JD Clair is more than just a writer. He's a man who understands emotions as well as how to direct a story and dedicates himself to taking you on a journey into another world. He also happens to be my friend from grade school. I caught up with JD to ask him about his debut book The Impossible Return To Innocence and about his daily writing routine. So, without further delay, here's the author interview. Enjoy!
1. What is your earliest memory of writing?
I remember writing stories as early as five years old with my brothers; creating homemade comics that had the Ninja Turtles, the Ultimate Warrior, and an assortment of 80s icons. It was a blast. I don't know if that really counts because it was a collaboration and I'm not sure how much I really "wrote". However, by third grade I was writing stories in school and it was my favorite assignment, probably even until today.
2. How did it feel to see your book in print?
I wish I could say I was in love at first sight, but I didn't get that "high" I really expected. I was so hopeful, waiting on a very long shipment that took weeks, and finally when the proof came the colors were duller than I approved and the font not as noticeable on the spine. It was still a beautiful book, but the satisfaction didn't set in the way I hoped and I kind of feel like a jerk for admitting it.
3. When did you decide to be a writer?
I've wanted to be everything from a fireman, commercial airline pilot, to a shepherd. I struggled in college to decide what to do. I set my heart on early childhood education, but after transferring and losing credits I decided to not retake courses. I was an art major for half a semester before I realized my passion for writing. I've had a desire to jump from project to project, making movies, writing scripts, creating comics, making art... basically indulging in anything and everything. It was then I realized the simple fact that I loved telling stories and had a genuine admiration for the simplest things. Writing always seemed to be at the center of this "be everyone" mentality and allowed me to learn and explore many lives.
4. Do you get writer's block? How do you combat it?
I don't normally struggle with writers block. Often I find myself having too much to write for the time I allow myself to do so. Sometimes the topics my mind fixates on are not the current project and I've learned to write what I'm thinking of to get it out of my head. It's like being determined to walk through a forest but being stopped at a river. You have to deal with the immediate concern to go further. I realized that allowing time for side projects really worked well for me.
5. What's your writing routine? Do you write longhand, typewriter or computer?
I write at all hours of the day. Whenever it comes to me. Sometimes it's at 2 in the morning... Other times its while I'm driving. I try to text myself little notes for starting points or quotes as they come to me but I do set time aside to sit and write. It's mostly in the evening. When my kids were in Awana, I'd sit in the Church and just write uninterrupted for an hour and a half. But mostly, I write after my children go to sleep. I lay in the hall with my tablet and keyboard and write for hours.
6. Tell us about THE IMPOSSIBLE RETURN TO INNOCENCE and how you came to publish it?
THE IMPOSSIBLE RETURN TO INNOCENCE is a story of love and family. It begins with a dark scenario where a mother is caught in the act of stabbing her 12 year old son, Dominick, and follows the anger that boy developed in the years that follow. This is explored through a fantasy world known as the Furtherland, where monsters and masked murderers are threats mirroring some of the mental anguish he is suffering.
Once I finished I tried finding a publishing agent. I looked all over the internet for anyone who remotely fit my categories (YA, Fiction, Fantasy). I sent letter after letter, personalizing each one, refining them, sharing my story for pointers... and eventually went back in and reworked several chapters. A friend of the family began working for a new publisher, Meraki House, which combines an agency with self publishing. It is at the expense/risk of the author, but they do what they can to help create a better product. I decided to go this route after countless agency rejections.
7. What was your inspiration for writing it?
I was fat. Really fat. 280lbs of slothful mess, formed in a manchild mold. No one took me seriously because I didn't take myself seriously. So I decided to change. I began dieting and exercising in a very strict but healthy manner. Withing 8 months I lost over 80lbs. In that time I began writing the changes I was seeing in myself and others. Each character is built on forms of myself and other people. The monsters were literally described out of the disgust I had for my own overweight body. The protagonist was me... is me. He was a runner, which is what I was becoming, and I put into him all my own doubts and fears. Unfortunately my father in law began a rapid downward spiral with severe depression. This, coupled with a desire to explore the way depression affects family, led me to creating a fictional event where a mother hurts her child. I've been hurt in my life by family, and it is difficult to forgive, and I wanted to bring that topic up for anyone who feels justified in their anger. You can let go of your justification and decide to forgive.
8. What are you working on now?
I just finished the sequel to THE IMPOSSIBLE RETURN TO INNOCENCE, titled STONECOAT. The story has many parallels and involves all the same characters as the first, but the narrative is now given from the sister of the first story's protagonist. It is a really intense book and I tried capturing the wonderful nature and strength that women have, while also exploring their vulnerabilities. I really tried to speak with an understanding heart and I think it shows.
9. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Writing is lonely. It can be heartbreaking. You can try to write a single sentence a hundred times and no one will understand the effort you put in. You will be rejected. You will want to give up. I've wanted to give up. I've rage quit a few times, one even made public recently... but if you want to do it, you have to find a way to make it work.
Thanks for coming onto the Blog JD.
You can find his book Here.
He also writes a blog at https://thetelltaledark.blogspot.com
and has his own website at http://www.jdclair.com
And for those of you who want a visual sneak peek. Here is a book trailer of The Impossible Return To Innocence.