Friday, February 17, 2012

Interview with Jay Mims

1.   What works have you released? What are they about?
Well my first book, “The Five Santas”, was released in October 2011. I actually just finished with the next book, “Cult of Koo-Kway” which if we can get favorable winds and the publishing gods smile on us…should also be out in October. Fingers crossed. Those are the two big books, the Dan Landis mystery series. I’m also in the process of writing another mystery series, something a bit more paranormal. And, I’m hoping to collaborate with a friend on a space opera series. Again, fingers crossed.

2.    How did you get the idea for your work? What lured you to your topics? I have always been a huge TV nerd. “Moonlighting”, “Murder, She Wrote”, “Magnum, P.I.” all the greats. I always loved mysteries, especially character driven mysteries. I think “Psych” is one of the best written TV shows, along with “How I Met Your Mother”, out today. Well, and “Doctor Who”. But, “Doctor Who” is less mystery and more AWESOME. So, I always wanted to write something that would interest a discerning consumer like me.

Actually, I did this short film when I was in graduate school. Yeah, I’m a film school alum…and when I created my portfolio project, I came up with this idea for these wacky and far out mysteries. Fortunately, I had really awesome actors to work with and they really helped bring the characters to life. So when I sat down to write, I always pictured the different characters speaking in the actors voices. I always tell aspiring writers: If you can nail down the characters, get the voices in your head, everything else is easy.

3.    What scene, topic, or section was the most intense (or visual) for you to write? You know, there are two major visuals from my books that I always remember vividly. The first, in Five Santas, is when our illustrious hero realizes that there is a serial killer on the loose. He’d already found the body of one dead Santa, and finds another stashed behind his favorite restaurant. It ends up being a very intense moment, and ends with Dan vomiting in the gutter.

The other moment, also involving one of Dan’s favorite restaurants (poor guy)…is when he’s having a nice meal with his girl Friday (names changed to make you want to buy the book---alright, her name is Abbey, but now that I think about it, I totally should have named her Friday. Next detective series I write, the sidekick is going to be named Friday). So Dan and Not-Friday are sitting in a diner, and Dan looks up, and there’s this car barreling towards them! What happens? Well you’ll have to buy “Cult of Koo-Kway” to find out.

4.    In the event that your novel became a screenplay, who would you like to see included in the casting? Oh alright, I’m going to name drop. I am friends with a ton of actors, so bear with me and totally IMDB these fine folks: Justin Tully is the original Dan Landis, and should be involved. Rachael Lang is one of the nicest people I know, and would make a great Abbey. Terry Jernigan, one of the coolest dudes around, would be great as either a villain or Doc. Kera O’Bryon would be perfect for Julianne, Dan’s super-cool sister. Gary, the classic policeman was based on Bubba “Hightower” Smith, but since he’s dead, I would love if Idris Elba would play Gary. I’m not saying we could actually get Idris Elba, he would just be perfect for the role. Or any role really. Also, before I forget, Jennifer Marshall should be the red-haired thief from The Five Santas.

5.    If you could meet anyone or see anything (characters, locations, events, abilities, creatures, etc) from your novel, who or what would you choose? I would love to hang out with Doc. Doc is such an interesting person, a great storyteller, and always is going on adventures. I actually am excited to be able to do future books, just because I want to explore that character more and watch the trouble Doc and Dan get into. Doc is the kind of awesome Uncle we all wish we had.

6.    How did you go about selecting your cover? The cover for “Five Santas” was actually a long process. We poured over a bunch of ideas, and eventually my editor went out with a photographer and just took a picture. I mean, she had a dumpster, Santa hat, and police tape. For her, that’s Tuesday. And the graphic artist did a really nice job with it. They sent it to me, and I was like: Wow, that’s better than what I thought it would be. Its very slick, and doesn’t really look like any other book on the market right now.

