Winston – It’s been almost a year since I last talked to author, J.W. Garrett, and I’m excited and honored to say she’s back and not just for part II of our interview but with a brand-new book as well. I’d say she took just the right amount of time craft a follow up to the mind-bending Remeon’s Destiny (RD). She didn’t rush it in a few months, and it didn’t take years, only one, and I’ve had the opportunity to fully test drive Remeon’s Quest (RD) and found it just as exhilarating, if not more, as the first book in the Realms of Chaos series. Let’s jump right in.
How long did it actually take you to write Remeon’s Destiny (RD) and Remeon’s Quest (RQ)? Which book was the toughest to write and why?
Garrett – Remeon’s Destiny took almost two years to write. That time included a lot of starting and stopping and tucking my thoughts away until I felt like creatively I could give to the story. And sometimes the day just sucks the creativity out of you and you have to try again tomorrow. So almost throwing in the towel on this one probably made it the more difficult to write of the two.
Remeon’s Quest came about much quicker, finished the first draft in about four months. I had a strong sense of the story and the characters at that point. Problem was finding the time to get it all out.
Winston – Two year…yikes! But I get it; you can’t rush art, or at least you shouldn’t. RQ’s publishing date was only one day off from being on the one-year anniversary of RD’s publishing date. Was that by design? How many books should we expect in the Realms of Chaos series, and should we expect them all a year apart, which I think is perfect, by the way?
Garrett – Four books will make up the Realms of Chaos series. Considering the lead time for writing, editing, beta readers, proofreading, cover design and manuscript set up by my publisher, advanced review copies, etc. most likely the books will be a year apart.
Winston – Yay on the year apart; I can handle that. Now, this is kind of unique to me. This second book you’ve written in the series is actually a prequel which in my mind makes both books stand alone, and they can be read in any order. Which order do you suggest and why?
Garrett – Yes! Remeon’s Quest is a prequel, and for those who haven’t read Remeon’s Destiny I suggest digging into Remeon’s Quest first, mainly because of the earlier timeline of Remeon’s Quest. However, the books are written so that either one may be read first for these two installments.
Winston – Ooh, a choice…I love it. Tell me about the writers’ life through J.W. Garrett’s eyes. How many words a day do you write? Is that a hardline number or are you flexible? Do you edit on the fly or do you get that all-important draft out of the way and then concentrate on the revision process? Or is a combination of the two? Has writer’s block ever been a problem for you? If so, how do you deal with it?
Garrett – The answer to most of these questions depends on the day.
I’d love to say I write 3000+ words day, but that rarely happens. I do set a goal for each day that I’m writing, knowing in advance how long I will have to write. And, unless I have an emergency of some kind, I’ll hold myself accountable. Generally, I reread what I’ve written the previous day as it helps me with the flow of the story. I’d like to get out of the habit of editing on the fly… (So many experts say it’s bad since you use different parts of your brain for the creative process versus the editing piece.) Unfortunately, I have an ongoing battle with this. I see it as a trade-off, and when I’m immersed in a scene, often it feels right to tweak a word or two then, as opposed to during a rewrite. Again, I’m a proponent of doing what works for the individual and their process.
So far, writer’s block hasn’t been a problem. If something is holding me up, usually I need to take a step back and work it out in my head. In most cases, I find that the characters create their own path through, and I just get out of the way and hang on for the ride.
Winston – I agree with doing what works for the individual. Alistair MacLeod edits on the fly, and I’ve heard his work characterized as flawless. Anyhow, describe your writing space? Is it just one space or do you move about, and how important is the adoption of a writing space to you?
Garrett – I do have a writing space, my office, and it recently had a makeover thanks to my amazing husband. The room is cozy with a fireplace, rug, and bookshelves with my favorite books and reference books that I use while writing, and of course my computer. After getting used to two screens I’m not sure I could go back to one. Sometimes I draw out a few things to solidify them in my head but, otherwise, no pen and paper—too concerned with losing precious words and time…
For me, returning to a consistent space puts me in the proper frame of mind to write. I’ve tried moving around to other areas and the productivity isn’t there. The familiar is another cue to put my brain in the right mode.
Winston – Fair enough. In RD, you did a masterful job of combining the contemporary with science fiction. This new installment goes more into the fantasy realm while remaining true to the original genres. What’s your take on the difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy and how do you apply that to the Realms of Chaos series?
Garrett – I did struggle initially with classifying Remeon’s Destiny as sci-fi or fantasy because it is definitely a combination of both genres. Science fiction can tell us so much about our perceived future and humanity’s possibilities, extrapolating from different points in time and utilizing the natural laws of science and reality that we currently occupy. And fantasy on the other hand, allows us to dream of what could be if only x y or z happened, without strict regard to “real world” constraints and theoretical limitations.
Growing up reading J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula LeGuin, and Jean Auel, alongside Ray Bradbury, HG Wells and CS Lewis (among others) made it seem perfectly natural to mix the two genres.
Winston – That’s a heavy answer and those are some heavy hitters. Ebook or Print and why?
Garrett – I have quite a few paperbacks and hardcover books; many of these are old favorites that I reread. Some are non-fiction that I’ve highlighted and refer to frequently. I still buy physical books, but considering the number of books I read, plus limited space and the need for portability, e-books make up a large part of my personal library.
Winston – I’ve had the opportunity to read both books and listen to a rousing rendition of RD on audible as well. How was that process, when can we expect RQ on audible, and will you use the same voice actor?
Garrett – The process was interesting—very detailed and a different type of work moving from a manuscript to editing an audible version of a book. I found a whole new appreciation for commas as well as the intricacies of pronunciation that I didn’t have before because of how a voice actor reads the text. I don’t have a timeline currently for the audible version or if the same voice actor will be used.
Winston – Well, I’m looking forward to it and will keep an eye…well an ear out for it. When I read your books, I can actually see the characters on the big screen. Humor me. Pick out some of your main characters—at least four or five—and come up with current actors and actresses who would be perfect to play those roles and tell us why.
Garrett – Ah… fun!
Jack – Theo James has just the right amount of intensity needed for Jack, plus he’s got a vulnerable side to him, just like Jack.
Whisterly – Brice Dallas Howard – Her ability to depict strong women characters with determination and drive, who enjoy riding in the front seat, would make her a perfect choice for Whisterly.
Thomas – Josh Hutcherson would be a great pick for Thomas. He could realistically portray the conflict within, as well as personify the innate integrity Thomas possesses.
Arista – Emma Watson would bring the role of Arista to life with her unique charisma and a magical background from her Harry Potter roles.
Winston – Ooh, I love those characters…I may have to reread the novels. Now, last question; With two years of being a published author under your belt what advice would you give aspiring writers out there? I’ll just say good advice because I know it will be and give you the last word and mention that I’ve provided the links to these literary gems below. Good luck and Godspeed, mi amiga.
Garrett – Just do it! Start somewhere. So many resources are available to help you along the way. If anything, too much information is an issue and sifting it down to what you need, when you need it. Above all, don’t wait for the “perfect” time… there will always be an excuse… work, commitments, etc. But the great thing is, you don’t have to follow everyone else’s model of success—make your own, and in your own time and space create your masterpiece. Even 15 or 30 minutes a day can set you on your way, and in the end, it will have been just right for your individual journey.