Thanks to C.J. Bahr for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc.
Hi, everyone! Thanks for having me today. My name is C J Bahr. I live in sunny Southern California in the town of Tarzana, which was named after Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I’m still single and looking for my happily-ever-after. In the meantime I surround myself with awesome friends and live with two cats, Liam and Gerry. I love to visit California wineries, taking hikes and of course, curled up with my kindle to escape to new places.
Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?
I’m a tea drinker. A snobby tea drinker! I like the loose leaf tea in all flavors, none of the pressed flat tea bags for me! If I’m writing later, nice glass of wine might be seen next to my laptop.
Is your education relevant to your writing, or have you branched off in something entirely different to create? How would you best describe your books?
I have a BA in Communications with a Film/Television emphasis. Though I use this degree for my “day” music editing career, it has influenced my writing. Several of my readers and fellow authors have described my writing as cinematic. Or in other words, they can visualize my stories on screen easily. I write paranormal romance, supernatural suspense, and fantasy/sci-fi, so my novels have a magic and lots of action. You can escape with my writing. I’ll definitely take you on a journey.
Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?
My newest release drops on September 20th, and it is “Redeemed By Fire”. It’s my third book of seven in my standalone Fire Chronicles series. You can jump into the fire at anytime, no reading order necessary! It’s a paranormal romance, set in New Orleans.
What inspired you to write this story? What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?
First, I knew my story would have a musical element which would play an important part to the plot. With that in mind, I couldn’t set it anywhere else but New Orleans! I’ve always wanted to visit. In fact I had the Airbnb and plane tickets booked for June 2020, but than the pandemic hit. One day, I will get there. So, of course I researched New Orleans so the readers would feel like they were actually there. But the more fun research was for my villain. My killer (trying for no spoilers!) needs the pineal gland (located inside the brain and is also known as the “third-eye chakra”). So not only had I research the gland, but had to figure out how to remove it. If you want to know, it’s through the eye.
What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?
Well, I finally gave one of my heroes a cat. There’s just something I love about a guy who likes cats. He named her, Catastrophe. Cat for short. She’s half Maine Coon and plays a pivotal roll in the plot.
The special in creating “Redeemed By Fire” is consciously making my characters more reflective of an inclusive society in order to diversify. My heroine is half Haitian. My Cajun detective’s partner is African American. My heroine’s best friend is gay. I want to grow as a writer and a person. As a writer I feel I should be stepping up to show all the colors and lifestyles in this world in which we live in.
What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I love creating stories people want to read. The actual writing, it’s a few things: banter dialogue, action scenes, and strong female leads. The least? It has to be when I reach the ¾ mark of a new novel. I always seem to jump to the end of the story and when I re-read the first draft I realize I’ve skipped a whole portion of my plot! I knew I wanted to be an author by my late teens and even manage to sell my first short story to one of my favorite fantasy author’s anthology in my twenties.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?
I use to belong to a couple of writing groups, but now I mostly write with one fellow author. Writing groups depend on honest helpful critiques and of course participation. It’s tough when you open yourself for critique but your other fellow authors stop submitting there own writing. Now I swap pages with trusted beta readers instead of groups.
One of my favorite websites is www.wordhippo.com. It’s great for finding perfect word or phrase. I use www.prowritingaid.com when I begin the editing process. And I absolutely love www.bookbrush.com when it comes time to create advertising memes, book trailers and covers.
Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?
Music is a huge part of my life since I made a career around it. I listen to instrumental television and film scores. I cannot write while someone is singing! I get distracted by the lyrics. So instead, I “score” what I’m writing. For instance, if I’m writing an action sequence I might be listening to the “Italian Job” or music from one of the “Bourne Identity” movies. If I’m writing a comedic fun or a romantic scene, I’ll look for an appropriate movie or TV soundtrack to play in the background.
Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?
As mentioned above, I no longer belong to a critique/writers’ group. I have a very select group of three beta readers I give my pages to. I found over time, I work better with a trusted few. One is a fellow author, who gets my way earlier stuff. She’s the bomb and doesn’t pull any punches. Another is an avid reader of the genres I write, who’s smart and again, will tell me like it is. My last reader is a copy editor who is one of the last set of eyes before I submit or self-publish. It is so valuable to have the right eyes on my pages, trusted individuals who will always tell me the truth of what is working and what isn’t. This input is invaluable as I continue to develop my writing.
