Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: J. A. Partridge

Author Interview ~ Ana Simons


Regular readers know I have many author interviews on this blog.

And, those readers know about my relatively recent immersion into the Wattpad community.

Those readers have experienced interviews with the following Wattpad Authors: Holly GonzalezJ. A. PartridgeRaphyel M Jordan, and Jennifer Morrey.

Today, we have another Wattpad author; but, this one’s quite different

So different I’m publishing this interview on a day I normally re-blog someone else’s post and I’m leaving it as top post on through tomorrow

I suppose my main reason for this is because Ana Simons has shown me a rare type of authorial courage—a courage that needs to be granted attention

I read the book she’ll talk about in this post—gave it a private “r” rating (small “r” because the steamy scenes were well done)—and, I was a surprise to Ana when she saw me commenting on her story (a man reading “ChicLit”…).

So, let’s get to know a bit about this woman.

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Who is Ana Simons?

Ana Simons - Author I’m a mother, wife, teacher, social scientist and, apparently now, an occasional writer.

How did you come up with the idea for your first book, Ana?

From the “iceberg theory” itself, which I actually lecture about. It has been used in different fields, namely in psychology by Freud, anthropology and culture studies by Edward T. Hall, even in literature by Hemingway. It reinforces the idea that our perceptions rarely correspond to the whole truth, because we all hide much more than we allow the others to see. The iceberg analogy, the fact that there’s much more underneath the surface than we actually observe floating on the ocean, underlies the relationship of the main characters in my first book. It can even be applied to the story itself, because readers are not reading what they think they’re reading; the true meaning of it all is hidden in the last chapters of the book…

So, it’s really your first story, Ana?

Yes, The Iceberg Theory is my first The Iceberg Theorystory, I had never written before ‒ I mean, I had never written fiction before. I teach at the University, which means that I also have to do research and write and publish the results in academic journals. So I do write a lot, but in a quite different register.

O.K., Ana, seems like it’s time to reveal why you started to follow the path of fiction writing…

Firstly, you should know that most of my academic research centres on the analysis of wartime literary representations. Last year around this time, I was chatting away with my husband about how difficult and draining it was to read; and, in a way, sort of dissecting autobiographical accounts that always describe quite painful events, terrible situations that shattered people’s lives and, in some cases, even their children’s lives, as well, because trauma can quite forcefully be a trans-generational phenomenon.

So, I had been doing that for 14 or 15 years already.

Then, completely out of nowhere, he came up with the idea that maybe I should take a break from it and give fiction writing a go. I laughed at the idea, because, sure, I could write, but I was not that kind of writer. Sure I had read a lot, I hold a BA in English and German Studies and therefore studied all the classics. I post-graduated in Culture Studies—had to read the work of the greatest authors of our time—but studying literature is one thing, being able to weave and tell people a story is another. So I rejected the idea. But then a couple of weeks later I did find myself outlining a plot, thinking about the characters, about the places where I could make it happen…

What made you use Wattpad to tell your first story?

A year ago I wasn’t even aware that there were such platforms. A friend of mine told me about it, I looked for it, registered just to see what it was and a month later or so I started to post to assess how it really worked.

Do, please, tell us a bit more about your experience of publishing a “serial story” on Wattpad…

I had just begun to post The Iceberg Theory when after a couple of weeks I decided to quit, you know? I even got to the point of deleting the half dozen chapters I already had up. It felt that Wattpad was a place populated only by teenagers and young adults and that there was no place for me or my story, so I decided to leave and even forget about the whole idea of writing.

But then, that same day, I came across the LOL+35 thread and everything changed. LOL stands for Ladies on Life and there I found a group of talented and generous women, who help and support each other in their writing endeavours. Every time I posted a new chapter they were usually my first readers and thanks to them and their words of support and encouragement I found a reason to finish writing that story. All in all, it was an amazing and quite rewarding experience.

Change-up—what’s your favorite book and why?

There are many. In terms of autobiographical writing I’d like to name Ruth Klüger’s Still Alive, which I only read in the German version. Unlike what we usually see in other Holocaust memoirs, we have here an author/victim that assumes a quite provocative attitude as she renders her childhood memories; in fact, she approaches quite sensitive matters such as disrupted parental relationships during the war, the complex relationship between Jews and Germans and even some Jewish patriarchal conventions which, according to her view, deny women their right to hold traumatic memories. Paul Schatz im Uhrenkasten, written by the German author Jan Koneffke, is also one of my all-time favourites. Also based on real life events, it’s a moving, at times, disheartening account of how a Jewish little boy managed to survive the Nazi persecution. Part of it is narrated from the child’s perspective and it’s amazing how the writer, who is nephew to the real ‘Paul’, managed to capture a child’s imagination and his innocent interpretation of all those shattering events.

Ana, how old is your new web site? And, please tell us about your traveling and interviewing other authors.

