Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with historical fiction author (and dabbler of horror) Jim Carey. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Jim. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Jim: I’m from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where I’ve been a practicing Chiropractor for the last 25+ years. I started writing twenty years ago but “Echoes from Home” is my first attempt at publishing. After seeing a Jimmy Stewart movie called Shenandoah at the age of six, I became fascinated with the Civil War. That fascination lasted and later blended with an interest in writing and the result is “Echoes from Home.”
Morgen: What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Jim: My main focus is historical fiction but I do dabble in horror. According to my wife that is because I’ve never grown up.
Morgen: 🙂 What have you had published to-date?
Jim: “Echoes from Home”, my Civil War novel, is my first venture into the world of publishing.
Morgen: You’ve self-published, what lead to you going your own way?
Jim: Computer access to small, independent publishers such as the one I used make self-publishing a realistic option. Once I decided to get my novel published it simply seemed like the easiest, most cost effective way to get my book done.
Morgen: Is your book available as an eBook? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Jim: My book is available as a Kindle eBook. I wasn’t involved with the logistics since that was left to the publisher. I love to read books and I am “old school” in that I love the look and feel of printed books. I doubt I will ever change as I still listen to vinyl LP’s!
Morgen: Most people love ‘real’ books and I can’t see them disappearing, and of course vinyl’s back in ‘fashion’. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Jim: My Civil war novel is completely character driven & I was sort of sad when I finished it because I felt like I had to say goodbye to the characters. I could see a young Daniel Day Lewis as the main character & Val Kilmer (Doc Holiday era) as his friend.
Morgen: Did you choose the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Morgen: It’s a great cover. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Jim: I’m working on a compilation of short stories based on the Civil War, although I have notebooks filled with many stories that cover many genres.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Jim: I have never had writer’s block and I could probably write as much as I’m motivated to do so. I write in streaks – nothing for months and then constantly for days.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Jim: The idea comes first then I run with it. I believe I am more of a storyteller than an author. I often dream about a story, then awake to write it down.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Jim: The characters present themselves to me, again, often in the dream world. The characters always feel very real to me & that helps me to tell their stories. I also believe this helps me immensely with character development and “voice”. Specifically for “Echoes from Home”, the character of Joshua Miller very clearly began to develop and I quickly began to realize that the Civil War was to be the backdrop for the life story of this young man and his friends as they journeyed this event in American history.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Jim: I always do several rewrites. Each time I go over the story it seems I’m better able to add layers and depth to both the characters and the story. It’s like the first version is the bones & then I add the muscle, viscera, and the skin.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Jim: I do not do much research as I’m doing the actual writing, although later I do basic research since I am a stickler for being accurate to the relevant historical timeline.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Jim: First person is my favourite – it seems more dynamic and powerful to write through the main character. I’ve also done third person writing, but second person is not comfortable for me.
Morgen: It’s not for many people… I love it but I’m just weird. 🙂 You mentioned short stories, do you write any poetry?
Jim: I’ve written lots of short stories – Civil War, World War II, and horror stories. I’ve done no poetry at all.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Jim: I think some of my horror pieces are too obscure for most people’s taste. I also think the volume of writing I have would take more than a lifetime to bring to the printed word!
Morgen: But that’s the joy of self-publishing; if you like something, the chances are there are plenty of people out there who do too. Have you had any rejections?
Jim: No rejections because no submissions. I simply decided to self publish one day & I never looked back.
Morgen: Do you enter competitions?
Jim: I’ve entered several competitions – one I won & several I never heard back from.
Morgen: It does happen that way. Congratulations on your win. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Jim: No agent, although I suspect one might help with the marketing.
Morgen: Probably, yes. I’ve gone the same route as you, although I’d never say never to having an agent. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Jim: As a rookie novelist there is much I don’t know particularly when it comes to the internet. I did find someone to help me navigate the world “social media” and internet marketing a bit. I do my best marketing face-to-face.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Jim: The marketing is hard work & much of it is out of my normal comfort zone.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Jim: Write, then write some more. Then go back & rewrite. Also I found it helpful to finish any project I started no matter how rough it became or how tempted I was to quit and start something else.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Jim: Jesus, Buddha, & Bob Marley, the singer. I’d probably make Caesar Salad with about ten cloves of garlic and hope all the guests eat it or else someone would be leaving early, I’m sure.
