Interview with J. J. MacLeod

What is your writing process?
I get up early and write for an hour or more, take a long walk with the woman I sleep with, eat breakfast and write until my stomach signals that it's time for lunch. Then I may go back to work until the five o'clock news. Being a morning person by nature, nothing good can come from trying to write in the evening.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
My first novel was a whodunit about a minister who was killed in his own study at church. Well received by the few friends who read the draft, it never quite found a home in the publishing industry. I learned then that writing was an arduous cycle of creating, revising, editing and exposing my work to criticism and rejection. Twenty-odd years later, it still is.
How do you approach cover design?
I use a professional graphic designer, www.sherinutter.com. She can take the few notions I toss her and turn them into something magical. See for yourself at your favorite retailer.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My favorites tend to be mysteries and thrillers, but they can change over time. Current favorites include works from John Sandford, Clive Cussler and David Baldacci. I miss Tony Hillerman and Tom Clancy.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was a Navy brat, moving fairly often to different parts of the country. My business career resulted in thirteen household moves, and we traveled full time in an RV for ten years after retirement. My writing is informed by the people I met, the situations I observed and the regional quirks I encountered in various locations.
When did you first start writing?
I began writing my first novel and occasional columns for the local newspaper in 1992.
What's the story behind your latest book?
'Disappearing Queen' is about losing someone you love deeply. What if the most important person in your life suddenly vanished? How would you react and what would you change if you had a second chance? Harry and his friend Charlie Short work through their answers in a story about the Russian Mafia and the mob's relentless quest for revenge.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I spent the better part of three years trying to attract a literary agent and publisher for my first novel twenty years ago. At that time, one book out of one-thousand made it through the gauntlet. Indie publishing turns the process upside-down and makes it possible for me to publish three new novels with a few keystrokes. Of course, I now bear all the responsibility for editing, cover design, marketing and promotion that traditional publishers once provided, but I also take their cut of the profits.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There is a moment, sometimes fleeting, when my created characters take control of the story and move the plot in a whole new direction. When it happens, I look at what I have written and ask myself "Where did that come from?" It's the fun of discovery that I hope will be shared by the reader.
What do your fans mean to you?
Just like professional sports, everything depends on the fans. The money helps, but our fragile egos depend on the enthusiasm and encouragement of readers who stay with us through thick and thin. Any feedback is appreciated because we can always do better if we know what works and what doesn't.
What are you working on next?
The working title is 'Presumed Trust', a story which revolves around deception. We usually take things at face value, assuming that we will be treated fairly and honestly in personal and business relationships. Other times we assume the worst, judging people and situations based on our own prejudices. Harry becomes entangled in both when he attempts to untangle the truth about narcotics manufacturing and drug abuse.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Every day is a stretch, but I can usually answer the bell to get up and write or rewrite a difficult passage. Writing takes discipline, doing what it takes whether you feel like it or not. Inspiration comes with perspiration, either literal or figurative. Taking a brisk walk with my decidedly better half usually helps if we banter back and forth about what I'm working on at the moment. She has a way of asking questions or giving me honest answers that I need to hear.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
We are involved in various ministries with our local church and volunteer at the local elementary school. From time to time we take long trips just to get away and get a new perspective. We are fortunate to live in an area with wonderful vistas, great classical radio and diverse cultural events. I also enjoy watching my better half capture the surrounding hills and bays in inspiring landscapes.
Describe your desk
My desk is a faux wood thrift-store special with sliding drawers for supplies and in-process materials. The top is big enough to accommodate my laptop computer and printer, a lamp, drink coaster and working space for reference works. It sits in the corner of the basement between two sliding doors that provide much-needed light and ventilation.
Published 2015-10-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Immigrant Impasse
Series: Harry & Company Mysteries. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 82,610. Language: English. Published: May 24, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy
Harry’s Pennsylvania getaway is ruined when he encounters a real corpse at a Murder Mystery Weekend. The secretive Israeli had gotten too close to the truth about savage crimes committed decades earlier, and the keys to the killings are being guarded by the powerful German family who still controls the town. Passions run high as Harry and Company follow the money trail to find the real answers.
Timely Diversion
Series: Harry & Company Mysteries. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 78,980. Language: English. Published: March 8, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
Harry and Brenda are suddenly divided by random events that alter the course of their lives. She is ensnared in a high-profile federal trial she cannot discuss while he struggles to keep a neighbor from digging his own grave. Both of them are drawn into the abyss of gun trafficking, but they must find their own ways out. The answer involves a shadowy figure that neither of them suspected.
Presumed Trust
Series: Harry & Company Mysteries. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 86,640. Language: English. Published: January 13, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
In this fourth book of the Harry & Company Mystery series, Harry uncovers an industrial blackmail plot while Brenda rescues a frightened young woman from jail and Nicky copes with a sinister merchandise scam. The team is pulled in seemingly opposite directions where trust can easily be misplaced and presumptions turn out to be wrong.
Triple Towers
Series: Harry & Company Mysteries. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 75,660. Language: English. Published: October 13, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
Barred from acting on U.S. soil, the CIA hires Harry under the table to locate missing terrorists before they can attack an unknown target. Together with his Company friends, the team discovers that the terrorist ploy is part of a much bigger plot. When the CIA shuts them out of the broader investigation, they take matters into their own hands and find the real reasons behind the wall of secrecy.
Disappearing Queen
Series: Harry & Company Mysteries. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 74,270. Language: English. Published: October 7, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
Disappearing Queen plunges Harry into a search for his friend's wife, affectionately known as 'Queen Mary'. Mary's many identities lead back to her pending testimony against the Russian Mafia, whose plans for revenge endanger even more lives. Federal authorities close in, but the psychotic leader escapes and Mary's fate is sealed in a violent confrontation at the Mexican border.
Jeremy's Secrets
Series: Harry & Company Mysteries. Price: Free! Words: 83,720. Language: English. Published: October 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
When a CIA executive is killed before he can expose illegal operations, Harry Wilson leads an outside effort to find where deputy director Jeremy Foster hid the incriminating evidence. Together with Foster’s ex and other Company retirees, Harry pieces together the facts that lead them to uncover more secrets than anyone ever imagined.