Interview with j7gardner

Describe your desk
My desk is a section of my loft that looks out over the house below me. It helps me to have space. My other 'desk' is my screen porch. I have a few framed photos of family members and ancestors on my desk along with random old photos. I have long side section with handwritten notes.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in two different places. My family lived in northern Illinois where we had a house surrounded by dense woods. My brother and i spent hours year around in those woods. In the summer, I also spent time in southern Illinois on my grandparent's farm. This was probably the most significant influence on my writing. My grandparents were products of the early 20th century. Their way of telling stories, their values and the relics and old structures on their farm shaped my imagination. Deep woods with creeks that sometimes wouldn't see a human visitor for years, were my play ground. Very spooky turf.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote in High School but it really wasn't until I turned 41 that I became serious about writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My book published on lulu is a collection of short stories. The main title, A Bargain with Hecate, is a story about a row of trees that appear in a village set in a quasi medieval time. The cover for the book shows four trees from my farm. I drive by them almost every day. One day it was rainy and dour. I looked at the trees and said 'these trees, Hecate the sisters three. From there, the story began to unfold. It was late winter and vey little sunshine was getting through during the day. That also contributed to the supernatural element of the story. I'm very influenced by the seasons.

Chevelle, was written for my brother. It is a very, very loose interpretation of one line from Elton John's Rocket Man.

The Forgetters began oddly enough with a break up text I received. I went on to delete texts from this person and it gave me the idea for the story.

Red Bird Blue Bird. I spend a lot of time shuttling tractors, equipment and hay on back roads. The delta Blues are my favorite music. One day i passed a red bird and on the way back a blue bird, both were dead, I'm a superstitious sort so this story was born.

The Delivery is actually a part of a larger novel I am trying to finish. I was buying milk at a convenience store and noticed how hostile and distant everyone in the store was to one another. I wanted to write a zombie or 28 days later sort of story so this is where it began.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I love to read. I love to write. I would be very happy if my stories can reach complete strangers and give them an escape.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I'm just getting started so 'success' is a little premature. Smashwords has given me a platform to publish and greatly empowered me and you the reader. I plan to buy other author's books as well. Go Smashwords!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When an acquaintance I would never expect to like my stories tells me they enjoy or enjoyed something I wrote. The process of writing is fun for me personally but the best, the greatest joy is reaching other people however tenuously.
What do your fans mean to you?
Again, I feel it would be facetious for me to say I have fans. I have readers mostly people to whom I am connected on Facebook. When they read and tell me they have or share any insight from a story or post, it is like an energy and currency all rolled into one. I thrive on knowing I helped someone escape from the non fiction world.
What are you working on next?
I have 3 much longer novels. Cobb's Tree is my present project. It is about a group of people tied together by a drunk driving crash that shatters their lives. The driver is a charismatic high school football player. In the present day, he wants to forget the crash. He spent time in prison over it, lost his future and severely hurt his friends and town. His life is a ruin of shame. He starts getting notes taunting him about the past. Soon, body parts start showing up in his yard.
Who are your favorite authors?
Raymond Chandler, Melinda Haynes, Walter Mosley, Frank Herbert, Philip K. Dick. Martin Cruz Smith, James Lee Burke. Daniel Woodwell, Joseph Conrad. Flannery O'Conner. Stan Lee, H.P. Lovecraft.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Life is short. I have so many things i want to do. Living on a farm makes it pretty easy to get up. There is always something to do.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Farm work, moving cattle. I read, make wine, garden, cut up scrap and take it to the yard. Basic, hillbilly things.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I just hunt through them. If there is a well known author I like I will search them. I read classics but also just surf itunes or Smashword for random indie authors.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote / illustrated a story about a guy that hunted serial killers and then later a story about a man who hits his head during a stage coach robbery and when he wakes, he is convinced he is a gunfighter. Pretty silly, macho stuff.
What is your writing process?
I have to create a setting first. I have to have a scene, a visual dramatic intro. I will usually write it first. Then I start outlining and asking questions about conflict and loyalties. One thing I am slowly learning is that, I need to write a story and then leave it alone for months before coming back to it. When I do, I understand it better and will be able to develop relationships and flesh out characters better.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Most likely it was a comic book. The early works of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee really fired up my vocabulary. The Dark is Rising was one of the books that really caught my imagination at a young age. I could see the snow and hear the quiet when Will Stanton awakes to discover that magic has come.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Dune: It is epic and so incredibly interwoven. The treachery is as palatable as the Spice.
A Scanner Darkly: My mind had to sprint to keep up with this book.
Anything by Raymond Chandller: He is like a feather weight boxer. Every hit, every word counts. Then he drops these doozies. "She gave me a look I felt in my hip pocket"
Chalktown: Melinda Haynes is like Faulkner but you can follow her. You can taste the dirt on the roads and hear the grits sizzle.
Ian Rankin: I didn't mention him earlier but he makes you want to drink with John Rebus even though you know he is a shady bastard. Rankin can write dialogue like no other.
Anything by James lee Burke. His bad guys can terrify you with just a few implied sentences. Clete Purcell is the coolest supporting character ever.
What do you read for pleasure?
Comic books.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Mac or my iPad
Published 2015-07-06.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

A Bargain With Hecate
Price: $3.00 USD. Words: 17,020. Language: English. Published: July 4, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
A Bargain with Hecate: The appearance of three fully grown trees at the top of the valley brings a never ending dusk on the villagers. One by one, the town elders and friar meet horrific deaths. The villagers only hope may lie with the last survivor of a pagan tribe. Five short stories of dark fiction and altered realities.