Hello, fellow bookworms and audio addicts. Today I’m sharing a little interview with M N Jolley author of the BBNYA 2021 3rd place winner – Accused. The first book in his urban fantasy series, The KC Warlock Weekly.
My thanks to Dave @The Write Reads On Tour for organising the blog tour.
Keep reading to find out more about The KC Warlock Weekly series and its author in a fun little Q&A. But first…
What is Accused about?
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Title: Accused by M.N. Jolley
Series: The KC Warlock Weekly #1
Published by M. N. Jolley Writing on 4th February 2022
Genres: Amateur Sleuth, Crime, Dark Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Nikola Hamilton
Length: 7 hours 26 minutes
No. of Pages: 250
Listening Length: 7 hours and 26 minutes
My name is Levi and I swear I didn’t kill her.
Sure, I was the only person found at the scene of the crime, and maybe her blood was literally on my hands, but I can explain all that. I’m a journalist writing for Kansas City’s magical community - it’s not that I’m nosey; digging around in other people’s business is my job. So when I suspected that a woman had been cursed, it’s only natural that I went to learn more.
I couldn’t have known she’d be dead before I arrived. Seriously, I write headlines about bridge trolls and solstice events, not murder.
The Wizard’s Council thinks I did it, and I’m going to have a hard time convincing them otherwise. Who are they going to believe, an autistic journalist with a smart mouth and a rap sheet, or the mountain of evidence I left behind when I fled the scene of the crime?
I have to solve the murder. The killer is still out there, ready to strike again so long as they aren’t caught. To crack the case with the Council on my tail, I’ll have to move fast, stay low, and find a way to cover my tracks.
If I can’t, the real killer will go free, and I’ll take the fall. I’ve been to the Council’s prison once, and if I go back, I know I’ll never make it out alive.
©2020 Max N Jolley (P)2022 Max N Jolley
I received this ARC for free in exchange for an honest review. This doesn't affect my opinion of the book or influence the content of my review.Review Format: Audiobook
Purchase Links: Amazon* ¦ Audible* ¦ Audiobooks.com*
Keep reading to find out more about The KC Warlock Weekly series. But first, let me share with you the little Author Interview with M N Jolley.
Flora Meets: M N Jolley
Hi Max and welcome to Flora’s Musings.
Q: I loved your novel and had to give it 5-stars! You had me hooked right from the opening scene.
What was the inspiration for the story?
There were a couple of inspirations that all sort of coalesced! I’d wanted to dip my toe into Urban Fantasy for a while, and after reading that Jim Butcher had initially planned to set the Dresden Files in Kansas City, (my hometown,) I knew someone had to take up that mantle, so that’s where the setting came from.
There’s also the inspiration for Levi himself. I am autistic and had become frustrated by the state of autistic representation in fiction – especially fantasy. Even when actively seeking out stories with neurodiverse characters, I could count the number of examples I’d read of autistic fantasy protagonists on two hands. (And if we only count traditionally published authors, that number drops even more sharply.) There’s this belief in the publishing industry that if a character is going to be autistic, that needs to be an all-consuming facet of their personality, if not the entire plot of the book. I reject that belief, and wrote the book I wanted to see – where an autistic person gets to have the same breadth of character, magical exploits, and narrative opportunity as everyone else.
And for the opening scene? That was an idea from my best friend. When I’m still outlining a novel, I like to start by writing a chapter or two to get a feel for the characters and tone. I initially wrote a somewhat more boilerplate version of that scene, in your typical one-way mirror interrogation room, but wasn’t happy with it. While we were out for a walk, my friend suggested changing the setting. And we just so happened to be walking through Deitrich Park at the time, so… once I rewrote the scene, the whole novel fell into place in my head.
Q: Every novel that I’ve rated 5-stars has had characters that engaged me. I feel invested in the protagonist’s journey and am keen to learn why they do the things they do.
What are you looking for in a protagonist, Max?
That’s hard to answer, because it’s such a flexible problem. The right type of protagonist in the wrong book still won’t work for me. What I can say is, when I write a protagonist, I tend towards people with a strong sense of justice that’s at odds with the world around them. Not simply that they want something unattainable, but that they want something that the structure of the world around them isn’t built to give.
