Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meet Embryo Author J.A. Schneider

Welcome again to Characters Well Met where we are talking with J.A. Schneider (Joyce Anne), author, and all around good person.  Her new novel, EMBRYO, is  available on Nook and Amazon http://tinyurl.com/7vjyqao.  Thriller fans will love it from the visceral opening line: “Maria Moran’s first inkling of trouble was the coppery taste in her mouth.” Great characters and a stunning plot will keep you  turning the pages.  My kind of story.  Without further introduction I am honored to introduce  J.A. Schneider, a name I am confident we will all associate with great writing as her future novels come our way.  

1. Great to have you here and willing to be taken away for a moment from a busy life, writing schedule, and family.  How do you do it?  That is, balance the high wire act of giving all to each of these endeavors?

 It’s easier now that my children are grown. (Whew!) But there are still demands and interruptions, and what helps is that the wheels keep turning anyway...in my mind, sometimes cooking up better dialogue and plot twists than if I were actually working. Then I just get the words down, often on scrap paper. Your hands can be busy, you can even be sweetly keeping up your end of a mundane conversation, but that other wonderfully busy mind track is still churning away. Later you can get the words into your computer and polish. But the “two-track mind” is something that just developed for me, back when my children were small and endless hours were spent on soccer fields, car pooling...the usual. It makes for a rich inner existence.  

2.  I really am invested in your protagonists.  Where do you get the ideas for your characters?  Do you describe them from real life people you have met or observe or just make them up?  

I think you create your best characters come from your own experience, your own  psyche. They’re the ones who’ll also start doing things on their own, practically taking over the story. They won’t sit still, they’ll never be wooden. So Jill (EMBRYO’s protagonist) is me – only smarter. She’s fearless to the point of being reckless. She trusts her gut feelings more than she trusts “authorities” who say Don’t! Her curiosity drives her. Once, while hiking in the Caucasus Mountains near Russia’s Black Sea, I was curious to inspect an odd bush that was off the trail. It was a treacherous stretch, and we’d been warned by our Soviet hike leader not to leave the trail. But I had to check out that bush, and did. Turned out, it was the top of a tree rooted in a ravine. I fell. Broke ribs. (I was an exchange student in the USSR, back in the day). Anyway...after ropes, pulleys, a lurching ride back down the mountain in the back of a rusty old truck, I wound up in a small Sochi hospital. And a tired, harrassed Soviet doctor said, “So are you happy? You found out what the damned bush was!” I just smiled and said sweetly, “Yup.” By the time I left I had half that hospital staff saying “Yup!”  

3.  Where do your stories come from? EMBRYO is a medical thriller.  People are already talking about when the next great medical discovery will come along.  Did you arrive at this story after keeping up with current events?  

This is a story idea that wouldn’t let go. What you wonder and obsess about most is what’s going to get written...eventually. Ironically, I wrote one YA non-fiction book and a generic thriller, both traditionally published, before deciding to focus henceforth on medical thrillers .  

4.  You are a woman who is married to a physician.  But your novels read like they were written by a scientist or at least someone who knows a great deal about medicine.  Where did you learn all of the jargon and especially the science?  

Right, I’ve been married for decades to a very patient physician – my husband, Bob - who never tires of explaining medical concepts and retelling his experiences. He did a lot of OB before turning to Cardiology. Combine loving thrillers with years of asking about medical topics, and the path led to EMBRYO;  also my next medical thriller already in the works. Bob helps with every technical question, which I then interweave.  

5.  Your novel reminds me of Coma.  You must be a Robin Cook fan .  Did this novel follow in his footsteps on the way to writing a possible horror novel?  

Years ago I thought Coma was a brilliant idea, badly written. I found the characters wooden and not very likeable. Cook’s subsequent books, same thing, so no, I’m not a Robin Cook fan. Also, Coma was written 35 years ago. Medicine has changed vastly since then. New discoveries and medical advances have sparked new controversies, but I wouldn’t just limit myself to their sensationalism. It’s the emotional story on the deeply felt human level that matters to me.  

