First things first. The Second View is released for Kindle today!
But I haven’t read Book One . . .
Well you should, otherwise this book will be confusing.
What if I don’t like Book One?
Well, I wrote it as a stand-alone book, so no commitment.
Can I get there from the link?
Sure, but it would be faster here: The View from Here
Feature Author: J.J. Mathews
In Conversation With: J.J. Mathews
Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with author J.J. Mathews. Can I offer you anything to drink?
I’d like a coffee please, milk, no sugar.
Being from New Zealand and a Tolkein fan, did you try to get a role as an extra in the Lord of the Rings?
Sadly, I’m too tall for a Hobbit, too thick across the middle for an Elf, and Orcs are too hard to work with.
Sci-fi and fantasy authors seem to have a penchant for writing series—myself included. Why do you think that is?
I’d give you a three part answer, but I haven’t written a trilogy yet. I’m working on book 7 in my series right now. But seriously, It’s hard to develop complex worlds, with rich character development, larger than life heroes and villains, and have everything all tied up in one book. Unless it’s three hundred thousand words. But that’s just a trilogy that should have been – or, at the very least, a solid doorstop that would slow down an invading Orc.
Did you plan on writing a series?
Yes. I hadn’t decided if the series would be three books or more – that’s why I used ‘Chronicles’ in the series name. But I wrote the first three books together, before any of them were published. That let me strengthen the backwards and forward threads through the three books, and weave a complex but satisfying storyline with plenty of twists. That first effort resulted in me drafting all three books in just under ten months, with each book being a bit more than 100K words in the published versions.
I suppose the one benefit is that you only have to market the first book, right?
That’s the theory, but marketing is tough. Some people write short ‘teaser’ reader magnets, either intros or prequels. But I couldn’t do that.
Why couldn’t you create a teaser?
The entire series is full of gradual reveals, and as it’s focused around the main 19-turning-20 female character, Taylor Neeran, we get to know her from the start of book 1, and that’s when things get interesting for her. Having a prequel would have revealed too much of her character too early, in my opinion. Or too much about the universe she lives in, which amounts to the same thing.
Your newest book, Taylor Neeran Chronicles #7 – Invasion, is scheduled to be released in March of next year. Is it finished or is setting a a date a way of making sure you finish it?
* That’s a great question. I’ve set release dates in advance for books 3 and onwards. Book 3 (Intercession) I had written already, I was just editing and tidying it up. Icarus (#4) was well advanced before I committed to a release date.
For the last three books, I set the publication date before I started writing. It gave me a fixed deadline to shoot for, and deliver to. But I knew the broad story plot and had the covers ready before I announced each of the pre-releases for books 5 (Infestation), 6 (Incubation) & 7 (Invasion).
However, based on the experience of writing the first four books, I was confident that I could write, do the initial edits, and do all the editor/proof reader steps and be ready to publish well within a year. It only takes me a few months to actually write a book; the rest of the time is editing, after putting it away for a while to look at it fresh.
Book 6 (Incubation) was scheduled to come out in July 2022, but I was ‘finished’ quite a bit earlier than I expected. So I set the release date for Invasion as March 1, 2023. I had intended to start writing it right away, but life had other plans I and I ended up just thinking about it for four months while I published several other (non-SF) book translations. I started actually writing Invasion in early July 2022, shortly before Incubation came out. But I’m already at 97K words into a relatively edited first draft (in less than 2 months), so I think I’ll still be OK for March 1.
However, I don’t have plans to do any other pre-release dates for books for a while. Once Invasion is done, I’ll be starting on a standalone book, or a new series, I haven’t decided yet. But that will take the time it needs to properly develop the story world, characters, and the story line, and craft a great story.
What got you into science fiction?
I have loved fantasy and science fiction since a young age. But while fantasy was a somewhat comforting (and at times, scary) world of magical creatures and adventures, science fiction really opened my eyes to what could be possible out there – far-off planets, a far-flung future, or both.
What authors influenced you?
I would say that pretty much every author I’ve read has influenced me, and I’ve been reading SF for several decades now, as well as a mix of other genres. In the early years my primary influencers were Isaac Asimov, J R R Tolkein, Robert Heinlein, Robert C Clark, Larry Niven, Frederkik Pohl, Frank Herbert and a few others, and I read them voraciously. But as I discovered other authors, new and old, I’ve found a few other favourites along the way. Greg Bear, Voltaire, Robert Silverberg, Cixin Liu, Hugh Howey, Kim Stanley Robinson, to name but a few. But I’ve read books from a hundred or so SF authors, and they’ve all impacted me to varying degrees.
Do you have a favorite book?
That’s another hard one! In terms of crisp, stunning writing – Wool by Hugh Howey. One of my favourtite movies isn’t a book, but it’s about a book, and I now have that book, but the book it isn’t the story. The movie, of course, is The Princess Bride.
Lets switch to music. Any New Zealand bands worthy of a shout out?
Split Enz and Crowded House. They’re older, but they were in their prime when I first worked in NZ in the ‘90s. More recent bands of note that I like include Six 60 and the Drax Project.
Oh yeah. I forgot about those first two bands.
Are you ready for the lightning round?
What looks more like a boot, New Zealand or Italy?
Italy. New Zealand is a manta ray trying to swim away from a waka (canoe). Italy is like a lady playing soccer in heels, but Sicily makes a terrible ball.
Paul Hogan or Steve Irwin?
Are you fond of the term, Kiwi?
Most remote place you have visited?
Remotest from Canada, where I grew up? New Zealand. Literally in the middle of nowhere? Hawaii. Even more in the middle of nowhere? Alice Springs, Australia.
Scariest animal you have encountered?
I got bit by a squirrel once, as a kid. That was pretty terrifying. Especially when you consider that one got stuck in my brother’s shirt and clawed him up real bad (true story). They’re supposed to be these cute little things – lies, lies, I tell you!
Other than that, bears, I suppose, but you just leave your window up when you go to have a look at them raiding the dump. They’re not so scary then. Just don’t get between Momma and baby bear.
Although I did let a snake charmer drape a cobra across my shoulders once, in New Delhi. That was just stupid.
This has been a pleasure. Thanks for chatting. Any links you want to share? (attach any book covers or profile pics if you want)
My website – jjmathews.com
Series page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PBDCZBT
Is poetry best in paperback form? I think so.
Early review: “I don’t get it, but you wrote it so it must be good.” – Author’s Mom
The story behind Free Book Friday:
I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?
Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.
No new ones, so I’ll leave up last weeks.
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Leon Stevens is a multi-genre author, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and an artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education. He published his first book of poetry, Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020, followed by a book of original classical guitar compositions, Journeys, and a short story collection of science fiction/post-apocalyptic tales called The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories. His newest publications are the novella trilogy, The View from Here, which is a continuation of one of his short stories, and a new collection of poetry titled, A Wonder of Words.
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