Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi everyone! My pen name is J.M. Bush and I am 38 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m from Dothan, a little town in southeast Alabama. I’ve lived all over, though! I used to live in Columbus, GA, San Diego, CA, Atlanta, GA, Shanghai, China, Penang, Malaysia, and now I live in Bangkok, Thailand.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m an avid reader of fantasy and sci-fi and I love playing RPGs, including video games and pen and paper versions. I’ve been a musician for over 20 years and have played bass guitar in two punk bands – one of which toured the southeast United States and the other having toured China. I graduate next month with a degree in psychology and sociology from Troy University. I have been married to the love of my life for 17 years and we have two boys aged 10 and 4, both named after Star Wars characters.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
From July 1-5 both of my novels will be FREE on Kindle via Amazon! You can find Between the Lanterns here: https://www.amazon.com/Between-Lanterns-J-M-Bush-ebook/dp/B01L3O7PXQ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1530279762&sr=1-2
Storm in Shanghai can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Storm-Shanghai-Mage-Father-Bush-ebook/dp/B01CRLZG7Q/ref=la_B01JELA48I_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1530279762&sr=1-1
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in high school for a local fan zine. I was writing short stories and I really enjoyed it. Nothing had ever made me feel so alive as sitting down and creating a story out of thin air. However, one of my friends showed one of my stories to his father and things took a turn for the worst in my writing “career.” My friend’s father was pretty disgusted with my story and, admittedly, it was quite violent. The problem was that he was not silent in his dislike of my work. In fact, he was very vocal. With my already having low self esteem due to growing up fat, I was wrecked by his criticisms. I felt that there was nothing good about my writing and so I stopped completely. It wasn’t until seven years ago, when I moved to China, that I started again. I picked it up again because I wanted to blog and keep my friends and family back home up to date with our international lives. People responded positively to my writing style and said that I should write a book! So, I did. Then I wrote another. I also started writing travel articles and selling them to an online magazine. It was an amazing feeling to have people interested in what I had to say.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always been a writer; I just didn’t let myself admit it until I wrote my first manuscript.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
While living in China, I was a stay-at-home dad during the day and played in a punk band by night. It was an interesting double-life I had going and I the more I thought about it, the more I felt it would make a cool story. But I needed to change the hidden life, the nighttime life, to something a bit more magical. From this line of thinking, Storm in Shanghai was born. It’s the story of an American expat living in China who leads two lives: being a stay-at-home dad and at the same time he is the head of a magical police force made up of both mages and wizards.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The story has to do with elemental magic, and one of the central kinds in the book is Storm magic. Plus it takes place in Shanghai, so the title basically wrote itself, to be honest.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’ve been told that my strength is in characters, dialogue, and plot. I’m not overly poetic and never write anything with the intention of making it beautiful. I’m not descriptive enough when it comes to locations and never consider the setting a character, even though it often should be. If there is one thing I think is my greatest downfall as a writer, it is that I don’t give enough attention to setting.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Many of the characters are inspired by people I know, and the main character is basically me in everything but physical appearance. A lot of the things that happen in the book are complete fantasy, obviously, but small details are very real and from my time living in China. My second book, Between the Lanterns, has much more real life in it, as it takes place in my hometown but set far into the future.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
The lifestyle I live is full of travel. Constantly. In the past seven years, I have filled a passport to the point where I had to have extra pages added two years ago. Now those are almost full, too. I don’t travel for my writing, but it certainly inspires my stories. I feel like experiences are what fuel anyone’s imagination and ability to write, and those experiences can be had anywhere. You don’t have to go to Rome to write a story about Rome. Yeah, it helps, sure. But you can just research Rome and fill your story with inspiration from other life experiences to make it feel real. That crush you had on that cute guy/girl. That life changing conversation you had with your best friend. That time your uncle died and you realized how much he meant only when he was gone. These kinds of experiences are relatable to almost everyone and make your story feel just as real.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Storm in Shanghai was designed by Chris Granger of Southern Fried Creative ( http://southernfriedmart.com/ )
It was his first go at book design and I feel he did a very good job. Some have criticized the cover for being amateurish but I honestly love it. And Chris has been my best friend since high school, so I don’t care if anyone likes it or not. It is special to me.