6.  You slip in some humor in Embryo.  I like that as it breaks the tension from time to time.  Lets the reader chuckle and get a breather before something new comes along that makes them want to turn on the light and check under their bed. Are you a funny girl around your peers?  That is, does humor come natural to you?  

Yep, I’m a goofball. I fall over furniture, bump into doors (“Hey, who moved that door!?”) I’m intense but I love to make people laugh. Nothing relieves tension like laughter. It so makes you feel better.  

7.  I always ask this question as I am quietly doing a survey.  Are you a plotter or a pantser.  In other words do you just outline everything before you begin writing or do you just sit and write and let the magic happen?  

I start with a rough outline, which “sets the tracks” to start with but goes off the rails pretty fast.

8.   Do you get help to market your work?  Or are you left to your own machinations with social networking and personal appearances?  

No help, no paid ads. I do social networking & love it, especially
Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/JoyceSchneider1 

I really enjoy the communication.

I’m on Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/7hvyqj9 

and Facebook too http://www.facebook.com/joyce.schneider.142 

but Twitter is special to me, because it’s the way I write: condensed; say it in as few words as possible. My Twitter followers also number over 82,000 because my account has always been about health and medical topics. (My husband & I also wrote a book about weight loss and the whole metabolic syndrome – central obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes type 2, and cardiovascular disease.)  

9.  Are you working on something new for us in the near future?  Tell us about it if you can?  I have finished Embryo, so I know what happens to your main characters, will there be room for a sequel?  

There will be a sequel to EMBRYO. Readers won’t want to say good-bye to the characters, and neither will I.

10.  Who are your favorite authors? And what are you reading now?  

Ira Levin and Agatha Christie. Right now I’m re-reading Death on the Nile for the umpteenth time. Agatha does the same thing that Levin does: says so much in few words. That clears the way for both fast pace and emotional depth.   Thank you for coming here and opening up a slice of your life for us today.  I am honored to be your friend and that you took the time to answer our questions.  I sincerely hope you will come back soon to introduce a new novel to our group of readers and writers and challenge us to be as good as we can be.   Thank you so much for inviting me! I am happy to be your friend too, Reggie. I also wish the greatest good luck to your readers. Remember everyone, believe in yourself. Understand that we’re all our own worst critics. Also be patient with yourself. Some stories can rattle around in our heads for years and then suddenly resolve themselves and say, “Okay, I’m ready.”

EMBRYO’s plot: An intern determines to investigate tragedies and terror at a famous fertility & genetic engineering hospital.

BIO: J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek. She has published FLORA TRISTAN and DARKNESS FALLS (Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books);

EMBRYO is her first ebook. She is passionate about reading & writing - especially thrillers, medical thrillers, and mysteries. Decades of being married to a physician and patient explainer means that there'll be fascinating medical angles even in "regular" thrillers that she writes. She canNOT fall asleep without reading a favorite book...even after a long day of writing.

My Amazon Review
5.0 out of 5 stars Embryo is just the beginning, June 23, 2012
By R. Ridgway "Author Reggie Ridgway" 
This review is from: EMBRYO (Kindle Edition)

If you enjoy reading taut and well thought out medical thrillers then this is the one and it doesn't dissapoint. The author gets us invested in our characters right from the beginning weaving in a cluster of unexplained birth defects with a young interns suspicion that something just isn't right here. Being a whistle blower can mean some dire circumstanses and our protagonist is now being followed and her life may be in danger. There is wonderful love story brewing between two of the main characters who begin an uneasy alliance against a powerful medical establishment who will do anything to keep bad publicity at bay. I loved this book for all of the real life medical scenes, the interesting and believable characters and the satisfying resolution. There is a surprising twist at the end which is one of those ah ha moments I love.. The book is well written and I could not help comparing it to Robin Cook or CJ Lyon novels. Don't let this one get away. It is a thrill a minute white knuckle ride.


  1. Sounds great! Thanks for the good review.

  2. You are welcome and thanks for comment

  3. Great interview, great review of Embryo, great author! Thanks Regge and Joyce.
    Regge, I followed you over from Ken Hoss's blog site. he did The Next Big Thing blog post and listed you and your site as ...work you want to check out.

  4. thank you Gail for the comments. I need to do the Next big thing too. Thank you so much.