- GUEST AUTHOR -
Today, I interview a very talented person who just happens to be an author.
Welcome, Micah ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
My name is M. J. Stoddard, I am happily married to my wife, son and two cats, we live in central Pennsylvania, USA. At my current job, I am a warehouse associate for a truck part supply company, I also am the co-founder and sensei of a rising martial arts school; which was founded nearly two years ago. I am the author of the sci-fi/fantasy novel ‘The Twilight Legacies: The Sixth Eye Special Edition’; which was released last September and is the first in a six book series.
When I was rewriting and editing the Special Edition, I realised how daunting it was and how much I should have expanded upon in certain chapters, capturing the reader and pulling them into the TL universe. When I poured through the notes, even other Works-In-Progress that had any connection with the TL universe and incorporated the elements accordingly and it transformed the novel into something else entirely. The prologue of TL: The Sixth Eye was changed entirely and became more fluid in the process from the original edition.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I was in my freshman year of HS, I read so much back then. I would read three-or-four-hundred page novels in weeks and was a bit of a nerd when it came to research, especially in the field of astronomy and aeronautical design. I had a big comic book collection, Batman, X-Men, Green Lantern and I was also a bit of a Trekky. I had to write a Christmas themed short story for English class and being the procrastinator I waited till the very last moment. I didn’t have a clue what I was going to write about, so I asked my mom(English Major that she was), she helped me brainstorm. So then, I sat down behind my old Epson computer and started typing. The words seemed to flow easily from my finger tips and out came ‘Christmas Time’. This story was set in the near future, about an Air Force pilot piloting an experimental time-traveling craft into the distant past, where he witnessed the birth of Jesus. The pilot had to stave off some time-traveling rivals before returning to his craft and going home. Looking back, the theme was more or less a “Doctor Who” meets “Stargate: SG-1”. Nevertheless, the following year I just started to write down ideas for stories and by my junior year, I began my first official WIP; which over many years of rewrites, title changes and character depth. This WIP became THE TWILIGHT LEGACIES: THE SIXTH EYE SPECIAL EDITION.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
I write any ideas; whether it be for a chapter scene, sketches, alien languages, star systems or starship designs for my works-in-progress in notebooks and I have several now. I am shoot-from-hip writer, I do little planning if any, adjusting the scenes in the chapters so dynamics flow more easily.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I love creating new stories, I have started four other books in various genre; ranging from adventure to paranormal sci-fi—equivalent to the X-Files or Fringe.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I would say the hardest thing about being a writer is having to work a full- time job and when I am constantly brewing ideas for my books the job can, at times be less than stimulating.
6. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
My greatest writing achievement is the Special Edition of the The Twilight Legacies: The Sixth Eye because of the two-and-a-half years I invested not only editing the manuscript, but also expounding on the underlying theme of the particular genre.
7. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I am working on a few stories. Primarily, Book Two in The Twilight Legacies Saga, entitled Crimson Vortex. I also am working on Gemini Continuum: Empire of the Gods and Shadowbane Chronicles; former title Legends of the Kah’Rai.
8. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I would say I am inspired by many ideas, events—mostly from my own experiences.
9. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
I write sci-fi/fantasy, adventure and paranormal.
10. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
For the aspiring writers:
-Read lots of books
-Get lots of notebooks.
-Start brainstorming ideas. Especially if you are still trying to figure out what to write about.
-Sketch out characters, worlds, dialect/languages, etc. That goes for any genre of fiction.
-Research what you do not know. Take time to study, or ask someone who does know.
-When you’ve completed your manuscript(s) have someone else read them. It always helps to get a second pair of eyes to peruse over your work and not necessarily for grammar and punctuation. You want your story to flow from one chapter to the other. If you have an awkward break in a scene during the transition from the conclusion of the last chapter, find a “bridge” to connect. Remember, it’s all about continuity.
11. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
On occasion, I suffer from Writer’s Block, indicative of stress. Spending time with family, away from the laptop or I find working out helps with the creativity and since I lift weighs and study Karate, I reset my focus and let things go.
12. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
My writing schedule is basically whenever I am able to, most of the time at night before I go to bed and in the morning before I go off to work. On occasion, I am able to devote an entire day to hashing out a couple of chapters or finishing starship schematics for a series.
13. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
My favourite place to write is on the couch, I have my notebooks beside me and I am ready to go. Most of the time I am at my desk, tucked away in the dining room.
14. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
I love seeing the worlds, universes and most especially, the characters I’m creating come to life, that is my greatest joy.
15. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
All time favourite author is Frank Herbert because I loved the inter- relational dynamics intertwined with the mystery and action of his stories.
16. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
This was a review I received on Amazon for my novel, sometimes the best reviews are the ones with the least amount of words.
17. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
The logo design embedded in the starship schematics was hard to read.
18. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Absolutely. I find having to articulate events that happened in my own life therapeutic and it helps me in understanding who I am as a person.
19. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I am an avid martial artist and an instructor/co-founder of a local martial arts school Bastress Stoddard Hogosha Samurai Karate Jutsu. I’ve studied various styles, including Isshinryu, Taekwondo and Hupkwando.
20. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
The professional editing done when I had sent the original edition of The Twilight Legacies: The Sixth Eye to the said publisher. Their service was below par and was a disappointment overall. Fortunately, having family that were English majors taught me how to self-edit and become more self-reliant.
21. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
My perfect day starts off with a large mug of coffee, some breakfast and working out. Then spending time with my family, that is until I delve into my writing for at least couple hours. Taking breaks in between writing-spells.
22. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
My plans for the future is to be self-employed as an author and entrepreneur.
23. WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY SELL BOOKS?
I’m not opposed to book trailers, I think depending on the genre and the artwork have the potential to sell more books. I, personally would like see a book trailer done for my book, however, resources are finite.
24. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
The protagonist Blain Ross in THE TWILIGHT LEGACIES: THE SIXTH EYE was based off of myself. I used my experience as a martial artist, marksman, self-taught knife expert, strategist, engineer, his connection to the supernatural and the distant past. I also incorporated my love of flight into Blain Ross since he is a skilled pilot.
25. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
Yes, the publishing industry frustrates me and the fact that it’s highly competitive when there are artists like myself who have an original sci- fi/fantasy masterpiece complete with illustrations. A universe that has so many facets, it would be the equivalent of Frank Herbert’s DUNE. It can be discouraging at times.
26. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
No, I never thought of quitting because I would never give up on a dream— No matter how crazy it seems.
27. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
That’s a difficult question, since I am working on multiple manuscripts, but the manuscript that really stands out that I am thrilled when my fingers start flying over the keyboard is CRIMSON VORTEX. This would be the second instalment of THE TWILIGHT LEGACIES SAGA. The manuscript that comes in second would either be GEMINI CONTINUUM: EMPIRE OF THE GODS or SHADOWBANE CHRONCLES: PROPHECY.
28. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
Success as a writer is not based on the royalties received in any given period, but rather the readers/fans that truly appreciate your work and spread the word, make recommendations, etc.
29. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
That a universe created is more than the sum of events that characters spring from, but it is usually the works that have been cultivated over time that really are set apart from the mainstream genre. After having read my novels, they should feel amazed—minds blown at the depth and learn something about themselves.
“The calling of an author is more than just to entertain, but also to share ones experiences with the world.”-M. J. Stoddard.
30. WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
Absolutely, I would love to have my books made into movies and I’ve dabble in writing screenplays. I was in the process of writing a screenplay adaptation for The Twilight Legacies: The Sixth Eye, when I realised the potential with each chapter and adding more to the plot and the sub-plots; which in turn became the Special Edition a couple years down the road.
31. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
I put in lot of thought into the book cover design, I utilise several programs like Bryce 7, Blender, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Frontstruct.com.
32. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
My ultimate dream is to not have to work a mediocre 9-5 job that is less then stimulating and become of full-time author, finishing up the multiple series that I have in store for my readers, as well as the stand-alone stories that I have waiting to be completed.
33. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
When I was first “self-published” I was unprepared for the marketing aspect and how involved I needed to be to get my book, brand, etc out there. I tapped into social media quickly enough, but it still took time. Looking back, I’m glad I took the time and learn, experience goes a long way.
34. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
Yes, my books are self-published. After having a horrible experience with a vanity publisher; for instance, I discovered when I did a general search on Google, that my book was pirated. I contacted the website immediately and demanded they remove my title from their selection. The website admin failed to respond, so I decided then that I needed to cancel the contract with said vanity publisher and go completely independent. I haven’t looked back since that day.
35. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
36. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
That’s a good question… I’d say going to work, during an early morning writing spree, when the ideas and the prose easily flow. It’s frustrating when you have to be at work in fifteen minutes, when your trying to finish a chapter, or working on a new chapter heading or starship design.
37. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and yes, I quite enjoyed the book.
38. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
That depends on which story I’m writing.
39. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
I would love to be able to teach Creative Writing at a high school, being able to inspire the teenagers in a class room and to be able to help them cultivate their ideas as they learn the art of word-smithing and the journey of understanding more about themselves and the human condition in the process.
40. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
I just want to thank you Clancy for the interview, for the opportunity of being a guest author on your blog and for your many subscribers.
Clancy's comment: You're welcome, Micah. All the best for your writing pursuits.