Tuesday, October 7, 2014

H.M. Jones: An Interview

Today, I have the awesome opportunity to share an interview with the wonderfully talented author H.M. Jones.

H.M. Jones the author of the new adult, dark fantasy, Monochrome, awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion in 2014. She has also authored a series of poetry books, the Attempting to Define poetry collection, and is writing the first book in her soon to be released young adult series, The Old Wood Trilogy
Jones is kept very busy mothering her two preschoolers and teaching college writing and literature. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her two children, her husband and her very fat cat, Pepper. Besides the critical (or hungry?) meows from her cat, her work is being highly praised for its honesty, introspection and creativity. She moderates the Indie review site Elite Indie Reads (http://www.eliteindiereads.weebly.com) when she is not writing, teaching or mothering. 
H.M. Jones' novel, Monochrome, is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most, if not all, e-book distributors. Visit her website at http://www.hmjoneswrites.net where there are also a few trailers for her books, Monochrome and her soon to be released YA book, Lexis.
Monochrome is a wonderful read! Merely touching the surface, I've included a few of the several positive reviews, Monochrome has received.
5 star rating: Beauty, Magic, and Betrayal: This story was amazing!
5 star rating: Unique and satisfying storytelling: This is a well-crafted story that makes an unlikely journey believable and thought provoking.
5 star rating: A journey of discovery: Ms. Jones has written a dark, Alice in Wonderland styled story that will touch your heart with the characters plight and perhaps, if you're like me, have you start your own journey of introspection.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to grow up to be a recluse with a large library, and I wanted to write. I have not changed my goals much, though I have added a family to them. 
What do you do when you're not writing?
Alas, I spend most of my time not writing. I only get a few hours in the day to create, since I'm a full-time mother. So, generally, I am chasing after kids. But I also like to work out, draw, read (a lot), garden and teach.
Do you have a day job?
My day job is being a full-time mom, but I also snag a few moments here and there in which to write (nap time is perfect for this). However, I do teach afternoons at the Northwest Indian College, as an English instructor, and I love it. All this should tell you that I don't make a lot of money, but I have tons of fun.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Monochrome just came to me, in large bits and pieces. I had severe postpartum depression after having my first child and was devastated by it. I talked to some close friends and family about it and learned that many of them had some form of depression after they had babies, too, some of them as severe as my own, but they were embarrassed to talk about it. It's a taboo discussion, really. I wanted to fix that. Had I not been so embarrassed, I would have got help sooner. 

So, it's about depression, not just postpartum depression, but about the darkness that can overcome someone, that can disable them. Some readers were looking for a "how to" when they found out that my book was about depression, but it's not a guide. It is, simply, a book that is honest, sometimes hard to read, often sad, but open. I made it a fantasy because I feel that when one lives in depression, they are living in an empty, dark place. The world, Monochrome, is the physical representation of the depressed mind, and I always knew what it would look like, having lived there, on and off, throughout my life. 

