JL Wilson also writes for Resplendence Publishing. Let’s get down to it shall we:
Q: How long have you been writing?
I’m a professional technical writer and I’ve been doing that for almost 30 years. As to fiction, I started to seriously write in 2004 and I sold my first book in 2006.
Q: What books have most influenced your life most?
Different books influenced me at different times. My mother served on the Library Board in my town, so she was a buyer and she let me help select books (what a fun time that was!) She encouraged me to read outside my age group, and I did so, reading a lot of mysteries and science fiction when I was young.
In high school I read a lot of classics. Then I went to college and majored in English and I fell in love with William Dean Howells, William and Henry James, and Scott Fitzgerald. Along the way, I read a lot of mysteries and science fiction: John Creasy, Anne Perry, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert.
I think three books that influenced me most are Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I had never read a romance novel before reading that, and it opened up realms of reading to me. I read that book in 2003 and I realized, as I read it, that she wrote exactly the book she wanted and she got published. Maybe there was hope for me.
Another book was …And Ladies of the Club. This was written by an elderly lady and is a charming novel about life at the turn of the last century. Again: she wrote exactly what she wanted, persevered, and got published.
And lastly is Frank Herbert’s Dune. It was such a richly developed world with such strong characters.
All three of those books taught me to follow my heart in my writing and to write the story that I want to read. If I do that, the book will appeal to others.
Q: What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both? Do you use mood music, candles, no noise, when you write?
I fly by the seat of my pants, mostly. I usually start with the germ of an idea. Here’s what I’m working on now: a woman’s late husband, a firefighter, was killed in a fire. His ghost comes back to haunt her when the investigation into his death is reopened. She feels guilty because the last words she spoke to him were to tell him she wanted a divorce.
Now: where will the book go from there? Who will the hero be: the late husband? Or the ex-cop whose wife was also killed in the fire and the man who requested that the investigation be re-opened. Where will it take place? When (spring? Summer? Fall?) Who’s the bad guy? Why was he killed?
What is her motivation for finding his killer? How will she manage her guilt? What kind of person is she? What are her habits, her loves, her dislikes?
Somehow, by the time I’m done, I’ve created the people, answered the questions, and had a lot of fun writing the book.
Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I tend to get sloppy when I have an idea I want to get on the page. I repeat words, phrases, or my characters will often sound alike. I have to go back through and tweak it, looking for my ‘bads’ – I keep a list of words handy and I search for those to change them. And I make sure to read each character’s dialog separately from other dialog, so I can be sure it sounds true to the character.
Q: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I don’t travel to do research, but a lot of what I see on my travels ends up in my books. I do travel, though, on book-related business because I attend several writing conferences a year, and frequently speak on panels and give talks.
Q: How much research do you do for a book?
For my historical books (the History Patrol series) I do extensive research. Those books involve time travel so I have to make sure my details are correct.
For my contemporary mysteries, I have to do a moderate amount of research. I usually end up talking to someone in ‘the business’ – a firefighter, a cop, etc. And of course I love to search the Web and find details, etc. I keep all of that sort of information in a spiral notebook, one for each book and it goes with me wherever I go.
Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?
I teach a writing class, and I try to stress that your writing should be enjoyable for you. It should never become a chore, because if it does, that will come out in your words. Enjoy what you do, make time for your writing every day (even if it’s just carving out a few minutes), and keep learning. You can always take online classes, talk with other writers, join a writing group – think of yourself as a Writer and act accordingly.
Q: What are your current projects?
I had 11 books release in 2011 (see my web site, jayellwilson.com, for the complete list). Some were new releases, some were re-releases, and some were print versions of previously released digital books. So in 2012 I’ll be promoting those books.
I’m planning on a mid-year release in 2012 for Twistered, my Oz-as-mystery story. I’m now working on using Winnie the Pooh as the basis for a murder mystery (yes, my mind works in odd ways). I’m also working on a new History Patrol novel, this one set in 1897 and it involves the assassin of John Wilkes’ Booth (the man who killed Booth—true story).
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your “New Human” series?
The series began as a conclusion to a 6-book series I’ve been writing, off and on, for a year or more. That series is set in an alternate America, and when I mapped out the final book in the series, I thought, “What am I going to do with my villains?” There is a rival group vying for power on Earth and I couldn’t just kill them all off. So I sent them to a new planet—Delmorna.
Once I got them on the planet, so to speak, I had to decide what to do with them. That gave me an opportunity to address what I perceive as many social problems: racial inequality, law enforcement issues, and poverty. This was a whole new world I could design myself. And I had a lot of fun doing it!
I think that’s why it appeals to people—they see a lot of our current problems ‘solved’ but other problems crop up along the way. I think it gives people hope that by working together, the big problems can be resolved.
Q: Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
My web site is a good place to start since it has pointed to other spots: http://www.jayellwilson.com.
Or readers can find me at Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/jayellwilson ) or Twitter (@JLwriter).