1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
My love for writing started when I was in elementary school. It happened after years of pushing by my mom to get me to read. I hated reading because I couldn’t read. She had to work really hard to teach me to read. We would practice. She would take me to a tutor. I would cry. She would push. Once I learned to read I fell in love with reading and would get into trouble for reading too much. I had to go to special reading classes until 6th grade, though.
Anyway, I wrote all kinds of stories. The stories, at that time, I wrote the most were ones that included my friends as characters.
Everyone I knew was part of the story from us all being superheroes to murder mysteries about how one of my friends died and one of us did it. I would write a little bit every week and they would want me to read it to them because they got a kick out of it. It was like a TV series.
Later when I was a waiter, I did the same thing. I wrote a stories with the people I worked with as heroes and villains. I also did that on a forum I spent a lot of time on. I took the people that frequented that form and wrote a huge epic superhero tale.
I wrote poems, silly lyrics, short stories, and movie reviews. Then I decided to write a novel like story about sheep. I called it a fairy fable. Then I wrote Jeremiah Jericho: Allowance.
Writing allows me to create a world with words. I like to read out loud when I read, so the sound of words creating worlds or displaying ideas or sharing a story is just without parallel. When I read an article, a book, or a simple post that elicits a feeling, I take note, because I think, wow, that was great writing. I can only hope my writing moves people as much as I am moved by other people’s writing.
I like talking about how I couldn’t read and how hard it was for me to learn to read (it was frustrating for me and my mom) because it shows that hard work and pushing through does achieve something great. If she didn’t push me to read I could’ve been left to not knowing and I wouldn’t be where I am with how much I love to write and read.
But I don’t like to (despite how long this answer is) talk about me because I would rather my writing be more famous than me. If my work could become famous and leave me in the dark, I would be quite happy with that.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
This is a dark answer because it’s one of the darkest moments in the book. I don’t want to spoil it, but since it is referenced in the first chapter I can mention what the scene is about without spoiling too much.
I wanted to create a scene that was so dark that would be a terrible thing for someone to be part of at a sensitive time during their life and them choosing to be better than that moment. It was a rape scene that begin the idea of this book. I thought what kind of person would be created because of that? I came up with Jeremiah’s personality after that.
That’s as much as I can say about that scene without ruining the significance of it.
I never wrote something like that and I wanted to see how difficult it would be to write it without being pornographic. I wanted to write something displaying evil without glorifying evil. It’s a fine line as is writing this answer. I couldn’t just say well a rape happened because that didn’t explain how terrible what happened was.
What I wanted to create was a reluctant hero. Someone that didn’t want to be one, but is put in the position to be because of circumstances that just won’t leave him alone. The pushing and the prodding that would set people off to be bad, but making it where Jeremiah would pick good despite how tempting bad would make itself. Also, giving him so much power that he could create a path to win so easily, but chooses not to because morally it’s not right to take someone’s free will away.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
When we read books or short stories for class, I disliked when we would give an answer and the teacher would be like, well that’s not what the writer meant. This happened with Shakespeare’s work a lot.
I touched on this already, but I made the villain in this book pure evil on purpose. There is not a single redeeming quality about him. Maybe he’s really good at his job, however, it’s at cost. I wanted a villain that was just evil. I was sick of reading how certain villains have redeeming qualities and how if you don’t write one like that, that your villain is going to be bleh.
There has to be a reason why your villain chooses to be this way and maybe, maybe that reason will have your readers sympathize with him and at least undrstand why he’s the way he is. Not what I wanted.
I wanted there to be a good vs evil feel to this. But in reality it’s more like a well mannered boy vs evil. Proving you don’t have to be pure good to defeat evil. Which is the theme I would like people to see. There’s this monster that’s just out to ruin everything, who could stop this? Well just this average boy that just rather not be bothered can do it, anyone can do it.
Sure he has abilities no one has, but it’s the power of the mind. He has to fight through many mental things to accomplish anything and anyone that has to deal with anything mentally understands how exhausting that is to do.
I think that whatever the reader pulls from reading my book is valid. My idea may not be what anyone sees. It may be what a few see. It may be that the reader sees a totally different theme all together. That’s fine. I hope when they read my book they laugh, they cry a little, and they walk away thinking how cool it would be to have someone like Christopher talking to them in their head.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
This is a really good question because I don’t have a specific answer. I’ve thought about why I was drawn to YA. I can’t totally clear it up.
SciFi is easy. I love Star Trek. I’m not that smart in the sciences. I had to do a bit of research for what I did in this book. I didn’t go into this wanting to be super accurate with scientific things outside of the normal storytelling. I didn’t want to get detailed as to why the chip worked. But I didn’t have magic or anything that would label this a fantasy. I like SciFi because it is grounded more. It’s not super factual on every account, but it’s good enough.
As for Young Adult, I guess that has to do with how interesting that time period is. I had a hard time as a teen for multiple reasons. It allows me to write about someone that isn’t well put together, but at least can go about life better than I did. It gives me a chance to do things better, but not perfect.
Jeremiah goes about things differently than I did in high school, but he’s going about it in a way I wish I had done. He is braver than I was. He’s not more sure than I am, though. I think that that’s what I like about YA. The characters are more unsure because they are less experienced than their adult counterparts. I like writing characters that are young, inexperienced, and such. It’s fun. It’s like I know where they could go because I’m older than them. I think it keeps my mind young writing characters like this.
I wanted to make sure that my adult characters were treated with respect to their age and knowledge and not treated like secondary characters that were dumber than my main character. I dislike that about certain YA stories.
Jeremiah is all of these negative aspects of that age and some good ones, but he is ultimately a teenager that respects adults to a point that they don’t cross a line.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
I like all of my characters except for one. I purposefully made him someone not to like and I dislike him so much I wouldn’t wanna even talk to him let alone be near him.
I would love to speak with Christopher and he was my initial answer. Then I thought about Jeremiah. He went through a lot prior to even getting to the first line in the book. I would ask him what he thought the difference between a villain and a hero is. I’d ask him that because his past could be the past of a villain, instead he became a reluctant hero.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I don’t have an answer for this.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
I went to a writers group every week for almost two years. Then I had a writers group that split from that one that I went to for every week for 9 months. Then I had an online writers group that we met on Google Hangout for almost 2 years.
Those groups helped a lot. The unique formatting in my book came from a suggestion from a writers group. A lot of suggestions came from every writers group that helped form my novel into what it is now. I did do a lot of editing myself, but the help of other people was significant.
The face to face contact matters and it works in helping you take criticism and to learn not to defend your writing. I witnessed other people defending their writing and it’s not pretty. It feels personal, but most people want to help and they are giving suggestions to strengthen your writing.
Even if you think the suggestion is the dumbest suggestion the world over (and I thought this often) don’t reply. Just listen and think about it for a day before you form a thought on whether or not that was a good suggestion. Sometimes you realize that the suggestion was pretty awesome.
Most of the time the person that gave you the suggestion you end up not liking will never know if you implemented it. Therefore, there is no need to tell them their suggestion is stupid. You can just not use it.
As a writer you have to understand everyone isn’t going to like what you wrote and you have to have the ability to split from your writing and learn to accept suggestions, dismiss trash, and not take any of it too personally. If, while you’re in a writers group, you cannot take criticism from a few people, how are you going to be able to stand a book review that just tears into your book?
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I am going through Jeremiah Jericho: Forty-Two (Book 2) at the moment. Once I go through it, then I’ll send it to get professionally edited and then work with the edits.