This weekend I have an interview with self-published author J. F. Johns for you. I met Jazmin through Instagram and just had to get her on my blog, she is so motivated and always makes me feel inspired to write. You can check out the Goodreads for her first book Eternal Darkness here! I hope you enjoy reading!
1. Introduce yourself! Who are you? What do you write / what genre? What are you currently working on? Do you have any published works?
Hi! My name is Jazmin, also known as J. F.Johns! I was born and raised in Spain, but lived in the UK for three years as I went to study for a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing.
I tend to write dystopia, mainly because it is my favourite genre, and also because I spent seven years working on my book Eternal Darkness (which is dystopian), and therefore, couldn’t really try any other genres! I’m currently working on the second book of the trilogy I’m writing. The first is already published, I published it in January of 2016, when I was 22 years old.
2. When did you first start writing and what motivated you to start?
I’ve been writing since I was a child. When I was really little (and didn’t know how to write) I would draw all the stories in my head, and I would create these sort of comic books. Everyone thought I wanted to be an artist because I was always drawing characters and stories, but the truth was, I wanted to be a writer. What motivated me? I can’t really say. I’ve always wanted to do this, since I can remember. I don’t think there was ever anything that motivated me. I think I was just born with a clear idea of what I wanted to do in my life! (Everything else in my life I kinda have to work out along the way haha!).
3. What inspires you to write? Can you tell us about the inspiration for any specific pieces of writing you have completed / are working on?
Reading inspires me a lot. Different worlds I discover make me think of my own. Sometimes I’ll see something in the street and it’ll make me imagine a situation and from there, a story starts to take shape in my mind. Sometimes I take inspiration from my own life and things that happen to me.
4. How important is the planning stage for you? Do you like to plan everything before you start or do you simply start writing with a vague idea in mind?
I’d love to say that I’m super organized, and plan everything accurately, but that would be a HUGE lie. I am a terrible planner, and get frustrated easily. So when I get images in my mind for a story, I just pray I won’t forget it. I do write down ideas and scenes in notebooks (because my memory is worse than Dory from Finding Nemo). But I don’t really plan anything properly. I just sit down and let the story take shape by itself.
5. What is your writing process like?
A mess. Just kidding! Well… not really. I’d like to say I have a process where I choose a set timetable or do specific things, but I don’t. I’m a huge procrastinator, and it takes me hours to sit down and get work done. And I always have to listen to music, so when I open Youtube… I’m doomed, because I spend hours looking at videos.
I do try to read a bit before writing because that gets me in the mood. I also try to have everything I need next to me, like food, drinks, notebooks, etc. Just so I don’t waste time getting up all the time. (I still get up, so it’s not like what I do works).
6. What are your writing essentials / what do you use when you write?
My laptop, scrivener, something to drink and most importantly, music! I can’t write without music!
7. What is your favourite thing to write? E.g. Dialogue, action scenes, saucy scenes…
I LOVE dialogue and hate narration! I enjoy writing the interaction between characters and watch how they act between each other.
8. What do you think is the most difficult part of writing?
Sitting down and actually getting it done!
I think before, it was finishing a story. When I was younger, I could never finish a story. I would start something, then a new story would pop into my head and I would move on to that. I did manage to get over that, and now when I start something I finish it.
‘Life is so ordinary. But writing allows you to live and imagine all kinds of lives and worlds. It is raw and liberating. It is freedom.’
9. It is always interesting to know what other writers listen to when writing. Do you listen to music whilst you write? If so, let us know some of the songs which have inspired you the most!
These are definitely the songs that inspire me!
- Imagine Dragons – Radioactive.
- Zack Hemsey – the way.
- Zack Hemsey – Vengeance
- Lorde – Everybody wants to rule the world.
- Lorde – Yellow Flicker Beat.
And of course, movie soundtracks.
10. Do you ever struggle with writer’s block? What do you do to overcome it?
I struggled with writer’s block for 2 years. It was a very difficult time for me. I didn’t write anything in those 2 years, and entered quite a big depression because of it. I’m not sure how I overcame it. I think I was in a bad moment in life, and once I started to get my life sorted out, my writing came back. Sometimes you need to change some things, or if a certain story isn’t working, you need to start something else. I also believe that sometimes, just sometimes, forcing yourself to just sit down and write, whatever it is, does help.
11. How do you go about researching for a new book? Do you have any tips for others who are researching for a book?
I am lucky in the sense that what I write is almost all fiction, so I don’t have to do much research. As my story has cyborgs involved, I did google a few things about robotics and cyborgs.
12. Where do you find your inspiration for character names and place names? Do you ever name characters after people you know?
I love strange names. When a character takes shape in my mind, they usually describe themselves to me, and tell me their name. (I know, I know, they’re not real!). I never ever use people I know, but most of my characters do have some type of personality trait that comes from me. So you could say that, if you took all the characters from my book and put them together, it would be me.
13. What are your future plans when it comes to writing or even publishing?
I will continue to write and publish. Some day I would love to get a traditional publishing deal, but I’m not in a rush. I like making the decisions myself, but once the entire series is finished, I will probably try to find an agent.
14. As we all love books I wondered, what are your five favourite books?
- My favourite book is; Where rainbows end by Cecelia Ahern. If you haven’t read it, GO GO GO!
- A handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
- 1984 by George Orwell.
- Anything written by Japanese author Haruki Murakami.
- El Principe Destronado by Miguel Delibes.
15. Can you tell us a little more about your experience with self-publishing? And do you have any advice for others planning to self publish?
It’s been awesome, but I won’t lie, it’s also been VERY difficult. I had no help and no idea what I was doing, so I’ve made a ton of mistakes, but you learn through the process. The hardest part is promoting and marketing. We think that writing the book is the hardest part, but we don’t realise that is actually the most fun and easiest! Once your book is out there, you’re competing against thousands and millions of others, including traditional authors that have thousands and thousands of dollars/pounds/euros from publishers to help market their book. I started off thinking that if I had an awesome cover, that would sell my book. That isn’t the case. It helps a lot to have a cool cover, but it won’t get people to buy if they don’t know you. So it really is a struggle! But it’s worth it, and you get to meet awesome people along the way; authors, writers and readers!
If you want to self-publish, don’t rush it. Make sure you do the research, get a good editor, and try to design an awesome cover because that really helps. Also try to save as much money as possible for your marketing plans, because that’s where you’re going to need it. But most importantly, have fun with it!
16. Finally, where can we find you on social media?
Thank you for reading this week’s writer interview! I loved learning all about Jazmin’s writing process and experience with self-publushing, and I hope you did too! Don’t forget to check out her social media and if you can buy a copy of Eternal Darkness. It’s so great to support small authors!