Recently, I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them for guest-spots on my blog. (If you are interested in participating, please contact me.) I asked everyone thirty-five questions — some were basic, and others were multi-part inquiries — and I asked them to answer only what they wanted to or what was applicable. My friend and fellow-blogger, J.J. Stone, had some very captivating responses which I’m sure will enchant you, as well. After you read her interview, please be sure to hop on over to her blog and follow her for a regular dose of her charisma and wit. And now, heeeee’re’s J.J.…
1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:
My name is J.J. Stone. I am 27 years old and I live in Georgia with my husband and our dogs. I’m also a freelance copywriter.
2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):
- Website: www.jjstonewrites.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jjstonewrites
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/jjstone_writes
- Blog: http://jjstonewrites.wordpress.com
3 .How many books have you written?
Two. I’m currently working on the third book of The Imago Trilogy!
4. Has any of your work been published yet? If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:
The first book has, yes! http://amzn.to/1ohJreS
5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing? Why? If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?
I went the self-pub route, because I have friends that had done it and raved about it. I also liked how much control I have with everything. It also helps that my husband is a graphic designer, so he can do things like book covers and ebook formatting.
6. How old were you when you started writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I wrote my first “story”when I was 11, and never stopped. I didn’t necessarily write down everything idea that popped into my head, but they were there.
7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?
1) I love it. It brings me the truest form of happiness. 2) It’s a “job”that I am in complete control of. 3) I have to let these characters and plots out of my head, or they’ll drive me crazy!
8. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?
Growing up, I loved to read Mary Higgins Clark and John Grisham. Now, my hands-down favorite author is Gillian Flynn. She’s a genius and I want to write like her when I grow up. I’m currently reading The Bird Eater by Ania Ahlborn. It’s a nice, creepy novel.
9. What is your preferred reading method? (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.) Why?
“Kindle”is how I mainly read now. I don’t actually have a Kindle, so I use the Kindle reader app on my iPad, hence the quotation marks. 😉 If I really like a book, or if I love the author, I will buy a hardcopy and read it that way. Ebooks are just so convenient, and the library system around here allows you to check out ebooks!
10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?
Third person past tense. It just seems more natural to me. I would like to do a book one day that is first person present. I’m just not sure what genre…
11. Do you “always read”or do you take breaks between reading books?
Oh, I take breaks. I wish I had the time to sit and read a book cover-to-cover in a day or two, like I was able to do with Harry Potter in high school. Alas, those days are gone.
12. How many books would you say you read in a year? How many at any one time?
Time permitting, I would say I read about 10-15 a year. I binge-read, for sure. I’ll go a while without reading and then go insane on the library website or Amazon.
ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::
13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?
I’m currently working on the third book in The Imago Trilogy and I don’t want to give away the title just yet. I recently completed the second book of the trilogy and will be doing a cover/title reveal soon!
14. What is your novel’s genre? Would you say there is a sub-genre? What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?
I would say The Imago Trilogy’s main genre is crime, obviously. After that, I believe it has a foot in the thriller sub-genre and a foot in the drama sub-genre. I would say my pace and the plot are what set me apart. My editor, while she was editing The Mirror Stage, mentioned that the book “clipped”along. I think that came from the fact that it was first a TV script, and when I transferred it to novel format, I kept that preciseness. I also think the plot I came up with is a little different. I’m sure it’s been dabbled in by other authors in other books, but I’d like to think I’ve put my mark on it.
15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?
My love of crime TV shows and novels.
16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?
I would say adults who love a good mystery mixed with dramatic characters. I would like to think guys and girls will enjoy the story…
ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::
17. How often do you write?
Ideally, I would write every day, but that’s not usually what happens. I definitely write two to three chapters a week.
18. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?
It depends. I don’t try to set goals for myself, even though I know that’s what everyone tells you to do. I’d rather write when I get inspired, or when I get really connected with my current novel. That will always produce a better product than if I plant myself in front of the computer and force my fingers to the keys.
19. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?
I work with an amazing editor. She has been my #1 fan from the get-go.
20. What is your method of writing? (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes? Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters? Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)
Before I begin, I do a rough outline of the whole book. It’s a bullet list with the general idea of what I want each chapter to cover as each main bullet. I then put indented bullets under those with the specific beats I want each chapter to include. This really helps me stay focused, as well as show me where I have some wiggle room to add in something if I feel like I need to. If I step away from whatever I’m writing for a few days, I will go back a chapter and read through so I can get my head back in the game. As soon as I complete the first draft, I will go back and read the entire thing and start deleting things or adding things before I send it to my editor.
21. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?
The Mirror Stage took about a year to write, mainly because I had to stop shortly after I started it so that I could focus on finishing grad school. The second book took me about six months to write.
22. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?
I chose Seattle as my main characters home because I’m head-over-heels in love with that place. It’s where my husband and I honeymooned, and I long for the day I can go back. So I guess I live vicariously through Ada. 😉 As far as names go, I actually go to baby name websites and just kind of scroll. I know when I see the name I’m going to use. It just sounds right.
23. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?
Because my trilogy centers around infamous serial killers being “copied”, I had to do quite a bit of research to figure out which ones I wanted to use. A lot of this was done for my thesis project in grad school, so I just transferred all of that over to these books.
24. Do you have any “must haves”to help you write? (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)
Pandora and my headphones. I do my best writing listening to either The Piano Guys station or the Yoga station. I’m also most inspired to write on a really rainy, gloomy day.
25. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location? If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?
I write whenever I feel the urge to.
26. What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?
I don’t know that this is really quirky, but I have a list of songs that just bring a certain emotion to my mind when I hear them, so if I need a scene or character to have that emotion and I’m struggling to get it out of it or them, I will play the corresponding song over and over until I get it.
ABOUT YOUR WORK::
27. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?
That’s like asking me which of my children is my favorite! The Mirror Stage will always have a special place with me because it was my first novel. The second book, however, was more fun to write. I got to really open up the characters and move the plot along.
28. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?
Ada, obviously. She lives in my dream town, she’s doing my dream job, and she gets to hop around the country with the FBI.
29. If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast”of main characters?
I really hesitate to answer this, because I know when I read a book, I get a visualization of the characters and then they do a movie and cast people that don’t look like what I envisioned and then I feel a tinge let down. So if anyone who reads my books doesn’t want to know what I envision the characters as, DON’T READ PAST THIS.
When I was planning this trilogy, I actually picked out people that I could visualize when I was writing. It helped me connect with the characters and really picture scenes in my head. For Ada, I went with actress Ana Girardot. The minute I saw her picture, I knew she was Ada. Look her up and let me know if you agree! For James, I had to go with Jensen Ackles. Supernatural is one of my top three shows of all time, and he plays the epitome of “tough guy with an injured soul”to a tee, so he is just a perfect James. For Dade, I had originally pictured him as this massive, queue-ball head guy. Then I saw Divergent and Theo James became Dade, not some skinny version of Mr. Clean. For the other characters, I spent hours on Pinterest scouring pictures and finally found pictures of random models that worked. Unfortunately, a lot of the pictures didn’t name the models, so I have no idea who they are!
30. What is the oddest thing you have ever researched for one of your books?
“Injuries sustained in high-speed front collision”
31. What is the most difficult thing you have ever researched for one your books and why?
Oddly enough, the titles of The Imago Trilogy books. When I heard the word imago, I knew I wanted to use it as the name of the trilogy. Seeing as it’s a psychoanalysis term, I decided that each of the books needed to be named in the same psychoanalytic manner. That took weeks. I went through so many articles and websites before I finally landed on three titles that not only went well together but also conveyed the character development in each of the books.
Thank you, J.J., for allowing me to interview you. I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.