Name J.T. Jones
Where are you from: I was born in Detroit, Michigan. My parents were raised in Alabama, so, when I was about 3, we moved back South. I grew up working with my dad building houses and raising chickens and cattle. Eventually, with my wife and daughter, we bought our own little ranch and raised cattle. I graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with an accounting degree and have worked in banking since then to keep the bills paid.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Our daughter just gave birth to our first grandchild, a boy! My first grandchild and my first novel published all within 30 days! Not a bad month.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have written poetry for as long as I can remember but I always said that one day I would write a book. So, about fifteen years ago I decided it was time to get busy.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
My wife always encouraged me, saying “you can do it”. But I wasn’t sure that I might have a chance until she read the first chapter and said “Wow, I didn’t know you could do this!”
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
As I said, I always wanted to write one, and this story was near and dear to my heart.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
For my first book, I didn’t have a particular style. I let the characters lead and I just tried to keep up.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Well, to be totally honest, I didn’t. My editor recommended a change and I guess she knows what she’s talking about. I’m liking the new title better each day.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
No deep hidden meaning. It’s a story of friendship and sacrifice and how things don’t always end the way we want.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The book is not based on experiences I’ve had but does include experiences I wish I’d had or that I hope to have! Several of my friends have said they see little pieces of me in the story.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The old classics like Tom and Huck, Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson. I love a good adventure!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have been a John Grisham and Nicholas Sparks fan for years and have just gotten into Daniel Silva. Also, I am anxious to watch the career of my new friend Robert Bradford. Oh, and don’t forget J.K. Rowling….love Harry Potter.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The Chattanooga Writers Guild fiction group was a lot of help and encouragement. And many of my co-workers at CB&T who read along as I wrote it.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would love to be able to do this for a living….or better said….a life!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not really. I didn’t make up the ending though….the characters did, I just wrote what they told me.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was very young. Just started writing poetry and stories.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
You can read Chapter One on Amazon Books. Also, below is a sample.
Huck had just stepped onto the gangplank. He turned to see Tom running toward him. Tom ran up and grabbed him by the arm.
“Where’re you going, Huck?”
Huck jerked his arm free. “None of your business.”
“As if you don’t know.”
“What are you talking about? All I know is that I went by Becky’s and she was all upset, insisted that I find you. I’ve been looking all over for you. What’s this all about?”
“Like I said . . . as if you don’t know.”
Tom stared at Huck, Huck glared back. Tom began to realize.
“It’s Becky,” Tom said.
Huck looked away.
“You’re sweet on her.”
“That’s none of your business either.”
“Yes it is my business, Huck . . . she’s my girl. Listen, I’ve known all along how you feel, but,” he laughed, “well, it’s just funny.”
Huck stepped close to Tom, their noses almost touching. “What’s funny about it?”
Tom stepped back. “It’s just . . . you . . . and Becky? Everybody thinks it’s funny.”
“Who? Who thinks it’s funny?”
“Um . . . everybody. I mean . . . her family . . . being who they are . . . judges and lawyers. And you – “
Huck stepped close again. “What . . . am I not good enough for her?”
Tom looked up. “Huck, you better get out of my face.”
Huck shoved Tom, who retreated a couple more steps. Huck continued his advance. Once again they faced each other, toe-to-toe.
“Tom Sawyer, you’ve always thought you were better than me. You sit up there in your office all duded up in your fancy clothes while I’m down in that stinking engine room shoveling coal. You still think you’re better than me. Well, you’re not. And I’m going to prove it. Prove it to you. To everybody. To her. When I come back, you’ll see. This isn’t over, not by a long shot.”
Tom shoved the larger man away. “Huck, we’ve been friends a long time . . . but you stay away from her.”
Huck’s fist struck just under Tom’s left eye and sent him sprawling in the dirt. Huck boarded without looking back.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Describing the scenes, the background. I don’t care what color the curtains are, or about the floral design, unless someone is going to tear them down and strangle someone with them. When I read long descriptions I usually skim through them.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. Part of it is set at a national park that is near my home. And I have been there many times anyway.
Fiona: Who designed the cover?
Karen Buffington, a local artist. I looked high and low for an artist and found her attending the same church I attend.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Just persevering…..not giving up. It’s so easy to get discouraged, especially if you haven’t been published yet, haven’t been “validated”
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I hope I learned some techniques that will help in my future writings. Maybe I won’t take “the long way around” next time.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
For the two male leads, I don’t know which of today’s young actors I would pick. For the female lead, I would choose Olivia Kay Sloan, a stage actress from Atlanta. Very talented. She also sings in an all-girl group, Chailini.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t get bogged down trying to make your writing perfect while you’re still trying to get the story down on paper. You can fix it after you’re told the complete story.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
It’s all about the story. You can get away with a lot in your writing if you have something interesting to say.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’ve just started reading Daniel Silva. Good spy thrillers!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, I started reading very young….we didn’t have a TV. But I’m willing to bet it was the classics I mentioned above.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
For a good laugh, I prefer one-line zingers. I get teary-eyed over stories of people who overcome great obstacles to achieve their dreams.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Mark Twain, of course. In my opinion, he was irreverent and smart-alecky. I’m a lot like that.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
“Remember me?” If they don’t, does it really matter?
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I mostly watch old movies. I’m a huge Cary Grant fan. My favorite TV show was (and still is) M*A*S*H.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music:
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would like to have been a photographer.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?