Just Imagine

Just Imagine

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Welcome to my blog! Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and read what's on my mind. I've a vicious sense of humor, an apprecation for romance and a mad addiction to writing.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Paranormal. Romance. Tragedy. Beyond the Reach of Judgement by Jo Bissell.

Today I’m thrilled to welcome over Jo Bissell, author of Beyond the Reach of Judgement, a paranormal romance; paranormal tragedy. 

Number of pages: 294
Word Count: 76K

Cover Artist: Char Adlesperger 
at Wicked Cover Designs 

Book Description

“Did we leave any sin out?” she replied with a forced weak laugh.

“No. Between the two of us, I think we have managed to cover them all,” he mumbled as that uncomfortable lump in his gut returned. 

Julien Rene Durant was once a good man. Born in France, he took the oath as a Jesuit Priest in the 1600s. He dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel. Now, he was a monster surviving off the blood of others; killing for survival even as he wished for nothing other than for his own extinction. After almost four centuries of guilt and hopelessness, he encounters someone who might just be able to rescue the good man trapped within the monster, but will his judgements deny him a second chance?

Mary Ruth Jacobson-Ryan is nothing special; a small town girl stuck in a rut. Married to the local Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran and town hero who turned out not to be the perfect guy she fell in love with before the war, she is desperate for a way out. When things turn from bad to worse, she runs with plans to never look back. She quickly finds, however, that her search for a better future may lead her down a path with no future at all.

GIVEAWAY!! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter after this post for a chance to win one of two $10 Amazon Gift Cards. 

Book Trailer

Interview Time!

What inspired you to write this book?

My first experience with the genre of paranormal romance was reading the Twilight Saga many years ago. While I've ready many more since, I was immediately hooked with the concept of but found myself wishing for “more.” More romance; more sex; more darkness; more adult themes; just more. Initially, I filled this void by writing some bad fan-fiction and reading other Indie Author PNRs. Finally, in November 2012, I decided to do something original with National Novel Writing Month and the idea of Mary Ruth and Julien started to take shape. While I did not “win” NaNoWriMo that year, I did get 30K+ words towards the project and felt a real sense of accomplishment with creating something fresh which inspired me to see this project through to the end.

How did you come up with the title?

I knew I wanted something with a suspenseful and slightly religious connotation given Julien's background and internal conflict with his Jesuit vows, and Ruth's disenchantment with her own spirituality which in many ways brings them together and pulls them apart. I tested many titles based on the concept of sin and redemption and good vs evil. But the title goes deeper and more personal, in that its about living your life for yourself and not for what others expect from you, with which both characters also struggle.

What made you choose the main setting for your book?

Almost all the settings I write about are places I've experienced personally. I do this because I feel it makes them more real in my writing, especially considering the less believable aspects of my stories.

Tell us a little bit about the conflict in your story. 

The heart of  Beyond the Reach of Judgement is the concept of good people being forced by circumstances and poor options to make bad decisions. We all think we know what we would do when forced with certain moral choices, but what about when the alternative is even worse? Suddenly, it's much harder to judge that decision, but that doesn't make it any easier to make.

If you had to sell your book based on one run of dialogue (start quote to end quote), which would it be?

“A murderous vampire priest and an adulterous pregnant pagan prostitute... did we leave any sin out?”

Are you currently working on another story? If so, we’d love some details. 

Yes! My current project is an urban fantasy based on a black angel grave-marker over 100 years old located in Iowa City, IA that is shrouded in urban legends and mystery well known to the locals. Many of the urban legends involve harm coming to those who disrespect the monument and the heroine, Ingrid, is tasked by family heritage to try to prevent this harm.

Did you enjoy writing one scene above all the rest? If so, share.

My favorite scene to create was the scene in the steak house where Ruth hears Julien's story. I liked the flow of dialogue and the tension between them. This scene also sets the stage for the rest of their relationship, and really, the rest of the book.

Tell us about your favorite writing environment. Is it indoors, outdoors, a special room, etc.

