Interview with J. Grant Thompson

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am lucky to be married to my best friend. Jill is a first year real estate agent--but you wouldn't know it based on her fantastic success thus far. She stays busy, but we do try to carve out time to enjoy movies, our mutual love of the great outdoors, laughter--and always great conversation. I am also blessed to get to spend time with my young stepdaughters, Mallory and Morgan--who help keep me young. Other than that, I enjoy television dramas, golf, and fantasy football. In fact, some buddies of mine and I think that we may have actually been some of the very first people to play and evolve fantasy football--way back in the late '80s.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Not really--but I know I wrote several short stories. I have no clue where they are--they're probably not very good. Short stories are a great way to learn to stretch your literary legs, before hopefully enabling you to later learn to use your wings.
What is your writing process?
I think my process is different than that of most writers. I tend to generate an idea almost subconsciously--sometimes coming out of a good night's sleep. Although the idea is rough, many times I have even awoken with many elements of the story already in place. I tend to avoid creating any type of structured outline for the novel. My favorite part of the writing process is when my characters even end up surprising me. The most satisfying writing I did in "Dance with the Butcher" occurred late one night as I tackled the meat of the novel. Five hours later, the characters had done things I never imagined them doing when I first sat down to write that evening. Easily the coolest experience of my writing career.
How do you approach cover design?
Having an advertising background in another life, I have dabbled in art and design. I am a firm believer in capturing the eye of a prospective buyer, client, or reader. What I try to do when I relay my thoughts to a graphic designer is to make certain we are both on the same page about the images telling a small story themselves. Without giving too much away, a well designed cover can take two or three important elements of your novel--and reel in that target reader. If the cover is done exceptionally well, the added bonus is going to be impulse readers who may not have even been part of your target audience.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Wow--tough question. I really liked "The Shining." No one builds suspense like the master, Stephen King. "In Cold Blood," by Capote, is my favorite non fiction title. It opened my eyes to great true crime novels--which I thoroughly enjoy. "Fatal Vision," is also a personal favorite for those same reasons. My last two will surprise (and maybe disappoint) some. "The Notebook" and "A Walk to Remember" touched me like no other two novels had. In the process I discovered Nicholas Sparks--a writer I would very much like to emulate. I'm not ashamed to admit that I enjoy having a skilled storyteller manipulate my emotions. And no one does that better than Mr. Sparks. I hope some of Mr. Sparks' fans will check out my upcoming novel, "Never Forgotten."
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I'm not really a "genre" reader as a rule. There are definitely genres that I avoid, of course--just like most people. A good cover catches my eye. I also like to read the blurb on the back to test the writer's grasp of the English language and punctuation. I'm not a writing snob--but I do prefer some structural skill. Other than that, I just look for the writer to quickly grab me and take me for a ride.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
That would be the Hardy Boys series. I read every episode I could get my greedy little hands on. Looking back on that experience, it demonstrated to me that it doesn't take great literary fiction to captivate a reader. Just take them on a journey they will thoroughly enjoy.
What do you read for pleasure?
True crime is my guilty pleasure.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Always been a Kindle man.
Describe your desk
My wife and I had our dream house built a few years ago. One main requirement we had was an office that looked out over our lanai and nicely landscaped backyard. We also bought matching desks that face each other. They are both oak writing desks with only three small drawers. On my desk I have a picture of myself with Mr. Arnold Palmer--one of my most prized possessions. I also have a miniature Georgia Bulldog helmet, signed by Hershel Walker. Other than that, I honestly have three pair of sunglasses for some reason.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was an army brat--so basically all over. My formative years, though, were in Hinesville, Georgia--a military town outside Ft. Stewart--home of the First to Fight. Being raised with a military perspective, my views started off as pretty far right of center. In my 20s I began writing a weekly humor column for the local newspaper. Although it was well received, I have come to realize that much of my popularity came because I was basically preaching to the choir. As my politics and social attitudes have evolved, I still understand the value I gained from learning how to appeal to a target audience.
What's the story behind your latest book?
This will be my first published novel. As I have stated in my bio, I have no desire to pigeonhole myself into any particular genre. A big fan of suspense and mystery, I set out to write a gritty police procedural. The story of "Dance with the Butcher" is best summed up by the title. Three likeable, dedicated, intelligent NYPD detectives are in a cat and mouse game with a serial killer dubbed The Butcher. A dance if you will. There is suspense. There is imminent danger. There is immense sadness. There are huge surprises. Oh--and as an added bonus--there is a very deeply moving love story.
What are you working on next?
I am currently editing "Never Forgotten" ... and hope to have it published in the very near future. This novel will be a pretty big deviation from the previous one--but hopefully I will have enough crossover from what fans I have from that--and maybe a good many more readers who prefer a more romantic genre. One thing I hope comes across is that any novel I write will come from a place that most readers can relate to. Nothing satisfies me more than to put realistic characters in extraordinary circumstances--and discover how they handle that adversity. I think that even the anti-romance crowd might enjoy it :-)
What do your fans mean to you?
The only way I will continue to actively pursue my writing is if there is a demand for it. What makes me so blessed at this point in my life, is that I already thoroughly enjoy every day I spend on this earth. Having people who actually enjoy and might want to read more of my work--that would certainly be icing on top of an already delicious cake.
Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King. Joseph Wambaugh. Ann Rule. Nicholas Sparks. Sidney Sheldon. Dean Koontz. Grisham.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I actually wrote this novel way back in the year 2000. Being a cockier young man, I sent it to only the best agents in New York. To my shock, Ms. Anita Diamant signed me to a two year literary contract. In phone conversations, Ms. Diamant encouraged me to write a series of novels based on these characters. Even though I had very little interest in that, I politely thanked her. Eagerly awaiting news of my first sale, I was alerted a few months later via a letter that Ms. Diamant had passed away. I was able to get out of that contract--life happened--a business career happened--and here I am years later. Now that I am semi-retired, my wife, Jill, and my son, Kennon, have encouraged me to revisit my writing. I am thrilled that the writing industry has become so much more accessible to the millions of writers who had very little options to attempt to market their work. Never one to shrink from a challenge, I welcome the opportunity to compete in this indie marketplace.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Life itself. From 6-7am I watch the birds and squirrels on their feeders. I catch up with friends and family on Facebook. I write and edit at a leisurely pace until lunch time. Then I stop being a writer for the day. My wife, my sons, my stepdaughters, my grandkids--they are ultimately what drives my life. Writing is just something I do.
Is J. Grant Thompson your given name?
Yes and no. Years ago I realized that my given name, John Thompson, appeared about ten times in any phone book you picked up. I decided that my middle name, Grant--which is also my late mother's maiden name--was something I could possibly honor and recognize in my writing. Hence, I decided to write under the minor pen, J. Grant Thompson.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I have been lucky enough to have several people tell me that they really enjoyed a particular novel. What really motivates most any writer is to hear words along the line of "I couldn't put it down. When I finished it, I was shocked to see that it was three in the morning." That is what keeps me typing away at my desk.
Published 2018-03-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.