Tuesday, March 17, 2009

From Newbie to Novelist: Interview with J.A. Konrath

As part of his national blog tour to promote his horror novel, AFRAID, J.A. Konrath AKA Jack Kilborn, joins us today to to talk about his journey from newbie to novelist. J.A. has published seven novels and dozens of short stories, essays and magazine articles.

DK: Welcome Joe!
JK: Hi Dana, thanks for having me!

DK: Tell us about the journey from writing your first novel to getting it published.
JK: It was a perilous journey, filled with hundreds of rejections and dozens of bottles of whiskey to help numb the pain of the hundreds of rejections. I wrote nine novels that didn't sell.
The tenth one did. It's called WHISKEY SOUR, and is about a Chicago cop named Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels. So, ultimately, all that whiskey paid off.

DK: Throughout this process, what was the most important lesson you learned regarding publishing?
JK: This is a business, not a lottery. Act like a professional, learn your craft, and never surrender. Also, marry someone sympathetic.

DK:What drew you to writing a series?
JK: A publisher bought the first one and asked if I could write a second one. Series writing is fun. Each of the books in my series is different than the others:

WHISKEY SOUR is a cop thriller that mixes scares and humor.
BLOODY MARY does the same thing, but Jack catches the killer on page 100. So where can it go from there?
RUSTY NAIL has a whole family of serial killers, and a surprising twist.
DIRTY MARTIN has very little violence in it, as opposed to the tons of violence in the previous books. It's about a poisoner.
FUZZY NAVEL takes place in an eight hour period, each minute accounted for. It ends on a cliffhanger.
CHERRY BOMB has Jack chasing the villain from Fuzzy Navel, and fully half of the book is in the killer's point of view.

During the series characters change, get hurt, and some die. There's also a story arc that begins in book #1 and ends with #6. So I get to have all the fun of returning to characters that I love, while dropping them in unique situations for each book.

DK: After six Jack Daniels books, what drew you to writing a standalone horror novel?
JK: Fans asked if I could sustain a scary narrative without any funny parts. AFRAID is the result. It's scary. Maybe too scary. In fact, I don't recommend anyone reading it, because I don't want to be blamed for the nightmares it will cause.

DK: How did writing AFRAID differ from writing the JD series?
JK: AFRAID doesn't have chapters. I didn't want to give the reader a chance to catch their breath or put the book down. It also has zero humor. Most of my other writing is funny. AFRAID isn't funny at all.

DK: What’s the best piece of advice you can give a newbie novelist?
JK: Buy all of my books and copy my style. :) Seriously? Never give up. This business is about persistence. Keep writing, keep reading, keep improving, keep submitting.

For more about Konrath/Kilborn check out his blog, The Newbie's Guide to Publishing. It has some very helpful tips!


Aim said...

I think I'm going to get a "never give up" tattoo. thanks Joe!

Karen from Mentor said...

Joe said: "Buy all my books and copy my style"
Damn! where was that piece of advice when I was writing my main character as a woman, while being a woman myself the whole damn time???? I should have written my main character as a man, while I was a woman pretending to be a man.
Ok, now time for dinner, obviously low blood sugar has set in.
(not green beer)
Good interview.

JA Konrath said...

Thanks for having me here, Dana.