7 Questions With Author J.P. Cane | Esther Rabbit
J.P. Cane is an indie author of vampire novels. He lives in Virginia with his wife.
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What’s your own definition of an author/indie author?
For a long while I was reluctant to call myself a writer or an author. I thought one had to have published a book, or be represented by a literary agent, or be invited to speak on writing. Something that assures my bona fides. But I was wrong. If you love the written word and find yourself writing for the joy of it, you’re a writer. Whether it’s a poetic line, or a silly bit of dialogue, or fan fiction, or a blog post, guess what? You are a writer. Write every day. Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you’ll do it.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pantser! I’m too eager to write! I enjoy having my characters collide, then describe the fallout. That’s where I begin: writing what happens when characters meet. From this vignettes emerge, then scenes, and then the story unfolds. Nothing is preplanned. And I’d like to think if I don’t know how the story will end, there’s a good chance the reader won’t either. Nothing goes to waste either. If I’ve written bits that I need to cut, I’ll save those scenes for another story.
How does a day in your author life look?
Like my vampires, I am not a morning person. I write best at night. I type into Scrivener software and also write long hand. I often listen to music, typically movie scores, classical, and sometimes modern songs with lyrics if it helps with mood. When I’m able, I write at a local diner, otherwise at home. I try to write every day and lately that’s been the case, to such an extent that I’m devastated when I realize I hadn’t written yesterday.
What were some major setbacks of this profession?
Most frustrating is the realization that, you know, writing, takes up the least amount of time an indie writer spends when compared to doing all the other things: research, publishing and distribution, marketing, social media, newsletters, conferences and conventions, watching/listening to videos/podcasts about the craft, cover design, selling books, and saving time.
What’s your definition of the first draft?
Tricky! I know for myself it’s difficult to write a sentence (first draft?) without immediately going back to edit it (second draft already?). Don’t do this! Just write it out, spelling mistakes, weak verbs, bad analogies, awkward sentence structures, and all. A first draft is one where you have written the beginning, middle, and end of the story with the understanding that it’s still very raw and the expectation that you won’t share it with anyone. Ever. (I would like to peek at first drafts of famous novels.)
What are some common stereotypes related to the genre(s) you’re writing in?
Part of why I write “The Shadowless” vampire series is to upend some of the genre’s common tropes. To take a couple here. One is the reluctant vampire. In many stories, vampires were once unsuspecting human beings who, against their will or foreknowledge, are attacked or seduced, then “killed” only to come back as a member of the undead. However, in Philadelphia, where the series is set, every vampire the reader meets, had chosen their existence, which for me, begs the intriguing question, what was worth giving up their humanity for?
Another common element of vampire stories, is when the vampire protagonist will swear off human blood for sustenance, and only feed on animals. I guess this is to make the vampire protagonist more sympathetic. In my series, vampires must feed on fresh human blood. Nothing stored and nothing synthetic. Along with that, my vampires don’t have blood themselves. They have a different substance which opens a lot of creative opportunities in my stories.
One last thing, I hope that my take is approachable for readers who do not normally read vampire novels. The vampire elements are in some ways secondary. The emphasis is on how becoming a vampire challenges my protagonist’s faith, his sense of self, and his goodness that he fears is slipping away.
What should readers expect from your next novel?
Book Two of “The Shadowless” vampire series picks up where the first, “Shadows Within”, ends. My protagonist Reed Williams is still in, over his head and getting all the more desperate to find a way to become human again. But it appears the only way out is through. With little choice, he may have to join The Society of Brandywine, but can it truly offer what he needs, and what must Reed do to obtain it?
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