7.    Do you have any upcoming projects? When can readers expect them? Well, look for “Cult of Koo-Kway” this October, and if the schedule follows you should expect “Murder at the Gray Ghost Inn” in Fall of 2013. So, you should definitely hop onto the series now before it gets all mainstream and you can say, “I remember Dan Landis before he was cool.” 

8.    Why did you become an author (or start writing)? I’ve been writing since I was in elementary school. “The Five Santas” is actually dedicated to my first grade teacher who made me promise that when I published my first book, I would dedicate it to her. I am not entirely convinced she thought I actually would, but I do know she’s immensely proud. She actually sat in on my first ever book signing, so that was really sweet. But, I really just love entertaining folks, and writing happens to be something I’m good at. I know people who are better, but at the same time I really just like writing. Novel writing is, for me, a lot more enjoyable than script writing. You can go anywhere with novel writing, and frankly when you’re script writing you are more worried about plot, budget, character development, and feeding egos. No one cares about a budget in a novel. Well, unless you have a novel about accountants. And one of them should be named Friday. The adventures of Robin and Friday, CPA’s.

9.    What do you love the most about being an author? For me, it’s all about knowing that someone is enjoying what I write. That sounds corny, and is probably a bit self-centered, but I like writing something and having people actually read it. It feels good, really good. I’m no master of the page, but I like to think that I write stories that people will read, enjoy, and maybe tell others about. Maybe they could buy lots of copies. Maybe they could buy enough copies that I could quit my job and write full time. Want to do that? Huh? You maybe want to pay Jay Mims’ mortgage? Maybe want to pay for him to have a Dan Landis shaped swimming pool? Huh?

10. What or who inspires you to write? My parents first of all. For some reason, they really believe in me. Second to that is my friends. I have some really great friends. And they all represent a special part of my writing. Dawn is the smart one, Jen is the sweet one, Dave is the funny one…And frankly my BFF Leslie brings the cool to the table. She doesn’t take crap from anyone.

I also really do have stories I want to tell. That, I think, is always a big part of what we do as writers. We just have this burning desire to write deep inside, and the only relief is to get it out onto the page. I know where I want to be with book four, book six, eight, even book twenty. I know how the series is going to end, and I know where these characters are going to end up in ten years. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

11. What is the top cause you champion? I have a lot of causes to champion…I’m very passionate about animals and children, and despise anyone who is cruel to either. I’m a big believer that we need to do more with renewable energy, and actually am a major proponent of solar energy. One of the underlying themes of “The Five Santas” is that everyone matters. The first Santa Dan finds is a guy who lives in a half-way house. The man dresses up like Santa to make people happy and put a smile on someone’s face. That’s a big deal for me.

“Cult of Koo-Kway”, without delving too much into the book, touches on a really important thing for me as a native South Carolinian, The Gullah people. If you’ve never heard of them, I suggest you do some research. They are absolutely fascinating, and I hope that my book in some small way may raise interest in this very special group. They are a wonderful representation of our uniquely American heritage.

12. What advice do you have for anyone who is interested in becoming an author? Develop your voice. I’ve said before, if you can figure out the characters, then everything else is just writing. If you can figure out what you want to say, and more importantly how you want to say it, then it’s just a matter of pen and page.

If you’re serious about becoming a writer, truly serious, then I suggest you really invest yourself in the craft. Read everything you can get your hands on. Not just books on writing, though Stephen King’s book is a classic textbook. And not just in your genre, either. READ EVERYTHING! You have to understand that books aren’t just words on a page. They are a portal into a whole new world. Books open the floodgates of your imagination, and release you into the wild unknowns. Here there be dragons.

13. What is one thing your readers should know about you? I’m not nearly as cool as I sound. I keep trying to convince people of that, and they keep disbelieving me. I’m a huge nerd, a bit shy in real life, and I love to laugh. I grew up as an entertainer, making other people laugh, and have found myself developing into a very easy audience. I’m also mildly sarcastic, and frankly if you get me started quoting “Back to the Future” we’ll be here all night.

