Today I have the extreme pleasure of interviewing author James Garcia Jr. Read on for more about this wonderfully talented, and super friendly, author! Please feel free to post comments or ask a question…and be sure to check out his new book!
1) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A) First of all, allow me to thank you, Jennifer, as well as your readers for giving me this opportunity to be here today. All of us who endeavor to write and publish need a lot of help, and I am no different. I am a husband and father of two teenaged boys. I work as a supervisor for Sun-Maid Raisin Growers of California where I have responsibilities for the packaging floor. I work 10.5 hours or more, five days a week, which doesn’t give me a lot of time to pursue a writing career. Somehow I have managed to have two short stories published as well as a novel for Vamplit Publishing. I also have three blogs that I contribute to and an on-line magazine, not to mention the social networking sites that I can be found lurking on.
2) When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
A) (Laughing) This is a great question because it took me twenty years to complete my debut novel! My interest in books occurred while I was in junior high school when I discovered the horror genre. The Amityville Horror was the first one, followed by Jaws and books by Stephen King and Michael Slade. I wrote throughout high school and into college; however, I got married, and eventually family pushed that dream to the back burner. I’m 41 now, but when I was about 38, I really began to feel the magnitude of the regret that I would eventually have should I not finally see the novel through. I dusted it off, finished it and then began to seek representation. A year and a half later I discovered Vamplit Publishing, a small e-book house that was devoted to anything vampire.
3) Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published? What inspired you to write a crossover horror/Christian story about vampires?
A) Originally, my novel was horror with the obligatory R-rating. Later, when I became a Christian, I went through a phase where I thought I should write something more “wholesome” for Him. I did try this for awhile, but found that I really missed the thrill that fiction writing could give. Eventually I came to a conclusion that some horror went too far and some Christian writing did not go far enough, and began to wonder whether I might be able to fill that gap. So, I took out the worst of the language and gore, and fashioned my novel into a PG-13 kind of read. There is still some language. No one shouts “Shoot!” and “Darn it!” when they are being chased by a serial killer with a machete. Right? On the other hand, there were some words or details that did not need to be there, at least in this novel.
Discounting the challenge of being a new and unknown writer, I can well imagine that Christian houses were not interested in the blood and guts, and the secular houses were not interested in the church stuff. I knew that I could spend my own money and print the books myself, but I really didn’t want to go that route unless I was unable to find anyone to represent me. A year and a half later, just as I was beginning to envision printing those books, myself, I found my publisher.
4) If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
A) I would love to tell you that I would go back and not allow the process to take twenty years, but I can’t do that. Part of the process was a maturity that I apparently did not have, as well as the fact that I was raising my kids and building a family.
When the kids were little, if I didn’t have two hours, I would simply throw a fit and refuse to sit down to write. These days if I have forty minutes, I’m running to the computer! LOL!
5) How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
A) First of all, I currently do not have the luxury to say no to anything. The other thing is my novel is an e-book, so until it becomes a paperback, which is tentatively scheduled for October, I can’t blanket town with copies. I have to use my blog, my Twitter account and my Author’s Facebook account to get the word out. I have had some things fall into my lap, so there’s been some blessings thrown my way, too. A local magazine’s positive review of my novel caught the attention of a local on-line magazine editor. She was looking for local writers, so now I’m working for her. I did a guest spot for Wicked Writers which led to an invitation to join them in a full-time capacity. I have also agreed to assist fellow Vamplit author, Marissa Farrar with her blog, Something Wicked This Way Comes. All of this gives me exposure and hopefully some sales. In terms of my crossover genre, I simply try and do my best to present the novel as the crossover that it is, so readers will understand that it is the best of a great many worlds.
A) Two vampires descend upon an unsuspecting small town; Nathaniel is “good” and Vincent is not. They know each other intimately since Vincent “made” Nathaniel. Vincent has been pursuing his “son” over centuries and fully intends to reclaim what was lost to him. The story is not only the battles between the two of them, but how the entire community is affected, including two police detectives and their families. The title is one that I always thought that I would change, but never could find anything that pictured the story better. We are all taught as children to stop, drop and roll should we get caught on fire. Unfortunately, in that moment of panic, we all act differently. That was the picture that I was going for; these events take place and we watch how each one reacts.
The e-book is currently available at Smashwords, iTunes and the Barnes & Noble e-store.
7) You have joined Kings River Life Magazine where you will be a contributing writer. What topics does the magazine cover and when will some of your work be featured?
A) I live in the actual city where my novel takes place. It is a small town in the Central Valley of California, just south of Fresno. The Kings River is a major river that flows down from the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and is, one might say, the life-blood of our valley. The magazine is interested in celebrating my town as well as the others that make their home along the river. It heavily celebrates arts and entertainment, as well as local interests. My first article was about a performing art center that opened and my second was a restaurant review. My current assignment is for a local dog rescue. Mostly, I write about Kingsburg, but we’ll see whether I stretch beyond her limits in the future.
8) What project are you working on now? Will you have a new book coming out soon?
A) I purposely have been spending 2010 doing nothing but PR. Nobody told me that I should do this; it simply sounded right to me. I had to get the word out.
During the time that I was looking for representation I wrote the sequel. It is entitled, Dance on Fire: Flash Point and took only eight months from start to end of second draft; pretty good for a guy who took twenty years to write the first one (more laughing)! My first novel will come out in paperback, as I mentioned, about the time that I hand over the sequel to my publisher. The sequel will either be winter 2010 or spring 2011 in both e-book and paperback formats.
9) Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
A) Everyone says to write, everyday, and they’re not wrong. My personal story is a little different because I’m late to the game. If I was young I’d probably quit my job and go all-in, to steal a gambling term. My reality, however, is I can’t be doing that. Instead, I have stretched myself as thin as I possibly can, attempting to see where this wave may take me. If after a few years this turns out to be nothing more than a hobby, then I will most likely hang it up.
The real advice I have for writers of all ages is to have no regrets. Give it your shot. At 38, the thought occurred to me that I simply did not want to be an old man in a rest home, staring out a window, wondering what might have been. We’re human; we’ll die with many regrets. For me, never completing that first novel will not be one of them. No matter what happens, I am an author now.
10) Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
A) I think we’ve pretty much covered it all. I have many stories that I would like to write, God willing. Some are darker and some are deep with a very Christian slant. This first novel is a mix of many things because that is what I am. I like edge of your seat thrillers, be it horror or not quite. I like action adventures. I also like romantic comedies, too. Anyone who gives my novel a chance is going to find that it has a little bit of everything, and hopefully be immensely entertaining. After all, isn’t that the point?
Super big Thank You’s to James for this interview!
Of course, also go buy his book!