Thursday, September 20, 2012

Interview with Stuart Jaffe

Today we are sitting down with Stuart Jaffe, the author of The Max Porter Paranormal-Mysteries, The Malja Chronicles, a post-apocalyptic fantasy series, and the SF adventure, After The Crash, as well as the short story collection, 10 Bits of My Brain. Numerous other short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies. He is the co-host of The Eclectic Review -- a podcast about science, art, and well, everything. For those who keep count, the latest animal listing is as follows: five cats, one albino corn snake, one Brazilian black tarantula, three aquatic turtles, assorted fish, two lop-eared rabbits, five chickens, and a horse. Thankfully, the chickens and the horse do not live inside the house. 

When Stuart is not working as a part time zoo keeper, you will also find him keeping up to date with a fantastic blog.    Last week he presented a look at the back-biting and the sniping that exists between the indie publishing world and the traditional publishing world.  Plus all the bits of bitchiness in between.  It really is worth a look.
He is based in North Carolina,USA, but right now he is here on this blog so lets hand over to the man of the moment.
1)      Tell me a little bit about your latest book?

Southern Charm should be out in September (if all goes well) and continues the Max Porter paranormal-mystery series. This time Max, his wife, and the ghost Detective Drummond scour Winston-Salem on the hunt for a strange painting that has ties all the way back to Blackbeard the Pirate.  Like its predecessor, Southern Bound, this book takes real history of the Winston-Salem area and mixes it with paranormal fiction.

2)      When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing in earnest my first year out of college. I decided to attempt to write a novel. I figured that if I could manage to eek out one tiny page a day, then at the end of the year, I'd have a 365 page manuscript that might actually tell a story.  I stuck with it, wrote the novel, it sucked, but I learned I could do it.  From then on it's just been practice, practice, practice.

3)      Do you write in the same genre you like to read?

I read in almost every genre, and I find my writing reflects this but always manages to insert some fantasy or science fiction element in.  With the Max Porter series, for example, I had been reading a bunch of local history which spawned the initial idea for the first book, Southern Bound.

4)      Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to write in the "Great! Can't put the book down!" style. It seems to work better than the "1-Star, I'll never read that author again" style. Just my preference, of course.

5)      Do you have a writing schedule?

Every day -- at least, I try my best to write every day.

6)      Do you plan your work or just go with it and start with the initial idea?

The degree to which I plan has evolved over the years and continues to change from book to book.  I know that at the very least I need an opening, an ending, and one high-point in the middle before I can even think about putting words on the page.

7)      What inspires you to write?  Where do you find your influences?

Everything.  Really.  Not to be too "pluggy" but my blog ( is on this very subject. Each week I look at what inspires and influences various plots, characters, scenes, etc of things I've written.  I've also had guests on to talk about their influences.  Even guest of blogs that have interviewed me (hint, hint).

8)      Well I will definately be joining you for a chat.  Just name the date!  Are there any downsides to being a writer?

Money is a constant downside for the majority of writers.  Thanks to the changes ebooks have wrought, including the rise of indie writers, more and more of us can make a living, but it's still hard.  You really have to have a passion for this to make a go of it.

9)      Are the names of your characters important?

Yes and no.  I try not to give MEANINGFUL names, but it is important that the name have the right sound.  It's kind of like making up alien languages.  It's not by accident that Klingon is full of harsh, guttural noises.  Imagine how silly the Klingons would be if they were threatening someone's life in a flowing, soft, near-French sounding language.  Same with names.

10)   If there was one thing you could have learnt about being a writer before you started, what would it be? 

Patience.  Man, the whole process is slow.  Even in these much, much faster days of self-publishing, it still takes a long time to craft a novel, revise it, beta-read it, edit it, prep it, publish it, and then wait for people to find it, read it, and maybe even review it.  This is not a career for instant feedback.

11)   Favourite book?

Way too many to name them all.  Favourite authors, however, I can name a few: John Steinbeck, Jack Ketchum, Stephen King, and Graham Greene.

12)   Favourite/worst book to movie?
Again, way too many to name them all.  Translating book to movie is a difficult, thankless job but when done right, the audience is happy to embrace the necessary changes.  This is one reason why Lord of the Rings was so good.  But take a film like, The Firm, where they destroyed the ending by trying to make the main character more noble than he was and you can see how angering it can be.

13)   What are you reading now? 

Right now I'm reading the excellent book Wool by Hugh Howey and also One for the Money by Janet Evanovich.

14)   How tough was it to find a publisher/agent/decision to self publish? 

I've had the agent and I've been published in anthologies and such before.  The decision to walk away from that and go it alone was both hard and easy.  Hard, because I spent my life thinking about the publishing world in one way and it was difficult to break out of that paradigm.  Easy, once I set my mind to it, because of the freedom and joy that self-publishing has brought me.

15)   How do you perceive the world of self publishing? 

It's in its infancy.  Lots of people are making predictions but the truth is that nobody has a clue what's going to happen in publishing.  A year ago when I jumped into self-publishing, if you had told me that the Big 6 would be sued by the government for price-fixing, that numerous groups who had once railed against Barnes & Noble's business practices would now consider them allies, that organizations set up to give writers a voice would actively work against writers interest, that the entire world of publishing would be flipped around so much that nobody knew how to do this for sure anymore, well, I would've thought that was all a bit far-fetched.  Yet here we are.  And it's only going to get stranger. 

Thanks Stuart, it has been great to have you appearing on my blog today, and great to learn we both have a love of Graham Greene. 

For those of you who haven't already done so, here are the links so that you can pick yourself up a copy of..........
The Malja Chronicles -- a post-apocalyptic fantasy series:
The Way of the Black Beast
The Way of the Sword and Gun
The Way of the Brother Gods
Southern Bound-- a paranormal-mystery
After The Crash -- a sci-fi survival story
Co-Host of The Eclectic Review Podcast

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