Don't let this description fool you, though.  Monochrome is about how one protagonist finds the beauty in her life, and shares it with others. It is a very hopeful book, actually. It's about fighting against the darkness that feels overwhelming. It's also a bit romantic, so, if you like that sort of thing, pick it up.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Depends on the book. I started seriously writing books after my children were born, though I've always written poetry, stories and musings here and there. Being a mother to two tiny ones means, of course, that it takes me a lot longer to get my work out there. I don't have a full day to sit and write, so I write during nap time and at the end of the day, when the kids are sleeping. I'm also pretty picky with the end result, so I revise my work several times before allowing anyone else to read it. Then, I revise again, with beta reader suggestions. It took three years for Monochrome to be ready, and I'm still finding things I wish I'd done better. I've been working on Lexis, my unfinished YA novel, for about a year, and it's still in early revision stages. 
What was the hardest part about writing Monochrome? 
Putting my character through hard times. I mean, if the protagonist does not face difficulty, you have no book. But I love my characters, so I have a hard time making them suffer. Also, I'm not a fan of marketing. I have to learn to sell my product better because it's worth it, but I don't come by it naturally. That's not really 'writing,' but it is very much related for an indie author. 
Do you have an interesting writing quirk?
I often think of important plot points while I run. I don't listen to music when I run, so my mind is open and clear to get it all out there. Most of my really great reveries have come from run-writing. I also tend to write a book from beginning to end, without a guide of any sort. I free write until I hit an ending, then I revise. 
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your book?
I first started writing Monochrome in 2010. I finally published it in 2013. My poetry books were all pieces composed from poems that were pretty much finished (a life's worth of poetry), so it was easier to get them out. I simply had to format the ebooks and the covers and content. I released them all in about 2013/2014 because they were all fairly polished before I put them into their respective poetry books.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I'm a huge fantasy fan, both contemporary and high fantasy, so most of my books come out fantastical in some way, though I tend towards contemporary/modern fantasy. I'm going to branch out, in the future, but fantasy is my go-to genre. I blame Tamora Pierce, J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien. They woke something dormant in me with their fantasies, and it made me want to be a writer who made fantasy relatable, like they do.
How did you come up with the title for Monochrome?
Monochrome is just so catchy. It stuck right away. My world is all steely blue, navy blue, black-blue. It's as dark as the mind of a person about to give up on life. So the meaning of the word and how it ties into the story, and the very heavy sound of it when it rolls off the tongue just made it the perfect title. 
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way, either as a child or an adult?
There are too many to list. As an English M.A., it would be disingenuous of me to say that I created something uninspired. My work is creative, it is my own, but it has hints, brushes and flourishes that will remind readers of other books they've read. As such, I will be more than happy if a reader is reminded of this or that author when reading my work. Some of my favorite authors are Tamora Pierce, Hawthorne, Dickens, Poe, Austen, Alexie, Rowling, Avi, Lowry, Chaucer, Malory, Suzanne Collins, Sharon Olds, Aphra Behn, Donne, Neruda, and Tolkien, among others. So, yeah, I've been influenced a plenty. 
Is anything in Monochrome based on real life experience or purely all imagination?
Monochrome is heavily based on my life experience, but it's not my life in a nut shell. Abigail is not me, though she shares some of my traits and my depression. Many events were completely made up, some altered beyond recognition. It's a work of fiction, mostly, because my life is not as interesting as my writing, thank goodness! I would not want to have to deal with all the stuff Abigail has to deal with, or Ishmael, for that matter. But many events that triggered my depression are mirrored in Monochrome because it helped me to generate the feelings I needed to make the book feel real. 
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Lexis is a lot different than Monochrome. It's a contemporary fantasy, too, but for a much younger audience. It's about first love, about gender identification, about growing up and finding oneself. I wanted to write something that would speak to the generation that's up and coming now, those who will be changing the world. Lexis is a fantasy that is about much more than a magical world and secret ancestry, but it's very unfinished, so that's all I can say for now. Visit my website for a little sneak peek, and to watch the trailer. I have not decided whether I will self publish it or seek an agent or publisher. 

I'm also writing a short story for a sci-fi compilation that has yet to be announced. So, sadly, I cannot give you much more on that, either, except to say that I was actually asked to write something by the publisher because they loved Monochrome, which made me pretty darn happy.
What book(s) are you reading now?
I'm currently beta reading a book for an indie author friend, T.L. Searle. It's the book that follows her book Aquila: From the Darkness. It's going to be great when she releases it. I'm also reading Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, which is amazing!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write all the time. If you want to be a writer, live it. And get people to read your work, give you advice, before you release it or present it to an agent or publisher. Your work will say a lot about you, and you want what is said to be positive. 
Is there anything specific you'd like to say to your readers?
I love you! Honestly. Especially you readers who read and review, even if you don't give me glowing reviews. I love that my book spoke to you, that you gave my words time and importance. I love that you suspended disbelief and walked into my world. What I do, I do for those who love to read. It's my gift to you, and you are a gift to me. 
H.M. Jones is the wonderfully talented author of Monochrome. She also wrote a series of poetry books, the Attempting To Define poetry collection, and is currently writing the first in a series of soon to be released young adult novels, Lexis: book one of The Old Wood Trilogy.
Thank you, H.M. Jones, for the awesome interview and sharing your wonderful writing talent with the world.

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