My website is not even one month old! It’s my first 2016 project! The authors I’m interviewing are all members of the group I told you about in Wattpad. They’re the women who most inspire me and that were there when I embarked on my writing journey. These interviews are sort of a tribute, a way of saying “thank you” to them.

And, what are your plans for the future?

Well, I will continue to write, because, in the meantime, it has become a hobby that I really enjoy ‒ certainly Wattpad readers, who are all immensely kind, and the supportive community of writers I found there have contributed to this positive feeling.

If I’ll take it to the next level and try publishing that’s still under consideration. For starters, I’m not a native speaker, so I’m perfectly aware that my work needs a lot of editing. I’m getting some help on that already, but I’d still need to get back to it and revise it thoroughly. Not quite certain if the effort pays off though. My perception is that it’s incredibly difficult to succeed out there and I still don’t know if I want to go through all the frustration when I’m having so much fun right now

Well, Ana, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your new-found writing life with my readers! I’m looking forward to more books :-)

~~~

Ana’s working on her second book right now (check out the links below…).

Ana’s Links:
Web Site
Wattpad Page
First Book
Second Book
FaceBook
Twitter

O.K., folks, now’s a great time to ask Ana questions in the Comments—especially if you’re sitting there wondering if you can actually write a novel :-)
If you don’t see a way to comment after this post, try up at the top right :-)
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Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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#Wattpad #Authors & 2015’s Best Brain Pickings . . .


Another year… 

Tomorrow, this blog will be 5 years old—with 1,327 posts

Looking back in just the right way can help you look forward

One thing I definitely did right in 2015 was to engage with Wattpadexplained by them as “…a place to discover and share stories: a social platform that connects people through words. It is a community that spans borders, interests, languages. With Wattpad, anyone can read or write on any device: phone, tablet, or computer.”

Another thing I did was to enliven the already existing 60 Author Interviews by adding interviews with two Wattpad AuthorsHolly GonzalezJ. A. Partridge.

And, in case you’re not a follower of Maria Popova‘s blog, Brain Pickings, I’ll leave you with enough interesting reading to get you well into next year :-) 

“The paradoxical psychology of why we fall in love, what maturity really means, how our emotions affect our immune system, the transformative power of solitude, and a year’s worth more.”

The Best of Brain Pickings 2015

* Happy New Year *

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Author Interview ~ J. A. Partridge


Back on Dec. 21st, I published an Author Interview with Holly Gonzalez—the first of my Wattpad Author interviews.

Today we have Jeff Partridge visiting and I’m eager to get our second Wattpad Author interview started :-)

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So, Jeff, when did you decide to become a writer, and why? J. A. Partridge - Author

I’ve always been a storyteller. I was one of those precocious kids whose mouth never stopped moving if he had an audience. While writing fiction was always my favorite assignment in school, I started out wanting to write and draw comic books. I even became a pretty good sketch artist at one point, but my style wasn’t really conducive for what was being produced at the time. Who knows, if we’d had the internet back then I might still be doing comics.

When did you begin writing novels?

I mostly wrote short stories until I read The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion in 7th grade. That, combined with my love of history, myth, and legend and a host of other works like Herbert’s Dune series and Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series, got me thinking of stories on a much vaster scale. To this day, I find short forms difficult to write. Somewhere around my senior year at university I stumbled upon a deceptively simple fantasy by James P. Blaylock which inspired me to stop playing with story ideas and actually complete a novel if only for the challenge of accomplishing it.

O.K., Jeff, tell the folks how many novels you’ve written.

I have six full novels completed, one abandoned at the ¾ mark which may eventually get cannibalized and four others half-finished at about 50,000 words each. Not counting short stories, false starts, re-drafts and experiments, I have nearly 900,000 words wrapped up in those stories. They say it takes one million words written before a writer is ready for publication. If I only count novels, I’m almost there. LOL

You write in several different genres. Which is your favorite?

Science fiction was my first love. But fantasy, with all of it’s sub-genres, is far more flexible. You can tell pretty much any story you want there. However I do like to challenge myself. Since I’ve become involved with Wattpad, I challenged myself to write a full novel in every genre they recognize.

Considering the variety of your stories, where do you get your inspiration?

ADHD. Seriously. I was only recently diagnosed and begun treatment, but even before that I often felt like I had a computer simulation of reality running in my head constantly doing experiments. I think most dedicated writers are naturally curious about the world around them, asking themselves how it works and wondering “what if”. In my case I never stopped being a kid “playing pretend”. I just started doing it with words on paper, then computer screens. I have more ideas than time. I can’t afford to wait for inspiration. Fortunately I’ve developed a system instead.

Does that make you a Plotter instead of a Pantser?

I started out as pantser. I think that’s why it took over a decade to finish the first 1.75 novels. In fact I had largely stopped writing until I discovered National Novel Writing Month. I knew writing 50,000 words in 30 days would require a plan. Most of my work has been created just in the last 9 years.

