Hi, my name’s J.C. Michael, well, actually, it isn’t, but that’s the name I write under. However, the J stands for James, which is also my real name, as I thought that would help me avoid getting confused. I’m 39, and live in North Yorkshire with my wife, who encourages me to write, and my three year old son, who encourages me to do other things, such as watch Spiderman cartoons and play dinosaurs. My writing falls very much into the hobby category, as work wise I’m kept nice and busy with my day job as a manager at a local tourist attraction. As for what I write my work to date is mainly classed as horror, although there are also elements which could be deemed as belonging more in the thriller, fantasy, and suspense, genres.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My most recent news is that I’ve just seen my short story, ‘Here, Kitty Kitty’, published in the anthology Ghosts: Revenge from James Ward Kirk Fiction. The story is based on a local legend from the North Yorkshire Moors about a ghost that allegedly lured a number of young men to their deaths by appearing naked in the deepest part of a stretch of the River Dove.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in 2007 when challenged to do so by my then girlfriend (who’s now my wife). She was tired of me complaining that books and movies would be better if such and such had happened, and said that if I could do better then I should have a go at writing something myself.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I self-published my novel, Discoredia, in 2008, so in some ways I became a writer then. However, I only sold a handful of copies, and have only really seen myself as a real author since 2013 when I signed a publishing contract for the novel with Books of the Dead Press.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
When my wife challenged me to write something she also bought me a notebook that Christmas. She put a note inside saying that one day she’d like to see it filled with my story and that inspired me to start making the notes which over the next year were pulled together into a full length novel.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
It’s too early in my writing career to say that I have a particular style but as a fiction writer I’m always looking to write a narrative that will entertain and engage. I also tend to steer away from anything overly descriptive as I’d rather drive the story forward, and leave a lot of the imagery to the readers own imagination.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I’m a massive Stephen King fan and had been reading the Dark Tower books which feature a castle called Discordia, and, since my novel was to be largely set in a castle themed nightclub, I thought it would be a cool name for the club. I also wanted something unique for the title and knew that a rare word, or something misspelled, would satisfy that and work well when put into a search engine so the club name, and title, evolved to become Discoredia. This was even more appropriate since I was adding an E, and E’s are an integral part of the story, and also because the word now included the word “core” in the middle, pretty coincidental for a novel with hardcore music as a central theme.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’ve seen some people say that Discoredia is pro-drugs, others that it contains a strong anti-drug message. If there is a message then it’s that people should make their own minds up as there are arguments to be made for both sides. Perhaps that’s why it has been interpreted both ways.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Some of the book is very realistic as I drew upon my own experiences and believe in the mantra “write what you know”. This only goes so far though as although I went to a fair few raves in my youth I never went to one where drugs were handed out free and which sent people insane to the point of killing each other.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The characters and events in all of my writing tend to be based on amalgamations of people I know and experiences I’ve had mixed up with some imagination, artistic licence, and influences from all the books I’ve read, stories I’ve heard, and film and T.V I’ve watched over the past 30 odd years.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I suppose some of the horror novels I read in my early teens, such as The Rats by James Herbert and IT by Stephen King, have influenced my life so far as I’ve always preferred horror novels over any other genre ever since, and now write within that genre myself.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading a book of legends and folklore relating to the North Yorkshire Moors. The stories are ones I’ve read before, and I’ve known some for as long as I can recall since they are local to where I grew up. The reason for re-reading them is because I’m considering writing a collection of stories that use these local legends as a jumping off point, much as I did the legend of Sarkless Kitty which was the basis for ‘Here, Kitty Kitty’.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
He’s been around a few years now but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Heart Shaped Box and NOS4R2 by Joe Hill.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
What with work and family I don’t have the time to write another novel. I find it a very intense and all-consuming exercise and simply can’t devote the time to it and as such I’m concentrating on writing and submitting short stories. I tend to write in bursts and aren’t writing anything at present, but there are a few anthologies I’m interested in submitting to and a few ideas knocking around in my brain that I might end up sitting down and developing if I get any of them mapped out a bit more.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Discoredia sat doing nothing on Lulu for a few years, and it was only when my son was born that I revisited it to see if it actually had any value above and beyond proof that I could write a novel. It was at this point that I posted it on Authonomy, and the community there were invaluable in helping me improve it and turn it into something that could be published properly and not as a bit of fun. Discoredia made the editor’s desk on Halloween 2012 and as such was awarded an Authonomy Gold Medal. Without going through that process I don’t think I would have ever sold any of my writing to a traditional publisher. I’m still in touch with a number of people I met on that site, with a few of them also now having seen their books published.