14. If you could do anything (for a career), besides being a writer, what would do? I would love to be an actor. I’m still convinced actors are the most awesome people. I just don’t have the confidence and at the same time humility to be an actor. I’m too pigheaded and obstinate. I ‘m also impatient, which is a death knell for an actor. There’s a lot of waiting around when you’re treading the boards. Also I have the memory of a goldfish and…what were we talking about? Oh acting. Acting is cool, that I would love to do for a career.

15. Aside from writing, what are your hobbies? I collect spores, mold and fungus. No, I love movies and TV, am an avid reader, and still dabble in making silly short films with my friends. I also love talking to people. I find most folks interesting, and love to learn more about them. I’m a big nature guy, so I do enjoy going for walks in the woods. I’m a huge fan of astronomy, actually I’m a fan of all the sciences. But, I’m terrible at math so anything beyond pointing a telescope at stars or mixing baking soda and vinegar together to watch it bubble is beyond me.

16.What is…?
a.    …your favorite author? Hands down Terry Pratchett. I’ve read all of the Discworld series, and any book that involves either Sam Vines or Death, I’m in. Thanks to my editor, I’ve just recently discovered Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. Those are a lot of fun as well. I grew up reading Peter David’s novels and comic books, and will gladly read anything he writes.
b.   …your favorite book or series? My favorite book is “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I still tear up at the last chapter, when Scout stands on Boo Radley’s front porch. I’m not sure why, but it always gets me. I’ve said before, but the Discworld series is one of my absolute favorites. Death is such an amazingly human (or anthropomorphic personification) character. One of my favorite Discworld quotes comes from “Reaper Man” ‘WHAT CAN THE HARVEST HOPE FOR, IF NOT FOR THE CARE OF THE REAPER MAN?’
c.    …your biggest literary inspiration? Probably Stephen King. All of his writings are so amazingly personal, and at the same time complete fiction. Frankly, I think he’s one of the greatest writers of our generation. Janet Evanovich has been another big inspiration for me, particularly how she writes such rapid fire dialogue and such fallible characters. I really dig that.

17. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what artists? If not, do you have other muses? I love listening to music when I write. For some reason Country music is always the perfect music to write to for me. Though if I really want to pound out some chapters, nothing gets me going like Bonnie Tyler. There’s something about “Total Eclipse of the Heart” that hits the sweet spot for me. At the risk of alienating some of my readership, the adorkable sweetness of Taylor Swift really helped me develop the character of Abbey in my books.

18. Is there anything that helps you write or is unique about your writing process? Other than my weird taste in music? It helps to be alone. I’ve had to stop going on the internet when I write, simply because people will constantly message me. I usually just plug in some music, sit down, and start writing. I also tend to write a complete chapter at a time. This is not something I recommend for normal writers. But, I just always feel the need to pour myself out, pounding away at the keyboard. I do type on a computer, simply because I can type faster than I talk, and my handwriting is illegible even to me.

19. Which, if any, character do you feel has the most of your characteristics (behavioral or otherwise)? People always say that Dan is a lot like me. I don’t necessarily agree, but at the same time do think we share a sense of humor. I’d love to think that I share characteristics with Doc, but I know that’s just not true. Doc’s WAY cooler than I am. There are probably bits and pieces of me in each character, but at the same time I’ve always tried to let the characters develop into their own individuals. Except for Friday. Friday is entirely mine.

Title: The Five Santas
Author: Jay Mims
Series: Oncoming Strom Series
Publisher: Staccato Publishing
Description: Dan Landis is a private investigator used to peeping in windows and taking awkward pictures to make a buck. This winter, to make a few more, he agreed to help out a local department store by taking a job in their Loss Prevention department. Boring right? Wrong.A local jewelry store gets robbed and then the bodies start piling up. Red suited, fur trimmed, white bearded bodies. And Dan's the one who keeps showing up at all the wrong places. It won't be long before Dan is spending the holiday behind bars if he can't figure this one out.Check out this first installment in The Oncoming Storm Series.

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