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.
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“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.
Q) What inspired you to write this story?
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.
Q) How long did it take you to write?
From the time to first word was placed in the word document to the time the Kindle edition became available, two years passed. Considering I was also completing my residency training in internal medicine and then transitioning to my full time hospitalist position during that time, I expected it would take much longer. Hopefully, my next projects will happen faster now that I've got experience and more free time to dedicate to writing.
Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
Writing allows me to take time to digest thoughts, emotions, and scenarios I often avoid thinking about during my day. It's de-stressing and entertaining for me and brings new perspective and fresh motivation.
Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
I find the most difficult thing about writing is sharing the piece for feedback for the first time. Willingly putting yourself up for criticism on a project that has taken immense thought, time, and creative energy to create, is anxiety provoking. However, I've been fortunate to find such wonderful beta-readers, that I've found after the initial stab to the ego, I get a fresh dose of inspiration after each interaction. I know Beyond the Reach of Judgement is significantly better than it would have been thanks to those readers.
Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
I love this question! If I had to narrow it down, I would have to say someone like a long-lost Kardashian daughter because if only for one day, I would want to know what it's like to live-it-up like Ruth and Julien for a day without any other responsibilities or real financial restrictions. I know it's shallow, but it's only one day! Now, if it were longer, I would like to spend time as someone like Sally Ride in the 80s, making history, breaking glass ceilings, and doing something amazing like spending time in space or as Angelina Jolie because there seems to be nothing that can stop that woman from accomplishing anything and everything she puts her mind to. I would love to have so much talent, brains, heart, and beauty in the total package that way.
Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
A large jar of baby pickles that is at least 1 year old. I remember buying it the first week we moved into our new home last summer. There is probably only two or three pickles left in it, but for some reason it just sits there and takes up space.
Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
I am currently working on a project I am super excited about. It's an urban fantasy set in Iowa City, IA surrounding the urban legends regarding a beautiful black angel grave-marker that is over 100 years old and known to all the locals. Also, even though Beyond the Reach of Judgement was originally written as a stand-alone, NaNoWriMo this year will hopefully be dedicated to the sequel thanks to the amazing feedback and requests I've gotten for more.