Interview with J. Russell Sparks

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
A lot of the time it is a hope that today will bring better opportunities than yesterday did. Also a very persistent cat that head butts me until I make sure her food dish is filled for the day.
Who are your favorite authors?
Wow! Where to begin... I guess for classics there is Lovecraft, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Doyle. For fantasy it has to be Tolkien, Martin, and Robert Asprin. For sci-fi one of my favorites is Brad Linaweaver, he isn't just a great writer for alternate fiction, but has become a personal mentor of sorts for me since I first met him. There are really a great deal of writers that I could say aren't necessarily favorites, but have definitely influenced my own writing.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Hmmm... Not the first one that I read, but the first one that had a profound impact on me. It was The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. I was really captivated by the world of Middle Earth. It was the one that made me want to create my own worlds. (Thanks Mom for the Tolkien Box set for Christmas that year.)
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Not really... I think it was an assignment for English class in middle school where we had to write three intros and the teacher chose one of those for us to do a four page story on. Darned if I remember what mine was.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Working mostly, though a retail job can be a poor substitute for writing these days. Other than that reading, time with the cat, time on the phone with my son when I get a chance, some crafts or cooking, and occasionally getting some exercising done. I would say gaming and writers group, but most of that time is spent writing as well.
What is your writing process?
I really don't have one that I know of yet. Sometimes I outline it first then try to follow that, other times it is just throw something on paper or the laptop and hope it sticks.
One of my favorites is from our writers group where we either roll story dice, or each picks an item, and then we have 30 minutes to come up with a shortened story. After that we often go back to the story and see if it is something to run with. One of mine went from a short three page idea to what became a 22,000 word dieselpunk space battle. You can come up with some really neat gems out of a 30 minute speed writing.
How do you approach cover design?
Well it is new to me. So my first one is pretty simple. But my others are more of a traditional look. Since I like to write Steampunk, Dieselpunk, and Adventure Pulp I feel that they should have the classic pulp style covers. I am talking to a couple of friends who are artists about maybe doing my covers with that feel to them.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Through looking for other ebooks. I like to look for ebooks that might give me information I could use for story ideas and when I find one I will look to see what others who bought that one has read. I also come across my ebooks through blanket searches where I type in say medieval life, and then just look through what comes up. As a result my library is a pretty mixed bag.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
"The Lord of the Rings" saga. Yes I know that this is multiple books, but you need to read them all to fully appreciate the world they entail.

Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire Saga." See reasons above.

"1984." Anyone that thinks that this story is stupid just doesn't see how easily that this book could become real. (And in some ways already is very real.)

"Exploration Fawcett." The journal notes and observations of one of the greatest explorers of the Amazon up to just prior to his disappearance. This is a mystery that has never been solved and over a hundred people have given their lives in the effort to find what happened to Percy Fawcett. I find it totally fascinating.

"No Surrender, My Thirty Year War." Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda of the Japanese Imperial Army goes into hiding in beginning of 1945 when the Americans took the island of Lubang and stayed there fighting a guerilla war until March 1974. This is his autobiography of those years.
What do you read for pleasure?
Steampunk, dieselpunk, adventure pulp, fantasy, and some unusual biographies and history books. Though I do have a collection of over 350 cookbooks too.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
The Nook. I have had one of each of its incarnations I think.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There is an old saying, well as old as gaming goes, I am not the one who said it first...
"I am not a gamer because I don't have a life, I am a gamer because I choose to have many."
Writing is kind of like that. For a brief time I can step out of this world and into another, several others. (And do so without coming across as crazy.) If I can share those worlds with others... So much the better.
Published 2013-12-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

To Sit Upon A Stony Throne
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,320. Language: English. Published: November 21, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Horror » Ghost
For Jacob, his quiet little valley has been home for his entire life and he has never had a reason to leave. But on this morning he finds himself journeying up in to the mountains for reasons unknown to him. With a great deal of trepidation he will soon find out why he is there, and the price of this unexpected journey.