Friday, December 27, 2019

Interview with John M. Withers IV, author of Handsome Boy

Can you tell us a little about your book?

All of my books thus far are Interactive Fiction. Readers make decisions on how the story unfolds. My mot recent, Handsome Boy, is purely choice based. Some of my other works, the Castles of Imagination series, require dice to decide success or failure in certain situations. Handsome Boy is an interactive fiction romance novella. It is a short read where the reader makes decisions to decide if the main character Sean will approach the girl he has a crush on, spend time helping a despondent friend, or try to do both. The Castles of Imagination begins with a couple high schoolers using RPGs to survive high school stress. The reader makes decisions for the high school protagonist and the frame tale RPG game barbarian as well. Each book in the series moves the characters forward in time, so decisions in the earlier books have impact later in the series. I plan on exploring various ways to make choices in interactive fiction books as I move forward on new series.

How many books have you published?

Handsome Boy is my most recent book. 
My first book was Goblin's Gift, the beginning of my Castles of Imagination series. I still have two more books and another prequel sampler forthcoming to finish that series. Hopefully book five will be available soon.

What's your writing process like?

I tend to write best when I can spend hours on it. I prefer to block out afternoons, evenings, or entire days. Since I write interactive fiction, I have to be able to follow the webbing and ensure scenes do not conflict elsewhere in the book. Since it is a connected series, events in the books have to impact the rest of the series. That process works well for the Castles of Imagination series books. Sadly, it can be hard to carve out those hours around work and family. I need to spend a few more long mornings finishing the next book in the series. I'm hoping my spring teaching schedule will let me finish writing the remaining sections and move into editing soon.

Trying something new, I spent an hour a morning writing a non-interactive fiction book. It was interesting to wake up early, do a few chores, and then sit down and write for an hour. That was an easier way to fit writing into my morning. It worked for that project, Car in the Fog. That book is currently being edited.  I was able to write Handsome Boy similarly. I wrote an hour a day a few days a week. It was nice to be able to work in smaller sections on shorter books with less inter-connectivity. The reading paths have to make sense, but since they do not impact other books in the series Handsome Boy was easier to write and edit.

I have also written a few short RPGs published on this year. Those are small projects that I usually work on for a few days writing and a few more editing.

I am working on a Dungeon Crawl Classics zine. That project will use a new collaborator and I am looking forward to working out our editing process together.

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Go write. Find a way to express yourself to the world.
My books may never appeal to the widest audience and be best sellers, but they allow me to express myself to the world. Luckily, my day job can pay the bills, so I am fortunate I can write the books I want to write and not worry about sales figures. I'm writing books filled with general geekiness, RPG players, comics and games shops, and haunted cars. I'm writing books with atypical protagonists. I'm writing the books I want to exist. I'm a firm believer that there is room on bookshelves for more diversity and new voices, but that only happens when more diverse writers write. 

What are you currently reading?

Most recently,I have read a lot of R.L. Stine Goosebumps and Ghosts of Fear Street books. They're fun and fast. I read nearly a hundred of them in the past year or so. I stopped to read the most recent paperback from R.A. Salvatore. I'm awaiting the next Green Rider book from Kristen Britain and small book from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I enjoy long series.

No comments:

Post a Comment