Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview ~ Jon D. Zimmer


There are over 70 Author Interviews on this blog, from folks of all ages and experience levels

Here comes another one :-)

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blog tour

Welcome, Jon!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Jon D. Zimmer -- Author I don’t remember a specific age or date when I thought about being a writer. I know that all through my school years my favorite subjects were English and Science. When I started college, I’d written several short stories. I considered being a writer at that time; however, marriage and economics made my decision to postpone writing for a while.

Are you able to tell us how long it generally takes you to write a book?

There are several factors that determine the amount of time. First is how much research is required. After that, there’s the passion I have for the project, my time schedule, and how complicated the plot is. It could take from five months up to about ten months.

Whoa! I’m sure some of my readers would think that’s fairly fast :-)

What’s your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Again, an answer that involves several factors. My passion for the work is foremost. I’ll begin writing after going out for breakfast and reading the newspaper. I return home about ten o’clock in the morning and write until five o’clock in the evening. I don’t tend to write at night, because it keeps me from sleeping.

So, Jon, do you think you have any interesting writing quirks?

I think one is in my last answer. I need to go out to eat breakfast and catch up on the news before starting to write. As to writing itself, I try to avoid foul language.

I think some of my readers might find that last “quirk” strange; though, I think I can understand it

Would you give us some of your thoughts on the publishing process?

It has to be an excellent book; however, that’s far from being the sole criterion, as many good manuscripts are rejected by publishers. Research the publishers, so you send it to the right one for your genre. You need an excellent query letter to grab a publisher. Perseverance is important, too. Keep sending it out; and, if everything fails, you might consider self publishing; but, this is a major choice that more than likely will cost you a lot of money, and is rarely successful.

Well, Jon, I’m sure some of my readers would disagree with what you’ve said about self-publishing; but, that’s why I have so many different author interviews on this blog :-)

Where do you get the ideas for your books?

Ideas for books pop into my head all the time. I’ll never write all the books I’d like to write. Social issues and the emotions surrounding them are the main sources of my ideas.

When did you write your first book?

I wrote some short stories when I was eighteen and a book when I was in my thirties, which I never did anything with. The first novel that I submitted, and was published, was in my fifties. I truly wish I’d pursued my dream to write as a youth.

I’m totally with you on that last thought, Jon…

So, what does your family think of your writing?

They love it, and are very supportive.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I have a passion for horse racing and politics.

My father owned race horses when I was growing up, and I developed an ardor for them. Some weekends I go to the local tracks.

Politics fascinates me. There is so much misery in our society, and I see an ignorant electorate perpetuating their condition by voting against their best interests, over and over. I write some political essays that are posted on LinkedIn, and my social media.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Getting into people’s heads. Expressing emotions that the reader can feel and relate to is what writing is about.

How many books have you written and which is your favorite, Jon? THE NARCISSIST: A DARK JOURNEY

I’ve written six novels, and the one I just finished, The Narcissist: A Dark Journey, is my favorite, to date. However, the novel, Tranquility: Book Two of the God Chronicles, that I’m currently writing, is going to be my new favorite. It’s a fantasy about an afterlife, if there is one, that’s believable.

Do you have any suggestions to help folks become better writers?

That’s a very hard question. I could give one of the standard answers and say, just believe in yourself, and that is true; but, it still may not lead to a success story. You need to be able to tell a tale that will satisfy your reader, both emotionally and in terms of time well spent.

Do you hear from your readers much?

I mostly hear from friends and relatives about my books and they’re usually favorable, as expected. However, reviewers are a little more honest. Sometimes they grasp your theme and other times they don’t. It’s up to you to determine true criticism.

So, Jon, what do you think makes a good story?

There are so many things that make a good story, regardless of genre. But the basic thing is that the reader becomes involved. Even if they don’t share the emotions of the characters, a good story has them come away with an understanding of those emotions; and, when they’re finished, they feel good about the experience.

Well, Jon, it’s been a very different sort of interview for me; and, I appreciate that.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with my readers :-)

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Here’s a link to all of Jon’s books.

And, here’s a blurb for, The Narcissist: A Dark Journey

“Charlotte Prentice is beautiful, intellectual, and dangerous. She will do whatever it takes to achieve the adoration and success she desires. Who is this woman whose beauty is only overshadowed by her intellect? Charlotte herself doesn’t know. Is she guilty of her crimes or the victim of the ills of society? In “The Narcissist: A Dark Journey”, the reader is both judge and jury where Charlotte Prentice is concerned.”

