by Jeff Reynolds
One note of interest. In the interview, he refers to Irvington, which has become part of Indianapolis. The town is named after Washington Irving, author of many stories including "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." I mention this now because it fits his description later on.
Jeff Reynolds: Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects. What got you interested in writing in general, and what inspired your first book?
J. P. Leck: Well, here in my 30th year, I've now been writing for longer than I have not. Storytelling started for me as a boy and I simply never stopped. I actually have a rather sizable box of manuscripts spanning two decades—none of which will ever see the light of day. Nothing in my past work reached the ludicrously high standard of literary value that I set for myself. I always knew that I wouldn't begin to publish until my skill caught up to my taste. And only now do I feel that I am there.
Hence the emergence of The Merely Mortal. I remember when I decided to write it. I was on a late night walk through my then town of Irvington which, for those unfamiliar, is equal parts antiquated and atmospheric. Especially with an eerie fog lingering about. While on this phantasmal jaunt, I was inspired to do a historical, gothic novel and so I did. It is kind of a strange book, certainly as the opener to a series. I often assure readers that the novel is at its most appreciable in the greater context of the overall story, which is to span several books and leak out into some other mediums of storytelling, such as short films and radio plays.
JR: I believe the sequel to The Merely Mortal is off the presses. Could you tell us about it? And will there be another installment of this series in the future?
JPL: The next book, The Strangely Undying, will actually go to print later this summer. And, yes, more are to follow in what promises to be a lengthy series. Whereas The Merely Mortal was my take on horror, The Strangely Undying will be more in the fantasy realm. It’s been a delightful challenge to have a single story bound from one genre to another.
JR: What is the target audience for your book, and what kind of response have you had so far?
JPL: Though I've been told this isn’t completely true, I feel that my stories are very niche. I write for those increasingly few old souls like myself who enjoy the stories and styles of yesteryear. Moreover, if you've found yourself repeatedly disappointed with the vapid, uninspired twaddle that seems to pervade the whole of modern storytelling, I may have an alternative to offer you. As for the response, it has been great. I keep hearing from people who state that they actually hate to read, but really enjoy my work. That is supreme among the compliments I have gotten so far.
JR: When you write, do you have a detailed outline? Or are you a blank pager, not knowing what will happen till you finish writing?
JPL: A little of both, I think. I always have a list of important plot points, but some of my best material comes when I simply make it up as I go. This is also the part of the process that I enjoy most, because it’s when everything is new to me. By the time a book of mine goes to print, I have most of it memorized, having slaved away on it for so long.
JR: I hope I'm not spoiling The Merely Mortal by saying one of the themes is that what makes a hero is his/her willingness. (In other words, I just revealed something that appears on page one of the novel.) Who are your heroes, both other authors you admire and the heroes in everyday life, and how have they shown the willingness you mentioned?
JPL: There's some pretty heavy philosophy in all of my books. One of them concerns choice. Choice is a gift that we've all been given. What people decide to do with their free will is of profound interest to me. Both in fiction and reality, the paths taken by individuals can make of them heroes or monsters. In regards to my personal or literary heroes, I try not to have them. A person will always fail you. But there is One who will never fail. He is my hero. And His willingness was, and is, without equal.
JR: How do you find time to write and market your books with your "day-job" and other responsibilities? What approaches do you take to marketing? And speaking of other responsibilities, would you like to tell us about your family?
JPL: My work is my storytelling, of course, but I do have a job as well, and it's not an undemanding one. However, I've been blessed with a madman’s work ethic. For one to say that he or she hasn’t the time to write is an excuse. Of course, not everyone has my indescribably selfless wife. I would accomplish nothing without her. Lindsay is my support structure and greatest advocate. We have two young children, Liberty and Hudson, who are as inspiring as they are motivating. As for marketing, I'm only now preparing to do so. Since the first novel went to print until now, I have been toiling over the second book, my website and other related projects. But I'll start spreading the word this summer, doing signings and possibly some readings.
JR: If an aspiring author asked for advice, what would you suggest? Would you recommend them following your footsteps into self-publishing, or suggest they try a more traditional route?
JPL: That would depend upon the author and what he or she wanted to accomplish with their work. I chose to take the independent route because it meant that I maintained ownership of all my intellectual property and full, creative control which is of the upmost importance to me. Fortunately, we now live in a time when a storyteller no longer has to get around the so-called gatekeepers of the industry to make their work available to the world.
JR: Thank you for your time. How could the readers keep up with your writing exploits?
JPL: For novels, short films and radio-plays, I have a burgeoning website: www.elsewhereworld.com Thank you very much for having me.
Jeff to the reader: As promised, we're giving away a copy of J. P. Leck's book, The Merely Mortal. Three steps for getting into the drawing:
- Leave a comment. (But you knew that, didn't you?)
- Include your e-mail address, which can be spelled out like AuntDotKahm (at) Ant (dot) com. (I'm sure you expected that as well.)
- Tell us who in your life has been a hero or, if you prefer, a mentor/influence in your life, and how have they shown the willingness to be one?