A while back when I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them, I was elated with the responses I received. (And if you would like to participate, please feel free to contact me.) I asked thirty-five questions and gave the interviewee the freedom to answer only what they wanted. My friend and fellow-blogger, L.B. Garner, had some very stimulating responses which I’m sure you will find as mesmerizing as I did. When you’re done reading the interview, please hop on over to his blog and make sure you follow him for more news. And now, heeeeere’s J.B.…
1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:
My name is J. B. Garner and I’m a starving independent writer. Alright, technically not starving, but definitely independent. I had a love of writing ever since I was young, but spent decades of my adult life getting the courage to try to do what I love.
2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):
My blog: http://jbgarner58.wordpress.com/
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/james.garner.3998
Twitter Handle: https://twitter.com/JBGarner_Writes
3. How many books have you written?
4. Has any of your work been published yet? If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:
My first novel, Indomitable, is for sale in its proper second edition form.
On Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/472199
On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N75SP70
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 am self-published for the primary reason that I wanted my books read. I wanted, regardless of the system in place, to have my works out there to be enjoyed, even if I wouldn’t make huge stacks of money off of it. I also figure, at worst, I can always shop my works to agents later, after they’ve been honed under the critical eye of the readers.
6. How old were you when you started writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I first started writing when I was very young, if you count crayon comic pages. English was always one of my favorite classes and I voraciously read and wrote throughout high school. I would say I really had the passion to become a writer sometime during those years. I turned away from the calling during college and my problem years after, but I never lost the urge, I just repressed it. Now I feel much better being back into the full swing of writing.
7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?
The thrill of creation keeps me going, at the very heart of it. Now that I have done it, I am kind of addicted to it and I’d suspect I’d keep going even if I didn’t have a single reader.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?
Stephen King, Dashiell Hammet, J. K. Rowling, David Eddings, and Harry Harrison.
As for current reads, I’m just starting The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammet. Shockingly, I kept missing out on this one when reading other Hammet pieces.
9. What is your preferred reading method? (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.) Why?
Though I do like my Nook, I still have a warm place in my heart for a good paperback. I think it’s primarily nostalgia; there’s a certain visceral comfort to the smell of print and the feel of pages in my fingers.
10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?
I write in the first and third person, depending on the piece. Each point of view has its advantages and disadvantages, so I use the right tool for the right job. As far as tense, so far I don’t stray from the past tense. Present tense pieces always read oddly to me and it’s very easy to make continuity and tense mistakes writing them.
11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books?
It depends on my current writing status. If I am in full-on ‘Muse-driven’ writing mode, I don’t read much, so that would be a break. Otherwise, I tend to read constantly, even if other work restricts me to a few pages a day.
12. How many books would you say you read in a year? How many at any one time?
I’m a ‘one-book-at-a-time’ sort of guy. With all of my writing this year, my reading is a bit sparser than normal, but I would say I’ve managed at least ten books this year.
ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::
13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?
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?
By BISAC terms, it’s solidly Fiction > Superhero, but there is definitely a strong touch of sci-fi and urban fantasy. What separates my writing from a usual superhero tale is looking at it through the lens of an Earth going through a total reality change and the aftermath of dealing with for the people that know what actually happened. In some ways, it’s both a deconstruction and reconstruction of the superhero idea at the same time.
15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?
I’ve loved comic books and superheroes since I can remember. As I grew older, I continued that love, but I started to think about them through the lenses of maturity and critical analysis, and that ultimately led to this.
16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?
I would say I targeted this for the adult reader, but it definitely is within the reading and maturity level of a young adult audience as well. As far as gender, I try to appeal to both men and women. The protagonist is a woman, but all kinds of people are present among the main characters.
17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?
Having had to be forced to sum up Indomitable in a little block, I’ll just repeat that:
Irene Roman never wanted to be a hero, but when a strange betrayal brings literally changes all of reality, she may not have a choice. Now the Earth is filled with superhumans, both good and evil, and Irene is one of the only people on the planet who knows why and may be the only person in the world who can set things right. What price will Irene pay to be the hero she never wanted to be?
ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::
18. How often do you write?
When I’m in ‘work’ mode, I write daily. I try to think of it as a normal 9-to-5 job to keep a sense of discipline and keep me from slacking off.
19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?
From 2,000 to 5,000 words on average.
20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?
I do a few rounds of self-editing and then send it off to my small network of beta readers to edit more.
21. 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?)
I start with a general story outline and beginning character notes. Once I have a basic framework, I start chapter by chapter, re-reading and doing a basic edit on each chapter after I finish. When I run into conflicts between the way the story is starting to turn versus my original outline, I move events around, add events, or totally erase and redo parts of the outline. I almost always go with my instincts while writing and my betas’ input over the original outline. I think flexibility is key.
22. Do you have a muse? If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?
I must, because once an idea takes root, I have to get it on paper. When I get inspired, I only pause for the most basic of human needs before getting back to it.
23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?
Generally a month or two.
24. Do you give yourself a word limit for each day or a time limit to finish your novel? If so, please elaborate.
No, though I do try to keep myself to a limit of eight hours at the keyboard and a minimum of six hours at it, both to prevent burnout and enforce discipline. Still, I’ve broken that eight hour limit when particularly inspired.
25. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?
I browse baby name books and information appropriate to the cultures the character comes from. For places, as my books so far are set in modern Earth (or a reasonable fascimile), I’ve used geography straight from the map. For business names, I generally look up a few similar businesses and try to get an idea for naming conventions from there.
26. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?
I try to outline chapter by chapter and jot down a sentence to a paragraph per chapter, then a paragraph or two about the major characters. It would probably come to a few printed pages. As I start the project, I generally flesh out the notes for the next few chapters as I finish one and the story arc becomes more clear.
27. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write? (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)
I am a coffee addict. I can’t get started without a cup of coffee in me.
28. 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 do all of my writing at my computer. I tried using my tablet, but my giant ham-hands do not agree with virtual keyboards. I do most of my work in the morning hours and generally try to limit myself to an eight hour stint.
29. Does your real life ever neglected because of your writing? If so, how do you feel about that?
I have managed to mitigate that by matching my writing times to the work times of my family. Still, once in a while, the muse beats out mundane problems. I can’t say I’m totally happy with that, but I see it as a trade-off or occupational issue the kind of which I had dealt with for the rest of my professional life.
30. What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?
I totally restructured the story arc for an entire novel and trilogy after realizing the throw-away antagonist I wrote in the first chapter really should be the second protagonist of the novel.
ABOUT YOUR WORK::
31. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?
I really don’t have one. Both of the series I am writing speak to very different but equal childhood loves and both have characters I feel a strong connection to. I can’t decide!
32. If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast” of main characters?
As much as I would love to see Indomitable as a movie, the very thought puts my brain into a strange sense of shock that I just don’t know who I would cast for what.
33. What is the oddest thing you have ever researched for one of your books?
The decomposition of a dead body after being drained of blood.
34. What is the most difficult thing you have ever researched for one your books and why?
Oddly enough, the locales of small-town Oklahoma. In the internet age, small towns still remain
Thank you, J.B., for allowing me to interview you. I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.