M.J. Bell Author Interview
It is my pleasure to introduce M. J. Bell, an award-winning Science Fiction & Fantasy author from Colorado. I met M.J. at the 2018 Denver Comic Con, where I had the opportunity to learn more about her books. Check out my Goodreads review for her newest time travel book, Next Time I See You, which was recently released.
M.J. Bell graciously accepted my invitation to interview. Below is her biography, responses to my interview questions, and ways you can contact her. Click on the book covers below to purchase her books at Amazon.
M.J. Bell Bio:
M.J. Bell is an award-winning author (Gold from Mom’s Choice Awards) of the Teen/YA Fantasy trilogy, Chronicles of the Secret Prince, and the Science Fiction & Fantasy, Next Time I See You.
Having escaped the mosquito-infested land of Iowa where she grew up, and the scorpion-infested land of Arizona where she was transplanted for way too long, she now lives happily ever after in Colorado, spreading magic wherever she can as a full-time writer, full-time babysitter, full-time cheerleader, full-time cook/housekeeper, and full-time taxi cab driver.
M.J. Bell Author Interiew
Would you provide an overview of the newest book that you have released this year?
Next Time I See You is about a University of Colorado student, Kat, whose life has been turned upside down by the murder of the man she planned to marry. She feels there is nothing left to live for until she encounters an intriguing stranger who leads her to the discovery of a time machine. Kat takes this as a sign and convinces herself that she is supposed to go back in time, kill the murderer, and then she will get back the life she was supposed to have and no one will be the wiser. Unfortunately, once she steps out of the time machine, she discovers it’s not that simple and things don’t quite go as she plans.
What inspired you to write Next Time I See You about time travel to the past so the main character can stop the tragedy of a mass murderer killing her beloved boyfriend and other victims.
I love time travels and have always wanted to write one. But I wanted to make it believable, which meant I needed a time machine that a normal, everyday kind of person could use. Regular people can’t just jump into a rocket ship and travel faster than the speed of light or close to a black hole or along the cosmic strings—those were the only ways physicists said one could time travel. But I kept searching and a couple years ago, I stumbled upon an article about a professor back East who had developed a hypothesis that stated light could bend the space time continuum into a loop in which a person could then travel forward in time. He was even working on building a real time machine. I was so excited. I had finally found a feasible way to get Kat back in time, and I immediately dropped the story I was in the process of writing and started Next Time I See You.
How much research is involved in writing your books? How did you go ABOUT researching the grieving process and common traits of a mass murderer in Next Time I See You.
I did a TON of research for this book, not only on time travel and quantum physics, but also on grieving and James Holmes, who I modeled my killer after. And I have to say, it was really hard. My brain is 100% creative and trying to make sense of the equations and technical terms of quantum physics would put my head in a spin in a matter of minutes! But the hardest part was researching Holmes and getting inside his head to make my killer real. It really affected me in not so good of ways reading and learning all that I did about him and I was so glad when I finished the book and could put that behind me.
Provide an overview of other books you have published.
I also have a fantasy trilogy out—The Chronicles of the Secret Prince. It’s about a young boy, Deston, who is lured into the mystical realm of Tir na-nÓg, where the fae reign. Merlyn the magician then persuades Deston to join the epic battle of the light VS the darkness. It’s a fun high fantasy with swords, battles, monsters, and a lot of King Arthur characters and references, because I’m a huge fan of the Arthurian legend. The three books in the trilogy are: Before the Full Moon Rises, Once Upon a Darker Time, and How Dark the Light Shines.
Do you have a favorite character from any of the books? Explain why.
Gosh, when I’m writing a book, that character is always my favorite. But I’m going to have to say that I really love Merlyn. He was also my favorite character in King Arthur, so that may have something to do with it. I didn’t like that he just rode away and disappeared in the Arthur legend and nothing more was ever said about him or what happened to him after. So I decided to bring him back in my books and let the world know just what did happen to Merlyn!
How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?
Oh my gosh—ALL the time! I’m not an outliner, so my characters totally write their own stories. It’s as much of an adventure for me to write it down, as it is for my readers to read. (though something that gets a little stressful when I don’t know how a character is going to get out of a situation they’ve put themselves into!)
Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?
Actually, I have and the first instance that comes to mind was a real shock to me. Someone reading Next Time I See You immediately took a disliking to Kat and thought she was a horrible person because she was going back in time to kill someone. This reader didn’t understand how broken Kat was and that the complicated grief she was going through affected her way of thinking. Kat never want to kill anyone and it tortured her to think about doing so, but she couldn’t see any other way to stop the mass shooting. And though Kat isn’t a real person, it bothered me that she was seen as a bad person, when I know she isn’t.
Do you have any other books planned? If so, would you give an overview of what the book(s) are about?
I am going back to the book I was writing when I learned about the time machine. It’s an urban fantasy with three young adults, and it’s title is, Three. Since I’ve picked it back up, though, I’ve decided to change it up a bit, so I’m still in the process of getting it put together and don’t really have a full overview of it yet. But it’s going to involve an ancient alien race, pyramids, special powers, and a villain, of course, and that’s about all I can say for sure at this point.
If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
I would love to know how to paint or draw. One of my sons is an amazing artist, though he doesn’t believe he is. But I love art and am in awe of those who can bring their imagination to life on a canvas—like my trilogy cover artist, Aria Keehn. She’s an amazing talent and I love her work.
What might we be surprised to learn about you?
I didn’t read as a kid, other than what was required of me for school. I was too busy playing outside, riding my bike, spending my summers on my aunt’s farm with the animals and all the chores involved with that to read. I was in my thirties before the reading bug hit me and then it hit me HARD, and I couldn’t get enough. Still can’t get enough!
What simple pleasure makes you smile?
Spending time with my kids. They’re all grown now and so I don’t have to be so much of a mother around them and can just enjoy them for the amazing people they have grown to be. Nothing brings me more pleasure.
You can contact M.J. Bell as follows:
Books by M.J. Bell can be purchased at Amazon. To purchase, click on the book cover below.