J W Kiefer, Jason Kiefer
- We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.
–Currently I am working on Book Two of the Justice Cycle series. Book one, my first novel, was released in March of 2021. In this book we continue our characters adventures moving from the small country towns of Western New York State into bigger and more broader areas. Just as the world is growing, so will the characters.
2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.
My first novel Death: Book One of the Justice Cycle, was released at the end of March of 2021. It has been out for about 5 months now. The first book is an origin story where we get the end of one character’s story and the beginning of another’s. In book one we follow the Shogun as he hunts a serial killer through upstate NY. His time as the mysterious being known as the Spirit of Justice is coming to an end and another will pick up the sentient sword Tzedakah and start the cycle anew. Jared Caddrett is a police detective in Binghamton NY, and he is tasked with catching the elusive killer. While investigating two murders, his partner Dana and are thrust into a supernatural war that has been raging for millennia in the shadows. Book one primarily centres on the relationships of Jared, Dana and his brother Steve and thrusts them all into a world they never knew existed. Book, two, which has a tentative release date of April 2022, will take our characters further into this mysterious and supernatural world and a war that will change the very fabric of reality. I also have a short story called Dark Matter that is published in Bayonet books Anthology Storming Area 51 Volume Two. In that short piece, we follow Air Force Colonel and Presidential Science Advisor Christian Racene as he is called to Area 51 to advise on a growing problem they are having. There he finds something that will change the very fabric of reality and our place as humans in the universe.
3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!) My least favourite bit is Plotting. I am a pantser, so I absolutely hate it. I have found, however, that the writing process goes a lot smoother if I at least plot a little. I am currently employing a strategy where I plot 4 chapters ahead and then write them. This way I don’t get bogged down in trying to come up with the entire book in one shot, which I can’t do anyway.
4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning? I love when my characters do things that I hadn’t planned. As a pantser I kind of sit down with a basic story arc and then let the characters tell me how they are going to handle what I throw at them. This makes it, for me, feel more alive and natural rather then strict and structured. As we all know, the best moments in life happen when we get off the beaten path and do something crazy or unexpected. For me, when my characters do that, I get excited and those are the times when my joy of writing is at it’s highest. For instance, when a side character who was only supposed to have a small part, explodes onto the story to become a key player you never saw coming. I love those moments. I really do. It what keeps me coming back as a writer.
5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.) Wow, good question. I would steal Jim Butcher’s ability to know where his main character is going to end up. I don’t have any idea where mine will go in the end or how their fate will eventually be decided. I know where the story arc will most likely end, but not the characters themselves. I feel like if I had a better grasp of that, than it would help me create satisfying moments that show their growths. He does that so well in my opinion.
Also, Stephen King’s ability to make his characters feel real and alive. He can take the most mundane or the most unusual traits of humankind and create a fully realized and believable character. I mean, come one, he could make a one-armed, one-eyed half lizard man character and we would all be like: “Oh yeah I can truly see that being a real thing.” I would kill for that kind of talent.
6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best? Well…as my readers often tell me, I am kind of an evil god. Since, I seem to be kind of sadistic at times, it may seem hard to justify the kind of suffering I put my main character through. All I would say to him is, everything good and lovely in life comes at a cost. Someone must pay that price so others can live in peace. That is what I am asking of you. Hopefully, that would be sufficient of an answer to pacify him. I know him well, however, and know that he would accept this response, but hate it at the same time. He may even try to change his fate and that of the sentient sword. Who knows, perhaps he will. You will have to read the series to find out, just like he will have to live it as I write it.
7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why? Ok. Well, the last book I read was The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee. It is set in the Avatar the Last Airbender world, and I absolutely loved it. The protagonist Jianzhu is a companion of the last Avatar and is the most influential person in the Earth Kingdom. He is a tactician and ruthless in his pursuit of what he feels is right. He kills anyone who gets in his way, including his friends and acquaintances. He is a master tactician and a brilliant Pai Sho player. In all honesty, he would wipe the floor with us. Jared may have a chance with the help of the sentient sword, which could pretty much read Jianzhu’s mind or show Jared his cards. It would, however, most likely refuse since it is the spirit of Justice and all and cheating is unjust. I can’t lie and so therefore I can’t bluff. Even if I manage not to say something that will give my position away, it will most likely show on my face. My friends all tell me I have a million tells and that is why they consistently beat me at poker.
8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.) Well, the most important thing that you will need to overcome is self-doubt. All of us wrestle with this demon, but you will have to overcome it if you want to become a successful writer. It goes hand in hand with being able to handle criticism. No one progresses in live with out first failing. Being able to receive helpful criticism is one of the most essential tools any creator has at their disposal. My book would not have ever been finished or even close to as good as I feel it is, if it wasn’t for the loving criticism of my author friends. Not to mention my editor, who thankfully is the most critical of all.
Also, I feel that writers need to avoid trying to be someone else. I write like I write and finding my own groove is what will make me successful. If I feel like I must write like Tolkien for instance, then I will fail. At best, I will be a lesser copy of him. Be who you are and write the way you write. Your unique voice is what makes you you and what will make people want to read your work. It is ok to glean and learn from other writers about how they do things, but in the end, you must find what works for you. You may be like me and sit down and play music until you find yourself teleported into the world you are writing about; or you could be like Tolkien who created an entire world language and all, before ever writing one page. You do you, and the rest will fall into place.
9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe. My next book will not be out for a while, but you can sign up for my email list to be kept abreast of what is going on with me and my writing. You can do that at JWKiefer.com.
Also check out a few authors that I absolutely love.
JR Handley: JRHandley.com
Tim C Taylor: Humanlegion.com