Interview with A.J. Church

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up an Air Force brat, so we moved around a lot. I don't think I attended the same school two years in a row until my father got out of the Air Force and we moved to Florida when I was twelve. Because I was shy, making friends was hard, so I made imaginary friends and created stories and worlds where they and I lived. I started writing the stories down when I was eight, and despite all my moves, I still have a lot of those early notebooks. I was also an avid bookworm at an early age. I remember when I was in third grade, I had a friend whose parents bought her all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. She would loan me one each day, and I would run home from school so I could start reading, often sitting up with a flashlight reading under the covers to finish it so I could take it back to her and get the next one.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Right now I'm working on the second book of my Erebus Files series. The concept for the series was inspired by Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series, where each book is about different, sometimes overlapping characters tied together by location. In this case, the location is the fictional city of Erebus. The second book is about Red, a street-smart female thief who contracts to steal magical artifacts for a local pawnbroker. The book was actually written five years ago for NaNoWriMo, though it was quite a bit different at that time. I put it aside for a couple of years, then when I started developing the concept of the Erebus series, I decided I would rework it to fit. I'm almost finished with that now and targeting Halloween as a publishing date.

I am also working on the last two books of the 'Ru Lexicon trilogy. Book 1 revolved around the character of Raphael. Book 2 will be Elise's story, and Book 3 will be Rudolf's. I'm hoping to get both written and published sometime next year.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
A couple of factors, actually. Like most aspiring writers, I've received my share of rejection notices. When I wrote my second novel (my first was written--by hand--when I was twelve), I was so excited I sent it off cold to every publisher I could find in the Writer's Digest Publishers Guide. There was no internet back then, so a lot of the information we have now about publishing just wasn't available. I actually had a request for the entire manuscript, but it never went anywhere. After that I wrote four more books, had one offer to publish, which subsequently fell through, and seriously considered giving up on writing. Then I read a blog post by one of my favorite writers. In it she talked about how, even though you land a traditional publishing contract, you're not home free. It took her until her fourth book to earn enough to pay off her meager advance and start earning money. I started thinking about why I write and what is important to me. It has never been about fame and fortune. I write because I have stories to tell and I would like people to read them. By publishing myself, I can write my stories on my terms. It's the best of both worlds.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I would have to say those times when I'm in the zone. When the writing is flowing so fast and effortlessly that I lose all track of time and reality. I am literally living in that world with those characters. It is so exciting to create something like that out of nothing more than my own imagination. I have gone back and read things I've written when I'm in that zone and actually don't remember writing it. I feel that way about almost the entire book of Being John Bland. I seriously don't know what I was channeling when I wrote it, but I don't remember writing half the stuff in it, which is just fun for me.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I read a lot, though mostly when I'm either between books or stuck in a book. I also enjoy gardening, cooking. and making mixed media art. I'm happiest when I'm being creative in whatever medium that takes.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
With exception of a handful of traditional writers I've been reading for years, I read mostly other indie writers. I read mainly urban fantasy and humor, since that is what I write, and do searches for new indie books. I've discovered dozens of new writers that way. I believe independent publishing has enriched our lives far beyond what we could have imagined in that it exposes us to writers and stories we might never have experienced with traditional publishing. Yes, there are some lemons in the indie world, but I've come across just as many in traditional publishing. I like that I'm reading the story just as the writer intended, not the watered down version the writer's agent, editor, and publisher thought we should read.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I wrote was about a girl who finds her own grave while walking through a cemetery and discovers she's actually a ghost. I was eight when I wrote it, and I still have it.
What is your writing process?
For me it usually starts with a character. I get an idea for a character, start fleshing out the details--his or her background, appearance, motivations, friends, enemies, etc.--then I develop the story concept and start researching any historical or geographical aspects of the setting or plot. After that I work up a kind of hybrid outline-summary of the book. It often changes as I get into the writing, but at least I have a starting point. Because I have a tendency to start several projects at once and may take awhile to get back to them, I've learned to keep very detailed notes on each story concept so if I come back to it several months or even years later, I can pick it up and run with it without wondering what I was originally planning.
How do you approach cover design?
So far, I have designed all of my own covers. It helps that I have my own web and graphic design business, though I am by no means an artist. I tend to cobble things together--people, backgrounds, typography--in Photoshop. However, I have found an artist whose work I adore, and I plan to contract her to create the next 'Ru Lexicon cover.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle.
Describe your desk
My desk is usually chaos because I use it for writing and for my web design business, so there's my laptop, my widescreen monitor, a wireless keyboard and mouse, an external hard drive, a printer, and speakers all crammed on there along with several pens, pads, coding cheat sheets, and a lot of napkins (always seems to be a lot of them to soak up the sweat from all those Diet Cokes that keep me going). I also have two miniature gargoyles who watch over the mess for me, along with several plastic reptiles (snakes, frogs, and lizards) that I admit playing with when the creative juices aren't flowing.
Published 2013-08-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Daddy's Kobo Tales
Price: Free! Words: 4,820. Language: English. Published: October 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
This anthology contains five flash fiction stories by indie writers written as a protest against the treatment of all self-published writers by Kobo and WH Smith.
Red Awakening
Series: The Erebus Files, Book 2. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 77,670. Language: English. Published: October 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
A thief by trade, Red specializes in locating and retrieving unusual artifacts for the supernatural community. In her line of work, she thought she had seen just about everything, but when she witnesses a drive-by shooting of an innocent man, she's drawn into a battle with beings more powerful than she could imagine, and a revelation about her own origins that could change her life forever.
Being John Bland
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 77,360. Language: English. Published: July 15, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
John Bland is stuck in a rut--a job he hates, a girlfriend he doesn't want, friends who don't understand him. Your average worker bee drone. But John has devised a solution. The Master Plan. Involves knives, garbage bags, and some weird genetic destiny screw up. John didn't plan on that last part, nor the new title. Accidental Serial Killer. Apparently, someone has to do it..
Lucid
Series: The Erebus Files, Book 1. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 95,710. Language: English. Published: July 12, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
(3.50)
When your inner roommate is a homicidal demon, you try to keep a low profile. Laec Matthews had become pretty good at staying in the shadows and minding his own business until a couple of strangers showed up at his door asking for help locating a missing girl. He knows better than to get involved, especially when people start trying to kill him.
Return of the Light
Series: The 'Ru Lexicon, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 102,570. Language: English. Published: July 10, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
For centuries, the 'Ru have served as guardians of mankind, protecting them from the demons of the Underworld. But now the demons have a new weapon, and they intend to use to remake the world in their image. Victory will require a supreme sacrifice, as one member of the 'Ru must consume the essence of the Being of Light and be reborn as savior to his race.