Does that mean you work from an outline; and, do you ever worry that’ll kill the spontaneity of your story?

Most professional novelists say a writer’s real work begins after the first draft is completed. If you lose interest in a story once you know the ending, I’d suggest you may be more of a frustrated reader than an actual writer. Fortunately, the task of editing is much easier and much less drastic with a well thought out plan. Without it, the writing process is like an artist throwing a bunch of randomly colored blobs of paint at a canvas, then decided what they want to paint. That’s never struck me as a very professional way of doing things. Looking back, I can’t understand why I wasted so much time trying to “pants” it. I would be so much further along now if I had taken the process more seriously at the start.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t surprise discoveries along the way. I don’t think any of my outlines have survived unchanged, and they’re never as detailed as I’d like them to be before starting. Ideally I’d have a logline for each scene. I’m actually lucky to have a list of at least 50 or 60 scene ideas before NaNoWriMo starts. However I don’t generally start a story without a logline for the overall story, the theme and the 8 key transitional scenes. I’ve blogged about this recently as I’ve refined the process. I’ve even developed a little javascript application to help guide me through the process which you can find on my website.

So, Jeff, do you have any “formal training”?

Just a liberal arts degree with dual majors in religion and philosophy and a painful couple of years as what they once called a “cub reporter.” I’ve taken a few classes here and there including, early on, a correspondence course through Writers’ Digest where they paired you up with a published mentor. That was helpful, though to be honest, I had already learned most of what I needed through my own research. One of the most helpful things I did was to join a critique group of writers committed to being published. Some of them went on to publish entire series of books. Learning how to give and (especially) receive constructive criticism was invaluable. It also helped me learn to look at my own writing more analytically.

O.K., Jeff, Traditional or Self-published—how do we find your work?

I’ve made a few halfhearted attempts to submit my fiction to commercial publishers, but I’ve generally been too busy with writing and, well, life to focus on it until now. I’d love to have a novel commercially published, if only for the validation and possible exposure to new readers, but unless you’re in that upper middle tier where they promote you in the hope of making a lot of money off of you, I think it’s best to self-publish. Even then, I’m not sure it’s worth the tradeoff in lost rights, time and money.

I’ve got quite a bit of fiction in various stages of development available for free at WattpadKIngdom of The Stone

For those who support independent authors, you can find Kingdom of the Stone, The Stone King, a zombie-in-space novella called Colony of the Dead and Spirit, an anthology of ghost stories which has one of my short stories, all at Amazon, where I hope to soon add more.

You can find my story planner app on my WebSite, as well as my blog and you even sign up for my brand new announcement list to keep up with future developments.

What are your plans for the future, Jeff?

My immediate plans are to clean up, re-format, and re-launch both Kingdom of the Stone and The Stone King books, do the same with The Stone KIngThe Ascent and launch it with a new cover, finish the first draft of Courting Death, hopefully by this summer, and finish, with a substantial rewrite, The Awakened for this year’s NaNoWriMo.

In the spring of 2014 you lost your son, Jeff How has his death impacted your writing?

Eleven days after turning 21, my son Joshua left his university apartments, mixed up some ordinary chemicals to create hydrogen sulfide gas and turned his car into a gas chamber.  That was a little over a year and a half ago. It will take me and my family many years to grasp the full impact of that event which we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives. Though it’s entirely too soon to say what impact it will have on my writing, I can say that it has drastically changed my priorities.

Nothing clarifies one’s thoughts like the imminent presence of death reminding us that, however much time we have left in this life, it is always less than we think. I give far less of a crap about the ordinary worries of life. Even much of what I used to think of as grievous pain and suffering pales to little more than self-centered whining. I know I am still very much in the middle of dealing with this, but for the moment it seems to have made me both more and less compassionate. In many ways, a large part of my life ended on that day. I’m just hoping to wrap up a few things in what time I have left.

Mind/heart-wrenching tragedy………

……………….

Finally—Jeff, do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes. First, clarify your goals and motivations. Do you want to be a writer or do you just want to have written a book? Are you writing for yourself? For friends or family? Others? Publication? Fame and fortune? There are no right or wrong answers here as long as you are honest with yourself, but the greater your ambition, the more it will cost you in time, effort, and personal sacrifice.

Assuming you want to continue, the rest is rather straightforward.

  • Read everything, both in and out of the genre you want to write in.
  • Write furiously as if each word may be your last. (It just might be) Even if no one sees it, no writing is ever wasted.
  • Take the craft seriously and study it. That is much easier now with the web.
  • Get knowledgeable feedback on your work. It will save you tons of time and wasted effort.

There is no single approach to writing that works for everyone, so this is ultimately a process of self-discovery as much as anything.

Hopefully some of this may help someone. Thank you for your time and patience.

Oh, my, Jeff, thank you for such an in-depth, revealing, and valuable interview!

~~~

O.K., Folks—time to ask Jeff some questions in the Comments :-)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com