Morgen: Hello, Jim. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Jim: I’m a married father of four, born and raised on Long Island, New York. I received a Bachelor and MBA in business. As I finished my MBA program, I was encouraged by a few of my professors who thought I wrote well. Upon graduation, the company I worked for had a large lay-off and I was caught up in it.
Morgen: Oh dear. I’m sorry to hear that (I’ve been made redundant twice).
Jim: So while looking for work my wife suggested that I should write the book I had long fantasized about doing, and that is exactly what I did. At first I did it to pass the time, but my story kept evolving and I became engrossed in developing the characters and story. All of this resulted in my soon to be published Sci-fi novel, Evolution.
Morgen: Yay! A bad thing made good. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Jim: From an early age, I have always had a fascination with Science Fiction and Fantasy to a point that it became a passion of mine. I grew up watching The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Star Wars, ET, and Aliens. Such creative stories helped expand my imagination and influence my views of the world in a different light.
Morgen: I’m not a sci-fi fan but I love love loved the 1983 Twilight Zone movie (to which all the series fans boo at me :)). What have you had published to-date? How much of the marketing do you do?
Jim: I am a first time author and my novel Evolution will be my first published writing. So far my marketing has consisted of expanding my Facebook world and starting my Sci-fi Blog, http://jimreillyscifi.wordpress.com, as well as, blogging on sci-fi blogs and groups. The whole experience has been fun and entertaining as well.
Morgen: I’ve interviewed a few sci-fi authors and they’re always popular. 🙂 Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Jim: I have yet to find an agent. I do believe that they are vital to an author’s success but I did find a publisher to take my book on my own. I am hoping that Evolution’s success will help me find an agent.
Morgen: I know of one for sci-fi / fantasy in the UK (http://johnjarrold.co.uk) who’s been a speaker at both Verulam Writers Circle Get Writing conferences I’ve been to (2010, 2011). It’s not my genre (as you’ve probably guessed by now :)) so I don’t know him other than he’s fussy (but then he’s an agent) but I get the impression he’s good. Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Jim: Evolution will be published as an eBook first before a hard copy and it will be my first time going through that process with my publisher. I just started reading eBooks using my Kindle and I love it. Since I got it, I have read more books than I had in the past.
Morgen: That’s the way that they seem to be going which is great… especially for us writers who are planning on going that route. What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Jim: I am a first time author, so getting a publisher’s acceptance letter followed by a contract was an amazing feeling. I sent out so many manuscripts and received many rejection letters just like many other authors. Then you hold the contract in your hand and realize you are a little bit closer to your dream coming true.
Morgen: So you’ve had rejections. How do you deal with them?
Jim: Yes, I had many rejections. But I am a salesman by trade and I know you need to go through many rejections in order to inch closer to a sale.
Morgen: I agree. If something’s too easy it doesn’t feel like you’ve fought for it. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Jim: I finished up my second sci-fi novel about a small Long Island town where one part of the town’s people is infested with aliens. I write about the consequences of that and the relationships that develop with the aliens.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Jim: On average I write about a thousand words a day. One rainy day that kept me indoors, I may have hit three thousand words.
Morgen: I’d not thought of our weather like that but England can be wet so I guess we’re actually really lucky. 🙂 What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Jim: So far, I have not suffered too badly with writer’s block. Before I write a story, I have a plan and my mind already starts thinking of what I am going to write long before I get to that particular chapter.
Morgen: A handy mind to have. So do you find you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Jim: My experience with both my books I wrote, I had a plan of where I wanted to go. With that said, I do trust my imagination and I let it take the story. Do I go back and tweak it later? Of course, if my imagination discovers something fun.
Morgen: 🙂 Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Jim: I can’t say that at this point. I have one novel ready to be published, another finished and ready to be sent to a publisher, and I have started my third book.
Morgen: Sounds like you have it all in hand. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Jim: The least favourite thing is waiting. You wait for your editor to finish, you wait for a publisher to pick you up, and you wait for the publisher to eventually publish the book. My favourite aspect is when people enjoy what I wrote. There is nothing better.
Morgen: That’s what we all strive for (I reckon anyway). What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Jim: The old clichés ‘Follow your dreams’ and ‘Don’t give up’. It is so true.
Morgen: It is. I won’t. 🙂 What do you like to read?
Jim: The older I get, the more I like to read. When I was young I was dyslectic and it was hard for me to read. Today I can control it to the point that now reading is very enjoyable.
Morgen: I had a boyfriend of 4 years called Tim who had it quite badly but he loved reading sci-fi and could tell you the characters, plot and location by just point at one of his books (of a sea of them) but with everything else zero confidence. It was a shame but a salt of the earth guy – still is as far as I know (last I heard he was a happy bus driver in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire). Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Jim: The book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, was a big help. It gave me a view of the publishing world a novice like me knew nothing about. It also made me realize the importance of online social networking and the impact it would have on the success of my book. http://www.thebookdoctors.com.
Morgen: I don’t know that one so thanks for that. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Jim: I have been visiting as many sci-fi blogs as I can and commenting. I also belong to many writing groups on http://linkedin.com and engage in discussions there.
Morgen: Ah yes, LinkedIn, a great site (and great people!). Where can we find out about you and your work?
Jim: At Jim Reilly’s Blog. http://jimreillyscifi.wordpress.com.
Morgen: Thank you Jim. Good luck with ‘Evolution’. I’ve got one of the songs from the Twilight Zone movie (Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Midnight Special) stuck in my head now… thanks Dan Acroyd! 🙂
Update August 2012: Since then my book, Evolution has finally been published (8-7-2012). http://www.wordtechs.com/jreilly.html
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, https://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome critique for the four new writing groups listed below and / or flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays. For other opportunities see (see Opportunities on this blog).
The full details of the new online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, are:
- Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group (http://novelwritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/508696639153189)
- Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group (http://poetrywritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/388850977875934)
- Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group (http://scriptwritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/319941328108017)
- Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group (http://shortstorywritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/544072635605445)
We look forward to reading your comments.