Interview with CJ Fella

What do your fans mean to you?
My fans, to put it simply, are my life's blood. That is why I dedicated my first book to them. Any artist who fails to properly acknowledge his or her fans does so at his own peril! They are, quite literally, my customers. Without them, I can never be successful at this craft. It is their support that makes it possible. Perhaps I'll let the dedication speak for itself....

"This book is dedicated—to you.

Customers are the life blood of any business. As “artists”, we often forget that. We like to call our customers “fans.” It sounds more glamorous, perhaps. Or maybe it makes us feel more important. But that relationship has come to be so one sided that it has lost its meaning. Whether it is a traditional business, a musician, actor or author—we need you. Your support allows us to pursue our dream of creation and entertainment. In return, if we have done our job well, we provide you with a level of enjoyment and fun that makes it all worthwhile for you. And without you, that dream withers and dies. And so as I push forward on this endeavor, I would like to take a moment to say that I can not do it alone. More specifically, I can not do it without you. For every man and woman who has taken time out of their busy schedules, away from their family, friends and a multitude of other entertainment options, and chosen to spend it within these pages—I thank you. I will not ever forget your support and encouragement.

Now then, let us go forward— together."
Why are your books free to libraries?
Literacy is something every author should take seriously. Libraries provide a tremendous service to the public. They don't charge customers to check out books, so why should I charge the library? With electronic copies, there is no significant cost to the author, so I'm happy to do my part.
What is your writing process?
Finding the right time is critical for me. I'm a night-owl at heart, so I tend to do my best work in the evenings. Other than that, I try to stick to a very regular schedule and write a minimum of 2,000 words every time I work, although on one particularly productive evening, I wrote over 10,000.

I also find that setting the mood helps quite a bit. If I'm writing science fiction, I will throw on a movie that helps keep me in the creative mood.
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design is the most difficult challenge, especially if you are self publishing. Today, most "cover artists" are really graphic designers, who are great at using clip art. But finding an artist who can create his or her own original artwork is difficult. This has been the single most time consuming task while trying to publish my books. I am always on the lookout for a good artist, especially in the sci-fi genre. Beyond that, I try to come up with a cover that is striking and accurately conveys the overall tone of the book. Lastly, you have to have a cover design that not only looks great on the cover of the book, but as a thumbnail. So much shopping is done online these days that having an attractive thumbnail may be the only chance you have to rope in a potential reader.
What do you read for pleasure?
I suffer from reading too much all at once. If I have any less than six books that I'm in the middle of reading at any given time, it is rare indeed. I generally favor science fiction, detective fiction and fantasy.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
In this day and age, it may seem like blasphemy to say this, but I prefer books--the kind you hold. But there is no denying the convenience that today's reading devices offer, especially for readers like myself that usually have at least half a dozen books they are trying to get through. Instead of carrying around all those books, it is very nice to have a single device. I've been using Kindle for years, primarily because it doesn't have a back-lit screen. Those can make long reading sessions hard on the eyes, so the Kindle has served me well in that regard. Unfortunately, I haven't had any exposure to other devices.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing in the seventh grade. I had always had some talent for it, and because of that I was placed in a writing class for eighth grade students when I was in the seventh grade. It was a creative writing class, and that is where I got my first real taste of the craft. It was then that I wrote the short story that would take seventeen years to flesh out into a full book, Rise Of The Black Hand. I'd been thinking about it for so many years, that by the time I started writing, it happened quickly. I wrote the first book in less than a month, and completed the second book in the series just a few months later. I'm in the process of editing and searching for a cover artist. In the meantime, I've already started the third book and completed most of the outline for book four.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Rise Of The Black Hand is truly a labor of love for me. I initially conceived of the idea in the seventh grade, and the idea stuck with me all these years. It is about a young FBI agent in Seattle, Washington. It combines two of my favorite genres, science fiction and detective fiction. It is written in the style of the old pulps, but set several hundred years in the future, giving it a nice mix of flavors.

The premise relies on some actual history, with some twists. Most of us know that World War 1 was started when Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated. His killers, a criminal organization known as The Black Hand, were responsible. The book assumes that members of that criminal society survived and flourished through the ages, masterminding many of the terrorist attacks over the centuries since then. Thomas Morelli, our protagonist, discovers the organization after they murder one of his closest friends. Seeking revenge, Morelli finds himself at odds with this cruel cast of characters. Narrated by Morelli, the book takes on a distinctive flavor as he recounts the activities in his humorous and sarcastic style.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Like all of us, I think I just felt like I had a story to tell, and that others would have as much fun reading it as I did writing it. I truly love the writing process. For me it is relaxing, therapeutic, and as fun as anything else I could do to fill my time.

In terms of the "indie" aspect, I think it really had to do with using the enormous tools available to me by modern technology to make the process much simpler. The publishing houses are slow, and it took me months just to get my first rejection letter. I'd certainly love the opportunity to get published by a traditional publishing house, but in the meantime, I have the opportunity to share my stories with readers in a meaningful way.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords helps put my manuscript in the hands of readers in a relatively pain-free way. How many publishers can say that? After writing my manuscript and having it professionally edited, it was a simple matter to have it uploaded and converted into multiple formats, all at the push of a button.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
This is a difficult question to answer. The greatest joy of writing, in its simplest terms--is the writing. I enjoy the process, just as most readers would enjoy reading a book. It is satisfying to see this story unfold, sometimes in ways you never envisioned. You fall in love with the characters, identify with them, and that pushes you to keep writing. And I certainly can't deny the wonderful feeling I get when I finish that last page.

The one thing I will never forget, though, is getting my first email from a fan who actually read my book and liked it. As funny as it sounds, I had always written mostly for me, because I enjoyed it so much. But connecting with another reader who was able to enjoy my work as much as I had, was just incredible. With the multitude of ways that we can spend our time these days, and the overwhelming options for entertainment, I felt truly honored to have someone share some of that time on one of my projects. Very humbling indeed.
What are you working on next?
I have completed the second book in The Black Hand series, and I'm currently doing the first round of edits and looking for cover artists. I've started on book three and finished outlining book four. I've also nearly completed an urban fantasy project set in the old west. I also have four other science fiction projects in various stages of completion, and one fantasy as well.
Who are your favorite authors?
Mickey Spillane, Robert B. Parker, Isaac Asimov, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert E. Howard.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Providing for my family. I am blessed to share my life with the most wonderful fiance on earth, as well as her two children. I dream of the day when I can write full time and spend every moment of free time I have with her.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I am most likely reading, playing video games, or watching movies. I also spend a great deal of time listening to the old radio serials of the early to mid 1900's.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I certainly do! The idea was put to paper in a creative writing class when I was in the seventh grade. Although only a short story at the time, the idea stayed with me for seventeen years. Ultimately, I fleshed it out into a four book story and have published the first part thus far: "Rise Of The Black Hand."
Published 2015-04-19.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Rise of The Black Hand: The Case Files of Thomas Morelli: Book 1
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 111,720. Language: English. Published: April 18, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Cyberpunk, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled
In the futuristic city of Seattle, Washington, FBI agent Thomas Morelli narrates his own tale as he hunts down the members of an ancient criminal cartel, all while seeking to avenge his best friend's murder. Combining the elements of classic detective fiction and science fiction, this fast paced adventure is sure to delight fans of either genre.