Thanks for joining me today, John! Let’s get to know you and your writing a little bit better. How did you get interested in writing fiction?
I started writing in 7th grade. At the time, not only was I being bullied mercilessly, but I was also very bored during classes. So I started writing during classes and breaks. I was a Star Trek fan, so naturally, I created my own version. I carried around a large loose-leaf notebook with me wherever I went in school. Over the next two years, I think I wrote about 600 pages in tiny handwriting, single-spaced. It would probably be well over 1,000 pages if printed in a book. I think I still have it somewhere, but I doubt even I can read my handwriting from then.
Oh, I did something similar! But I can’t say I have 600 pages. That’s awesome! Are you an outliner or a pantser?
Normally I wear shorts, although not always… Oh, you mean do I outline or just write by the “seat of my pants.” I do both. I have an outline, but once I start writing, the flow will often take me in a completely different direction. I will follow the flow as far as it goes, then revise the outline.
Haha! That gave me a good chuckle. Which element of novel-writing do you consider most challenging? (Plot, setting, characters, dialogue, etc.)
Without question, it’s editing. When I write, I am mostly writing off the top of my head, which means I am paying less attention to sentence structure, spelling (thank goodness for spell check), or grammar. When I get to a freeze point, where the flow has stopped, then I will go back and edit. However, it is so difficult to edit your own work. Your eyes just seem to skip over the mistakes. It’s so much easier editing other people’s work!
It’s always fun to get to know other people’s writing process. Freeze point. I like that phrase 🙂 What comes first, character or plot?
For me, it’s been plot. That may not always be the case, but so far it has.
Do you base your characters on real people or make them up from scratch?
In Duty and Defiance, my kids served as partial role models for Jeff and Becky. I started writing the book initially when they were 13 and 10, but I kept putting it aside. When I got serious about writing it again, they had grown, so I had to completely revise the plot, making the characters much older (17 and 14). I also modeled some of their friends after my own friends growing up. While most of the characters in my book are made up, I’m sure parts of their personalities come from people I know, although not intentionally.
I love that you base your characters off your kids. What is your favorite part, and least favorite part, of the publishing journey?
Least favorite: Sending out queries and discovering how few want you. Favorite: seeing your work in print.
Oh, the query process… Not my favorite either. How do you deal with reviews, both positive and negative?
Always take them with a grain of salt, but at the same time, try to learn from them. I’m always trying to improve as a writer and there is much I need to learn. Getting feedback, whether good or bad, helps you learn what your strengths and weaknesses are.
What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
First, don’t give up or get discouraged. Follow your heart. Second, find someone you trust to give you honest feedback as you’re writing. Third, understand you’ve got a lot to learn. Don’t freak out from criticism, embrace it. Learn from it. Understand it is all part of the journey. Fourth, edit your book – at least twice completely, before sending it out. The best way to do this is to read the book aloud. It forces you to pay attention to every word and you will discover many, many mistakes. Fifth: Get outside help. Try to find someone to help (writing community, editors, etc.). Make sure to find people who will be honest and can point out grammatical errors. Pay attention to grammar! Sixth: Don’t get scammed. Research, whether it’s agents or publishers you are sending it to. Never pay to publish.
This is all really great advice! Do you ever get writer’s block, and if so, how do you overcome it?
When I get stuck, I go back and start editing. This does two things. It makes the book better and reminds me of my past thought trains.
What are you currently working on?
Just completed a paranormal suspense that I am currently shopping. I am currently working on a nonfiction book about the current political scene.
Good luck with your paranormal suspense! I hope you find success with it. What genre do you write and how did you come to start writing that genre?
Science Fiction was always my preferred genre in reading. I have probably 1,000 SF books in my library, maybe more. I always wanted to write SF. However, my life experience battling stage IV cancer, when I was told I would not likely survive six months, got me writing about my experience. I also helped my dad with his memoir about growing up during the Dust Bowl and his unique experiences as a pilot during WW2. When I was finishing Duty and Defiance, a plot came to me at night about a paranormal suspense book. This was a shock, as I haven’t even read a paranormal book. But I loved the plot. I shared it with an agent at a writing conference and got an enthusiastic endorsement, so now I have expanded my genres. Going forward, I will always be writing SF books, but I don’t want to limit myself. I’ll write whatever is inspiring me at the time.
Thanks again for joining me on my blog today, John! Good luck with your new release and your upcoming paranormal suspense novel.
Duty and Defiance: A Sci-Fi adventure for Adults and Young Adults
COLUMBUS (July 23, 2020) – Earth is in trouble. The Zanchee can help. But will they? Is it Sen? Zanchee projections show a terrorist will set off a nuclear bomb near LA with catastrophic results, but their laws prohibit intervention. Axel, the teenage son of the Zanchee leader, refuses to accept the inevitable and risks everything to stop it. He hatches a plan to defy his father and skirt Zanchee law to save humanity. Only it requires help from both his cat-like mentiot companion, Chermal and a human teenager with psychic potential. Oh yes, and the fleet’s only time-warp ship.
In the process of trying to save mankind, Axel’s human partner, Jeff must choose whether to stop the terrorist, or save his friends who are being held hostage by drug dealers.
John Selby brings this unique world to life with rich characters and vivid language. This exciting new sci-fi work will be released in print by The Wild Rose Press on August 5th, 2020. The paperback will be available online and in stores.
About the Author
John Selby is a survivor, which considering the year that we’re having currently, just about everyone could claim that title. Having succeeded in a number of fields, including small business owner and golf course consultant. His trek into a writing career had its origins in John’s greatest battle. In 2016, he was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer with a life expectancy of six months.
To help cope, this native Kansan dove into this new headspace by jotting down his thoughts and feelings. As he navigated his mortality for the first time, this therapeutic stream-of-consciousness eventually became his first book, Mortal Musings: Waiting for Dawn. An avid collector of sci-fi books, Selby has been dividing his time between fiction and non-fiction writing. He has since completed the memoir Dusty Plains and Wartime Planes, as well as the young adult sci-fi novel, Duty and Defiance.
John is the father to two adult children, Matthew and Elizabeth. He enjoys weekend getaways when he can find the time. He continues to defy the odds daily.
In addition to his writing, John is a part-time editor for BlkDog Publishing. John loves working with new authors to reach their goals. John holds a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Kansas. Go Jayhawks! He currently resides in Columbus, Georgia with his wife, Holly.