I got connected with this next author through a mutual friend. I had just started my personal blog and was developing my writing style when a friend commented that he knew an author. I was enthralled by this idea, as authors had always seemed like mythical creatures to me; fantastical beasts that didn’t intermingle with mere mortals. In my head they all lived in shoreline cottages, high-rise apartments in big cities, or secluded cabins in the woods, and lived magical lives. To have the opportunity to be connected with somebody that was actually a published author blew my mind. And I’m seriously not writing that for entertainment or to be dramatic (like usual). I held authors on a pedestal in my head and never imagined that they came from all over and led completely normal lives. Maybe I was a little naive. Maybe I just think really highly of authors.
Since meeting Jon, we’ve become good friends, and he has been such an inspiration to me on multiple levels. When I thought of the idea of this series, he was a no-brainer to be one of my first guests. Luckily, he agreed to do it!
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
In the fifth grade my teacher, who happened to be a literally insane (I’m using the word “literally” in a very literal sense), assigned a writing project for the class. I had never written much before, but the open nature of the assignment somehow triggered a creative spark in my mind. The minimum requirement was a handwritten page, which was impressive for an 11-year-old, but a story flowed out of me unlike anything before. I wrote about Planet Gozo and a species of alien that wanted to invade and destroy planet earth. Each of my friends made appearances, battling valiantly against the invading forces of evil. I think my mom still has the pages filed away somewhere. (Editor’s Note: I really need to get my hands on this story!)
What is the easiest part of writing for you?
I’m weird. I love editing. Going back through my own work, checking plot holes, and expanding ideas is thrilling.
What are your thoughts on “writers block?” Do you think it’s a real thing? If so, how long does it usually last and what methods do you use to get past it?
Writer’s block sucks, and while it may only be a simple problem in the mind, it’s real and difficult to overcome. Personally, I switch things up. I don’t normally listen to music when I write, but epic battle music usually does the trick to get me over my hiccup.
What do you like to read (genre, titles) and who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Anne Rice, and R. A. Salvatore are my all-time favorites. Fantasy, science fiction, and mystery captivate my mind and imagination. I can’t explain it, but I love falling into stories that can’t possibly happen. I find myself motivated to create unbelievable, yet captivating, stories for others. Granted, my stories don’t captivate, but that’s the dream.
My first book, Gone Astray, holds a special place in my heart, but it also happens to be a piece of crap. (Editor’s Note: This statement is false.)
Any advice you’d like to give your younger self? Any advice you’d like to give to aspiring authors?
Don’t be deceived into thinking your first project (Editor’s Note: What’s the rest of this answer? The suspense is killing me!)
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into any of your stories?
It’s subtle, but yes. I don’t think anyone, even my wife, could read one my stories and know I was the author, but I certainly do tend to throw completely random details or inspirations from my own life into my work.
What are you currently working on/What’s your next project?
I’m currently working on a series for my children. It’s not a serious project that I could ever expect to get published, but I love the books regardless. Princess Olive is in honor of my daughter, Olive, and Prince Desmond is the sequel for my son, Desmond. They couldn’t be considered great literature, but I love the idea of giving the books to my children some day and being able to tell them that I dedicated hours upon hours of my life creating something special and unique just for them.
Do you have a day job other than being a writer? If so, what is it and which do you prefer?
Yes. I have a day job. While I’m a copywriter and editor for a copywriting agency in Bangkok, Thailand, I am first and foremost a pastor and missionary. I love that I’m able to incorporate my writing skill with my paying job, so I don’t really have a preference, as I’m able to incorporate both into my professional life.
Is it true that anyone can be a writer?
Of course! I don’t mean this in a “you can do anything” kind of way, and I am a testament to that. I’m not an epic or fantastic writer. I like grammar, and I know how to craft a decent sentence, but I’m not one of the greats. I’m not even one of the mediocre’s. However, I write because I like it, and I’ve decided to call myself a “writer” simply because it makes me happy, regardless of my success or lack of success. I’m a writer because I write, and I like who I am when the words flow from my fingers.
Have you ever worked with other writers on any of your projects?
Not yet. I would love to write alongside my wife. I’m not just writing this because she is looking over my shoulder. She’s genuinely great. She’s a bit dramatic for my taste, but her creativity with a story blows my mind.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Sometimes I write, but when I’m not, I’m at the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym.
Have you ever abandoned a manuscript for any reason and not proceeded with publishing?
Yes! I’ve abandoned many manuscripts, and sometimes I’ve even been tens of thousands of words into them. However, sometimes an idea comes out onto paper and it simply turns into complete garbage. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that sometimes my mind generates crap, and that’s okay. Live to write another day.
Where did you do your first book signing?
I did my first book signing at a library in Brownsburg, Indiana. Considering my book was a zombie story, it made sense that it was at a massive Michael Jackson Thriller dance-off. Awesome night. I sold one book.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Why or why not?
Yes. I’m a weirdo. I’m an ordained minister of the Christian faith who happens to love vampires, zombies, and things morally questionable. Because of this, I’ve thought about expressing my naturally nefarious mind under the pseudonym J. D. Maxwell.
What is the best purchase you’ve made as a writer?
“Crossroads” by Charles Kelley. (Editor’s Note: Aw shucks!)
How do you select the names of your characters?
I look at random crap around my house and hope for inspiration.
Have you ever Googled yourself? What was your reaction to the results?
Don’t Google my name. You won’t like what you see.
I’d like to thank Jon for taking the time to answer my nonsensical questions, and for the impact he’s had on me as a writer and beyond. His guidance and knowledge gave me the courage to give writing a serious effort and I’m truly grateful for that! (Hopefully you all agree!) Jon is a great friend and inspiration with how he lives his life and leads his family. I won’t make this too mushy, so I’ll just stop here.
Thank you, that is all.