Welcome to the latest installment of my friend and fellow Seventh Star Press author, RJ Sullivan’s Virtual Blue Tour, this stop features an interview with RJ conducted by none other than Ivory Blaque!
Ivory: Thanks for agreeing to this interview Mr. Sullivan.
RJ: No problem, thanks for having me.
Ivory: So I hear that you’re a male writer whose stories tend to feature strong female protagonists (sounds like someone else I know), what motivates you to use them?
RJ: Well it’s kinda complicated…I suppose it started with the female 80’s Rock stars such as Cyndi Lauper, Pat Benetar, Joan Jett and the band Heart. I saw that those women from MTV were so much more dramatic and in charge. A lot of that carried over into my writing because I found those figures very interesting. When I sat down to write my first novel, I wanted the challenge of writing outside of myself and you certainly can’t get more outside of yourself than by writing from the perspective of the opposite gender.
Ivory: I heard that your character Rebecca Burton is an investigator of the supernatural? I myself am employed with policing the things that go bump in the night. What inspired you to write about a character who explored those types of issues?
RJ: I was tasked with writing a series by Seventh Star Press. I wanted the freedom of writing standalone stories, while making them part of the series. So, making the continuing character an investigator seemed to be the solution to that. I went back to Columbo and Perry Mason for inspiration to tell standalone stories, where the story is the guest star. In Virtual Blue, the main story is about Blue Shaefer and Chip Farren, while Rebecca is kinda the background guest star. I also wanted to have a character who would remain somewhat a mystery. I didn’t want it to be where the reader learned all there was to know about Rebecca Burton in one story, to be followed with stories where she was just doing her shtick over and over again. I wanted there to be layers of her character that we would be exposing over the course of several adventures, that way there would be more of a reason for her to be present. The reader would learn something new about her with each story. You know a lot more about Rebecca Burton by the end of Virtual Blue than you did from the end of Haunting Obsession. The reader learns more about the organization she works for and there’s plenty more to be uncovered as the series progresses. I like having the flexibility to tell a different kind of story each time, feature her in the story and reveal more about her as a character. I’m sure we don’t know everything about you, do we?
Ivory: Seeing as though my life is one big adventure after another, to coin a phrase from someone we both know, “The Best Is Yet To Come.”
Moving right along, I particularly like the character of Blue Shaefer. This punkish girl has a lot of spunk and flava, she reminds me of a younger version of myself. What prompted you to bring Blue and Rebecca together?
RJ: Haunting Blue was my homage to The Hardy Boys. I wanted to do a Hardy Boys type of story for big kids that turns dark. I started with two male characters, but couldn’t make them gel. So I changed the gender of one of the characters and added sexual tension, which gave me much more to play with. At that point, one of the characters became Blue, who took over the story and pushed Chip into the background. There’s still the Hardy Boys tradition of two kids going off and getting into trouble and encountering a mystery, but soon the story turned out to be more about Blue.
When writing Haunting Obsession, I realized I needed a paranormal investigator and immediately Rebecca Burton came to mind.
Ivory: In Virtual Blue, you explore the themes of the occult and technology, to blend them into the perfect threat. Is this something that you intend to explore in later works or is this a one-shot deal?
RJ: I indicate that there are other events that happen simultaneously to the events in Virtual Blue. I think that there are some other stories to be told, so I may have another short story or two that touches upon the Techno Magic aspects sometime in the future.
Ivory: In creating a protagonist like Rebecca was it important that she live in Indianapolis or that the setting be Indianapolis?
RJ: Yes, mainly because it’s what I know. Rebecca Burton is definitely transportable and has federal status with no jurisdiction, even though her base of operations is Indy. I set this up in that way so that she can travel broadly if necessary.
Ivory: In writing Virtual Blue, what do you want fans of your work to take from this novel? How do the events in this novel set them up for future works?
RJ: Haunting Blue is not widely available yet, but in a couple of months it will be. I wanted to challenge myself to get to the crisis more quickly. There’s a lot of lead time in Haunting Blue that I didn’t need to address in Virtual Blue. I wanted to tie up things from Haunting Blue and then jump right into the story. I wanted to up the ante a bit with Virtual Blue, but still have it tied to Haunting Blue in some way. My intention was to give my readers a direct sequel, but also something very different than before. My thoughts were in writing a sequel, to make it as fresh as possible.
