Interview with JL Stratton

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
While it is difficult at my age to remember the very first story I wrote, I do remember the story that set me on a path to a life-long enjoyment of writing. It was a creative writing assignment. I wrote a piece of speculative fiction (although the term speculative would not come into play for years) involving a set of characters escaping from their home planet and arriving at another. The characters were so much like that of Adam and Eve protrayed in the jewish and christian bible that I actually named them "Adam" and "Evek." At this early age, I had not yet developed a skill for naming characters. My teacher was appalled by the story. She gave me a grade of 'C' and wrote something referring to blashpemy on the first page. From that point, I was hooked on creating stories that tested the reader's beliefs.
What is your writing process?
I normally start with an idea or just a tiny seed of a story. I'll write a scene or a character sketch and go from there. At some point I do formulate a very loose outline just to make sure that events and characters are matched. My first draft is often very sparse, basically describing a character doing something or going from one place to another. On the second pass, as I get to know my characters, I add more detail. One odd thing about my process is that, while many writers reduce their word count during rewrites, I normally increase mine because of my initial sparse writing style.
How do you approach cover design?
I wish I had a great cover artist on standby. Unfortunately, because of my need for creative control and lack of funds, I've yet to hire an artist and rely mostly on my own cover designs.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read a variety of genres and styles of writing by varied authors. Sometimes I like to read some lines of poetry, other times a science fiction space opera. I never shy away from a thriller or a mystery novel. Mostly, I like to read other independent authors lately because I am discovering that the quality of independents are often better than most established or popular authors. Lately, I've been impressed by the works of Michael Moorcock. I love the way he melds characters into scenes of ancient sword and scorcery as well as futuristic societies on the edge of extinction.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have no real favorite and would use just about anything I had in my possession. Right now, I have all my e-books on a nook because so many people have given me a Barnes & Noble gift card for just about every occasion. Okay, I might have asked for some of them.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth has by far been the most effective form of marketing for me. I believe this holds true for all authors.
Describe your desk
Messy. Notes everywhere, some of them not even related to writing.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. I believe that living in this beautiful but harsh part of the country gave me a sense of place that I hope to convey in my writing. I like to fill my stories with a sense of place. I like to use elements of weather, temperature, and environment as part of the driving force within a story. I remember growing up so far north that there was this huge disparity of daylight between Summer and Winter. Summer days seemed to go on forever while even mid-day in Winter was gray dark and gloomy. Those dark Winter nights left plenty of time for writing.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Freedom. Freedom to write when, what, and how I like without contract obligations or pressure to write for the market. I understand fully the challenges of being an independent writer and accept them completely because to me personally, the benefits far outnumber the challenges.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords gives me a firm platform on which to distribute my efforts. As an independent writer. Without this platform, I certainly would not have the luxury of distributing my work to outlets such as ibooks, kobo, or even barnes and noble.
Published 2015-05-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Sentient Soldier
Price: Free! Words: 920. Language: English. Published: June 11, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Military
(3.50 from 6 reviews)
The cold realities of war are realized too late both by a manufactured soldier and the command team that controls him. This is a dystopian look at mental conditioning and creating the ultimate soldier, without empathy or fear of pain.