Welcome to the four hundred and twelfth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with science-fiction / fantasy author Jack Whitsel. 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, Jack. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Jack: Though my early years were in California, since Junior High, I have made Oregon my home. But even during my years in the golden state, there was always writing. But since the beginning, writing was never a “how to” process. For me, writing was always a form of expression, even when I could barely read. To this day, it’s about the heart not the mechanics. I just write and write, releasing shards of my soul onto paper.
Morgen: How lovely, to know that and be so immersed in it so early. What genre do you generally write?
Jack: I’ve compiled a handful of Science Fiction short stories, but it’s the fantasy genre that really ignites my imagination. Nothing compares to magic and mysticism – which is not to say you can’t find that in other genres, but its best served within a gritty medieval backdrop.
Morgen: I love gritty. Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read them or is it paper all the way?
Jack: Twilight Times Books does print and eBook. As much as I adore the traditional print format, I also understand that the industry is changing. It’s even more than just print and digital – audio has begun to make its move. The industry is constantly evolving, forcing authors and publishers to adapt or get left behind.
Morgen: That’s true, and many of us are embracing it – it’s not as scary as it may seem. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Jack: I spend considerable time on marketing. That is not to say that Twilight Times Books doesn’t do their share, but in this day and age, authors need to invest more of their time. I frankly enjoy it. It allows me to get more involved with what’s going on in the industry. However, it can drain your writing time.
Morgen: All but one of my interviewees have said they do a heap of their marketing and even that one author is active on Twitter and Facebook. As you say it’s a necessary evil. If any of your stories were made into films, who would you have as the leading actors?
Jack: Wow…that’s tough. Who I would like representing my characters on the big screen can change with my mood, but I’ll give it a whirl.
- Baudouin – James Purefoy
- Lucia – Dakota Fanning… no Amanda Seyfried… no Dakota… no…
- Rizela – Angelina Jolie
Morgen: Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Jack: Twilight Times Books has granted me full control thus far, which is wonderful. Unfortunately, now I’m spoiled and will demand this power until the end of days.
Morgen: Maybe if you keep writing and producing until the end of days it’ll be a fair deal. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Morgen: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Jack: There is no such thing as writer’s block – only distraction.
Morgen: I love that. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Jack: Don’t give a second thought to those who say “the odds are against you.” You just write, and when you become frustrated… write some more.
Morgen: Because you can’t edit a blank page. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Jack: “Feeling good and looking even better.”
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful?
Jack: All aspiring authors should visit and become a member of Writer’s Digest.
Morgen: I’ll take a look. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Jack: I belong to so many, that I have forgotten some of the sites I’m on. Facebook and Twitter are the main ones.
Morgen: Me too. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Jack: Thank you so much for allowing me to visit. Shadows of Kings is only the beginning. I cannot wait to share more tales from the Dragon Rising universe.
Morgen: Knowing fantasy readers, I’m sure they feel the same. Thank you, Jack.
I then invited Jack to include an extract of his writing and this is the synopsis from Shadows of Kings…
Steel and sorcery clash as the Harhn incursion sweeps through the Hugue. Mankind faces its greatest peril without the Order Knights of legend to defend them. Crusading deep in the frontier, the Order is unaware of the savage beasts threatening their homeland as the Hugue realms muster their armies for war.
Between a cunning Harhn sorcerer, and an alliance forged with the decadent Darkfey, the Horde threatens to extinguish the domains of Man. Only Lord Baudouin and Lady Lucia, a Dragon Maiden from the Order, stand in the enemy’s path. One must find the strength to unify the realms. The other must discover the strength within her, while coming to terms with the agendas of her Order. But only together will there be any hope to repel the onslaught, and preserve the future for a mysterious girl they do not know.
Jack is a native Californian, but has made Oregon his home since 1982. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Finance from Portland State University, but studies medieval history in his spare time. His favorite genres are fantasy and historical fiction with a medieval emphasis. Shadows of Kings, the first novel of the Dragon Rising Series is the love child born of these two passions. “I love the elements of fantasy when mixed with the gritty aspects of a medieval society. In the worlds I create, there are neither citadels of shimmering glass nor any utopian realms.”
The final contributing catalyst to Jack’s creative process comes from his two sons, Josiah and Noah. They remind him how important an active imagination can be, and are the first to hear his tales of diabolical wizards and valiant knights. “Because of my boys, I still believe in Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, and the tooth fairy.”
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
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