Friday, September 20, 2013

Author Interview with J.L. Lawson

How often do you write? And when do you write? Do you have an organized process or tips for writing well? Do you have a writing schedule?
I thought I'd tackle these two at the same time; they are similar. Every day, from around seven-thirty until around four. I sit down at my laptop, cover the previous evening's email, find where I left off the day before and relax. The characters then take over for the next eight hours or so and I chuckle, shed a tear, hold my breath and sigh at everything they attempt to do---and sometimes accomplish. Then I get up go down to the smoking porch, open a beer have a smoke, and start “pre-writing” for the next day. Have dinner, check the weather forecast, go to sleep, get and do it all over again.

The only interruptions to my routine over weeks and months at a time are, holidays, grandchildren's birthdays, urgent household matters and annual vacation travel. (Wonder when that last is going to resume?)

Sometimes it’s so hard to keep at it - What keeps you going?
I don't understand the question. Are you suggesting that writing for a living isn't the best gig in town? I feel like 
the luckiest man in the world when I sit at my laptop and tell stories. Seriously? What's not to love?

What movie do you love to watch?
Back when I moved around a lot more, the first movies in the VCR after getting everything out of boxes and settling in would be: The Quiet Man, Highlander, and Princess Bride. Not much has changed.

Are you a city slicker or a country lover?
Does it have to be so black and white? I live in the country and love it. Wouldn't have it any other way. At the same time, I love spending loads of time in New York City, San Francisco, Austin or in Santa Fe---although that latter may actually not qualify per se.

What’s the reason for your life? Have you figured out your reason for being here yet?
Oaks make acorns. Of all the species of organic life on earth, Humans grow souls---or that is their purpose anyway. Obviously not all people do.

How do you feel about self-publishing?
Depends on when you ask. Right now: Very Good about it. A few years ago: terrified.

Do you know your neighbors?
Absolutely! We depend on them and they depend on us. Living out in the country isn't like keeping an urban apartment. We have dogs to deter coyotes, raccoons, deer and bobtails from making a permanent home here. We all contribute to making sure that the vagaries of nature don't have the last word on our safety and comfort.

Do you find the time to read?
Most definitely. Between blogger sites I enjoy, articles in Cracked, and my latest new-found jewel: Debora Geary's “Witches...” I am on cloud nine. Of course I can't both read other folks stuff AND write at the same time. Not because of a shadow of possible influence---perish the thought. It's simply a matter of time. Example: I picked up the first book of D. Geary's series and promptly spent the next six days reading everything she's published to date---no time for my writing routine. In like manner, when I'm writing it's an all day everyday investment of time and energies---no time for my reading routine. Sigh.

Last book you purchased? Tell us about it.
It was the final book of the Witchlight series by Debora Geary. Here's the review I sent her directly:


I picked up "A Modern Witch" out of curiosity. Six days later, and ten novels of pure spell-binding obsession, I find I have a distinct difficulty forming the words for this review---from an author with even more and longer novels under his belt that is a little embarrassing.
It's like this: You walk the same steps to your job everyday, knowing that there aren't but a handful of people who will ever really know what you do and how you do it. Then the toe of your shoe catches something in the path that wasn't there the day before. When you look closely at what tripped you, you find it's the root of a tree that had been sneakily inching its way into your path all along. Then it hits you like a ton of bricks: Even if not another living soul knows the particulars of the toil and tears you struggle through to make what you do something worth while, a tree with the drive to seek deeper earth and brighter sun most certainly does!

That, is what finding "A Modern Witch" series and the integral Witchlight trilogy is to me. A stellar reminder that insubstantial rays of thought and storms of tears can become something solid and beautiful through the words of a gifted writer. Characters aren't just descriptions and dialogue. They are vital people with their own lives and unspoken history. Conflicts of plot and subplot aren't literary devices. They are the victories and failures of individuals, daring and shy, for whom you care deeply, even love.

The world in which such magic such as this truly exists, makes stumbling down the ordinary path of my days an ineffable joy.
Now get back to work!”

What’s your favorite place in the entire world?
That's not actually an easy question to answer directly. I love Tahoe; always have always will. I also really liked living in the San Lorenzo Valley south of the Bay area. Perhaps my favorite residence was the shortest: Orca's Island in the San Juans above Seattle. My wife and I have stayed on that island more often and longer than almost anywhere else we've traveled and visited---always on holiday, not as actual residents. We love the town on East Sound, the State Park, Mt. Constitution, and island hopping on the ferries. I'd love to build a bigger sailboat than the one I built last year and ease right into that life. I've thought about permanently relocating there many, many times. Who knows. Perhaps if this writing thing gains even more traction than it has already, we may be checking out real estate on an island after all! But then my heart comes alive when I'm in Santa Fe.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to discover?
Next question.

How much of the book is realistic?
That's not really a fair question of a science fiction/Fantasy/Future History writer. But as it's not entirely off the tracks---An awful lot is very realistic. I can only offer this caveat by way of example: if there was a train, or ocean liner, or Broadway show, or event of any kind referred to in my books (only up to the present day, naturally) then that arrival/departure, showtime, described appointments, etc. most certainly occurred as stated. For my first five books I scoured everything from 1864 forward that had any perceived touch to my characters, their actions and world events---from the price of gold on a certain date in 1864 to who the Oslo newspaper interviewed concerning the theft of “The Scream” during the Lillehammer Olympic Games. From the first rail line into Tahoe City from Truckee in the latter nineteenth century to what delayed the first reorganized Oriental Express run from Venice to London in the twentieth century. From when the first toilet was invented and debuted into popular markets to the astounding absence of toilet bowl plungers until a few decades later... (still find that disgustingly anomalous.)

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot?
Life experiences: Yes.
People I know: No. There can't help but be composite characters, in my opinion, in anyone's work of fiction and there will inevitably be hints of what is already familiar to the author. But fashioning characters from acquaintances as Chaucer was reputed to have done? No.

How important do you think villains are in a story?
That entirely depends on the genre and the author's intent for the story to be told. Would Star Wars have suffered without Darth Vader? Yeah. Would Of Mice and Men been any less heart-wrenching without Curly's wife... questionable. And not that all antagonists are necessarily villains. In the real world where struggle is part and parcel of life, it's not always imperative to put a face on the troubles a character must endure. Sometimes it's just the luck of the draw.

An Honest Man
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Metaphysical/Fantasy/Action Adventure
Rating – G
More details about the author & the book
Connect with J.L. Lawson on Facebook

Weigh Anchor
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Science Fiction/Metaphysical/Adventure
Rating – G
More details about the author & the book
Connect with J.L. Lawson on Facebook

The Elf & Huntress
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Science Fiction/Metaphysical/Adventure
Rating – G
More details about the author & the book
Connect with J.L. Lawson on Facebook


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