Now’s the time to ask Jon a question or two in the Comments :-)
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#BookPromotion on #Wattpad


Last November, I was finally convinced to try WattpadWattpad

Then, later in the same month, I wrote about Wattpad being a special “social media” platform for writers.

That was early in the game

I had a relatively small number of folks I followed and there were some following me

I have four books there; and, will soon have a fifthone of my booksmy novel, was getting reads and comments and all was productive and fun

Then, last month, my novel jumped from 1,ooo to 2,000 reads and my followers jumped from about 300 to over 1,200.

Today, I have 3,200 reads on the novel and nearly 2,000 followers

What happened was Wattpad decided to Feature my book.

Suddenly, being on Wattpad is “work” yet very welcome and productive work.

Back in November, my novel was being read in around 10 countries.

This map shows the situation now (countries with reads shaded blue, with darker blue being more reads):

Notes from An Alien at 7 months + one Week Featured on Wattpad

Do I recommend Wattpad for writers who don’t yet know how to promote their book; or, are either tired of or frustrated about their promotion efforts to date?

Perhaps

It depends on the writer.

One way to find out if you’re the kind of person who can do promotion on Wattpad is to sign-up for free; then, read How To Get Reads, Votes, and Comments – A Guide by Katherine A. Ganzel.

Here’s my profile on Wattpad.

And, here’s the novel that’s still being Featured :-)

Plus, you can read the interviews I have here with other Wattpad authors
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Author Interview ~ Philippa A. Rees


I usually take challenges in stride, whether in my writing or my reading. Involution: An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God

In fact my all-time favorite fiction author, C. J. Cherryh, has die-hard fans who admit they still find her writing challenging—challenging enough to let them reap wonderful rewards from reading her books.

The woman in today’s interview also gives her readers unique challenges and surprises

Let’s get this interview rolling.

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Philippa, when did you decide you were a writer?

I am far from sure I ever made the decision. Unlike most writers asked this question (who seem driven from childhood to write poems or stories) Life seemed determined to force it upon me. After graduating, at the point I might have made any decisions, life deprived me of all human company by exile to an island off the coast of Mozambique where there were no books, no communications, and left me with nothing to do but collect shells and search for food (which was abundant). I craved the sound of a human voice. That deprivation suddenly focussed.

How? What happened?

On the five mile walk in hope of a post in the fishing boat that called once weekly, I discovered an abandoned campsite. A boat had moored for a few days: a family who I never met except through the tattered remains of their torn up letters, snagged on branches. Every time I walked past, I found more blown by the wind. So I collected and then pieced together these pages, like a jigsaw, and read what turned to tragedy.  They were en route to their eldest daughter’s wedding in Durban. Having discovered this family, I promptly lost them. The story was completed by a newspaper article saying they had all drowned in a storm.

I think it was then I felt that only writing left some evidence of the individual life, and the unique vision of every person. A sort of living grave stone. Other incidents all reinforced this first one: the most devastating followed four years later and took away every thing, not just human company.

Now you have me extremely interested. Would you elaborate?

I’ll try but not easily. May I quote from a few verses in the book?

Absolutely, go ahead…

Well, that eye, that lucid green gold lens
Appeared, quite uninvited. I cannot account for how
It found me waiting on a beach, sideways seated with a man.
It came to me much later that the Eye
Was both a hinge and trapdoor. The first
Pinched out my life before, the second sealed return.

Before its birth, it drew aside the curtain of the ‘real’
By an incision in the landscape; shattered spikes of surface glass
Slid on lasers sideways, and completely disappeared.
It was as though the waxwing had been stunned and as it fell
It pulled the painted cheesecloth down. The landscape was no more.

Gone were four dimensions with all newly dissolved walls.
Leaving the loom unoccupied by either thread or time
Into which that all-seeing Eye swelled slowly into sight…
To gaze behind and forward, clear and compassionate.
Steady and unblinking it remained, while we perused
Its green-gold iris ringed and flecked… Nor quivered
While we spoke. From either side of nothing… remained impervious…

What was critical about this experience was it being shared with someone else, remaining while two disembodied voices without sight of one another discussed its attributes and only after that, did the eye disappear and into the light that remained, the material world slid back.

From the periphery, the wings of stage, the landscape now returned,
The spicules of the curtain rent, moved back to reconnect…
A face with stricken swimming eyes, a freshly pearling sky…
Plato’s surface of that peerless cave, of false persuasive sense.

