Congratulations, once again, to Joe De La Garza, winner of “Fantasy in the Cage.” I asked Joe some questions about his experiences as a writer. Grab your favorite adult beverage, make yourself comfortable, and take a look at what makes J. J. De La Garza tick.
So Joe…when and why did you decide to start writing?
Seventh grade language arts class. I attended Alta Loma Junior High in Southern California’s Inland Empire. I was not very interested in school and spent a lot of time as a truant beachcomber. One day when I did make it to school an assignment was given, one that piqued my interest. I was encouraged to write about anything I wanted, and in any format, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I got to work. I wrote a short story detailing my life in California, thinly veiling my friends and activities on the page.
My teacher, Theresa Landorf, read it and asked me to stay after class. I fully expected to hear all that was wrong with what I wrote, but instead of a lecture she pointed out that my characters and story arc were very well defined. That the apparent ease in which I could communicate ideas and create scenes on the page was a gift, one that not everyone had and even fewer actually used. She said it wouldn’t surprise her to read me one day as a published author. I never forgot her words and to this day am still inspired by the teacher who saw through my slacker facade and struck a chord within me. From that day on I knew what I wanted to do. I knew that one day I would be a writer.
That’s a very interesting start, my friend. What life experiences have best prepared you for being a writer?
My best story ideas come from my dreams, which are very detailed and extremely vivid. I learned long ago to keep a pen and paper on my nightstand. I don’t know if this qualifies as a “life experience” but this little quirk compels me to write.
Plot, characters, beginning, middle and end, they just show up and when they do it is a flurry of activity as I grasp at the misty little thoughts and commit them to paper before they fade away from this world and return to theirs.
Very cool. Can you tell us about your latest work and what genre it falls into.
Funny you should mention that, I was working on my collection of short stories called 4Track Demo (http://bit.ly/mmdt6v )…Then came Radjer.
I want to develop this character and cross into the realm of a graphic novelist. There are some very talented artists out there with whom I would love to collaborate and contribute my writing style to this method of storytelling.
Great idea. What were your inspirations for writing it?
I love big stories of good versus evil, and it doesn’t get much bigger than the enslavement of all mankind. I feel like the time is right for tales that stray from the gray areas and deal with the black and white of what it is to be human by delving into the idea of deus ex machina in a modern setting. I am really tired of the jaded and cynical point of view that is so prevalent now, I want to write about the unknown and mysterious world that shrinks exponentially with every technological breakthrough we make.
How about your writing process? I’d love you to describe it for our readers.
Freeform idea session, no tech, just pen and paper! Taking ideas, jotting them down, having a drink and watching them dance. I make sure not to subject the work to the rules or boundaries of the latter stages of writing, in this stage of creation anything goes.
Then the edit begins, I am not such a fan of this side but I am learning to love it. Coffee drives this stage and this is where the mechanics of the story really shine and the machinery of my ideas begin to warm up. Things may go in an entirely different direction once the characters actually meet up on the page which is part of why I am loving the edit more and more.
I really like your process…especially the coffee part. Joe, to what degree are your fictional characters based in reality?
The honest answer here is that the motivations humans have to either hurt or harm each other in real life translate directly over to the page, so to a point they are all based in reality. The characters, although only puppets on a string, are moved and made real by the actions and feelings that we all share. The gossamer tethers I hold as an author, raising the hand of the character to lend a hand or point a gun, are manipulated in such a way to make the characters appear alive. They are always an amalgam of the human experience, never a direct copy of one person.
Very interesting, my friend. So…any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
A really big one is on my horizon that I am very excited about, in the near future I hope to ask everyone reading this interview to test drive a beta version, but you will just have to keep up with me on Twitter and Facebook for the big reveal!
Fair enough. Have you ever considered experimenting with a different genre?
There are so many out there, and the more writers I meet through social media I learn of more and more everyday. I’m always open to how the story unfolds, I don’t like to pigeonhole myself as a writer of only one specific genre.
Joe…describe your ideal surroundings or conditions for writing, if you would.
It depends on if I am brainstorming or editing. The one common thread is music, I cannot hope to create without it, it is my muse and the bedrock of all my work.
Here’s a loaded question for you; writing idiosyncrasies…got any?
Dreams, they are what give me my writing power. It was a real stretch to write from a prompt as in this battle, but while concocting the story of Radjer, I feel that mentally, I went to that same ethereal well in my subconscious. I went to the genesis of all my work and drew him from its deep waters.
You seem like a forward-thinking guy. What are your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. indie.
Do you have a while? Look, ten years ago NONE of this was remotely possible. I can’t believe my stellar good fortune to be a writer at this moment in time. Technology has made it possible for you to read of Radjer and the Council of the Kings, to read this interview his story won for me and rebroadcast to your friends what you thought. In the dark ages you basically had to sell your soul to have any hope of anyone reading you, and there was the expense involved in printing a run of books and warehousing them, distributing and marketing them was a task best described as Herculean. Now with digital media and outlets such as the Twitter and Facebook, the sky is the limit!
I couldn’t agree more. Do you have any advice you can share with first-time writers who might be reading this interview?
READ, READ, READ! I love to read all I can and take the time to marvel at the machinery the author uses to transport you to an entirely different place. I would also suggest that if you choose to write, never discount your ideas, no matter how small or seemingly random they may seem at the time, that idea may be the one you need later on. Each and every idea you have is a gift and should be treated as such, don’t assume you’ll remember it later…WRITE IT DOWN IMMEDIATELY!
Excellent advice, sir. Joe…thank you very much for sharing a bit about yourself with us today. Keep up the great work, and we look forward to reading many more pieces from you in the future.
Biograpy: J. Jacen De La Garza is a writer seeking to put another worldly spin on the mundane and common, he has a compulsion to make the reader reassess what they know of the world, is it one free of monsters?
Cultivated from the heat and hills of South Texas, his style draws heavily from the experience of living in a land with ties to the murky and distant past.
In those same oak covered hills he lives with his wife, Veronica and three children. They are the reason he chases this crazy dream. Once you have read this writer’s work it will be immediately recognizable when seen again, the words that flow from his pen are undeniable his.
The genres Joe writes in are Sci-Fi, Paranormal mystery, light horror and crime drama.
Web Site: Coming Soon
Smashwords or other links: http://bit.ly/hHi4Yz