|From 5 Stars to Finalist to Winner!|
GREAT NEWS FOR DREAM WEAVER!!!
Just a quick personal shout out before I introduce this week's guest. A while back, I entered Dream Weaver in the Readers' Favorite International Book Awards. In July, I discovered it was a finalist in the contest. Well, last night, I received an email from Readers' Favorite to come check out the winners list. Of course, I followed the link, and discovered that Dream Weaver took Bronze in the Young Adult Paranormal Fiction category. Woot woot!! So now it's official...Dream Weaver is now an award winning novel!
Now, On With the Show...
If I remember right, I discovered this week's visitor from a daily email I receive with free and discounted books. I began to read his novel 'Nightmare City' and really enjoyed his unique take on his characters. Nightmare City is very well written and action packed. So I hope after you've read his interview, you'll hop on over and get a copy of his book. But wait until after. I'm sure you'll want to meet Jack first. This is one of the most fun interviews I've done. So, let me introduce Jack Conner.
Jack, thanks so much for visiting Dream Weaver Novels on Blogger. I'm very excited to have you here. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m from Austin, Texas, a land of great Mexican food and plentiful sunshine, at the moment marooned in Corvallis, Oregon, a dream spot for many, but sadly lacking in sunshine and Mexican food. Luckily I’m moving back to Austin! Woo-hoo! I’ll be back in early October.
I’ve been writing since I was very young. For the last decade, I’ve actually been represented by one of the best literary agencies in America. They have clients whose works have inspired TV series (one of which just ended after six or seven seasons on HBO). So. Big time. So why haven’t they gotten me published? Well, they’re trying hard, but in the wake of Borders closing, Barnes and Noble has gotten super conservative about what books they’ll buy, especially in regards to fantasy and science fiction. Borders published all sorts of alternative, cool fantasy titles, allowing people like China Mieville and Jeff Vandermeer to launch their careers. After Borders closed, B & N pretty much stopped buying New Weird books from new writers. Books like Nightmare City, City of Shadows and others that I’ve written (and, damn it, continue to write!) just became next to impossible to sell.
So I’ve taken to self-publishing. I know the audience for those books is out there. I just need to find them. Do you like China Mieville but wish he were more, well, fun? Try me.
I really enjoyed Nightmare City. Where did the concept of the book come from?
The city of Lavorgna was inspired by a confluence of factors. Basically, I’d been writing medieval epic fantasy for years and was in the mood for something completely different. I decided to write about a more modern city (but not too modern) with plenty of fantastical, even horror-ific touches. I decided to have mad scientists creating Frankenstein-monster-like creatures, as well as homunculi, etc., and that these would be common sights in Lavorgna. There are warring mob bosses, zeppelins and alchemy, so there is very much a strong dose of pulp in these tales, but played straight, no winking at the camera or any of that. Of course, one of the most major influences was H. P. Lovecraft. I’m a huge fan of the gentleman from Providence, and having Lovecraftian horrors dwelling below the city of Lavorgna seemed like a great way to explore some fun and creepy concepts. I see many stories inspired by Lovecraft, but few resonate with me. Most seem like pale pastiches, or, worse, jokey homages. One of the few writers/creators out there able to evoke the proper mood, for me, is Mike Mignola. His Hellboy-verse is drenched in Lovecraftian goodness, while at the same time being distinctly its own thing and full of action and fun. In my own way, that’s what I’ve tried to do with my Lavorgna books. Nightmare City is actually the second novel set in Lavorgna. City of Shadows is the first, and it’s bigger and more epic than Nightmare City, but just as much fun. I’ve also written a couple of novellas in that world.
So what's next in this Post-Steampunk Lovecraft series?
I adore Lavorgna and the world it’s set in and hope to write a great deal more about it. However . . .
Any other projects you'd like to share?
. . . the world of Lavorgna inspired a very different, much bigger tale that has occupied a great deal of my attention of late. In both City of Shadows and Nightmare City we see the effects of a war that has ravaged the world, but we learn very little of that war. Well, I’ve always been curious about that conflict, and I pondered on it for a long time, and finally I set to writing. The story takes place in a different world than that of Lavorgna, but very similar, just . . . changed. Made alien. At the moment, I’m writing the fifth book in the series, and I plan to drop the whole thing like a bomb in December. It’s a tale of epic adventure and horror. Think Lord of the Rings meets Nightmare City. Does that sound grandiose? Well, okay, then imagine an epic, multi-volume tale of adventure in a strange, eerie world, a world that has been irrevocably altered by mysterious forces. Trust me, this series is awesome.
A Bit on Jack's Writing Processes
I love how your brain works. Tell us more about you. How did you start your writing career? And what's the most important thing you think you've learned?
I began writing my first novel when I was eleven years old, but I’d been writing even before that. Two things prompted me: 1) I’d just learned how the world worked, where money came from, and realized they expected me to get a job. A job! Filled with horror, I cast about for some other way to make money, and immediately hit on writing because 2) I’d been telling stories since I could think coherently (still something I’m hit or miss on), both to myself and to others. I love telling stories, and I have many to tell. Sometimes I wish I could clone myself so I could have my clones write the stories I don’t have time for.
