Interview with J. Jeffrey Parker

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the suburbs of Philly. I admit, my childhood was pretty much idyllic. I had a very close friend growing up who shows up in my writing (I won't say where) and we're still very close today. She and I made our neighborhood our little kingdom, and I remember very fondly all the time we spent together. We played a lot of video games, but it was the nineties--everyone did. I'd say we spent half of our time outside exploring. We knew every backyard like our own, and had an internal map of the whole complex. Whatever we played, it was always imaginary. We'd be heroes or villains, knights or wizards, Pokemon or Pokemon trainers (Shush, it was the nineties). We were very rarely ourselves. Without a doubt, our fates were forged early on--she's an avid writer as well.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing in high school, which is about the time I started reading as well. I read things before, of course. The odd book here and there, summer reading for school--that kind of thing. But in high school, I had the free time that a wounded spirit makes for itself, and after a chance encounter with someone in my science class (He was reading a Salvatore book) I realized that there were books--whole stories written in the Faerun universe that I loved dearly from computer games like Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. I bought Homeland, book one of Salvatore's Legend of Drizzt series, and absolutely devoured it. I had never encountered characters so real, action so intense, and plots so thick. I finished it, and was back in the book store for the second and third book in the series that very same day. It was then that I realized that the stories I had in my head from the years of Role-Playing video games could, and *should* be written down. That's when Tale of the Bladesinger started, a work that's even today still in progress.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Sleeping Mind is something of a labor of love. I started a study on Lovecraft at the beginning of last winter (2015) with the intention of doing a piece that pays homage to his Cthulhu mythos. I've long been interested in his work, but I couldn't say that I ever truly immersed myself in it until then. I began with Call of Cthulhu and kept reading up until around January of this year (2016) when I began work on a 'Lovecraftian' of my own. Sleeping Mind is a strange beast, since I had never up until that point written strictly in first person. However, I kept it comfortably in my fantasy setting, and what resulted was a gripping delve into lost knowledge of my world.

As for my current project... Well, the follow-up to Ishaara's story is definitely more dense. Think novella rather than short story. It focuses on Gabriel, who finds his way to the city beyond the Godseye, but he's not prepared for what he finds there. It's a story of self-exploration and truth, and he certainly won't emerge unscathed.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I think the better question here is what motivates me as an author. I like the indie platform because of the freedom that it allows, and I'm very grateful to live in a time in which I can enjoy the benefits of self-publishing. As far as my writing is concerned, I suppose it would be the voices in my head.
Sort of.
I have so much going on that drives my creativity, whether on the D&D table, in front of a screen, or a book in my hands. I feel the need to share the characters I develop and tell their stories. On top of that, the feeling I get when someone enjoys my work is incomparable. That's really what it's all about.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has allowed me the freedom to publish my work without the restrictions of a strict publishing firm. Without indie sites like these, my work might not exist on the market at all. I respect the site and everyone who runs it and humbly thank them for leading the charge of DRM-free media. It's something I'm really passionate about and I'm glad they are too.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Ack, this is going to sound sappy.
So be it.
The greatest joy of writing for me is when someone comes to me with my work, whether I gave it to them or not, and they tell me how much they enjoyed it. While it's true that everyone should write for themselves, part of what makes my world spin is knowing that I told a great story and that someone else enjoyed it.
What are you working on next?
For now, I'm working on the follow-up to Sleeping Mind. After that, I can't really say at the moment. I don't think you've seen the last of Ishaara, but I'm also gradually picking at a longer, novel-length book that I want to have done within a couple years, if not sooner.
Who are your favorite authors?
Finally! A question I can answer easily! Without a doubt, R.A. Salvatore. He's what got me here, after all. Others favorites include (In no particular order) Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Stephen King, and Brian Staveley. I've got to stop somewhere, so those are the major players. I could go on forever.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm currently a college junior, so more time than I'd like is devoted to my studies. When I'm not slaving over homework, I'm usually either at the D&D table or playing some variety of video game. I've been hooked on Bloodborne recently, and I'm a huge fan of the Dark Souls games. If I'm too lazy to roll dice or dodge roll, I'll probably be inside a book. Way of Kings is my current go-to, but I'm almost afraid to finish it and start Words of Radiance before book 3 comes out... I'm not very good at waiting.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Gods, I do. Oh, I do. I remember because it's still unfinished. I suffer from a terrible curse of grandeur. When I was in high school reading The Legend of Drizzt, I started an epic tale of my own, that followed one of my oldest RPG characters, Tsaveric Silverspear. Sadly, much of that work was lost in a hard-drive failure (Never. Again. Always. Cloud.) but I've been slowly re-creating it ever since. It'll be here someday, and it'll age like wine, I promise.
Published 2016-06-29.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Sleeping Mind
Series: River of Souls. Price: Free! Words: 7,970. Language: English. Published: July 3, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Dark, Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(5.00 from 1 review)
My name is Ishaara Daldien. If I am not dead already, I likely will be soon. I do not know where I am, but I suspect I am between realms. Perhaps above them? Is this the place of which Gabriel spoke? Gabriel. I will find you. I will find a way out, but it will be a way forward. As you found a bridge, I will build one. I will build one, cross it, and make you answer for what you have done.