Interview with Daniel Jordan

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
This is a difficult question to answer. It's like trying to describe a dream; you can see it, but if there are words to describe it, then it's impossible to get them in the right order. But sometimes, when I write, I find things just clicking into place, plot points linking up, the scramble of words all coming together into something that works. On my first draft of Mirrorworld, I went into most chapters with only a very rough idea of where I'd end up by their end, and made up the progress to that point completely on the fly, and for the most part, that worked, and sometimes, looking back in later drafts, I'd realise that I'd written a larger thematic connection into the undercurrent of what was going on, without even consciously realising I was doing it. But that's it; there's a certain zone where it all just works, the same way anyone who's ever constructed something, physically or not, must feel when they can look on it and say that it's finished, and admire the way the rivets and bolts all fit together. Writing a book is a story in itself; I kept a diary of my doing so, and it's a pretty fascinating, if personal, read.

So I guess my answer to this is is one part 'a whole bunch of things' and one part 'the entirety of the thing'... Eep.
What's your writing process?
Coffee, procrastination, and guilt about how much I've been procrastinating. Also not speaking to my loved ones for prolonged lengths of time, unless it's to use them as someone to talk at while I figure out a plot point or something.
When did you first start writing?
I started out pretty young; I'd guess I was about 7 when I started folding up pieces of paper to make tiny comics starring a worm called Wormy. If that doesn't count, then it would have been when I was about 9/10, when Pokemon Red and Blue were the talk of the Western hemisphere, and I wrote a series of 'books' about me and my friends as Pokemon trainers, going on journeys, having battles, getting in danger, exploring the world. They were cute: each 'book' was 3 folded pieces of A4, full of handwritten text and uniformly terrible illustrations. But they had an arc, and character development, and a grand finale (I stuffed in an abundance of extra pages for a jumbo sized edition, and somehow managed to perfectly conclude the story on the fly within the given amount of space)! No-one's ever going to hold up these things as great literature, and I'm never going to publish them, but everything I am now started there, because after that, I never really stopped writing. I went through a bunch more ideas and half-written things, such as a multi-part epic fantasy that was based on the Chao Garden minigame from Sonic Adventure 2 and therefore sadly unpublishable as original work, before eventually moving on to the 'Mirrorworld' concept, and, well, that's how we got here. In fact now that I think about it, video games have inspired quite a bit of my creative interest, so that's one in the eye to those who'll say they rot your brain.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Oh, this is a great question!

Catch-22 (Joseph Heller): I first came across this book on a whim at my local library, and didn't quite know what to make of it. It sat unread until the time came to take it back, when I for some reason took a chance and decided to renew it, and give it another shot. From there I plunged right into it and came to love the shit out of it. Catch-22 is hilarious, messy, dark, twisted and poignant, beautifully written with one of the most eclectic casts of characters ever assembled. It doesn't always treat them well, but it obviously cares for each and every one of the people crushed beneath its titular clause.

Last Chance to See (Douglas Adams, Mark Cawardine): my other favourite book. I'm a big fan of Adams, but his style has for me never worked quite as well as it does in this, his grounded travelogue about that time he went around the world trying to find endangered species in their natural habitat. Adams and Cawardine detail the trials of travel and the bravery and hilarity inherent to everyone they met on the way in a way that somehow manages to be just as funny as it is poignant. The book is ultimately a celebration of nature but never completely a condemnation of humanity, and that's quite an achievement.

Night Watch (Terry Pratchett): the Discworld wasn't my first big fantasy series, but it was certainly my most formative. I learnt a lot from PTerry, and I loved almost all of his books when I first consumed them. As I've gotten older I've become less enamoured of the series as a whole, but there are a few instalments that never lose their lustre, and Night Watch, the tale of honourable copper Sam Vimes being accidentally sent back in time and forced to become his own mentor in a city on the brink of revolution, is the best of them. Reaper Man is a very close second.

The Shadow Rising (Robert Jordan): The Wheel of Time WAS my first big fantasy series, and I still love it. For every chapter wasted on pointless plotlines or very interesting gender politics, there's five epic ones about an entire world slowly turning towards a destined apocalypse of evil, and the drama, magic, battles and miscellaneous excitement that its insanely large cast of characters have to go through to save it. TSR just about wins out as my favourite of all the books, but A Crown of Swords and Winter's Heart are pretty close behind it. I'll even go to bat for Crossroads of Twilight, the 'one where nothing happens'.