Q: I really enjoyed the world that you created in Accused. The underground magical community, the governance keeping magic away from human knowledge, and the levels of society of the world. The world you’ve created fits believably with our own.
How do you decide what can come purely from your own imagination and what has to be based on fact?
This is an interesting question to answer, because I have an example from the plot itself – though I can’t go into details, because, well, it’d be spoilers. (See what I did there?) But, at one point in the early outlining of the novel, a major plot point was going to revolve around the construction of the streetcar in Kansas City – The project is new, and fairly controversial, and I thought it’d be fun to have a mystery that related in part to the real world happenings in the city.
As I kept writing, though, I decided that the mystery had grown too convoluted to fit if I kept that element, so the streetcar got cut down to an action setpiece and a convenient source of public transit, and… well you know the rest.
And that’s really the crux of it – I make my decisions based on what works for the story. Having real police would introduce far too many problems, so I introduced Counsellors, and built their backstory from there. I like fantastical, monster-focused action scenes, so the action was built around (spoilers) and (spoilers), and especially around (spoilers)!
Q: I’m a huge audiobook addict. So thank you for producing your novel in this format. I really enjoyed Nikola Hamilton’s narration.
What made you hire Nikola for your project and, as an indie author, what does the process involve?
That’s easy – I put up a sample on ACX, Amazon’s audiobook production website. Nikola submitted his audition, and did an amazing job, perfectly fitting the character as I’d imagined Levi in my head. He produced chapters, sent them to me, I’d listen and make any small changes necessary, (there weren’t many, but occasionally a character accent or name pronunciation would need to be tweaked,) and then he’d do corrections!
Nik was great all around, and I’d be happy to work with him again. In fact, I am!
Q: I’m so pleased that I got the chance to listen to your novel, Max. As a book blogger, I love finding new-to-me authors and supporting indie authors.
Are there any tips you could share with new writers that have worked well for you?
I could write whole essays answering this question, but I’ll try and keep it to two answers – one focused on the craft end, one focused on the commercial end.
For writing, this is for very new authors: You’ve all heard ‘write every day’, so I’ll skip that. Instead, I recommend that you practise finishing your projects. Many people chronically start writing a novel, get through the first act, then get burnt out and don’t finish it—then repeat this process, over and over, and never learn the art of finishing stories, polish, edit, etc., which is a different skillset. Start with a project you know you’ll be able to finish, (keep the plot simple and the narrative arc short,) write it, and then once you’ve done that, try moving on to a larger project!
On the commercial end: If you’re going to be self-publishing, then you’ll need to do your own marketing. However, unless you get very lucky and strike gold, (or you’ve got a marketing degree,) you’re probably not going to be able to make money off one book, or even several. The most valuable thing you can do with your writing time is to write – and write, and write, and write. Not only will you be improving your craft, you’ll also be creating more books you can then turn around and sell. Don’t get caught up in the sandpit of trying to market one book really hard when you can be spending your time on writing another book.
Q: Immersing myself in a good story is not just my hobby, but it relaxes and entertains me as well. Keeping me sane.
So, when you’re not writing, Max, what do you do to relax?
Lately? Elden Ring.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I can’t wait to go back to Kansas City and find out what scoop Levi uncovers next!
I loved finding out about Max, his thought processes, inspiration, and sanity savers. (I’m also really buzzed to find out there’s a future audiobook in production!) 🎉
So now, let me share with you more about The KC Warlock Weekly series.
The KC Warlock Weekly by M N Jolley
The KC Warlock Weekly is a planned series of five urban fantasy novels. The protagonist is Levi Lawson, a journalist with autism. We follow him as he navigates the complicated business of starting a local newspaper for his underground magical community.
Books in the Series
- Accused (The KC Warlock Weekly #1) (2020)
- Captured (The KC Warlock Weekly #2) (2022)
And finally, here is Max’s bio and social media links.
Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read this blog tour post: Amazing Interview with M N Jolley author of Accused. I loved finding out more about this talented indie author and really enjoyed my first step into his fantasy world. Have you bought Accused yet?
Before you go, check out what my favourite genres are and why I like them.
Bye for now,