a much greater challenge to write these genres and then cross into something like contemporary romance. It’s a lot more different than say if I were going to write paranormal romance as well as these genres.
Carly: Do you work on multiple projects at a time or do you choose one project in a single genre and run with it?
Julie: It really depends on what the deadlines require. Usually I’m working on more than one project at once.
Carly: Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Julie: Believe it or not, that actually depends a little on the time of year. In the winter my ideal day is to get up and feed all the animals. I have sheep as well as horses, dogs and cats. Then I write for a while, spend the warmer time in the afternoon with the animals, and then do more writing in the evening. In the summer it depends on how hot the day is going to be. I may spend the cooler morning hours with the animals and then write in the evening.
Carly: Which do you prefer to self-publish or traditional publishing?
Julie: I work with a small press called Untold Press, which is basically a traditional publisher just on a small press scale. I’ve been with them for seven years.
I also have my own press for self-publishing called Inkwolf Press. I do a pretty good job on my own stuff, and I have a network of people who I work with, but there are a lot of advantages to having a team like the Untold Press team to work with. When I’m self-publishing, I have to do it all myself, contracting cover art, making sure I’ve got the right editor, etc.
Untold takes care of all of that for me, including some promotion, and keeping current with the market. I actually like working with Untold more than doing it myself, but some stories I like to publish on my own.
Carly: You are a member of the Horror Writers Association, Science Fiction Writers of America, and the Dog Writers of America Association and the editor for Story Emporium fiction magazine. Tell us about the value for an author to belong to groups like this.
Julie: HWA and SFWA are both author advocate organizations. They have organized events for networking which is very valuable. They offer some support if an author runs into financial or legal trouble in some instances and they tend to look out for authors interests in matters if things come up that could be problematic to authors in general. The biggest benefit is the networking abilities.
Dog Writers I also joined for some networking possibilities. Story Emporium is weird western magazine I edited with a publisher a while back. It’s always good experience to try different things and work with different people.
Carly: What is the hardest part about being an author?
Julie: Oh jeez...It used to be the rejection. There have been some really close almosts that were pretty tough to deal with.
These days? I think it’s just keeping going when the world is structured to say...get a real job...and I’m all...if you saw the hours I put in you would know this is a real job.
Carly: What is the best part about being an author?
Julie: That’s actually a harder question to answer. There’s a lot of amazing things about being an author. I’d say the random fan letters saying how much they enjoyed what you wrote, or the occasional story from a repeat customer about how you got their adult son to finally get interested in a book. That one was pretty touching.
Carly: What do you wish you had known when you started out?
Julie: It’s okay for first drafts to suck. Yes, writing a clean first draft makes the rest of the process easier and I do try for it, but sometimes you just have to get the words out. You can fix them later.
Carly: What is the one common myth about our profession or field that you want to debunk?
Julie: Write what you know...turns out if you break it down far enough, you probably know a lot about a lot of different things. For example...I have no idea what it’s like to ride a genetically modified utahraptor on an endurance course, but I do know a fair bit about distance riding on horses.
I know a bit about carnivores, and pack animals, and I can research what I need to fill in the blanks. I don’t know what it’s like to live in a dystopian society (and really hope it stays that way), but I can do a lot of research to fill in some of the gaps and still write one. Breaking down a concept into its basics and figuring out what you understand and what you need to research will let you really expand your horizons. And know when to go to subject matter experts.
Carly: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Julie: If you love genre fiction, write genre fiction. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not worth writing. One, genre fiction sells more than anything else does (I’m including romance here, because that is the top seller), and two, entertaining people is truly a noble profession. We’ve been telling stories since we were able to talk, and a book doesn’t have to be “deep” to have value.
Carly: What are you curious about right now?
Julie: Honestly, my biggest curiosity right now is how Cavalier is going to do on the trail this summer.
Connect with J. A. Campbell
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About Host and Author Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning equestrian author and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle! She writes fiction about horses, horse shows, Western pleasure and a handsome cowboy or two. Her books are for people just like her — crazy about reading, horses and cute cowboys!
In the Reins, the first in Carly's series of novels inspired by the equestrian lifestyle, has been an Amazon best seller for more than 10 weeks, is an EQUUS Film Festival Literary Award Winner for Best Western Fiction and has earned two Feathered Quill Book Awards in the Romance and Adult Book featuring Animals categories. The In the Reins equestrian romance series is available now in Audiobook, Paperback and eBook on Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and Kobo.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!