Sunday, June 12, 2016

J.A George on the Journey of GIFTED

J.A George, joins us on the blog for a light conversation on her debut book GIFTED and her writerly journey so far. 

Gifted - The Hayven Series, #1

There is no chosen one in this story. 
Avery Gray was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to make a decision that altered her future forever. It happens to all of us every day. 
Avery is a size twelve university student with a penchant for dry humour, and she’s as normal as they come. Up until now, the biggest choice she’s had to make was glasses or contacts? At the moment, it’s stay and save, or leave and be saved. 
Allow me to explain. One rainy afternoon, Avery had to make a choice: go through the alleyway or around it. Two possible options. One would have had her future continue on as planned, the other would ensure that her future never remained the same again. She unknowingly went with the latter. 
But change is not always bad. Avery meets Theodore-James Connors, an enigmatic young man who takes her to Hayven, a city separated from the rest of the world, where only gifters – ordinary people with extra-ordinary gifts – can go. She soon finds herself in a close-knit group of friends she’d never have imagined herself in. Friends who are diverse in every possible way, from their ethnic backgrounds, to their personalities, from their gifts, to their life stories. Friends who make her laugh, who make her cry, who make her think and who make her…her. 
However, change is not always good. The beautiful, golden city of Hayven has its dark side – Cliders. Gifters turned rogue, aka, Cliders are determined to aid fallen Clider, Madrina, return to rule Hayven. They will stop at nothing to make that happen, including harming those Ava has grown to love. 
Again, Ava is faced with a choice: spend her days finding a way to inhibit Madrina’s return, or walk away. After all, she isn’t the chosen one. Yet, there exists a third option – rig the future itself and make it work for her.
Gifted – THE HAYVEN SERIES Book #1 is available on Amazon (Paperback $10.99, Kindle $2.99).

Meet J. A George

J.A. George is the author of the four part series, Gifted– THE HAYVEN SERIES. She spent years of her life reading book after book before sitting on her bed one morning, opening her laptop and typing Chapter One into a Word document. Now, not only does she read book after book, she writes book after book too. Want to know more about the upcoming sequel, The Silver Orb? Follow her blog and on Twitter for updates. Feel free to contact her, for loves hearing from readers! 

1. Gifted is your debut book and it has received very good reviews. I'm delighted to have you over on my blog to talk about your book. 

Would you like to start the conversation by introducing the book to my readers?

It’s great to be featured on your blog so thanks for having me! My novel GIFTED – The Hayven Series is a contemporary YA fantasy. It is centred on a size twelve university student with a penchant for dry humour and she’s as ordinary as anyone, until the outcome of one decision makes her extra-ordinary.

She meets a silver-haired woman a little on the strange side and a young man a little more on the stranger side and these meetings eventually lead to the discovery of Hayven – a city separated from
the rest of the world.

2. Avery Gray, the protagonist of GIFTED, is a university student. How did you build the character of Avery? Was GIFTED inspired from your own student life?

Haha! I wish. No, no part of GIFTED was based on any real-life events. My university years were rather uneventful. 

It took over two years to build Ava. When I started writing Gifted, it was all about writing a book I
wanted to read, so a YA novel with no chosen one, no instant-love and a focus on real young adult
relationships with a dash of extra-ordinary stirred in. But when my publication date loomed closer, I
started to panic. What if people didn’t like it? What if it didn’t sell? Wouldn’t that mean I’d failed at being an author? Fear got to me and I ended up changing Ava into something I thought YA readers would like and that meant creating her from different parts of female protagonists I’d read in the past. After two years, I decided to drop that “what if” mentality and focused back on making Ava into a character I’d like to read about. I didn’t want to read about a girl who wakes up and kicks butt on daily basis, I wanted to read about an ordinary girl for a change. Ava is strong-willed, funny and sarcastic, but she’s also insecure and worries about the small stuff, like we all do. I relate to her because I can see myself and many others in her and it’s nice to have a relatable character who experiences extra-ordinary things.

For me, Ava makes the impossible seem a little more…possible.

3. I see that you have dealt with relationships in GIFTED. How do you feel about writing on relationships? Did you use some of your own experiences or internalise the experiences of others that you have known?

