Since the release of my new eBook short story, "Collisions", just took place less than two weeks ago, I thought it might be fun to "interview myself". And since we are in the "writing process" phase of my interview series "Inspiration to Publication", I'm going to take some of the questions I've posed to other authors and direct them in the introspection-direction. I think this will be fun...I hope you think so too!
The Accidental Author: The release of "Collisions" marks your fourth release in the last year with Untreed Reads. Is this work similar to some of your other releases, or does it mark a departure?
Jesse S. Greever: Can I cop out and say a little of both? I think I've stated before that I find myself exploring the human relationship in my works of fiction, and at times I border on the romance genre, which, ironically, I don't particularly enjoy reading. However, I think my work tends to transcend the standard romance formula and focus more intensely on the dynamics of relationship between men and women (something I find particularly fascinating in real life). So, in one respect, this work does reflect some similarities with my other works (particularly "A Summer Wedding" and "5"). However, I think that in terms of the writing itself, it represents a leap in literary style. I branch out and use some nonstandard "devices" in the writing of this story, including using an inanimate object (the radio in the restaurant) as a character in the story. And, the ending is a significant departure from my other works.
AA: You really are a fascinating person. What inspired you to write this story?
JSG: Why thank you. You are an equally fascinating person yourself! But I digress. Music is my main inspiration. I find myself drawn into songs that I like, and in many cases, I either find the "mood" of a song can compel me to write a story. In this case, during a drive from Tallahassee to New Port Richey, Florida, I heard the song "Owner of a Lonely Heart" by YES, and I realized that I had never really listened to the lyrics closely. I was almost tortured by the meaning behind the song, as it is a play on the traditional quip about it being better to love and lose than to never love at all. When I got to my hotel room that night, I spent about four hours polishing off the first draft, and within a week, I had revised the draft to a point where I was ready to submit it to Untreed Reads.
AA: Speaking of your writing process, do you find yourself more compelled by characters, or the story/plot itself?
JSG: For me, the plot is TOTALLY the thing. When I think of an idea for a story, I generally think of it with generic characters in my head. The plot is what compels me to write a story. Only when I sit down to commit it to paper do I think about what kind of characters will fit into the story. In fact, many times I struggle with the characters, and it may take me a considerable amount of time to "flesh out" characters that don't feel like they were "force fitted" into the story.
AA: Once your characters are written, do you find that the strength of their personalities can alter the course of the story?
JSG: Almost never. As I said, the story is it for me. If I find a character that isn't fitting in the story line, I will either alter him or her or delete them altogether. I want the plot to be kept intact. One notable exception is "5", where I found the ending completely different than what I originally had in mind, due to the relationship forged between the story's main characters.
AA: For you, what was the most difficult part of writing "Collisions"?
JSG: That's a great question! How did you know to ask such an insightful query? Well, actually, there were two things that literally held up the publication for months. First, the ending had to be tweaked in order for it to be unambiguous. Second, and most vexing, was the title. Yeah, that's right, the title. When I first wrote it, the working title was "13". However, Jay Hartman, editor extraordinaire, was quick to point out that "13" was not a terribly marketable title (as is evidenced by the disappointing sales of my earlier story "5"). So, for almost two months, we volleyed potential titles back and forth that ranged from "not too bad" to "sublimely ridiculous". Finally, as I was sitting in a hotel room in San Francisco, I resolved to solve the title crisis. I sat with the old fashioned pad and pen, and wrote a paragraph synopsis of the story. Then, I shortened it to a single sentence. Then I shortened the sentence to a five word phrase. And then, one word jumped out at me that encapsulates all the action in the story: COLLISION. Based on that, it became clear that the title of the story HAD to be "Collisions". Jay loved it, and the rest, shall we say, is history.
AA: What types of things do you have to have when you sit down to write?
JSG: I actually require auditory distractions. If it isn't music playing, then I have to have the television on in the background. Silence causes my mind to wander, and if there is something rather innocuous to engage the rebellious wandered in my mind, then I am usually free to write.
AA: You've already said that you don't really like to read the same things that you write. What are you reading right now?
JSG: I'm currently reading the second in the Young Adult Repairman Jack series (entitled Jack: Secret Circles) by F. Paul Wilson. The Repairman Jack series is one of the greatest action/adventure/supernatural thriller series I've ever read, and the Young Adult series is no exception. I find Wilson's pacing to be near perfect. I can usually devour one of his books in two or three sittings, but with a newborn at home, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to read with any consistency.
AA: What are you working on right now?
JSG: Well, about a million things. Aside from a very busy day-job and a newborn at home, I'm working on three separate projects for Untreed Reads. The first is a series of novellas that I would put squarely in the supernatural thriller genre. That's all I can say at this point, but keep an eye out for more news on this blog. Second is a full-length novel inspired by the weird spontaneous bird-kills a few months ago in Arkansas. Finally, I have another short story that is definitely a departure from my other short works of fiction that I'm about to finish that explores the concept of inevitability and destiny. All of them I'm pretty darned excited about.
AA: Finally, if you had one piece of advice for the aspiring author out there who is looking to transition from "writing for fun" and "writing for fun and profit", what would it be?
JSG: Never transition from "writing for fun" to "writing for profit". Always, always, always maintain the "fun" portion of it. I've started out writing stories, and after a certain point, they stopped being fun. You know what I do then? I stop working on them, at least for a period, and move on to something else. If you aren't having fun writing them in the early stages, then the audience will be able to tell quite easily. That is not to say that all stages of the process have to be "fun". I don't find proofreading particularly enjoyable, but it is a necessity. My point is that when you are in the initial, highly creative stages of the process, it should ALWAYS be a pleasure to write. If not, put that story away for a while and work on something else. Once you've written the story that has been a true pleasure to write from beginning to end, THEN you've got something worth submitting.
Jesse S. Greever IS The Accidental Author. He hails from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, sells lasers for a living and writes for fun and profit. He has a wife and two daughters, one who is "hot off the presses". He has published four digital short stories through Untreed Reads, and you can find them at the Untreed Reads Store, as well as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Sony eBookstore, and many other major eBook retailers.