It is my pleasure to have my friend, Judy Loose with us today on Author Interview Friday. I love the tag line to her book – which always gets eyebrows raised at book events. “What if the ultimate computer firewall protection turned out to be the ultimate computer snooper?”
Tell us when you first knew that you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
I started making up stories practically when I started talking. I started writing them down when I learned to write.
Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?
I had a teacher in high school who made me write a 2000 word essay every time I acted up in class. He was meticulous in his grading and editing of what I wrote.
I took an adult-education writing course at the age of fifty, which got me back on track with writing after not writing anything except business and technical for many years. Most of the members of that class ended up on a writers critique group that stayed together many years. Critique groups and writers groups have been very helpful in keeping me writing and hopefully doing it well.
How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?
My first published novel, The Janus Code (self-published on Create Space in August 2013), was written in 1995 as science fiction or speculative fiction. Technology has caught up; much of what I predicted in the novel is happening today. So I dug out the manuscript, rewrote it for today, and published it.
Shortly after taking the adult-ed. writing course, I started publishing poetry and short stories. I wrote five complete novels before trying to publishing one.
Do you always write in the same genre?
No, I write across various genres and I use two different author names. The Janus Code is an international tech thriller published under my maiden name, J.C. Ferguson. The next novel I plan to publish, Mangrove Madness, is a humorous female PI adventure that I have sent to publishers as Judy Loose. One of my unpublished novels is a romance, one is women’s fiction.
Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?
I believe it would be on the mystery or thriller shelf.
Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?
I have another novel, Mangrove Madness, which has been with an agent and a couple of publishers for a long, long time with no answer as to whether or not it will ever be published. I found my agent by sending out many (close to 100) query letters. My agent contacted the publishers.
Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route this time in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?
One of the reasons I decided to self-publish is because of the length of time it takes to get a response from traditional publishers. I decided to use Create Space after researching the options and listening to the stories other authors tell of their experiences in self-publishing. To me, Create Space is the easiest, most flexible, and least expensive way to self-publish. I would recommend using them to any author.
Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?
I wrote The Janus Code in third person past. I do switch POV for different stories. I like to write in first person present (Mangrove Madness for example). I have not yet written a novel with multiple points of view. Maybe I’ll try it with my next one.
What does finding your “voice” mean to you and how did you find yours?
I think “voice” has to do with a writer’s personality and view of the world. I’m not sure I could say how I found mine. I just start writing and the characters in my stories take over.
Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s?
I write from beginning to end and then go back and fix what doesn’t work, editing many times. Structure? What’s that? The books seem to be coherent when I finish. The closest thing to structure that I use is – try to make every chapter end so that the reader wants to continue with the next chapter.
What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
Building the story is the fun part. All those other things that come after (for me at least) trying to write a synopsis, query, outline, summary for the back of the book, a tag line, etc., are difficult for me. I still have problems with a 30-second elevator speech for The Janus Code, and I know the book inside and out.
It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?
I’m a lousy marketer, so I’m not the one to ask. I need to hire someone to market my book. I have a friend who is a great salesperson and she does some marketing for me. I build websites, so I have a few that I created to promote my book.
Are you a pantser or a planner?
I fly by the seat of my pants when I write. I may not have the slightest idea where I’m going when I start writing. I guess that makes me a “pantser.”
What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Just sit down, write, and keep writing. Don’t look back. You can always go back and edit or fix after you’ve finished.
Was there a mistake you made in your writing process you could share with us?
My biggest mistake was not bothering to publish what I wrote for a long time. I think it was because I hated the thought of marketing. Don’t wait. It’s such a thrill to see your book in print.
What in your background gave you insight for writing your current book?
The Janus Code plot is based on technology. I worked in the high-tech industry, designing, installing, and managing computer systems and IT departments for 30-plus years. Even though I dropped out of the industry to work for myself a number of years ago, I still work with computers every day. I stay current with technology out of necessity. I try to write so that anyone, even those with NO computer savvy, can follow the story and don’t feel overwhelmed by techy talk.
Another aspect of the book is its international flavor. I have visited or lived in all the locations in the book. I love to travel.
I based the protagonist in the book on a friend who was bi-polar (although the character took on his own completely different personality as I wrote).
Please share a few paragraphs from your book to wet out appetite?
The Janus Code
By J.C. Ferguson
Traffic was light but steady through the Schwarzwald at two a.m. Headlights cut the black ribbon of the Autobahn at a steady speed of two hundred and forty kilometers; flashing each time they approached other vehicles that moved quickly out of the path.
Maurice Vivant drove the Lamborghini Gallardo on instinct, his body an extension of the controls, his conscious mind barely aware of the wheel in his hands or the pedals beneath his feet, leaving him free to review and strategize.
– – –
A dark Mercedes blocked Maurice’s path in the high-speed lane, drawing his attention back to the road. He swerved into the slower lane, pulling ahead and around. The other car picked up speed, moved to his right, matching pace. Maurice peered at the Mercedes but couldn’t see the driver through the tinted windows. He imagined the driver as his opponent, taunting him. Maurice stepped hard on the gas and the Lamborghini leaped ahead. When the lights faded in the rear view mirror, he dropped back to the original two-forty.
– – –
Lights approached from behind, snapping him out of his reverie. He had crossed the border into Switzerland, slowing to accommodate the curves through the Alps. He increased speed to stay ahead of the oncoming lights, but they continued to gain. Allowing the other car to overtake him, he played with the driver on the mountain bends to see what he was made of, forcing him to stay in the oncoming traffic lane as they moved into a series of sharp turns. The view of approaching cars would be obstructed for several miles. He glanced at the vehicle to his left, recognizing the Mercedes that had raced him on the Autobahn.
Adrenaline pumping, he concentrated on the road and watched for the flicker of approaching lights. A glow appeared on the roadway, warning of a car around the bend. The Mercedes swerved into his lane, bumping the side of the Lamborghini. In the oncoming lights, Maurice caught a glimpse of the other driver, grinning at him, as the heavy Mercedes pushed the lighter car sideways. In the shock of recognition, he lost control. His car jumped to the right, front tire exploding as it dropped off the edge of the pavement.
He pulled hard on the wheel, but the gravel held the blown-out tire. Still speeding forward, the Lamborghini crashed through the guardrail and flew over the embankment, spewing gravel and vegetation as it launched into air. Time suspended for Maurice. The thrill of flying down the mountain into the black night consumed him, and he laughed out loud at this last challenge.