Welcome to the three hundred and twenty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with thriller and mystery author Jeremy K Tyler. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Jeremy. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Jeremy: Hi. My name is Jeremy Tyler, and I am a novelist living in upstate New York. I started writing when I was 6 years old. My mother printed it up, and my grandmother bought it for a dollar. I never stopped writing, but mostly it was ad work and a few articles here and there. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really buckled down to write seriously. My wife was terrific. She sat me down and said, “You want to do this, so do it.” My first book was published two years later.
Morgen: What a lovely story (pardon the pun). Having a supportive family makes all the difference. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Jeremy: My first book is a mystery novel, but a lot of my writing would fall more into the thriller category. My first collection of short stories, Orlin Wood, will be out soon — hopefully. They are… well, they’re different. They center around a family and a town on the outskirts of a small stretch of forest in Georgia, called Orlin Wood. In this place, strange and odd are just replacement words for Tuesday.
I’ve tried just about every genre out there, at one time or another. Mostly, I always want to see what works, what I’m good at. Starting out, I would have never in a million years pictured myself writing thrillers, but as it turns out, that’s where my literary niche seems to be. Who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll come up with a really great sci-fi epic, or a tear-jerker. One of my oldest friends always jokingly suggests I go head-first into writing romance, but I honestly don’t see that happening. Knowing me, I’d get halfway through a steamy love scene and end up blowing somebody up – you know, out of habit.
Morgen: Nothing wrong with that. Well, for me, as I love “different” and “odd”. Have you had any rejections?
Jeremy: (Laughs) When I got started, I made all the classic mistakes: I sent out queries blindly, I didn’t research publishers and editors for their likes and dislikes, I sent generic submissions… I could wallpaper my living room with rejection notices. So, I went to school, in a way. When I started to really learn how to get noticed, I noticed that the rejections started coming with suggestions, even helpful critiques. Then one day, I actually got a “yes!”
Morgen: Yay! You just have to keep going, don’t you. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Jeremy: I think a good agent can be a tremendous help to a writer starting their career, and invaluable to a writer who has reached the point where the business end of writing starts getting in the way of the writing itself. As yet, I do not have an agent, and am not expending a great deal of effort finding one. If my career progresses as I hope it will, that will probably change. But, for now, I’m happy to juggle writing, marketing, and business planning all by my lonesome.
Morgen: Things are definitely changing. Amanda Hocking, for example, was found online so we watch this space and I’d never say never (or I wouldn’t if it weren’t a cliché ) but I love the freedom putting mine up as eBooks give me. Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Jeremy: The Rivers Webb is available solely in e-book format at this time. I didn’t honestly plan on that, but when Untreed Reads Publishing approached me, I felt good about the fit. I still have hopes that the book will eventually get into print, but it’s not a priority. E-books are becoming so popular, that I really don’t think I’m losing out in any way. As for me? I still like the feel of paper between my finger and thumb, but I’ll admit that I am discovering a lot of amazing talent amongst the e-book authors out there. And it is nice to be able to hold a library in the palm of my hand, rather than constantly shuffle which of my hardback collections go on the bookshelf, and which get shoved in storage.
Morgen: I love the fact that I can’t damage the spine of a book by reading it on a Kindle. I think every author would love to see their books in print (and have them sitting on the shelf – I do have a story in a new charity anthology (Telling Tales) and have ordered some of the paperbacks (although I already have the proof as a PDF). You’ve just mentioned Untreed, how much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Jeremy: My publisher does a lot for me, but I still do the lion’s share of marketing. Although, I’m still learning as I go. There are a lot of new methods when marketing an E-book as opposed to traditional print, and I hope I don’t have to end up learning the hard way what works and what doesn’t. I get a lot of help from the global community of writers, with suggestions, tips, and warnings of what just plain won’t work. I spend a lot more time on Facebook and Twitter, and I try to do more articles on writing sites, such as Hubpages. There are days where I get to the evening and honestly want to throw my laptop out the window – I’m just so tired from the marketing. Those are usually the same days that I look back and realize that I didn’t get to do any actual writing.
Morgen: So many of my interviewees have said marketing is their least favourite aspect of their writing life but do see it as essential as everything’s going online now but it does mean we get to speak directly to our readers (I had a couple of emails in this week, it’s SUCH a thrill!) and you can’t beat that… well, seeing them in person, I guess. Did you have any say in the title / covers of your book(s)? How important do you think they are?
Jeremy: I still remember how excited my wife and I were the day we got a look at the proof for the cover art of The Rivers Webb. I had been asked for my input, and I definitely had a vision of what I thought it should be. In my mind, I wanted to depict the opening scene, with a dead body washed up on a river. Untreed Reads took that idea and went in a slightly different direction, and the result was just amazing.
