Interview with J. J. Sherwood - Author of Kings or Pawns: The Kings (Book 1)

Where were you born and what were you like when young? Any interests or early signs you would later put pen to paper?

I was born in Tucson, Arizona, but I moved to Wisconsin when I was still a baby. So for the first 7 years of my life, I grew up in small towns in the great cheese state. I was a wild child and a tomboy—no trespassing signs were invitations for adventure and clothes were always optional— especially when swinging from the branches of Weeping Willows.

Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming a writer/published author?

I’ve been writing since Kindergarten— and whether it was horror or historical fiction or fantasy, I always knew I wanted to write. I wrote and shelved story after story as I grew up—I probably wrote about 15 books between the ages of 10 and 15 and got partway through a dozen more. But it was when I was sixteen that I really cracked down on myself and began to study those things that would flesh out my world and originality—human anatomy, studies in witchcraft and strange religions, linguistics, forensics, Japanese, and an assortment of other atypical subjects. Everything I did always had an angle for writing. And when I married Mr. Sherwood a few years ago, I finally had the opportunity to write full time. And then wala—publication followed shortly after!

Where do you find inspiration for your storylines? For the characters you create?

As probably every writer before me has said: I find inspiration everywhere. But in particular for me, history and strange / little-known cultures. They are a treasure trove of outside-the-box ideas. Did you know there is a tribal culture—Amazonian, I believe—that turns their dead into banana soup and then, as you can guess, eats them?

Review of Kings or Pawns HERE
How do you approach laying out such a complicated book with different elf races and fictional geography?

Probably to a great fault, I keep the vast majority of the information in my head. Sometimes I have the wisdom to type things out or scribble myself a note or two, but, alas, I usually forget I’ve done such an intelligent thing. It hasn’t come back to bite me yet, but unless it’s published, it’s “flexible canon.”

How do you organize your time when working on a new book? Research? Working on Manuscript? Pre-marketing?

Organize is the key word there… Hahaha. I just… add more hours to my day. I tend to be a work-aholic. When anything but just “writing the book” arises, I just add it to the day—rather than subtract from my writing. I’m trying to get better about this by using a day out of the week to cram in all “non-writing the actual book” responsibilities, rather than just working 14 hours a day.

As an author - what do you enjoy most about writing process? What feels like a chore?

Everything about the actual writing I love. Outlining, drafting, editing, etc… Everything else… aka, marketing of almost any kind—is a chore. The exception to that, I suppose, are the conventions across the Midwest that we’ve been attending in cosplay. While that is certainly marketing, it’s also been a very fun experience.

Any advice for young authors wanting to write books in this genre?

If you want to write, then actually write. I’ve met a ridiculously large number of “aspiring authors” who never actually complete anything. While you’re young, test your pen and get a feel for what you want to do—but there needs to be a point where you say to yourself “enough is enough—I’m going to push down my own self-criticism and finish the novel.” And then you DO. And you don’t listen to your negative sides or your own complaints—you press on until it’s on the shelves of stores and then you can step back, take what you have learned, and write again. But you cannot learn if you do not try. And you cannot become an author if you do not actually finish the book.

In closing - when can we look forward to book 2 in this series?

Just around the corner—very probably April 2016!

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