Interview with Justin M. Kelly

How do you approach cover design?
I try to find images that provoke the feel of the book. If they also apply literally, that's just a bonus. Right now, I design my own covers, but in the future, I hope to hire someone who can help me get a more professional look.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Only five? That's a tough one. It's rare that I read a book and don't find something to love about it. There have been some, but they are few and far between. If you really want to nail me down to five, I suppose I would have to go with books that I've read several times. I'll start with the Harry Potter series. (Yes, I'm counting the series as one book.) Next would be Stephen King's The Stand. I don't know how many times I've read it, but it was my grandfather's copy and it's falling apart now. Then there's The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway. I read it for the first time when I was in college and I just fell in love with the images of Paris and Spain and the art of manliness. Say what you want about the man, but he sure can write. I can't leave out the Lord Of The RIngs Saga (again, counting the whole series as one and throwing in The Hobbit for good measure. Sue me.) Finally, I'd have to go with a fairly obscure one called Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. In it, a comet hits the earth. I partly loved it because I've always had an unhealthy obsession with end of the world scenarios. I think I get it from my grandfather because, like The Stand, my copy came from his library. The other reason is that it partially takes place in the area where I grew up. It's fascinating to read about how the apocalypse effects your old stomping grounds.
What do you read for pleasure?
I try to keep an even mix of books that I lump into two groups. Meat and candy. Meat books are the classics, some of which I really should have read years ago. The meat group also includes more literary works or books on serious topics. Candy books on the other hand are fun ones that don't require too much thought. These are typically, but not always, genre books. I love horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. Of course there can be quite a bit of crossover between meat and candy books.
Describe your desk
I suppose eclectic would be the best word. I have two desks actually, they're arranged in an L-shape. I painted them both in black chalkboard paint so I can brainstorm right on the desktop. Behind the desk is a bookshelf painted to match. In addition to my collection of writing books, I have all sorts of toys to play with when I'm thinking. I even have an assortment of "army men" in different styles that I sometimes use as stand-ins when I'm figuring out a battle scene. Fantasy is one of my favorite genres to write. I've been collecting swords and such since I was a teenager, so most of them are on display in my office. Also on my desk is the display case where I show off my collection of fountain pens.
When did you first start writing?
I don't know the exact age, but I was very young. In grammar school. I remember the first thing I ever wrote. It was a poem. Almost a limerick, but not quite. "There once was a bee. Who flew in a tree. He flew in and out. And let out a shout. And nobody saw him again." I thought it was silly even back then, but my teacher really wanted me to put it and a bunch of other, equally silly, poems I wrote in a book and publish them. I never did, but sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had. Even before that, I would often entertain myself by making up stories.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love it when the story takes on a life of its own and surprises even me when it takes a sudden, unexpected twist. Or when several, seemingly unrelated plot points suddenly tie themselves together as if by magic. I guess you could say I still write for my own entertainment.
What is your writing process?
Procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate. Seriously though, I like to start with a cup of coffee if I'm at work, or something stronger if I'm at home, and a pipe of good tobacco. I know it's not good for me, but it helps me think. I sit, preferably outside weather permitting, and sip my drink and smoke my pipe as I think about my coming writing session. When I finally do sit down, I prefer to listen to music. I'm an overthinker. Music tends to block that part out and just let me flow. I prefer to listen to indie musicians such as Lindsey Stirling, Peter Hollens, The Piano Guys, and Pentatonix for general writing. If I'm doing a fight scene, some good eighties or nineties metal is perfect.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have an older model kindle. The kind with the keyboard on it. That one floats around the house, but can usually be found in the bathroom. I also have a few different tablets, one of which is usually on me. I also keep one next to my bed. If all else fails, I always have my iPhone. I'm one of those strange people who can read several books at a time, so I like to have a different book cued up on each device. Of course, I'll always love the smell and feel of a real, printed book. I'm usually in the middle of reading a couple of those as well.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Honestly? The haters. I know it sounds petty, but I've had several people say, "If you're really a writer, how come I haven't seen anything you've written?" I got tired of those comments as I attempt to finish my novel, so I've decided to start publishing shorts for people to read while they wait.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Usually it's because my back starts aching from being there too long. If it weren't for that and needing to make money so I can do the eating thing, I probably never would. I'm lazy like that.
Published 2016-05-27.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.