- What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Thanks for having me today. My name is J.D. Brown, I was born in San Diego, CA but my family moved to Illinois when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I’ve been trying to find my way back to California ever since. I’ve been lucky to travel all over the U.S. as well as parts of Mexico and a little bit of Canada and Latin America too. I love to travel, but my favorite city is and always will be Chicago. And I only live a couple hours north, in Wisconsin right now.
- Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a kid, and then I wanted to be biologist. It didn’t work out – I love animals and care deeply about the environment, but I suck at science! I have an artsy soul, always sketching and creating things, so I went to an art academy for collage, but low an behold, that ended up not being the right path either. I’ve always been a book lover and I wrote poetry and little things here and there, but I didn’t really get into writing fiction until a couple years after collage. I had no idea if I would be any good at it, I just…did it. For a while I didn’t even tell anyone. It was just something I did in my spare time between jobs. But I quickly feel deeply in love with the creative process (my artist side) and the idea of getting published soon became my number one goal in life. Being an author, it just felt right. I’m so passionate about it; there isn’t a doubt in my mind that I should do anything else but this.
- When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
It was when I wrote “The End” on my first manuscript for Dark Heirloom. I sat back and thought holy cow, I really just wrote a whole book! How many people get to say that in their lifetime? But I didn’t consider myself a real author until my book was published. I wanted that official seal of approval that I was good enough to be published and I got it!
- Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
If I remember correctly, it took me about a year of querying. I was very close to quitting. It was actually a short story that got accepted first even though I had been querying Dark Heirloom for far longer. Once I was able to get a foot in the door with the short, I offered Dark Heirloom to the same publisher and they loved it.
- Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
Right now I am extremely lucky that I can write full time, but it’s not all glamorous for an up-and-coming new author, especially in today’s economy. I worry about bills and squeak by each month just like everyone else does. There are several times when I think it would be easier to get a part time job, but the truth is creativity cannot be molded into a start/stop hourly job. I can’t only do it some of the time. My muse and my brain are working on stories 24/7. Even in my sleep, I sometimes jolt awake with an idea and have to write it down immediately.
- What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Dark Heirloom is the title of my debut urban fantasy novel. It’s the first book of a series. If I had to summarize it in 20 words or less, I’d say this: Ema Marx wasn’t bitten and she’s not undead. So how did she become a vampire? <-- 15 words! :-)
- Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
My publisher is Muse It Up Publishing Inc. and they can be found at http://MuseItUpPublishing.com
- Do you have a "lucky charm" or "lucky routine" you follow when waiting for your book to be accepted by a publisher?
I believe in the power of Feng Shui / Positive Chi, and Karma. But I also believe that you can’t leave everything up to faith. So I do the very best that I can with my manuscript and my query letter, do a clean sweep of the house to get read of any negative Chi, cross my fingers, and move on to the next project.
- How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
For a full-length novel like Dark Heirloom, it takes about a year. And I think that’s pretty shameful, but what can I say? I’m a slow writer. It’s a learning process. While writing book 2, I learned to accept my unique creative process which really lowered my stress level. I’m no longer afraid of writers block because I understand how my brain works now and that a “block” really just means my ideas aren’t ripe enough yet and need a little more time to percolate in my head. But I also realize this method isn’t very productive and I plan to try a few new things with book 3 to hopefully speed up the process a bit.
- Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
They are all hard, haha. Each new story or book presents its own challenges. Writing isn’t just mechanical, it’s an emotional journey. I love my characters like they are my babies and hurting them hurts me, but pain and heartbreak is necessary in order for them to grow.
- What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I have so many ideas waiting on the backburner, it’s ridiculous. I’m planning for four to six more books to come out for the Dark Heirloom series. I also have a paranormal romance trilogy that I plan to start writing probably after the second or third Dark Heirloom book. I’m currently outlining/brainstorming a YA Paranormal series that I’m very excited about because I love YA. I have more ideas, but those are the ones at the front of my mind that you can expect to see in the near future.
- What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I just love vampires and all paranormal creatures in general. I have an attraction to the darker aspects of magic and mythology that I can’t quit explain but that has been with me since I was very young. It’s what I love to read and it’s what I love to write. Why change it?
- Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
That’s a tough question because I love all my characters very much. So far readers have said they love Jesu the most, but I think I’m more partial to Jalmari. He’s such a tortured soul and he’s so hard on himself – and he’s damn sexy! Haha.
- If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
That’s easy, I would be Ema in a heartbeat and I would have tons of fun using her powers, exploring Finland, and kissing Jesu. ;-)
- How long have you been writing? and who or what inspired you to write?
I believe it’s been about three or four years now…Like I said, I didn’t start until after collage. What inspired me to start writing in the first place is difficult to pinpoint. I don’t think it was just one element, but more like a combination of circumstances and timing. When I was younger and used to sketch, I always sketched people that I had made up. I named them too and I would think about what that person would be like if they were real, the things they might have seen in their life. I had no idea at the time that I was creating characters! I also used to write letters and poems when I was emotional. I didn’t think anything of it then; it was just a way to cope with adolescents. But now that I’m older and doing this professionally, it all makes sense. It’s just in me.
- Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
75% of the plot actually comes from the characters. No matter how much I outline, they always end up taking charge and I just follow after them. The other 25% comes from research, personal experience, and ideas I pick up along the way.
- Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
It changes a little bit with my mood, but usually I need silence and a cup of hot coffee. Oh, and my PC.
- Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
My beta readers usually review for me during those very early days. And I do give out advance reader copies to my close author friends and a few other people in hopes for early reviews. For book 2, I’m considering expanding that list. Interested people should get in touch with me via my facebook fan page. ;-)
- Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
I didn’t for book 1, but I’m considering it for book 2. Join my facebook fanpage at facebook.com/authorjdbrown That’s the best way to receive news from me when I’m looking for beta readers and such.
- Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes, assuming I can find them! I want to know what people think of my book. I check GoodReads, Shelfari, and Amazon quite often, haha. I want to get an idea of what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong. If anyone reviews or features my books on their blog or website, I’d love to hear about it! Fans are welcome to email me at DarkHeirloom@gmail.com
- Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
No way! I respect and value everyone’s opinion. As a reader myself, I know there is no single book that is going to please everyone. We all have our individual tastes.
- How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
My publisher provides the cover artist from their cover design team. So far my artist has been a joy to work with. She’s very talented and understands the needs and wants of the author. As for the title, I try to choose something that is just right for the book – it has to be catchy, genre appropriate, something that rolls off the tongue, and something unique that hasn’t been used before or, at least, not used much. I often pull out a dictionary and a thesaurus and play with different word combinations and I Google my favorites to make sure no one else has already used them. It might sound strange but it took me a few months to come up with Dark Heirloom, and I’m betting no one will catch the deeper meaning but me, but that’s okay.
- Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I write the book first. I find that once I name something, it grows to fit that name only. So I write the book first to make sure that the title fits the book instead of the book fitting the title.
- How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Since my books take place on modern-day Earth, most of the place names are either names of real locations or inspired by real locations. The names of my vampire clans are inspired by old vampire folklore combined with the different terms people used to call vampires in different parts of the world. Character names are little different. I try to name each character something that fits who they are, whether it be their personality, heritage, statues, language, or, more often than not, a combination of all those elements. For the important characters, I’ll look over name meanings in a baby name book or online. For less important characters, I might just pick a name quickly or let one of my beta readers names them.
- Are character names and place names decided after there creation? or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
The character and their personality come first and then I name them. Same thing goes for the fictional places; they get a look and feel, and then a name.
- Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
Usually I flesh out the characters before I write the book, but a few have surprised me.
- Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I plot and outline a ton before I begin writing, but I’m not strict about sticking to the outline. It’s more like a road map, but I let my character decide how many pit stops and detours to take along the way. Of course some them get deleted later, but it makes the journey more fun. You never know what you’ll discover when you enjoy the ride.
- How do you market/promote your books?
I do a combination of online and face-to-face networking. I’ve recently discovered the joy of attending conventions and book signings. I think the absolute best part of being an author is meeting and talking to the fans. I’m trying hard to break out of my comfort zone and stop hiding behind the animosity of a computer. I really want to get to know the people who like my books. I wouldn’t be working my butt off if not for those people and I hope they know that.
- What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller?
