Well, here's where J.R. differs from the rest of the publishing world. When I say he writes full-time, I really mean it. While in college he wrote two books and over 80 short stories. Currently he's ranked #11 on Amazon's author rating for the extremely popular Fantasy genre. There's no question he's one of the most prolific writers on the planet with 18 books being released in 2013 alone. Oh, and he's sold over 2 million e-books so far. Understandably, it took some time for him to respond to my interview request, but when he finally did, he was extremely warm and engaging, and obviously spent some valuable time putting together his answers. Thanks J.R.
1- You’ve had an agent and have worked with some very influential people in your career, what made you decide to publish your work as an Indie author—and have you been tempted to go the traditional route?
Hi Gary! And great question. Early in my career I did all that I could think of to connect with major publishers...even starting my own literary agency! I had a few close calls, and three different times I thought I would, in fact, be working with major publishers. But all the deals fell through, and I spiraled into depression and drinking and exotic drugs. Okay, that’s not quite true. I’ve never done a single drug, and I rarely drink. Although I like to binge eat! What happened, Gary, was that I started accumulating all of these unpublished manuscripts, although I did publish two novels with two very small publishers, but the money just wasn’t there and I had to rethink, well, everything. I had just decided to start my own publishing company (I’m a stubborn cuss), when Amazon Kindle opened their doors to authors. And, shortly after that, I coined the term “Indie author”. Okay, I didn’t coin it, haha, but someone did! And I love it and use it often. Yes, I have been tempted to go the traditional route. A Big Five publisher offered me a lot of money for my Samantha Moon series but I told them no. I was literally sick to my stomach at the thought of giving it up to someone else. Instead, I went with BenBella, a wonderful mid-sized publisher who now distributes just the paperbacks to bookstores far and wide, while I keep the ebook rights. Win, win. Oh, and I’ve recently sold two standalone mystery novels to Thomas & Mercer...The Body Departed and Silent Echo.
2- Tell us how you developed the Samantha Moon character, and I’m sure I’m speaking for most male authors when I ask—what’s it like getting into the head of a female protagonist?
Oh, man...great question! I was dating a Federal Agent in 2003 and was just floored by how gutsy and tough and imperturbable she was. Oh, and she was only 5’ 3”, and carried a gun, and could kick most men’s asses. So, she was the starting point for Sam. Next, my sister and author, Elaine Babich, got the nod. I based Sam’s family life and home and actual residence around my sister. But before all of that, the original idea for Samantha Moon came from watching a different Samantha...yes, the TV show Betwitched. It was one of those episodes in which the nosy neighbor across the street was absolutely certain that something was very off about her neighbor. Well, something was very off. Sam was a witch--hell, her whole family was witches. And yet the world at large mostly didn’t know. Meaning, they were able to assimilate into the neighborhood and look normal. So I asked myself in 2003, how would a vampire assimilate into a neighborhood, have a mariage and family, and appear to be normal. Yes, this was before the big vampire boom. Moon Dance nearly sold to a big publisher way back when. I’m glad it didn’t. I’m glad I can keep writing these stories on my terms. I love slipping inside a woman’s thoughts. It’s a fun challenge. How do I do it? Haven’t a clue...I just become Samantha. Make sense? No? Sigh....
3- To say the least you’ve led a very interesting life with wildly high successes and some really low collapses, yet you’ve seemed to overcome tremendous obstacles to become one of the most popular Indie authors on the planet. What is your life like right now?
Ha! Well, I’m certainly the most popular indie author in my own house. Which is to say, I live alone haha. So, yeah, I’m a bit of a loner. Haven’t been married in 10 years, and have no plans to do so. Yes, I’m single...but not quite ready to mingle haha. I prefer to do the mingling with my characters. I’ve lived too long struggling and frustrated with the whole publishing process. That frustration is gone, and for that I’m eternally thankful for those who have helped me. Most days you will find me writing 1000 words a day, or editing, or helping my writing friends, or at coffee shops, or walking my dog. A simple life.
4- Okay, so you’re obviously a very talented writer and no question extremely prolific, but you’re releasing an incredible 18 novels in 2013—exactly how long does it take you to write a novel from beginning to end?
Okay, I think you got that information on a Facebook post from a few months ago...let me count the novels I have published in 2013 so that we can nail the number down. Okay, done counting...looks like it’s going to be 18 novels...wait, what did you say? 18? Then, yeah, wow...I’m a freak! It was going to be more, but I decided to back out as co-author on some books, and act only as a publisher. In fact, I finally did start my own publishing company J.R. Rain Press. We will be publishing 13 books this year, many of which are based on my original ideas, although some I’m truly buying and acting as a publisher. To answer your question, it takes me two months to write a full novel. Bear in mind, my novels are between 40K - 50K words. I keep them short and fast. Why? I have a chronically short attention span. I need to keep these books short and fast to entertain me. I used to do novels in about 6 weeks...but now I’ve cut my workload in half. 1000 words a day, with Sundays off. I used to do 2000 words a day, every day, like clockwork. Also, I take off two weeks between novels. Still, I do have free time in the evenings, and often spend that time co-authoring books with other writers.
5- Can you give us a sneak preview of what your readers can expect to see this coming year? Any new characters you’d like to introduce?
I re-introduced Allison Lopez, who first appeared in Vampire Games, and has had a supporting a role in each subsequent Vampire for Hire novel. She now has her own series, “The Witches Series.” Yes, she is a psychic and a witch. Turns out Sam was, too, in a past life. I’m writing a new young adult novel with Piers Anthony, called Dolfin Tayle, which will be out shortly. Other than that, I’m bringing out the latest Jim Knighthorse novel, which I will begin writing tomorrow, September 2nd! You see, I take Sundays off...well, doing interviews doesn’t count!