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No. I’m a hell of a long way off making enough money from writing to give up the day job, and doubt I’ll ever reach that point.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I wouldn’t change any of my recent short stories, as they’ve all done reasonably well. Discoredia on the other hand seems to have a major flaw. It was written for the purpose of showing a single person that I could write a novel, and as such it draws a great deal upon things that hold particular meaning to me, and that one other person. Unfortunately those aspects appear to have reduced the commercial viability of the work as they don’t fit within the usual tropes you find in horror fiction or play to the stereotypical reader of horror novels. I’m trying to sell a story set in a rave where “the bad guy” is a construct of my imagination. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great story, and it gets great reviews, but pitch wise it would be so much easier if I was selling the same story, but set at a rock concert, and with a more traditional vampire as the antagonist.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always had a good imagination, but I needed that push my wife gave me to actually get me to do anything with it.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Unfortunately I can’t as I’m between works at present. I tend to do that, I play around with ideas in my head for a few weeks and then something will click and I’ll sit down and write it. Once that’s done I’m back to knocking ideas around mentally for a while until another idea is fleshed out enough for me to put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboard.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Coming up with ideas that are not just new to me, but also seem different enough to what else is out there. I don’t want to be just another writer trotting out well worn ideas even if it would be a way to sell more books. One of my pet hates is seeing the same tired ideas rehashed, such as post zombie apocalypse stories, where the real danger comes just as much from other survivors as it does from the zombies.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
For me Stephen King is in a class of his own. He can write anything from short stories to epics covering multiple genres. I’ve read nearly everything he’s written and enjoyed the vast majority of it.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, but I can live in hope as I love travelling.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Cover design is something my publishers have taken care of. I did design the cover for the self published version of Discoredia myself, and it showed.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part for me is to write it properly! Grammar is not my strong point, particularly when I’m on a roll with the story. I also find editing difficult as I don’t like cutting things out, they wouldn’t be there if I didn’t want them there, and also because I don’t read things properly when I know what the content is. As such I can easily miss a mistake. Then again I don’t understand how people can publish books containing spelling mistakes. Using a spell checker isn’t difficult.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learnt that I could write something that some people may enjoy reading, and may even be willing to pay for!
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Stick with it, and don’t try to run before you can walk. I regret self publishing as the product I put out wasn’t up to scratch. I only did it as a bit of fun but for anyone who is serious about making a name for themselves a lot of damage can be done if you take the leap into self publishing before your work is good enough. I’d also recommend Authonomy. I’m not active on the site now, and I understand it has changed in some ways, but it helped me a lot and you’ve nothing to lose from taking a look.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for your support.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It might have been The Three Billy Goats Gruff, that’s the one my father says I always insisted on having as a bed time story!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My son can be hilarious. I guess all kids can be at that age, and that parents always find their own kids funnier than anyone else’s, but some of the things he comes out with can have me in stitches.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’d like to meet Stephen King someday. I’d tell him I was a great fan of his work, and hopefully he’d say the same about mine!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
At long last I can have a bloody rest.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy travelling abroad and have visited the U.S.A a number of times as well as Mexico, Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa, amongst others. I have a keen interest in history, which is useful when working in a museum, and also like to get out and about in the countryside; I’m a country boy at heart.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I watch a lot of T.V and movies with a preference for action and adventure. When it comes to favourite T.V shows The Shield, The Walking Dead, and Justified, would be my top three. My favourite movie is Gladiator.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food. A nice roast dinner or steak pie will keep me happy. As for music I don’t listen to as much as I did a few years ago but if I do listen to any it will be hardcore or gabber.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I wouldn’t mind a job as a presenter on Top Gear, and it seems like there may be one available.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My website is www.discoredia.weebly.com. I can also be found on twitter, @jcdiscoredia, Facebook, and Goodreads. As for my books you can find all of them on Amazon by visiting my author pages, http://www.amazon.co.uk/J-C-Michael/e/B00AX8BFIK and http://www.amazon.com/J-C-Michael/e/B00AX8BFIK