JJ McMoon – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My most recent novel is titled Lives – Perception Is Reality (Volume 1) and is the story of several people who knew each other in high school, but drifted apart. Ten years later, they each have gone their own path and coincidence is bringing them together. Some think it’s fate, others think it’s God, and still others are playing God. It has been described as “Stand by Me” for the new millennium.

Tell us something about yourself.

I have been writing my whole life. I sold my first story called “The Mummy” when I was eight. I wrote out each copy by hand and sold them for $1/each. When I was 11, I won a poetry contest sponsored by the Virginia Beach Sun, which resulted in my first “official” publication. Since then, I’ve written dozens of short stories and hundreds of song lyrics. “Lives” is my first novel.

What inspired you to write this book?

My son, Miles, had just been born and I began to think a lot about growing up, particularly in my high school years. I remembered how people at the time had told me that the issues I felt were important would change priority in ten years, so I decided to take the classic cliches (prom queen, jock, nerd, fat kid, etc) and imagine where they would be now. It was quite an exciting ride!

How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?

After careful consideration, I decided not to pursue traditional publishing avenues. I didn’t want to wait for an agent, and then a publisher, and then all of the beaurocracy within and so on to see my work in print. However, I didn’t want to be labeled a “self-publisher”, since that usually means “work that sucks.” So, I enlisted the help of editors, readers, and most importantly, reviewers, so that my work would suffer the same scrutiny as traditional works without having the life sucked out of it. In the end, I believe this product is as good or better than most of the traditionally published products out there, and I get to reap the lion’s share of rewards. Also, since I set up a publishing company to do this (Virtual Everything Press), I also have the opportunity to publish other author’s works, should I decide to go that route.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I’ve simply always been a writer. Ever since I could talk, I’ve been telling stories, and ever since I could write, I’ve been writing them. Every day, I journal several thousand words, write several thousand more on whichever project I’m working on, and I’m often writing long e-mails or blogs in between.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Focus. I don’t have any problem getting up to write or keeping a schedule, but keeping my focus on the project is a constant and painful process. I’ll want to journal, or work on my blog, or… anything other than finish the ten pages I need today to get John into the same room as Katharine. I find that it’s a discipline that consistently needs to be maintained.

How do you do research for your books?

If possible, I try to talk to others that know more about the subject than I do. I’ll also try to talk to as many people as I can, individually, if more than one source is available. If no one’s available, then I’ll try to find blogs or books written by people who have been there, but I’ll always prefer a human interaction. There is so much communication between the words of a conversation that gets lost when it hits the page.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I learned that it was a lot easier to write a novel than I had thought. The first one is the hardest, because you’ve never been up the hill before. I completed the first draft of my second novel in under two months, simply because I knew it wasn’t that big of a deal. So long as I kept my focus, that is:)

What are you reading now?

I know I’m late to the party on this one, but I just cracked open Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” last night. I’m loving it so far.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I like unique reads. I like to see things I’ve never seen before, or to see common things that are dealt with in a completely different way. The Road, is a good example of that, since there have been thousands and thousands of post-apocolyptic books, but none like this one. Tom Wolfe is one of my favorites, as is Ayn Rand. I am often in awe of David Mamet and Quentin Tarantino, especially in regards to dialogue.

My all-time favorite, and by far biggest influence, is Stephen King. I found his books when I was beginning high school and thought everything I was being told to read was boring. I hated reading before I found King and as a result, I was writing less and less. His early works inspired me not only to read more, but to keep developing my craft.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I have finished the first draft of my next book, which will be announced when “Lives” ships. I am indecisive on the third project, but I’m giving myself until next week to start something.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

I know you’ve heard it before, but don’t give up. There’s more to not giving up than just writing, though. You can’t give up when agents tell you no, or if you’re going it alone, you have to listen if people are critical of your work. Don’t give up, but listen to what they say or you won’t find a market. Try to get your work in the hands of people who know what they’re doing, ESPECIALLY if you’re going it alone. The driving force behind any novel is the belief that you are doing something great, something that will make you immortal. Unfortunately, this becomes poison when you are in the rewriting stage because it keeps you from wanting to change anything. Change things, throw out words, do whatever you have to do to make sure your audience is entertained. No matter how distant from the subject matter they are, they should finish reading it.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

Everything I can think of that’s within my means. I have a Facebook Fan Page, three websites, two blogs, and a zillion bookmarks that I will send to anyone in the world who requests them for free. I set up affiliate sites and networking and cross-promotion whenever the opportunity arises. I do every radio and web interview that I can, and I speak at high schools and colleges. And, when the book launches full-swing, I will pay for click-based ads to see how they do. I am constantly selling, which I enjoy almost as much as the writing itself.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

My Fan Page (Facebook) is: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=192616347899&ref=ts
My personal page is: http://www.jjmcmoon.com