Between the Lanterns was designed by Stephanie Saw of Seventhstar (https://www.seventhstarart.com /)
She is one of the most talented writers and book designers I have ever met. While living in Malaysia, I met her through Wattpad and found she also lived in Penang. We started becoming buddies and I fell in love with her work. She has also designed a cover for my current work in progress on Wattpad called The Gods That Keep Them.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In my first novel, there are some messages about bigotry and racism told through the lens of magic and how it is obtained and used. I wanted people to make the connections themselves without being soapbox preached to, and I feel that I was able to accomplish that goal. Many of my readers have commented on how both sides have done wrong (one side far more than the other) but that the people within each side are not to blame individually. It is the culture they have lived in for so long that has led them to this and it is up to them NOW to make a change.
In my second novel, I was trying to comment on what we have lost due to the advent of technology. We are so reliant on tech that we often lose closeness with others, be they family or friends. And if we’re not careful, we could end up losing what makes us human in the first place. In addition, I also commented on God and the existence of Heaven. You’ll have to read the book to find out what I said, though. But don’t worry, it’s free to download from July 1-5!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Brandon Sanderson and Joe Abercrombie are my superstar hero-worship writing gods at the moment. Both of them create worlds so far beyond what I feel I am capable of and I lose myself in their stories within seconds of picking up one of their books. It is a completely out of body experience to read their work and I hope to one day achieve that level of skill.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Rachel Hawkins, author of Royals and many other amazing books, was my wife’s best friend in high school. She grew up to be a NYT best selling author and is an incredibly talented author. When I first began thinking about writing a book, she told me to “just write it.” She said not to sweat the other stuff. Don’t worry about if it is good or if you are good. Rachel said to just get it done. Because once it is done, I will have accomplished something that most people never will in their entire lives. Whether or not anyone ever reads it or likes it, that doesn’t matter because I have accomplished something great. And she was right. You can always fix a bad book. And you can always write a better book later. But that first time, you just need to get it done. Just write it.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I did. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to reach that level. I would love to, but I also am a realist. There are a LOT of people writing books and there are only so many books being published each year. And I know many indie authors have found a way to make a living doing this, but I don’t have the stamina to be an indie author. I just cannot self promote non-stop for eternity. It really took its toll on me when I tried. I have so much respect for indie authors that can do it successfully. It is not easy. I won’t stop writing, though. I will keep writing books and I will keep trying to get them published traditionally and if that doesn’t work, then I’ll self publish. I have to keep writing. It makes me happy and we all need to find that in our lives. When you find what makes you happy, do it.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would probably fix the middle of the book where the story seems to stall for a few chapters. I would give the protagonists a break from all the tragedy they encounter and probably make the world seem a little less 100% rotten. I think that would help the reader buy in a little more.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned that every single time you sit down to write, you are a better writer than you were the last time you sat down to write. Each session makes you a little better. I know it seems like common sense. There is the old adage about how practice makes perfect, after all. But as I wrote that second book while editing my first book at the same time, I was embarrassed by what I had written in my first book. Even now, as I go back and read things I’ve written in the past I am horrified. Hell, I bet that by the time I read this interview I will cover my face in shame.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
For my first book, I would want Oscar Isaac to play Jaret. He’d need a close cut hairdo, but I think he’d fit the bill perfectly. For my second book, I’d want Donald Glover to play August and Tian Jing to play Sam.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
JUST WRITE IT.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you for taking the time to read my work. Please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Whether positive or negative, reviews help authors. Just be honest and let others know that you’ve read my books. Share and like my Facebook posts and retweet and like my tweets. These things are huge to indie authors and mean more than you can imagine.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now I am reading Family Violence: Legal, Medical, and Sociological Perspectives by Paul Harvey Wallace and Cliff Roberson.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I certainly do. In the third grade with Mrs. Stuckey I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It started my love affair with fantasy fiction. It is still my favorite series and I have two tattoos inspired by those books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Lots of things make me laugh, most of it dumb. Almost anything makes me cry; movies, books, commercials, music, etc. I’m such a soft hearted fellow.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I think Nikola Tesla would be an interesting person to talk with about almost anything.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Of course! Reading, writing, playing music, video games, board games, and travel!
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love Chopped, Top Chef, Queer Eye, Gilmore Girls, Star Trek, all Star Wars movies, all Marvel films, and so much more.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Street tacos, blue, punk and ska!
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Find the technology to replace my hands, because the only way I’d stop writing is if I lost the ability to use my hands.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
With my wife and kids. Holding them close, playing with them, and telling them how much I love and will miss them.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Husband, Father, Author. He made a difference.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
You can visit my website here: https://www.eatplaywritetravel.com/
Please like my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/jmbushauthor/
Please follow me on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/M_to_the_Bush
Check out my Amazon page here: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B01JELA48I/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true
And don’t forget that from July 1-5 both of my novels will be FREE on Kindle via my Amazon page!