ST. ALBANS –– When local author J.P. Choquette moved to a new home in the area with her family in the summer of 2011, her husband noticed an absence of people outside throughout their neighborhood.
That’s when J.P.’s “What if?” flip switched. She asked herself: “What if you were moving into a neighborhood where there was more beneath the surface?”
That is the question J.P. poses in her second novel Dark Circle, due out for a Feb. 28 release. J.P. – that is her pen name – will unveil her sophomore effort locally at The Eloquent Page, in downtown St. Albans, at 2 p.m. on March 1. She will dovetail that event with several regional library appearances, all listed on her Facebook page.
J.P. started writing Dark Circle in the middle of 2012. Her debut effort Epidemic hit bookstores and shelves in March 2013.
“The idea (for Dark Circle) percolated for a while,” J.P. said recently, over coffee at The Traveled Cup, in St. Albans.
Dark Circle centers around an out-of-town couple that moves into Franklin County, Vt.’s, first gated community – a component of the novel that was fun to write for J.P., because northwestern Vermont doesn’t have a gated community.
Strange things transpire in J.P.’s gated community, and her female protagonist wonders if they’re real, or a combination of factors in her mind, including prescribed medication from a past tragedy; ultimately, she and her husband unfold local secrets.
Like Dark Circle, Epidemic is a thriller – the story of a viral outbreak in Franklin County.
J.P. has written so prolifically in the last few years, that she is on track to publish a novel a year, and they all swirl around new ideas, while older manuscripts sit and wait.
“I don’t think they’ll ever see the light of day,” she said.
Last October, J.P. started her third book, in the same genre, about a female bounty hunter from Franklin County – and there might be enough material for a trilogy.
Enter the business end of writing for J.P. Choquette.
After conducting some market research, and talking with local librarians, J.P. discovered series and trilogies sell well, because fans follow them and anticipate the next installment.
“And with a trilogy or series, you can flesh out the world you’ve created, and all its detail,” J.P. said. “And that can be a challenge in just one book.”
In today’s publishing world, authors must also balance components of business, J.P. said, such as marketing and promotion, budgeting, and time management.
J.P. self-published both her novels through Createspace.com, a print-on-demand publisher that offers various packages, depending on their needs.
“I chose to self-publish, because I liked the marketing piece of it,” J.P. said. “It meshes well with my personality.”
J.P. funneled much of her income from Epidemic toward the publication of Dark Circle, but she was able to hire a proofreader for the latter, meaning she is making some money on her books.
“If it goes the other way, I’m in trouble,” she joked.
In St. Albans, J.P.’s books are available at: The Eloquent Page, Maple City Candy, Rail City Market, Cosmic Cafe and The Traveled Cup.
After graduating from a northwestern Vermont high school in 1995, J.P. eventually earned a degree in psychology from Johnson State College, in 2002.
She always “loved writing, but never thought of it as a career.” She started freelance writing outside of her full-time job in 2007 and still does today.
What’s fun about writing for a living?
“Really, there’s just so much,” J.P. said. “I don’t think I could say it succinctly.”