The Author Interview series returns here with an interview with Joel Lawrence. Personally, I discovered Joel through OfTomes, his publisher, and when the opportunity to interview him came up, I sent some questions his way. One thing’s for sure though, after this interview and following him on Twitter, I’m starting to get some ‘one to watch out for’ vibes from this guy.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Joel: I was born in Minnesota and prefer small town living. Unlike a lot of writers, I come from more of a programming/game design background, but all of that still uses the same creative muscles as writing I think. As far as personal life, I’m kind of a natural introvert who has become more social over the years and now I try to see and do as much as possible.
How long have you been writing?
Joel: Novel-length manuscripts—five years or so. I’ve always written short stories, and wrote a lot of game documentation, but I quickly discovered a novel is a completely different animal.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Joel: To find a lasting audience, and develop enough name recognition and credibility with my readers to know my novels will always be published in some form from here on out.
Your book, Tears of Time, is due to be released soon. Can you tell us what’s it about?
Joel: It’s a YA Fantasy set both in modern day California and the Bronze Age, and the first in a planned trilogy. There’s elements of science fiction and superhero and paranormal romance, but at it’s heart it’s a duel worlds fantasy story themed around reincarnation and Atlantis. I like Benjaminoftomes’ X-Men meets Outlander description, which can be found here. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1533487589?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
The cover reveal is set for March 1rst, and we’ll reveal much more between March and the September release date.
Are you working on anything else at the minute?
Joel:The Tears of Time sequel, learning social media, and I have a lot of other project ideas in development, but will only be focusing on two writing projects at a time. So the Tears of Time sequels, and eventually I’ll choose one of my other story ideas and work on it here and there in the background. I have a fairly well developed fantasy/dystopia idea I was going to make my secondary project, but that market is flooded at the moment, so I may back off and look at something else.
Describe your journey to publication. Was the process of finding or getting accepted by a publisher challenging?
Joel: I queried for a couple of months and got a number of page requests and a couple of manuscript requests, which is a huge compliment and an accomplishment in and of itself. All but OfTomes came back and said they liked it but weren’t sure how to sell/market it. I personally think it’s an extremely marketable story, though it’s somewhat genre blurring, and I admit I’m no marketing expert. OfTomes got it right away, so it was a natural fit.
Where do your ideas come from?
Joel: For Tears of Time, a combination of Atlantis mythology and anime and Final Fantasy, with some YA influences such as the Lux Series and Twilight Saga sprinkled in for good measure. In general, I just read a lot, I like history and mythology and blending classic ideas with modern influences.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where the story takes you?
Joel: Like most, I fall somewhere between. There are a few who lean heavily on one end or the other. The important lesson I’ve been learning is that motivation needs to drive a good plot, so in that respect characters should ALWAYS trump a plot outline. Almost everything needs to involve a character trying to achieve their goal, and every scene and character should ideally be about helping a character achieve their goal, or standing in the way of that goal.
What is the hardest thing about writing for you?
Joel: Editing can be tough just because it comes after exhausting yourself on a first or second draft. Editing is needed, but it’s really hard sometimes to go back and force yourself to go through a manuscript again and again and again, when the real fun for me is the creation part. The middle of a manuscript is also very hard at times.
What is the easiest thing about writing for you?
Joel: Creating. Coming up with good ideas and combing them into something expansive enough to carry a story. I have ten times the number of story ideas than I will ever be able to write, and that’s a good thing, the way the market trends shift so rapidly. Also, the beginning and the ending of a manuscript seem easiest for me, which is probably pretty common.
Do you read much? If so who are your favorite authors?
Joel: I read often and listen to audio books when I’m driving/working out/relaxing. For fantasy, I like Tolkien and Rowling and Sanderson and George RR Martin. For YA, I am a big fan of Jennifer Armentrout, Victoria Aveyard, Melissa Landers, and again Brandon Sanderson for his Reckoners series. My favorite all time book is Contact, by Carl Sagan.
How much time do you devote to marketing your book?
Joel: A lot right now, because I’m learning. I think 10 or 20 percent social media time vs writing time would be an optimistic level of efficiency, so that’s what I’m shooting for.
What are your opinions on fanfiction?
Joel: Fans should respect each individual author’s opinion on the topic. If an author discourages it, they shouldn’t write fanfic in that world. But if an author is fine with it, why not? I’ve never written or read fanfic, but there are lots of creative fans out there who want to share their enthusiasm about a series long after they’ve read the last page, so it’s an understandable outlet.
What is your view on social media for promoting your books?
Joel:It’s the future, for sure. Authors still tour and attend conventions, but social media allows a writer to reach exponentially more people and personally interact with fans all over the world anytime.
Which social network works best for you?
Joel: I’m still new to a lot of this, but I’d say Twitter and Instagram seem the most enjoyable so far.
Where can readers find you online?
Joel: Here are my current social media links, all still early in development, but updated regularly.
Until next time pals.