In Search of Lost Time (Marcel Proust): somewhere within the swirling, dreamlike chaos of its stream-of-consciousness prose, there's a wounded, broken soul capable of fierce insight into the human condition, and there's nothing quite like sinking into that for a while. Few authors force you to read them at their pace; I'm naturally a swift reader, but with ISoLT, I slow down, take my time, savour every ridiculously complicated sentence and don't move on until I feel like I've figured out every part of it, which can take a while. I picked up Proust fairly recently; I'm only on the second volume, 'Within a Budding Grove', as I've been dipping in and out between other books, but this slow going is nice. The first volume, 'Swann's Way', was definitely my favourite so far, though.
What are the easiest and hardest things about writing?
The hardest thing is doing it. The easiest thing is not doing it. That probably sounds a bit trite, but it's really true. It's easy to have a great idea, but actually getting it down on page and shaping it to look like it did in your head is a whole different story. It needs a lot of discipline, and a real passion for it. It's just like any other job, really: if you don't enjoy it, you won't want to do it. Personally, I'm a hardcore procrastinator, so I have to struggle constantly with my desire to get distracted and do other stuff.
What are you working on next?
More Mirrorworld! I've got lots of stories of the Mirrorworld planned. The next one is called 'Shade', and is about an underground country, soaked in sourcery, and the various push-pull efforts of many characters as they work to rescue it from the downward spiral that it's been in for a few hundred years. It's got bounty hunters, demons, questions of identity, obsession, love, and a giant petrified quasi-dimensional jellyfish.

Aside of that, I'm working on a couple of short stories, as well as a children's book, if I can find where I left my illustrator.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
'The Twits'. Roald Dahl's brutal tale about two terrible people and the terrible things they did to each other, and to other people. Also, there were monkeys, and the most beautifully twisted ending. The impact this book had on me at the tender age of 6 was that I learned books can be AWESOME. Dahl was the first author of my childhood, and I still have a soft spot for the grumpy bastard.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a pretty heavy reader. As well as 'In Search of Lost Time', which is my long-term project, I'm also currently taking a crack at Joyce's 'Ulysses'. I also just finished Murakami's 'Kafka on the Shore', which was a bit too metaphysical and ephemeral for my tastes, and will be dipping into 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' as soon as I manage to barter my e-reader back from my partner. She's currently reading through 'A Song of Ice and Fire', though, so I'm not holding out for that one any time soon.

Aside of that I love video games, pop-culture, and playing the guitar, although I'm not particularly good at it. My non-hobby time is generally filled by going to my day job, which is really more of a night job, and by drinking coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
What were you like at school?
Hah! I was a pasty-faced redhead who wore glasses. I wasn't very cool, and was pretty aware that I wasn't, so I never tried too hard to appear cooler than I was, and for the most part, I got left alone. I was lucky to have some excellent friends, most of whom were quite happy to also be marginalised and just get on with stuff. I always loved English, and I always used to invent stories to get out of Physical Education, to the point where the teachers just gave up and let me sit it out each week. That probably tells you pretty much all you need to know about me and my interests, come to think of it..
When did you decide to become a writer?
I don't know if there ever was a time when I consciously decided that this what I wanted to do. Like I've mentioned in other questions, I've pretty much always been doing it. But the point where I decided I wanted to get out there and get published was when I finished 'Mirrorworld'; it's a different story when you've actually got something in your pocket, as opposed to a Documents folder full of ideas and half-written tales. Once you have something to share, you end up wanting to share it.
Published 2015-10-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

After Hours
Price: Free! Words: 2,550. Language: English. Published: October 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The four horsemen of the apocalypse walk into a bar... An extra epilogue to 'Mirrorworld'.
Mirrorworld
You set the price! Words: 150,470. Language: English. Published: October 26, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
One man stands on the brink of death, tired of life, of a world that never wanted him. But another world waits beyond his reflection, and there, in its strange reflection of the reality he knows, dark magic and villainous beasts are gathering for an assault. There, he is needed.