Hi Jonathon Lively tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?
I was inspired to write because I used to run a small business writing professional resumes. I fell in love with writing at that point but I didn’t have the correct outlet at the time. I tried to write a book about resume writing but that didn’t go anywhere. I was just regurgitating information that was already freely available. One day, I was sitting at the bar where I worked and reading a book. I kept thinking that I’d rather be writing, than reading. So, I went home and did exactly that. Question two tells a bit more of that part of my story!
What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?
I started writing in the Fantasy genre because it is basically all I read. Except for some self-help/business books, I read for entertainment. I like to escape to a new world. I love the idea of magic and imagining how it would work blended with today’s society. When I first started writing fantasy, it was a background story on a character I was going to play for a DND campaign. Later that night I turned in a ten-page backstory that made my Dungeon Master want to puke it was so long. But for me, it was just the start. Three days later, I had about sixty-seven pages written on a character that I’d never thought about before. I did not research, I had no pre-determined goal, and there was no outline. I just wrote. That’s when I knew.
Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?
My first completed work has been published and I am in the midst of learning how to properly market a book. That is easily the challenge that I am facing the most. I also struggle with my editing. Sad things for an author I know but its true. I LOVE to write stories but I never claimed to be an English major. I have big problems with my run-on sentences, commas, and fragments. So, I get to pay someone for all of that!
What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?
With my limited writing experience at this point, that is tough to answer. Currently, I am really enjoying the exploration of anti-heroes. I have a few characters detailed out that will be in the coming sequels that I hope, are relatable anti-heroes. I always put a small piece of myself into each character, otherwise its difficult for me to view from their perspective. I envy authors that can come up with these wild characters that have no basis in reality and think completely alien. I haven’t been able to channel that yet. The main character of my first book, Lathan, was based upon my life at the time. At least before the supernatural stuff kicked in. I’ve been told that the introduction to him was slow but that was intentional. I wanted people to relate to this guy who was real, with real problems. And then thrust him into a magical world, hoping that my readers would put themselves in his shoes and say, “how would I respond to that?” The approach had mixed reviews. Some loved it, others thought it was too slow and had trouble getting into the book.
For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?
The advice I will give is the same that I received from Dakota Krout. He was a mentor for me in my first book and without his help, I am not sure if I would have finished the book. Just write. That’s it. Just write. That is vague I know. But for me, it meant two things. First, when you do not know what to write or have writers block. Write something. Anything. Writing something, is better than writing nothing. And once you get the ball rolling, you’ll come back to your WIP, I promise. Second, do not edit your WIP to death. When you are in the zone, when you cannot type fast enough, and the ideas are just rolling out of you, write without stopping. Do not fix those red typos, ignore those blue grammar mistakes, just keep going. You can get all that when you move into your next draft or start editing. Sometimes, if I have writers block, I will review my previous chapter to get back into the zone. In doing so, I will edit a lot of that stuff out at that point. But do not do it in the moment. Just write.
What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?
I write best at night. And currently, I am working nights as a 911 Dispatcher. So, on nights off, I write while the rest of my house is quiet. And on nights that I work, I do smaller projects. If I end up with downtime, I try to spend it working on a project that isn’t too involved. That way I can drop it at a moment notice. When I am home though, I’ll usually sit at my kitchen table or in my recliner. I throw on some head phones and listen to a playlist called Deep Focus on Spotify. The playlist is meditation like music with no vocals. I can’t focus on my writing if the music I am listening to has any singing. Although, I do enjoy throat singing a little. I don’t usually eat while writing, too distracting. But I will drink obnoxious amounts of water and pee like a race horse.
Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?
I am a bit of a pantser so I don’t do a ton of research before beginning my writing. I usually start writing, fill in what I want to be true, and then go back and verify or change what I’ve written. That’s more for a chapter or some detail that is super specific. In regards to a book, I have only written one and I spent about three months outlining that universe. I spent probably twenty hours researching various parts of my universe to make sure that certain aspects were even possible. In the future though, I am unsure if I will do the same level of research. Because I know as an author, I can get really tied down in the research. However, as a reader, I can’t point to a single time when I have stopped reading and looked up a fact to check if it was true or not. I’m reading fantasy fiction, I am taking what I read at face value.
What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?
I am working on the sequel of my first book, The Last Soul. I am working on the sequel following book two as well. In fact, I am writing them as one book, a continuous story, and then finding a good breaking point to split it into two novels. Also, I am writing a side story to my trilogy and I am considering turning it into a podcast. We’ll see. The side story is still in the works and not my main focus at the moment.
With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?
Right now, a darker approach. I don’t feel my stories need to combat the current climate, I feel as though they are some sort of reflection of it. Hence my interest in anti-heroes at the moment.
What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?
Depends on the medium. To read, Harry Potter. To watch, Lord of the Rings. To debate endlessly about, Star Wars. I have more interest in living within the Harry Potter and Star Wars universes. However, I prefer to write in a world most similar to the Lord of the Rings. So, short answer? Yes.