The relationships in my novel are how I see real young adult relationships. They’re loosely based on
what I’ve experienced, what my friends have experienced and what is likely in this day and age. GIFTED is mainly about friendships, but also romantic relationships. As I mentioned before, my first
edition of Gifted  was very different to the edition now published. Edition one feature instant-love
because it was something I’d seen in quite a few popular YA reads and assumed it was what YA readers wanted. I eventually took out the instant –love because it is personally something I don’t believe in. I think love can sometimes take a while to develop and I also think lust and intrigue can often be misconstrued as love. My main protagonists are not in love but some of my readers believe they are; I don’t correct them because if it’s true in their head’s then that’s it – it’s true.

I try to make my novel as true-to- life as possible so there are elements of mistaken love, forced love and cheating, but they aren’t the main focus of GIFTED. It’s a lot less sombre than I’m making it out to be right now! It’s a fun read, I promise!

Paperback copies of Gifted.  [Image Courtesy : J.A George ]

4. GIFTED brings up some issues that affect young people a lot, such as that of body image and appearance to pick the most common. What is your opinion on this unhealthy culture?

To be frank – it sucks. Unfortunately that is the world we live in nowadays and all anyone can do is try to find some kind of peace in who they are and what they look like. Every girl has insecurities and if a girl tells you she doesn’t, she’s lying. So of course Ava has some as well, but she’ll soon find acceptance in herself, it just might take a while.

5. I believe that every writer is a reader first. As a reader, what are your favourite genres? 

I used to only read YA until I branched out about two years ago and haven’t looked back! There are so many wonderful books and genres out there it’s impossible to pick just one!

Are there any authors or books you've drawn inspiration or influence from?

I’ve only recently realised that my biggest inspiration was Roald Dahl. He’s my favourite author and I say that because I’ve read and enjoyed most of his books than I have any other author. His theme of
extra-ordinary things happening to ordinary people (think Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and Matilda) is something that has subconsciously stuck with for many years now.

6. How would you summarise your first time experience in writing and publishing a book? How involved were you in the other aspects such as cover design and editing? 

It was a roller-coaster! Apart from the actually writing and re-drafting, everything else went rather smoothly. I’ve had three professional editors who I worked alongside with and the design for the cover was an image I came up with. 

At this point, I must add how much I like the cover of GIFTED. I instantly loved the book a little when I saw the cover much before I read more about it.

I get a lot of compliments about the cover which is just amazing, but what’s better is when readers read GIFTED and then say to me, “Now I understand the cover!”

7. GIFTED is the first book in the Hayven Series. Have you started writing the next book in the series?

I have started writing book two. In fact I was finished with it until I completely redrafted book one. Book two was again based on what I thought YA readers wanted and I didn’t like it very much either. Now I’m redrafting it again so it fits the tone of book 1 and is again, something I want to read.

J.A George's workspace.  [Image Courtesy : J.A George ]

Will it be a sequel featuring the same characters? 

It is a sequel featuring the same characters and with a lot more; I plan to have a lot of characters, Game of Thrones style, but I won’t write from all their POV’s. One thing I can say about these new characters is that they’ll add a heck of a lot of diversity. It is no secret that YA books are severely lacking in diversity; there’s just no question about it, and because of this, most books I read just aren’t relatable. I was born and raised in London, one of the most diverse cities in the world, so when I read a book where the majority of the characters are from one race group, the book makes less of an impact on me because it isn’t realistic; a world where diversity is lacking isn’t a world I know. Readers tell me there’s a lot of diversity in Gifted  book one and I’m just like, you haven’t seen anything yet! I’ve already plotted story-lines and secured roles for Asian characters, Muslim characters, Latin characters and homosexual characters. I love diversity and I intend to pile it into my books as much as I can get away with!

Oh that'd be wonderful. I wish you the best for all your upcoming books. Thank you very much for taking out time for this conversation. I enjoyed it and look forward to having you again on my blog when your next book is out. 


  1. Gifted sounds promising. Love the idea of no insta-love and no chosen one. Great interview Priya.

    1. Thank you Chantel. And I love that about the book too - no love at first sight or chosen one.

    2. I'm glad you like the sound of it, Chantel!

  2. Thanks for having me, Priya! I look forward to next time!

    1. It's been a pleasure getting to know you and working with you. I look forward to having you over here again and I wish you the best for the next in the Hayven Series. :)