Thanks, Jay, for answering a few questions for us today.
1. What were your favorite books growing up? When I was about nine or ten my father read to me "The Lord of the Rings". When he was finished, he had me read it back to him. That story will always be special to me because of how I experienced it, but on my own I tended to gravitate more towards science fiction rather than fantasy. I enjoyed Isaac Asimov's "R. Daneel Olivaw" series but my favorite, and still is, was "Battlefield Earth" by L. Ron Hubbard.
2. Now that you have, let’s say—some life experience, what would you tell your younger self? Eat right and exercise. Seriously. I've been working very hard the last few years to change so many bad habits that would have been easier to not have had in the first place. Otherwise, all of my other choices, good and bad, have given me my current life and family and I wouldn't change that for anything.
3. Describe your typical day. I wake up way too early for my liking, put on 25 pounds of gear, jump in my patrol car and try to keep myself from getting heat stroke while working patrol in the 109 degree desert heat. I get home, jump in the pool then watch some TV or play some Xbox. Later I go grab my daughter and then meet her mother at Crossfit for some more daily abuse, and we also work out. We head home, make dinner, have family time and then start it all over again. Once I start working on my next writing project, I'll have to work writing into that day somewhere.
4. Who is your favorite character in your books? I started writing the book with Daria being the main character and heroine of the story. I was a corpsman in the Navy as is she so I liked her right off the bat. But as the story grew I found that I had pretty strong characters in the two main groups of people that drive the story, and no single person was THE hero or heroine. As these other characters started to grow, I really became attached to Bloom. At one point he calls himself an action nerd and that's how I kind of feel about myself. So of course I felt really bad when I had to kill him off - just kidding! No spoilers!
5. What do you do when writer’s block shows up, settles in, and makes itself comfortable? I don't think I ever had true writers block while I wrote this book. There were many years that I was not actively writing it but that was laziness and not a block. During the times I was actively writing, I would always be thinking about the story when I wasn't sitting down in front of my computer. I felt like several times I didn't know what to do or where to go with a particular event but the moment I actually sat down and started typing, the story took over and I got through it. I know I was very perplexed about how to end the book and I thought about it constantly for a week and had no idea what to do. That weekend I got to Starbucks, got my drink, sat down, and immediately the ideas of where to go started flowing onto the page. So I guess I get thinkers block and that's solved by writing.
6. Do you find yourself pulling details from “real life” or does your imagination rule the roost? In Extinction, I pulled a lot of real life medical and tactical stuff from events I've been a part of and from things I've spent years training for. I tried to be creative in coming up with other stuff as far as technology or new races and their origins, but I think for the most part the story was grounded on things I know about and have a lot of training and experience with.
7. What was the first manuscript you wrote (even if it never saw the light of day)? This is my first! Maybe my mom has some stuff from school but I was never a writer then, writing is definitely a part of my adulthood that doesn't reach back into my earlier years.
8. Have you ever pursued traditional publishing? Or did you go straight for indie publishing? I started this book when indie publishing was limited to printing your own book and then trying to get it on the shelf of an actual store. I was absolutely prepared to invest in that process if I needed to but I had planned on trying to get published traditionally first. I even wrote a letter to one of my favorite authors, who was also a Navy corpsman, William C. Dietz asking him for a cold read. He wrote me back, on an actual typewriter, and politely declined but encouraging me to continue writing. I had originally planned to try to foster that exchange into a sort of "in" that would get me somehow introduced to a good agent or a publisher. That never happened but the Kindle did. I am currently only using the self-publishing indie route and plan on distributing to all of the other e-ink distributors in the near future.
9. What Works In Progress are brewing? Any target dates for publication? I have two projects that I’d like to start working on very soon. The first is a sequel to Extinction. I'm going to write it even if Extinction never becomes popular, but its target date will be based on how many people really want to read the next installment. If people are begging, or even politely asking, for more then I will make that my priority. Otherwise, my other real project is "How to be a Criminal". That book will be a comical look at the follies criminals often make and ideas on how to avoid those pitfalls. I’m sort of worried about it having a niche audience but in the end I think it will be fairly entertaining. I’m hoping that I can get the second project done before 2014.
10. How can fans reach you? I do have a website at www.1393Productions.com and I am looking to expand that and make it much more interactive in the future. Extinction currently has its own Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Extinction/133780513442433 and several of the main characters have their own Twitter accounts that each start with their name followed by “_1393”. If you start with @Daria_1393 you can find the rest of the gang by checking out who she’s following. They’re quite a feisty bunch!