So my entire world view, of the external reality of matter, was replaced by Plato’s cave, a shadow projected on a wall by Mankind’s collective heads.

Since that experience my entire life has been in search of two things: first how Mankind had created this mistaken understanding (of the separation between mind and matter- which involved studying the history of science) and then a language in which to communicate it- what has been perceptively christened ‘symphonic prose’ by a recent supporter.

Do you think this was what might be called a “showing”? If it was, why did it choose you?

I have had to think about that forever. It certainly cost everything, my husband decided I was mad and divorced me. That meant I had to leave the U.S. with two small children and no means of support, no work, no home, no family. I literally had to start from scratch, in a country where I knew nobody, and no means of earning a living, except to turn to teaching, which I did. I ended up lecturing at Bristol University to mature students.

So, why do you think this happened you?

I think everything in my background perhaps made me a suitable candidate. I was an only child, of a single mother (my father abandoned her before I was two). My wonderful grandparents looked after me in the holidays, and they were most unusual idealistic people: my grandfather who was British spoke Swahili and Zulu fluently and took me on safaris, camping and shooting for the pot, while he inspected African schools for weeks on end. My grandmother was a Barrett ( related to Elizabeth Barrett Browning) but also half Boer, so crossing every racial and cultural divide in apartheid South Africa. Her aunt received letters from George Eliot and was Godmother to GE’s stepsons but that’s another story. When I was nine I was given a horse (not a pony!) and the freedom of Lesotho. I had to be independent from very early, and make my own decisions about literally everything.

I can only think it was my emotional independence that made me a candidate to accept being out on a limb. Being rejected by my father gave me the strength to be rejected by everyone else! The intellectual understanding (and rejection) came later.

Has the concept of Involution, from your book, been rejected as a hypothesis?

My first draft was written in 1970 in the hope it might lead to some kind of academic recognition, access to libraries, and the means of supporting my children. Although I did receive great self-belief through the support of Arthur Koestler (who endorsed “most of what you say”) and Konrad Lorenz, the Nobel Prize winning Laureate, “I find your thesis most exciting…”. I was completely ridiculed at Cambridge—“Oh for God’s sake woman is this Tuesday or Leicester Square”—and that has pretty well remained the case until recently. It was born much too early! I think I was meant to refine it.

Now the underlying thesis is supported by science which has caught up in the work of Laszlo, Sheldrake, Wilber, et al. Yet I believe it is the divisive intellect that has been responsible for the incremental division, and these writers still address the intellect in their alternatives.

That is why I wrote in poetry, to address the deeper seat of intelligence—the heart.

You have published two fairly unique books, both in poetic narrative (although I see you call Involution  “symphonic prose”). What made poetic narrative appealing to you?

I have always loved words. That stemmed from encounters with two particular teachers, one I idolised because she wrote Greek on the blackboard, which in South Africa seemed the apogee of culture, but she translated the subtleties of Greek influences in English word derivations and fine distinctions. Words have magic and bring with them previous usage so they connect us to the past, intrinsically. That’s why all my daughters have Shakespearean names and ended up very like the characters they were named after! That’s why my Greek name is one I would have chosen myself, Philippa—lover of horses.

When it came to writing I wanted the words to shine with inner light, and by setting them in the spare line of poetic economy I attempted to do that. I also love the suggestive economy of images that spread out like pebbles thrown into still water. Writing narrative poetry gives a story in such images, makes it more than itself—if you see what I mean. What I wanted to convey was through the story, not the story itself, or not limited to it. I wanted to recapture the power of language and the respect it used to enjoy.

Turning to your subject matter, Philippa… A Shadow In Yucatan is an evocation of the sixties and only 11,000 words. Involution covers all of Western Science. How, if at all, are they related?

Since the original thesis came to me, I was subconsciously aware of the hope (if not the realistic intention) to re-write Involution all my life. Yucatan was a sort of limbering up for that magnum opus, and written in a sort of fever. It wasn’t until recently that I was indebted to two readers (who have read both) who recognised the germ of Involution already present in Yucatan. One, who has written a joint review of both, called it “Answering the call” and likened the character Stephanie (in Yucatan, answering the call of an unwanted pregnancy) to me answering the demands of spiritual experience. The forced labour required by both, and the sacrifices were not dissimilar! Pain and a duty to something bigger than oneself was present in both. I found that a very profound observation and a wonderful example of what readers give back to authors.

What do you hope Involution will achieve? What message do you want people to take from it?