This is so subjective, haha. I’ve read best sellers that I thought were horrible and I’ve ready no-name books that I thought were amazing. So it’s hard to say what makes a best seller. In my opinion, though, a really great book is one that takes the reader on an emotional journey. My goal for every book I write and publish is to make the reader have an emotional experience that makes them react, even if it’s negative, and even if it’s just for a moment. If I can make my readers feel something about my characters and their story, then I’ve done my job.
- Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
I’m sure every book I have ever read has influenced me to some degree. Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris, Darynda Jones, and Cassandra Clare are a few favorites that I aspire to be like.
- Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback?
I have a Kindle and don’t mind using it, especially when I’m traveling, but I still prefer physical books. Whether hardcover or paperback, doesn’t matter to me, although paperbacks tend to take a beating from me. Think wrinkly covers and coffee stains!
- What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
My “favorite” book tends to change often since I read so much, it depends on who my current author crush is, lol. But right now I would have to say it’s the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I have never read a book more than once before in my life (with the exception of beta reading for my author friends) but I already plan to re-read Clare’s TMI and TID series over again as soon as they are finished. There is just so much packed into those books that reading them as they are released isn’t enough to really grasp everything. Of course I don’t want either series to end, but at the same time I’m excited to read the whole thing one after the other like a marathon. I think I’ll have to make a party out of it.
- Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
No I don’t think they transfer well at all. The only book based movies I’ve enjoyed are the ones I didn’t read and I’m positive that if I had read them first, I wouldn’t have liked the movie. I know Hollywood tries, but for me it’s just no fun without the main character’s inner thoughts. I think Hollywood should use narrators and not be so opposed to a three hour movie. I’d rather hurt my butt in a theater chair and get my money’s worth than watch an hour of a butchered book on film. Oddly enough, I really like book based television series even though they deliberately change a lot of the book. But they do it in a different way than a movie does. T.V. producers expand the storyline to include more and exploring those different possibilities with the characters I think is more enjoyable.
- What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I’m currently reading The Dustman by S.M. Blooding in ebook format for review. I’ve only read the first chapter so far and am not sure yet how I feel about it.
- Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
I hope not. I don’t think they will in my lifetime, I mean some people still buy CDs instead of MP3s after all, but I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually everything went 100% digital.
- Did you have a favourite author as a child?
I grew up during the Goosbumps and The Babysitters Club era, haha. But my childhood guilty pleasure the Daughters of the Moon series by Lynne Ewing. I should look her up again.
- Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?
Absolutely! Charlene A. Wilson is a new Paranormal/Fantasy Romance author whose stories will blow you away. Her characters, plot, and worlds are fresh and original with just the right touch of boggling controversy hidden under a thick layer of heart wrenching romance. I’m not just saying this because she’s my friend, haha. We met on a critique website and we critiqued each other’s work before we knew anything about each other. The rest was history, as they say. But seriously, she’s such a modest sweat heart, she’ll be the first to tell you that her books aren’t that great, and I’ll be the first to kick her in the butt for being dead wrong. She’s going to explode into to fame someday, I just know it.
- Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
Oh that is not a fair question to ask an author, hahaha. Of course I always think there is so much more I could have added to Dark Heirloom to make it even more amazing, but if I did that, it would easily become 800 pages long! No, I just have to remind myself that it’s a series and each new book is a new opportunity to make the story bigger and better.
- What do you think about book trailers?
I love watching book trailers and make my own. A well done book trailer easily impresses me because they are not simple to make.
- What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Worry more about writing than promoting. The one-hit wonder won’t get very far no matter how much they promote, and always write from the heart. When it comes time for the production process, proceed with caution; go slow and triple check your work after each stage of the process. Do not send your material back right away no matter how excited or impatient you may be to see your work released. It’s better to be perfect and late than to rush and have mistakes in the final product. Your published book is a reflection of you, your brand, and your quality. Make sure it’s always the best it can be. Schedule book tours and such a month or two after your release date just in case your release date gets pushed back at last minute.
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Dark Heirloom is currently available in e-book format from:
Amazon Kindle store: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Heirloom-Marx-Novel-ebook/dp/B007RS8M5I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334808377&sr=8-1
Must It Up Publishing store: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=339&category_id=151&keyword=dark+heirloom&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1
Book Strand store: http://www.bookstrand.com/dark-heirloom
And will soon be available in print.