How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?
I’m usually inspired by a certain image or mood, either in things I write myself or from books I’m reading or movies I’m watching. Once I fall in love with an idea, I’ll play with it, sometimes for a long time, and I’m talking years, before I finally work out the plot and story mechanics enough for me to begin writing. Then, sometimes, I’ll have an idea one day and begin writing the next. That was the case for Nightmare City. The story coalesced all of a sudden in my head one night as I was going to bed, and the next morning I couldn’t wait to leap in front of my keyboard and start writing.
The best advice I can give is twofold. One, write write write. Writing is a craft, and it takes practice. A lot of practice. Some say you don’t really learn how to write until after your first million words, and I have to say that holds true for me, pretty much. The second piece is: get feedback. Don’t trust your mom or sister or brother. If at all possible, find a writers’ critique group in your area, preferably one focused on your general genre, and go to every meeting. When I first joined the Slug Tribe in Austin, I was convinced the other writers would read my words and sit back in awe, then, very likely, begin bowing to me and calling me master. Instead, they cut my piece to ribbons. To this day they’ll tell you I went through a trial by fire. But that book (my epic fantasy War of the Black Tower: Part One) is now my best-seller . . . after massive revisions. All because I listened to their critiques, as well as others’.
Is there someone special who helped or mentored you in your writing career?
Oh, goodness. Well, first, my dad. He’s the one who started telling me stories at bedtime, inventing them off the top of his head, and then encouraging me to tell my own stories back to him. So he’s a huge factor in me being a writer. I think it would be fair to say I’d never have started this journey without him. Then, of course, the members of my writers critique group, the Slug Tribe, were instrumental in helping me up my game. Lastly, my agents (there are two of them, and I won’t use their names) have helped me lift my writing to a higher level still. They’ve taught me what it takes to be a commercial writer – or at least that’s the goal! J
But I’d never be anywhere without the women in my life. My mother has always been encouraging (even if she hates fantasy, sci-fi and horror), and my wife has made it all possible by giving me the time to write, as well as the emotional support. Thank you, guys!
My dad's more of a storyteller now than he was when I was little. I love to sit and listen to him tell stories of his childhood. I've used some of them in my writing.
We're always on the lookout for new authors to love. Are there any other indie authors that have caught your attention?
Sadly, I’m so busy writing and promoting that I barely have enough time to dip into my (ridiculously large) library, composed of print books collected over many years of scouring used-book stores. I have almost no time for discovering new talents (and yes, I can see some irony there). Sigh. However, once I get my big series up in December, I should be able to sit back and rest a bit. Hopefully then I’ll be able to have time to find some fellow indies. Any suggestions?
Well, Jack's opened up a can of worms. If anyone has some reading suggestions for Jack, please leave them in the comments...no shameless self promotion.
Back to the Show...
How about a few fun questions...Who are your favorite authors/books?
I adore TerryPratchett, George R. R. Martin, Dan Simmons, H. P. Lovecraft, J. R. R. Tolkien, Fritz Lieber, Scott Lynch, Patrick Rothfuss and fellow Texan and idol Robert E.Howard.
George Clooney. Obviously. Or Owen Wilson. One of the two. Probably George. Yeah, definitely George.
Both good looking guys. Are you trying to tell us something?
What book are you reading now?
Gary Jennings’s “Spangle”. I love Gary Jennings. If you want some dark, epic horror, that is at the same time a fantasy novel in its own way, read his “Aztec”. I still have nightmares about that one scene . . . the one with the lemur . . . (shudder)
Let's say one of your steampunk zoms shambles into the room you're in right now, look to your left and tell us what you have to defend yourself.
I’m screwed, because the closest thing to my left is the “Spangle” paperback. Maybe the zombies like to read? I have a good reading voice. I open it and begin to speak, and they smile and nod and --- akejajejeeje --
Funny!! I've been waiting for this one to post on Facebook again so I can answer it...I keep 2 sai and a 5lb weight for just this occasion. LOL Is there anything else you want readers to know?
If you like dark epic fantasy, Part One of War of the Moonstone is permanently free, and you can find it here . . .
If you want to check out Nightmare City (and why wouldn’t you?), Part One is only $0.99, and you can find it here . . .
If you want to peruse my various books, go to my Amazon Author Page here:
To read a free novella set in the same world as Nightmare City (and to hear about my next discount or free promotion), sign up for my newsletter here:
Or you can friend me on Facebook Jack Conner to stay tuned.
Jack, thank you so much for visiting us here on Dream Weaver Novels on Blogger. I've really enjoyed your interview and getting to know you and your work a little better. Thank you for writing such creepy great stories for us to love!
Thank you to all of you who come by to visit here each week. Your support is a true blessing and I am daily encouraged by you.