To encourage those still on the path, tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one? What do you think was the key to selling that first book?
I made my first sale in my twenties to the first place I submitted. I was thrilled. Then, it took me another twenty years to publish again! It wasn’t until my late forties I sold my first full length novel. I went the contest route after trying for agents and directly with publishers and getting shut down. “Finish The Damn Book” contest where you enter your first and last chapter of your novel, I was placed second; however, the editor requested a full and then contracted me. I was careful on what contests I enter, making sure either an editor or agent was reading the finalists in hope of getting my work in front of them.
“Walking Through Fire” was actually my second complete novel, but it was the first to sell. I currently have four novels out, and two stories in two anthologies. The key to selling is have an original voice, a great tale and persistence! Never give up. It may have taken me twenty years to sell from my first, but now I have six books out. Hang in there.
What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?
Currently I’m writing two novels. The fourth fire book is in research/plotting mode while I’m writing a first book in a new urban fantasy about a kick-ass, female time cop.
I recently appeared on a vlog/podcast. You can find links to your media listening/viewing choice here: https://www.sheshedstudios.net/event/vloggingpod-interview-w-cj-bahr/
Anything else you would like to add?
First published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Sword & Sorceress” anthology, C J was bitten by the writer’s bug and hasn’t stopped since. The Wild Rose Press published her award-winning first novel, “Walking Through Fire”— a Scottish ghost romance. She is currently working on the fourth book in the interconnected standalone series, The Fire Chronicles, as well as a new Urban Fantasy starring a kick-ass Time Enforcer.
When her pen isn’t scribing, you can find her busily cutting and tracking music for film and television. With over thirty years of music editing experience, her credits range from “Northern Exposure” and “The Muppets Christmas Carol”, to “The Kill Point”, “The Following”, and ABC’s hit comedy, “The Middle”.
In her downtime, you’ll find her curled up with a cup of tea, her cats and a great book in Tarzana, California.
Social Media Links:
Twitter: @cjbahr https://twitter.com/cjbahr
Amazon Author: https://tinyurl.com/y7jmpqdg
Redeemed By Fire Specific Buy Links:
New Orleans, hot sultry nights, and an ancient evil who makes the French Quarter home.
Cassanne Thomas returns to New Orleans to start her life over and becomes the target of a supernatural serial killer. Escaping her close call with death, Casi is the only witness to the crime and finds herself placed in protected custody by a handsome Cajun detective. But with her dark, troubled past, trusting the police is the last thing she wants to do.
Detective Lucas Avery, the top homicide detective in NOLA, is unaware of the supernatural world surrounding him. With the killer stalking the streets, he vows to shield the beautiful, enigmatic, Casi with his life while fighting his growing attraction to her. He’s been burned before.
Danger chases Lucas and Casi from the streets of the French Quarter to the wilds of the bayou. Will they be able to stop a monster, straight out of a nightmare or become victims themselves?
Casi screamed and covered her ears, though too late. The loud boom made her ears ring. Who was shooting at them? She tried to see, but Luc’s weight had her effectively pinned. Squealing tires along with a string of Cajun curses from Luc, had Casi guessing the shooter had fled.
Luc holstered his weapon when Casi spotted the blood dripping off his arm.
“Oh my God!” She pushed at him. “Let me up. You’re hurt. You’re bleeding!”
Luc rolled off her and did as she asked, while gripping his thigh with both hands. Her gaze left his arm drawn to the blood oozing out between his fingers. The thigh wound appeared much more serious. She tugged her phone out and quickly dialed 911. But before it connected, Luc’s bloody fingers grabbed her phone and disconnected the call.
“We can’t call this in.” Luc exhaled harshly and gritted his teeth as once again, he applied pressure to his leg.
“You’re shot. You’re bleeding from multiple places. We need an ambulance!”
He shook his head. “Can’t. We need to leave. Now.”