Ultimately it shows there is only consciousness, and matter is merely one form of seemingly “solidified” consciousness, but only when viewed relatively from another collective perception. Relativity refers to different states of consciousness measured against each other, the only singularity is the mystical experience of Union. I was lucky enough to be given that as my starting point.

I think mostly I hope the restoration of meaningful, purposeful Evolution, one in which emerging and refining consciousness moves towards greater integration. The necessary expulsion from Unity ( Eden) in order to recover Eden, but knowingly. Unity makes every individual part of the adventure of consciousness, not an accidental by-product of competitive strife. This, if deeply understood, restores the meaning of every individual life, and also the responsibility to live life more consciously because nothing that is thought is lost. Everything affects everything, so a new discrimination about every aspect and every moment is implied, but without any external injunctions or forbidding virtue. There is a lot of humour in both the book and in Creation: the one thing that “spiritual seeking for ascendance” often inhibits is humour. It talks about joy a great deal, but humour is joy’s lesser brother. He tends to be ignored as though unworthy.

What are your plans for the future, Philippa?

Being realistic there is not a long future to plan for. I am publishing some short stories that illuminate the gulf between the New and Old World characters and situations, and I suppose that means my life is starting to pass before my eyes. (Perhaps I am already drowning?) I have a novella in process, a fantasy love story, and I suppose I slog on hoping my work will find readers, which task I admit I am not very skilled at; but, like domestic cleaning, it has to be done. I have made some very loyal friends on-line and they certainly help fill out a very solitary life. I feel I have accomplished what I wanted to; and, at the moment, I am searching for new purpose for my remaining days.

May those days be bright and productive, Philippa; and, I really can’t thank you enough for telling your story to my readers :-)

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Philippa’s website

Philippa’s Blog

Philippa’s Amazon Author Page

Involution on Amazon

Philippa on Facebook

Philippa on Twitter

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I Get Interviewed About My Writing :-)


I have around 50 Author Interviews on my blog… Alexander M Zoltai

And, I’ve been discovering the joys of a site called About.mea place to create a digital Bio page and a space to meet and interact with some very cool folks…

I think it qualifies as Social Media…

I met Jan Jacob Mekes on About.me…

From his Bio:

“Jan Jacob Mekes is an English writer born in the body of a native Dutch speaker, in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. He loves reading, writing, cycling, and photography. His favourite book is Don Quixote, he loves chocolate, and is a cat person. Re-reading this, he realizes this sounds like a profile on a dating site. In a way, that’s true, because I (said the inconsistent writer who switches to first person like the Hulk) want you to go on a date… not with me, but with my books. I love my readers!”

He has four very interesting-looking books

And, he recently interviewed me :-)
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Ask This Author Some Questions . . .


Asking authors questions has never been so easy—assuming the author is open to the idea…

GoodReads Ask The Author

Image courtesy of Chris Baker ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/immrchris

I’m sure readers have questions for authors—about characters, why things happened the way they did, when the next book will be out…

And, authors often have questions for other authors—some exactly the same as other readers—some about specifically Writerly topics—how to, or why to, or when to, or other issues that impact a writer’s life…

It’s one thing to read an author interview or other articles where authors convey information—quite another thing to ask direct and specific questions.

Back in June, I wrote the post, Asking Authors (and Readers) Questions . . .

An excerpt:

“If you could ask Margaret AtwoodKhaled Hosseini, or James Patterson anything, what would it be? Maybe you want to know their writing inspiration, what they read as a guilty pleasure, or you have a burning question about one of their bestsellers. Now’s your chance because these three are among the 54 major authors who are helping us launch an exciting new program on Goodreads—Ask the Author!”

So, since they opened the program up to any Goodreads author, I gave it a try—read that last as “A Big Fail” :-)

I thought I’d activated the Ask The Author program but only succeeded in creating a group I called Ask The Author :-(

Well…

I finally figured it all out.

So,,,

First you have to sign-up as a Goodreads Member (free).

You could stop there and explore all the benefits of the most popular site for Readers…

And/Or…

You could go to my Ask The Author page :-)

I’m open for any and all questions—why I write, how I write, what I read, why I’ve written my books, what’s next…

Be aware, though, if you ask me a question that needs a specific bit of “advice” about writing, I’ll answer it, but in a way that makes you ask yourself a few questions :-)

Also, if you hate Goodreads, just use my email—right down there in Red text…
[Big Secret: I’m working on a permanent Forum for questions, answers, and conversations…]
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