Where Writers And Authors Meet Interviews:
J.D. Hallowell was our Featured Spotlight author last week and visitors were encouraged to ask J.D. some of their own questions! Here is a link to that Spotlight! Feel free to ask more questions, and we might just be able to get J.D. back for a follow up interview!
Janet Sketchley says:
JD, with your varied life experiences I’d have guessed that you write suspense/espionage/action. It looks like some of that comes out in your fantasy novels, which are now on my to-read list. What is it about fantasy and science fiction that inspires you to write in those genres? And congratulations on the great reviews!
Thanks! My favorite books have always been fantasy and science fiction, and that’s the direction my mind goes in when I sit down to write. Also, to my way of thinking, these genres offer writers more freedom than any others. At least one of the SF projects that I have on the back burner will fall firmly into the suspense/action/espionage section of the genre if it ever sees the light of day, but it’s on the back burner partly because I’m not finding the action/suspense parts as interesting to write as the SF parts. Writing what you know is great, to a point, but I like to see how I can take what I know and apply it in new situations. Writing fantasy and SF lets me have experiences that I haven’t had before – that no one has had before – and I think that is part of the attraction.
Also, as someone relatively new to dragon stories, I’m curious about how much of the dragons’ culture and characteristics you’ve developed for your story world and how much is standard among the dragon genre? Are there unwritten rules an author shouldn’t break, or is it pretty free territory?
Dragons in fiction and mythology run the gamut from evil, world-destroying demons to protector gods, with an incredible variety of permutations in between. When you call something a dragon, there are a few general things that people expect, such as vaguely reptilian bodies, breathing fire (or poison), hatching from eggs, and so on, and if you were going to deviate very much from those, you’d have to be pretty careful to be sure that readers got that information up front, so they didn’t go through the book assuming those things and then hit a jarring contradiction later on. Aside from those very broad characteristics, you have a lot of freedom. The dragon rider theme is one that a number of people have written about, but the dragon culture in my books is unique to them, as far as I know.
And what’s your favourite thing about your dragons? (Janet Sketchley, janetsketchley.wordpress.com)
Asking me to tell my favorite thing about my dragons is like asking me to tell what my favorite thing about my children is. I love everything about them. If I absolutely had to pick one aspect, I’d have to say that it would be the soul-deep connection and unconditional love between dragon and rider.
How have your many experiences aided you in writing your genres? I think a fictional account of your life would be exceptional to read!
Kadi Dillon says:
Hi! Like you, I have a huge variety of jobs, interests, and hobbies. I feel as though this wide range gives me the knowledge and experience I need to bring “realness” to my stories. Do you feel that having so many different interest helps you be a better writer?
These two questions seem to be really close to each other, so I’m going to answer them together. Having a broad base of experience makes a huge difference. The wider your interests and experiences, the more chances you have to draw connections and look at things from different perspectives. The more things you know in-depth, the more you can use that detailed knowledge to help build your world and your characters. In addition, some of the scenes and situations in my books have been directly or indirectly inspired by things that I have seen and done.
Jo Linsdell says:
WOW you have one of the most interesting bio’s I’ve read in a long time! Which of your many jobs before becoming a writer did you enjoy most and why?
I’ve done a lot of things that were fun, exciting, challenging, and worthwhile, but I think I’d have to say that the job I enjoyed most on a day-to-day level before becoming a writer is one that got omitted from the bio. It was being a counselor at an afterschool program and summer day camp. Most of my work day consisted of playing games. My job was essentially to help the kids have fun while keeping them safe, and I took both parts of that description very seriously. If it had paid anything like a living wage, I might never have moved on to anything else. Even ten years after I left that job, whenever I was back in the city, I’d be walking down a sidewalk or through the grocery store and hear “J.D.!!!!”, and someone who had been a kid in my group would come flying over to see me and share what they had been up to. It was very rewarding.
From Virginia Jennings:
Do you have any advice on marketing for new authors?
I don’t know that I’m really qualified to give advice to other authors, aside from the standard advice that everyone has already heard: figure out who your audience is, figure out how they hear about new books they’d like to read, and figure out how to get your books mentioned there. Get your book into the hands of people who are going to love it, and who are going to be willing to tell that to everyone they know who likes the same kinds of things. And keep writing!
Which one of your characters would you like to take on vacation? Where would you go and what would you do?
If I was going to take one of my characters on vacation, it would have to be Geneva. We’d go fly off to some crystal-clear mountain lake in an inactive volcano that you could only reach on dragonback, and we’d spend a week just relaxing, sunning, and fishing, enjoying the cool, crisp, clean air and the black sand beaches in the perfect combination of companionship and solitude.
The fact that I don’t answer to a boss. I think the most tactful description of this trait that I ever heard was from a career counselor whose report read that, according to the personality inventories he’d administered, my “work drive would be expressed most smoothly if self-employed.” It’s funny that the best thing about writing, that I have complete freedom to set my own hours and choose what I’m going to work on, is also the worst part, because it requires a great deal of self-imposed discipline, and it’s easy to get tripped up by the fact that hard work pays off eventually, but procrastination pays off right now.
I think there are always things that we think we’d do differently in retrospect, but we really have no way of knowing if that would make things turn out better or worse. We just know that it would be different. Part of me thinks that if I had one do-over, I’d change how I approached college coursework after I got out of the military, and I’d go into teaching. I expound about things I’m interested in to anyone who will listen all the time anyway, and teaching would have given me a captive audience, as well as being a little easier on my body than some of my other choices, and it would have given me plenty of time to still pursue other interests.
Dragon Fate is the first book in the War of the Blades series. It’s a heroic fantasy adventure that starts to move into epic territory toward the end. It’s been very well-received, and was named one of the “Top 5 Indie Books You Should Have Read, but Haven’t” by the New Orleans Books Examiner, and got a 5-star rating in Indie Review magazine. For a quick idea of what readers can expect, the back cover copy is probably the best place to start: “Dragon Fate, the critically-acclaimed first novel from J.D. Hallowell, is a heroic fantasy adventure in the classic tradition of the genre. Delno Okonan is a young former soldier eager to put the swords and strife of war behind him, when a chance encounter leaves him inextricably entwined in a tangled web of dragons, magic, and intrigue, as he struggles to find his place among dragons and men, and stave off a plot by renegade dragon riders that threatens all he now holds dear.”
Dragon Blade is my latest release. It is a little faster-paced and has more battles and “action” than Dragon Fate, but the story picks right up almost where Dragon Fate left off, and all the same central characters are there. There are a few surprises along the way, and, intermingled with the action, you find out more backstory on many of the characters, not just Delno and Corolan, and you get some more of the history of the dragons and the Riders, too. Some characters who may have seemed relatively minor in Dragon Fate end up playing much larger roles in Dragon Blade.
Barnes and Noble:
From the Admin: Thank you for sharing your answers with us J.D.! Your books sound really interesting!