I am so delighted to have James Garcia, Jr. as a guest on my blog today! James was born in the Central California town of Hanford. He moved up the road to Kingsburg with his family as a child. After graduating KHS, he attended Reedley College, where he met his wife. They, along with their teenage sons, still make their home in Kingsburg which is also the setting of James’ debut vampire novel. Dance on Fire was published in 2010 and its sequel is scheduled for an early 2012 release.
What would you like people to know about you as an introduction?
I suppose the first thing I would like people to know about me is I’m just like them. I have a day job, a family, chores that need doing and I could use a few more hours in the day to be able to attend to everything, as well as my writing and everything that goes with all of that. I work as an Administrative Supervisor for Sun-Maid Raisin Growers of California. My day begins at 2:45 am and I’m in the office by 3:30 am. I work nearly 12 hours a day, five days a week. After squeezing in a little exercise, I can be found on my laptop, plugged into Twitter, Facebook and Google + while I catch up on networking and blog visiting. I head to bed at about 7:45 pm to try and get a little reading done before falling asleep.
Wow, that sounds like a full schedule indeed! Kudos to you for finding time to write even with such a busy schedule. Tell us about Dance on Fire. What was your inspiration/motivation behind this book?
I never intended to write a vampire novel, but found myself doing so quite by accident. I originally thought I was simply writing a crime thriller until a vampire came walking out of the shadows of one scene. The novel took twenty years because I pushed it away as marriage became family, and was followed by careers for each of us, etc., etc., etc.
I’m pushing 43 now, but when I turned 38, I really began to sense the regret that I was going to feel if I didn’t pull that manuscript out and see it completed. Over the course of the twenty years it went from being hard R-Rated material to the PG-13 crossover version that it is today. It went from being a crime thriller to vampires with Christian themes. I like to tell people that I thought the world needed another vampire story like a hole in the head, so I went with a crossover
slant to try and find my niche in the publishing world.
What have you learned through writing this book?
I learned that I am indeed a writer. I wrote a complete book with all of the components that one needs to have a working story. It may not be the next great American novel, but it has garnered fantastic reviews which I am forever grateful for. I did have that moment after the first one was done where I began to question whether I could do it again, considering the first one took so long. I wrote the first two drafts of the forthcoming sequel in eight months.
Amazing! So how did you get started writing in the first place?
I found horror novels while in Junior High. This was in the early 1980’s. I was inspired by The Amityville Horror, Jaws, most things Stephen King and Michael Slade. I grew my hair long and took up the electric guitar, thinking I might be a musician; however, I eventually began writing short stories instead of song lyrics.
What is your writing process like? Do you write on a computer? In a spiral notebook? Do you draw illustrations?
In the beginning I was a total pantser. I just turned on the computer and began typing. These days I have begun to outline a bit more. Creating an outline that is several binders thick takes the fun out of it for me. God love the ones that do that, but it isn’t for me. I want to be surprised a little by where a story is heading, too! For my third novel, which is only 10,000 words into its first draft, I have an outline that paces the plot for me with very general details.
The one thing that might make me a bit different from other writers is that I "see" the story. Once I hatch an idea, I begin to picture it and the direction that it might be heading. When I am ready to begin writing, I picture the first bit of action during the day before, as if watching a movie. The next day I sit myself down at the laptop and begin typing what I saw. Once I have written all that I saw, I leave and begin allowing the next bit of action to occur to me. The next day the process is repeated.
I don’t have the luxury of writing every day, although I am still attempting to figure out how I might be able to do so. At this point I spend most of my free time simply trying to get the word out there via networking and promotion.
How do you get ideas for what you write?
Once I had the first book, the sequel wrote itself. I have a third book in the series, too, but I have taken a break from those characters to write something else. I love haunted house stories and have always wanted to write one. I held off until recently because I didn’t want to simply retread over the same tired old ground. Too many ghost story films and books have started well, only to end poorly, and I didn’t want any part of that. Some inner office in the back of my brain has had staff working on this, searching for a great idea, and I think I may have found it. *laughs* I don’t want to say too much about that just yet. Perhaps spending most of the year networking, and little time worrying about next projects, helped keep the dreaded writer’s block away.
What is your biggest advice for other writers and young people reaching for their dreams?
It is easy for me to say, having one book published and another on the way, but please do not let having your name appear on a book be the defining characteristic that qualifies you as a writer. It only means that I was fortunate. You are a writer! If you are a writer, follow that dream. Move heaven and earth to see that dream come true. I just don’t want to be sitting in that old folks home at the end of my life with the thought that I should have tried harder, and you don’t either.
That is so true! My next question is, what are some of your favorite books?
Good question! I still think The Amityville Horror is one of the scariest books ever, whether you believe it happened or don’t. Headhunter by Michael Slade is fantastic. Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always is a fable that can be read to the kids. In spite of the fact that I write horror, my favorite book is Beach Music by Pat Conroy. My sister-in-law twisted my arm to read it. Once I did, I haven’t stopped reading it; so many plotlines and great characters. It is the most brilliant
piece of fiction that I have ever read.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Only that I have been blessed. Sometimes I wonder whether my job is to write more books or to inspire others to follow their dreams and write theirs. If so, I’m okay with that. Thanks so much to your audience for taking the time, and thank you, Dallas, for having me. It has been great to meet you.
Thank you so much for being my guest today, James! It has been wonderful to meet you!
Connect with James at his blog: http://jamesgarciajr.blogspot.