Interview with JP Mac

Published 2014-04-10.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Turning story or character problems over to my subconscious, going about my day, and being pleasantly surprised by the solutions that pop up unbidden. Most of writing is hard work, but those golden little gifts are what make the rest worthwhile.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My degree was in creative writing and I always thought I'd write books. Over the years, I turned out drafts for two horror novels and a non-fiction account of my adventures working with the State Dept in Cambodia. (I'll get to that one eventually.) But even with an agent, old school publishing proved a tedious, time-consuming process. Many gatekeepers with lots of advice, not all of it sound. Self-publishing still carried the stench of failure. And writing a PDF book, or putting a narrative up on a blog, seemed a desperate cry for attention. But the technology changed rapidly. Now self-publishing rocks. Other than writing a good book, the greatest challenge is getting your work noticed in a sea of indie publications. Great! I'm liking it!
What's the story behind your latest book?
A few years ago, animation work dropped off sharply and I was soon deep in debt and needing cash. So I found a job writing marketing copy for software products on the Web. Basically, the style was old school direct mail marketing in an electronic format. Promising immediate gratification, the copy's tone and urgency fascinated me. Would these overpowering sales techniques work on anything? Having friends who embraced various aspects of New Age spirituality, gave me the idea to link the two. And the result was "The Little Book of Big Enlightenment." Hopefully, people will enjoy it.
What are you working on next?
A humorous update of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror." In my version, a new college president now rules Miskatonic University in Arkham. He feels fundraising suffers because his school has been historically linked to incidents of witchcraft, devil worship and murder in a certain eerie Massachusetts town. Determined to drag Miskatonic into the 21st century, the president sends a team of like-minded administrators to return a confiscated spell book to the delighted denizens of Dunwich. However, concerned faculty are certain the warlocks of Dunwich have just been handed a key that could destroy the Earth. A race is on to recover the book and save the administrators in my upcoming book, "The Dunwich Diversity Seminar."
Who are your favorite authors?
So many. Let me skip around. As a kid, I loved anything written about dinosaurs, fiction or not. Pre-teen and teen, I was down with Robert E. Howard and Kenneth Robeson, as well as Andre Norton. H.P. Lovecraft's stories were re-released at one point and I absorbed them all. Then a friend turned me on to Stephen King. Dean Koontz followed. In history, I've taken a shine to Anne Applebaum, Anthony Beevor, and Max Hastings. Alexandar Solzhenysten drew me into his frozen brutal world and not just the "Gulag" but also fiction such as "Cancer Ward" and "The First Circle." Add Robert Conquest for his amazing historical work on Stalinism. Keith William Nolan wrote a great series of books on the Vietnam War from the American fighting man's perspective. In fantasy, Jack Vance was a huge influence, particularly his use of language. Elmore Leonard wrote short, snappy prose. (I loved "Valdez is Coming.") For a time, I was a Robert Ludlum fanatic. My humor favorite was the old National Lampoon. Probably left off a ton.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Writing, a marriage, dreams all require action. I write my goals down each week, then refine further by day. I know what's on my plate every morning and I'm excited for the opportunities.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
For a number of years I was a marathon runner, and training consumed most of my non-writing time. But I eventually wore down the cartilage in a knee. Now I visit the gym, spend time with my wife, find occasions to see friends, watch movies, and read. A lot of reading.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mostly through authors I interact with on social media. Goodreads is an excellent place to scout new ebooks. I'm bad at reviewing them, and usually three or four books behind.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Written in pencil on lined notebook paper, the story was based on a D.C. comic book I loved called Star-Spangled War Stories where American servicemen in World War II seek out the enemy but end up tangling with dinosaurs instead. My story involved a platoon pinned down by a pteranodon (flying dinosaur). I must've been in second or third grade. I can't remember how the story concluded, but my guess is the soldiers won.
What is your writing process?
Some form of outline and I always need to know the ending. I write a time-line, draw a few maps, and do some character work, mostly in trying to find their voices, but not too much. I like to leave room for the characters to grow and surprise me. Then I crank out a terrible, sloppy first draft and put it aside. Awful first drafts are the hardest part because of the temptation to fix things as I go. After that, it's rewrite and more rewrite, staying open to the changes my subconscious digs up. Then off to my beta team, a group of writers and readers, to gather opinions. Then polish it up. Usually, at some point, I've already started working on the next project.
How do you approach cover design?
Usually I have a rough idea that I'll pass on to a designer, keeping in mind something I once read that the cover is a promise to the reader. In general, the designers concoct something pretty close. Then I show the image to my wife. Fortunately, her background is in publishing and she has a great eye for artwork. So I say, "Honey, what do you think?" And if she's happy, so am I.
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Books by This Author

Fifty Shades of Zane Grey
Price: $3.49 USD. Words: 31,140. Language: English. Published: March 3, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Western & American frontier
As guns blaze and the Cheyenne raid, shy, murmuring dishwasher Anna wrestles with her heart—not to mention a mind filled with psychological personifications who act out at all the wrong times. Pressed by suitors attracted to her quiet beauty and endearing quirks, Anna must grasp that passion comes in many shades, but true love is a primary color.
The Little Book of Big Enlightenment
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 16,380. Language: English. Published: May 9, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Inspirational
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Experience a wild metaphysical rollercoaster in this tale of two men marketing a new method of instantly achieving serenity. But something unexpected happens along the way, throwing their sales pitch and beliefs into chaos. This light-hearted, self-help satire is more fun than an ashram full of monkeys. Hold onto your chakras for a short fun ride!
Jury Doody
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,220. Language: English. Published: March 26, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » True Crime » Family violence, Nonfiction » Law » Courts & trial practice
A light-hearted look at LA law as twelve jurors weigh the evidence in a bizarre domestic violence case. This fast-paced non-fiction essay opens the door on the jury process as a dozen strangers wrestle with conflicting evidence. Will the verdict be expedient or true? And why was the defendant sockless?