Author MJ Bell is behind the Award Winning series Chronicles of the Secret Prince and comes to talk about one of her more recent books. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.
Hi, I’m so happy to be here, My name is M.J. Bell. I’m an Indie author from the beautiful state of CO where I live with my husband and new puppy, Tallie. I love to cook, crochet, and, of course, read, but since we’ve gotten Tallie, I do very little other than play with her. It’s just too hard to ignore that cute little face and her whines for attention! I grew up in Iowa and spent a 8 1/2 year stint in AZ, but CO is where my heart is and I’ll always consider it home.
When and why did you begin writing?
I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until my boys got into middle school and suddenly found there wasn’t anything for them to read. (this was before Harry Potter and Percy Jackson was around) So, I started to write stories for them. I never did finish one– having 4 kids there wasn’t a whole lot of spare time– but I discovered that I truly loved writing. Then when Harry Potter came along, it brought so many kids back to reading, but I kept thinking…what are they going to read once this series is finished? So, I sat down and wrote my first novel, Before the Full Moon Rises, a Teen/YA fantasy, which won the Gold Mom’s Choice Award in fantasy.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Next Time I See You is a time travel suspense thriller. It about a girl, Kat, who falls into a deep depression and can’t move on with her life after her boyfriend is killed in a mass shooting. But after a chance encounter with an intriguing stranger who leads her to the discovery of a time machine, she takes it as a sign she is supposed to go back in time and stop the shooter. She hatches a daring plan to sneak into the lab where the machine is housed not thinking or caring about the dangers involved. However, the second Kat steps out of the time machine, it becomes clear that fate has a plan of its own, and she is not at all prepared for it.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always loved time travel stories and always wanted to write one. But I wanted to use science, not magic, and that was a problem. The great physicists say time travel is possible, but to do so one would either have to go faster than the speed of light, fly close to a black hole, or latch onto one of the cosmic strings that are supposedly floating around in space. None of those are options for an everyday college student like Kat, my character. So, for years I couldn’t write the story. Then one day I found an article about a professor who has developed a time travel theory that uses laser lights to bend space time into a circle. He’s even started building the time machine and hopes to have it up and running soon. But whether he does get it working or not makes no difference – he gave me a good scientific solution for my book, and wah la, Next Time I See You was born!
How did you come up with the title of this book?
Titles are always hard for me. They’re such an important part of the book and you have to make sure they appeal to the right readers of the genre. I knew I wanted the words “Next Time” in the title for the time travel reference, so I researched those words to see what was out there, and I happened upon a song, Maybe the Next Time, by Sue Medley. It’s such a beautiful song and I fell in love with it immediately, but there were too many other books out there with that title. So, I played around with different combinations of the words until I came up with Next Time I See You, and I knew right away that was it.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Nothing in the book is based on anything that has happened to myself or anyone I know, but the mass shooting is based on the Aurora Movie Theatre shooting. The shooting itself does not take place in the book, just the aftermath, but I did a lot of research on that shooter and my shooter that Kat has to stop is based on him. And I can tell you, the research I did on that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It really affected me and got to me emotionally. I was very glad when that part was done!
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
As I previously mentioned, J.K. Rowling has been a huge influence for me. I don’t think I would have finished my first book if it hadn’t been for her. In my opinion, she has done more for the teen/YA genre than anyone else, and I love how she has opened the door for so many of us to follow. Whenever I get stuck in my writing, I pull out one of her books and start reading it again. I don’t know what it is about it, but it always gets my creative juices flowing again. I’ll forever be grateful to her—Always.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
Several of my author friends recommended the incredibly talented book cover designer, Mr. Steven Novak, and I’m so glad they did! I knew what I wanted for the cover and he put it together for me better than I even imagined. All the covers he’s done are marvelous, but I have to say, he really outdid himself with mine.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never ever compare your success to someone else’s! Different genres sell differently, and some people write fast, some slow. So, don’t think of yourself as a failure if you can’t put out a book every six months, or if your children’s fantasy isn’t selling as well as your friend’s romance. Be proud of your accomplishments no matter how small, because writing a book is not easy, but it’s so worth it!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for having me. I love to connect with readers, so if you ever have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.
I hope you check out my books and happy reading!
Next Time I See You