I write pretty much anywhere I can bring my laptop. On the patio of my home, in front of the television watching the news, in my bed, in the car on roadtrips, coffee houses, libraries, and on flights. I think this is because with my “day job” as a full time physician, I have so little time to actually dedicate to writing. When I'm not at work I am either thinking about a current project, plotting a future project, or marketing an already completed project.


Alone in the stone cell, Julien paced the perimeter until finally sliding his body down the unforgiving wall opposite the cell door. With her final words still stuck in his head, he focused on the cracks in the stones and the number of blocks stacked to form his enclosure. He tried to memorize the angles and the dimensions of the space instead of allowing thoughts of her warm curves pressed against him to overcome his focus. When the vision of her bright blue eyes came into his head, he changed his attention to the ceiling, taking in the cobwebs in the corners, the dim bulb hanging above, and the smell of mildew hanging in the air. As his mind fell upon the memories of their final moments together, he ground his fingernails into the hard stone beneath him.

His concentration wavered as something slipped through the bars of the cell door. Even in the dim lighting, he immediately recognized the medical grade pint of packed red blood cells. Although freshly sated by the girl’s last remaining ounce of life, the blood still called to him. The more he tried to ignore its presence, the louder the call became. His eyes repeatedly drifted back toward the bag as his tongue ran over his teeth. He sniffed the air, relieved that the scent of the bag’s contents remained trapped by the sterile sealing process. 

His jaw clenched, and his fists tightened as the pain built in the back of his throat. Picturing himself back in France in the Church of Saint-Pierre de Montemartre, he swallowed back the saliva that collected in his mouth as he closed his eyes and began to chant. 

“AVE MARIA, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen. ” 

With his eyes closed, he chanted the words over and over, repeating them until they became senseless in his mind. Placing his head between his knees, he squeezed his eyes closed tighter. When he started to wonder what blood type was written across the bag in bold letters or about how fresh it might be, he changed prayers. When the memories of the sensation of his lips on warm flesh, the sound of a pulse echoing in his ears, or the taste of that first drop of blood on his tongue entered his mind, he changed prayers. When he remembered her scent in his nostrils and her flavor in his mouth, he changed prayers.

Recognizing her footsteps and her smell, Julien did not look up as Agent Wolf stood in the doorway. After a long silence, she finally spoke. “Mr. Durant, tell me, why should I spare you?” 

“You should not,” he said. 

“And why is that?”

“I am a monster. I deserve to be ended. I wish to be ended.”

“And why should I give you what you desire?” Her voice hinted at genuine curiosity. 

“You should not.” 

She said nothing else as her footsteps disappeared down the long corridor. Silence filled the cell once again.

He was alone, alone with the blood. 

Imagining himself back in the Spiritual Exercises, he started to chant again. He had conquered the evil and disorder within himself once so many years ago; it could be done again. Ruth taught him that. It took losing her to prove to him that he had the choice, and her loss gave him the strength to take it.

Even though he had witnessed her passing with his own eyes, her presence still haunted his every thought. He sensed her fear and despair as if she sat next to him now. But now she was dead, and he sat alone in the stone cell.

About the Author

Jo Bissell started writing in middle school with fantasy stories inspired by books such as The Hobbit, and in fact once turned in a journal project written entirely in Dwarfish Ruins. She then explored fanfiction and short speculative fiction writing. Now, after many years of study, she spends most of her time working as a full time physician caring for hospitalized adults. When she is not writing or doctoring, she enjoys reading, watching movies, traveling, archery, thrift store shopping, and snowboarding. She currently resides in the Iowa City, IA area with her husband and two cats.

Beyond the Reach of Judgement is Jo Bissell’s first original novel which evolved out of a 2012 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project. She also has a short speculative fiction piece, His Eyes, available for Kindle. Future planned novels include a sequel to Beyond the Reach of Judgement, other works of urban fantasy and paranormal romances, and a science fiction novel. She continues to participate in NaNoWriMo.

Visit Jo Bissell


Unknown said...

Hello Sky - thank you so much for the support. Loved the interview questions.


Sky said...

My pleasure, Jo! Wishing you much success always. :-)