Thursday 4 August 2016

Q & A with R.J. Crayton

by R.J. Crayton

Scented is a stirring new tale for those drawn to stories with mysterious supernatural forces, unexpected powers and budding young love. 

Sixteen-year-old Bryan Harper has felt alone since the day eight years ago that a sickening, unfamiliar scent wafted from his mother. When he realized too late the new odor was a prelude announcing death, he knew his new sense of smell is a gift, not a curse.

At a young age Lauraline Reese escaped death, yet its specter still haunts her. Unable to let go of the feeling that death has not forgotten her, Lauraline finds it hard to find peace with the storm that almost took her life.

When Lauraline walks into his life, Bryan knows instantly that she is different from the others. He doesn’t know why she appeared, but there is one thing he is sure of: his life is about to change. He just doesn’t know how.

As the two grow close, Lauraline helps Bryan discover a vital message, and Bryan finds himself in a race against death to set things right.

Can Bryan live a normal life despite his talent in scenting death? Or will he be forever marred by the curse of knowing when someone will die next? 

Kindle Edition
Published July 6th 2016 by Ericella Press

Find Scented on Goodreads
Buy it on Amazon

Read It & Read: February 2, 2017

R.J. Crayton grew up in Illinois and now lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. She is the author of the Life First series of novels, which includes Life First and Second Life. Prior to writing fiction, Crayton was a journalist, writing for newspapers, including the Wichita Eagle and Kansas City Star. Crayton also worked for several trade publications, including Solid Waste Report, Education Technology News, and Campus Crime. Her first novels were published in 2013. The third novel in the Life First series, and a short story collection (Four Mothers), will be released in 2014. Crayton is a monthly contributor to the Indies Unlimited blog ( and a regular contributor to the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies blog ( When she's not writing, Crayton spends her time being a ninja mom (stealthy and ultra cool, like moms should be) to her son and daughter. You can find out more about her at

Q&A with RJ Crayton

Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
I thought the book I’d focus on today is Scented, which was published in July. At its essence, it’s a love story. But it’s got a lot of mysterious supernatural elements that keep us wondering about these characters and how they’re going to interact. The two main characters are Bryan, who can tell, through smell, that a person will die within three days. It’s been a power that’s really felt like a curse since he first realized it. Then he meets Lauraline, a girl who fears death is after her and smells like the afterlife, like “ashes to ashes and dust to dust.” As they connect with each other, they learn a lot about each other, themselves and what it really means to live. I don’t think we’ve seen many characters with such morose talents, but I think it makes Bryan a really interesting character to get to know, because he just wants to be normal, like everyone else. It’s a powerful story and I hope readers enjoy it.

Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author? 
I’ve had various different cover designers, and they’ve all been great. My favorite book covers are for my virus series, which includes Concealed, Exposed and Contained. They’re done by Jenny and Seedlings Design. Jenny is awesome and it was great to work with her and get covers made just for me. She’s really good with translating your raw ideas, coupled with some preference for textures and cover feels, into a complete design. So, I adored that process. Jenny even blogged about the cover designs here []. I’ve also worked with Christine Savoie, a great designer who created the current covers for my Life First series. The series had been out a while and I’d pieced together covers from different pre-made sites/people, and while no cover was bad, they didn’t go together as a series. So Christine did a great job giving me this lovely tree that was growing body parts as a symbol of this nation that would take your organs and give them to other people. She used it for all three books in the series and gave such a wonderful uniform look, which I love. Life First [], the first book in that series, is free as an ebook at all retailers. For my Scented cover, I used a cover from James at GoOnWrite.

Describe your ideal writing spot. 
I’m not that picky. I just want a place to sit that’s comfortable. If it’s noisy with talking or television, I don’t care. I could sit and write at a baseball game or a mall or a coffee shop. I can tune out ambient noise and just focus on the writing. However, I can’t write with music. Either the music is stuff I like and I start singing along, so I’m not focused on writing, or it’s music I hate and I can’t concentrate because the bad music is bothering me. As long as I’m away from music, I’m good.

What is the best advice you have been given? 
About writing -- to write a lot. I think there’s nothing better to get you going than to sit down and do it. And do it a lot. There was this study I read about where they split a pottery class into two groups. One group was graded on the quality of their work and the other group on the quantity of their work. Hands down the quantity group did better work. They weren’t afraid to make mistakes, and these mistakes turned out to be really great learning experiences. Through their mistakes, they figured out which techniques worked best and tried new things. This produced better quality than the group that tried to make something of “high quality.”  The quality group was afraid to fail and made fewer attempts because they were seeking to mold something perfect. For me, quantity is how you have to write. You have to do it often, realizing you will make mistakes, but better than that, you will learn from them. I believe the books I’ve written today are tons better than the first books I’ve written. In terms of general advice, I think the best I’ve gotten is life is what you make of it. You’ve got to have a good attitude and go in there expecting for the best (though it’s not a bad idea to have a contingency plan, too).

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I always thought writing would factor into my life plan. I briefly dabbled in engineering, which makes sense for people who like to create things, but I ended up earning a degree in journalism and worked in that field for a while.

Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks? 
It depends on where I’m reading. I tend to read ebooks on my phone because it’s with me all the time. However, if I need my phone for its intended purpose (phone calls), I prefer a paperback book so my battery doesn’t die on me. Again, this isn’t an area where I’m super picky. I want the content, so the delivery method is less worrisome. If I’ve been writing an excessive amount myself, I can get eye strain issues. In those instances, I’d prefer a paper book.

If you could have any supernatural power, what would you choose and why? 
I think I’d like something of the mental nature, perhaps being able to move things with my mind (myself included, so I could at least levitate, perhaps fly if I were super awesome).

What book are you reading now? 
The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor. I've started writing a book where I want some of the Amazon legends to play into what I’m writing, so I thought I’d read this nonfiction book about the Amazons. It’s actually a really fascinating book which traces the Amazon stories to the nomads of a land known to the Ancient Greeks as Scythia. A lot of the legends of the Amazon warrior women are archaeologically traced to these women and it’s super interesting. I’d recommend the book to anyone who wants to read about empowered women living an empowered lifestyle. 

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