Morgen: I would imagine Bob liking it certainly. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Jim: I’m a part-time Chiropractor and full time dog walker. I have 2 golden retrievers & we spend a lot of time together.
Morgen: Ah, how lovely. I have a Jack Russell cross (not sure what with… Cairn for sure but a bit of everything terrier-like, I think). Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Jim: Truthfully, studying Spiritual works & meditation seemed to help my writing more than anything. It helped to clear out the “garbage” & let me make a stronger connection with my characters.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites?
Jim: LinkedIn has been fun for me because it allows me to connect with a lot of people with lots of different interests.
Morgen: And probably how we met. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Jim: I’ve had so much fun writing that I feel the future holds more of the same for me. I do think that printed books are going to be less common, but this “electronic age” does allow people who want to be writers to get published and get their book out to the public.
Morgen: It does, and it’s great. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Jim: There is a Facebook page for my book: http://www.facebook.com/#!/EchoesFromHomeByJimCarey
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Jim: I’d like to include what happened during the writing process. My initial intent was to write a book about the Civil War filled with names, dates, and numbers – all the information that would be expected in an historical novel. I created, I thought, the character of Joshua Miller as an every man’s soldier to tell my story. Very shortly into the writing, I found that I was no longer telling my story through Joshua, but rather he was telling his story through me. I can offer no explanation other than I felt the shift as surely as I can feel myself breathe. I don’t have the words to describe it, but it became one of the most real events in which I’ve ever participated.
Morgen: Only a writer would understand how the characters take over. I love it when they do. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Jim: No, but I would like to thank you for providing this forum.
Morgen: You’re very welcome, thank you for joining me today, Jim.
I then invited Jim to include an extract of his writing…
That got Monte’s curiosity up, so he insisted I stop sitting around feeling sorry for myself and go with him to see the river. After all, he said, how many times in a man’s life would he get to see a river run red? We walked through the woods for a while and when the sounds of firing stopped we made our way to the river. Sure enough, the water was red. Monte and I stared in awe, not so much of the red water but at all the dead bodies. They were stacked like cordwood at the other side of the river, piled up like that to make paths so that the advancing troops could get through. Those bodies were stacked five or six high in places. We had seen our share of fighting but we agreed we had never seen anything like that. We made our way back to our unit, and Monte spent the rest of the day telling the story. With each retelling the river got redder and the stacks got higher. That boy sure liked being the center of attention. I cried myself to sleep, just as I had every night since learning of Missy Sue’s death, but that night I think some of the tears were for all of those dead boys down by the river.
and a synopsis of his book…
Set during the Civil war, this historically edited novel follows a young man named Joshua Miller who, along with his best friend Monte, decides to show loyalty to the South by joining the Morgan County Scouts, a small cavalry unit based out of Alabama. Certain that the boys of the Confederacy would beat the Yanks and be back home in no time, Joshua leaves behind his mother, his beloved fiancée Missy Sue, and his boyhood dog named Blue to seek adventure and glory.
As this coming of age story unfolds, the readers follow the characters through both the human and the soldier’s perspectives of the main battles of the Western theater of the Civil War. Letters sent between Joshua and Missy Sue at first share excitement and anticipation and then ultimately the disillusionment, heartache and true horrors of this time in American history. As the war dragged on and the imagined glorified life of adventure turned into the harsh realities of war, the boys become conflicted with the very concept of what exactly they were fighting for. What started out as a grand adventure became a series of very powerful lessons in hardship and courage, love and loss.
Jim Carey lives with his wife Janet and their two beloved Golden Retrievers, Nemo and Molly, in Sheboygan, WI, USA. A social worker, then a chiropractor by training, writing has been a passion for Jim for the past twenty years. Echoes from Home is the author’s first entry into the world of publishing and perhaps someday more of the many notebooks hidden away in his basement may find their way into the printed word as well.
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