Morgen: It’s great you loved yours. Some haven’t and have had no choice which is a real shame when it has their name on the cover. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Jeremy: (Laughs) I’m always working on the next two, three, or four great ideas. Right now, I’m editing three books in a series, writing the fourth, and prepping Orlin Wood for production. I’ve got about half a dozen outlines – most of which will be tossed once I realize they won’t work – and I am always fiddling around with a short story or two.
Morgen: Yay for short stories. You sound really busy, do you manage to write every day?
Jeremy: My goal is to write at least one solid page a day. I won’t comment on how good I am at keeping to that.
Morgen: That’s a little thing called ‘life’. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Jeremy: Writers block is sometimes an issue, but it usually has more to do with the page in front of me than anything else. The great thing about running multiple projects is that, if I get stuck on one, I can always switch to another.
Morgen: That’s again what most people say. Variety does stop you getting bored or stuck… for most people anyway. One of the best tips on editing is to leave your work alone for a while then when you come back to it you see it clearer, and the same must be said for writer’s block. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Jeremy: I definitely improve with each written word – I think every writer does. That being said, I am constantly editing. I have a team of writers and editors that are invaluable at catching little stupid mistakes, and the occasional occurrence where I think a sentence in my head, but only write half of it down. I edit as I go, but I know full well that there will be at least two rounds of full on painful editing once I get that final word out.
Morgen: I have found over the years (seven) that I can tell when I’m starting to waffle and rein it in. That said, sometimes I just go with it but then score it out so that when I go back later if it’s actually better than I thought at the time, I have the choice whether to delete it or not. Do you have to do much research?
Jeremy: I am a BIG believer in research. I want my books to be as realistic and believable as possible. As a reader, I love to get into a book that is seeped in history and local flavor. I love reading those tiny little factoids buried into the plot that makes it that much easier to lose myself in the story. I want to give my readers that same experience.
Morgen: And they’ll love you for it. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Jeremy: I look at some of my early work, and continuously PRAY that it stays buried! But I keep it around, anyway. It reminds me of how far I’ve come, and how far I have yet to go. But, I also have a lot of outlines and novel beginnings that will probably never get anywhere. I like to experiment with an idea and see where it takes me. Two of my best works came about that way, but most of the time my experiment ends with a chuckle and a wry observation that, “No, you CAN’T write a pirate adventure from the point of view of the parrot.” Hey, you never know until you try.
Morgen: Oh I don’t know, that sounds like a great children’s story. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Jeremy: Never stop. Never stop writing. Never stop learning. Never stop looking around the world and asking the questions that need to be asked. Above all, though, Never stop believing that what you have to say is worth hearing – even if you are the only one listening at the moment.
Morgen: It’s all about practice, isn’t it. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Jeremy: I would invite Genghis Khan, Napoleon, and the Apostle Paul. I would then get the conversation going about politics and stick a tape recorder under the table to get every second of that discussion. Oh, and I would serve soup, because there is no way I’m going to allow anything sharper than a spoon around those three!
Morgen: Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Jeremy: “By the Rivers of Babylon, We sat and wept, when we remembered Zion…” Growing up in church, I was always surrounded by Bible verses, then I stumbled across this Psalm one day. It was so full of heat and anger, and bitterness, and yet it was smack dab in the middle of a book filled with praises and encouragement. I thought, God must be okay with people who don’t always pretend to be happy, because He allowed this to be written for everyone to see. I don’t always come up with the shiny happy ending in my books, but I always try to show hope and faith, and true kindness where I can. I think God’s okay with that, too.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
Jeremy: I’m a stay-at-home dad. EVERY day is a party trick.
Morgen: <laughs> What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Jeremy: It’s hard to say. The romantic part of me wants to say that the core of what makes a good writer will never change, but… I know that getting your book out there is a completely different process than it used to be. The publishing world has expanded so rapidly and so exponentially that it changes things. In the past five years, we have seen so many amazing changes in how people view literature, so it’s hard to say what will happen five, ten, or even twenty years from now. I just hope that I can keep adapting where I need to, and keep stubbornly holding on to tradition where it’s appropriate.
Morgen: Well, by going the eBook route I’d say you’re doing the right thing so far. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Jeremy: I try to keep myself easy to find. I am on Twitter and Linkedin, and am always happy to meet new people there. You are certainly invited and encouraged to come see my public Facebook page, Jeremy K Tyler. You can also read a number of writing samples and other tidbits on my website, www.jeremyktyler.com. And, if you’re in the mood for a good laugh, take a look at the random articles I am writing on hubpages.com.
Morgen: I will. Thank you, Jeremy.
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