Ivory: I know that our mutual friend, Mr. Allen tends to procrastinate when it comes to penning my adventures. How did you handle the writing of Virtual Blue? Was it something you just sat down and got done or did you have starts and stops along the way?
RJ: I started Virtual Blue right after Haunting Blue, but got sidelined with Haunting Obsession, which actually started out as flash fiction. It was then that Haunting Obsession took over my life for the next six months. I wanted Virtual Blue to be my longest and most intensive offering to date. I generally work on one project at a time.
Ivory: How have your fans/readers reacted to Rebecca Burton in regards to the series? Have they given you any feedback as to what they want to see in the future?
RJ: I listen to my readers. They’re very passionate about seeing more of Blue. I will include her in future stories, but Rebecca will be the main protagonist moving forward. Virtual Blue serves as a passing of the baton so to speak. I want future stories to feature Rebecca as I wanted a more professional, adult protagonist that I can better relate to. I try to meet the expectations of my readers, but also continue to surprise them. I think that the joys of reading any series is the surprise and discovery one experiences while reading the stories. In order to do this, I want to explore introducing new genres into the Rebecca-verse.
Ivory: I guess we’ll conclude this interview with one last question which your readers and I are dying to learn about. What is in the future for Blue and Rebecca?
RJ: I’m currently experimenting with a Sci-Fi series (Red Lotus). The next Rebecca Burton story will have her as a supporting character exploring male issues. I’m going to really be digging into the things that males deal with.
Ivory: Thank you for allowing this interview Mr. Sullivan.
RJ: You’re welcome Ivory, it was my pleasure.
Ivory: Your pal Mr. Allen and I had a long talk about him exploring new exciting things. Hopefully someday in the near future I may cross paths with Rebecca Burton and Blue Shaefer, who knows…it’s a small world filled with infinite possibilities.
RJ: Indeed it is!
About the Author: R. J. Sullivan’s novel Haunting Blue is an edgy paranormal thriller and the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. Seventh Star Press released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella in 2012 and Virtual Blue, the second book in Fiona’s tale, in 2013. Seventh Star will release a new edition of Haunting Blue in early 2014. R. J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His newest project is the Red Lotus series of science fiction novelettes for readers of all ages. R.J. resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. Check in regularly to learn the latest about the projects of R. J. Sullivan.
Book Synopsis: Did you ever wish you could escape to a virtual world? What if you could…but then couldn’t get out? Two years after her deadly clash with a vengeful ghost, Fiona “Blue” Shaefer still can’t shake off the trauma of that night. Moving to New York with her father didn’t help. Neither did absorbing herself in her college classes. Not even her poetry provided the solace it once did. She convinces herself that ending her relationship with Eugene “Chip” Farren, her long-distance boyfriend and final tie to the horrors of that night, might bring the closure she needs. Blue travels to Bloomington to break the news to Chip in person, but her timing couldn’t be any worse. The Sisters of Baalina, vengeful cultists who practice a new form of “techno-magic,” have targeted Chip’s multi-player videogame as the perfect environment to cast a dangerous spell to free a demoness from the very pits of hell. In the process, their plan may trap Blue in a prison of the mind with no locks, no bars, and no escape.
Tour Schedule and Activities:
October 28 Jess Resides Here Contest
October 28 Jorie Loves a Story Review
October 28 Come Selahway With Me Guest Post
October 29 Sheila Deeth Blog Character Interview w/ Blue
October 30 Armand Rosamilia Guest Post
October 30 A Haunted Head Special Post Tba
October 30 Deal Sharing Aunt Review
October 30 Word to Dreams Promo Spotlight
October 31 John F. Allen Ivory Blaque Interview of RJ!
October 31 Spellbindings Character Post with Rebecca Burton
October 31 Library Girl Reads and Reviews Character Interview of Rebecca Burton
November 1 Bee’s Knees Reviews Review
November 1 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post
November 2 Azure Dwarf Guest Post
November 3 Angela Meadon Review
Where to buy Virtual Blue:
Amazon Print Versionhttp://www.amazon.com/Virtual-Blue-R-J-Sullivan/dp/1937929329
Other eBook Links