Monday, September 19, 2011

Stuart Jaffe Interview

1: What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?

It's changed a lot over the years. Right now, I get started around 9am and put in 1,000 words by 10 or 10:30. Then I do promotion, social media, that kind of thing as well as plotting the next few chapters and revisions on other work.  Later, around 1pm, I'll sit down for another 1,000 words.  This is the first time I've tried it this way and so far it's great.

2: Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?

I have a spiral notebook for each book I write.  In it I jot down notes, research, etc and do all my plotting. The actually writing is done on the computer (though not always the same computer) but revisions are pencil and paper.

3: What do you draw inspiration from?

Um, everything? Seriously. The Way of the Black Beast came from my interest in samurai movies, mixing anime archetypes with monomyth plot structure, post-apocalyptic stories, tattoos, and blues. A different series I'm working on draws from my hometown's history. I've had ideas from books, movies, music, everything. And, frankly, that's how it should be. If you only draw inspiration from one source, pretty soon all you create will become the same. But if you open yourself to the world around you, you'll have infinite sources in which to find the Muse.

4: Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?

With my new approach I'm shooting for one of two goals.  Either 2k words or finishing as far as I've outlined.  While I have the overall plot laid out, I do the detailed outlining only a few chapters ahead at a time. That way when one of my characters decides I should go left instead of right, I can adjust on the fly. It's my happy median between pantser and plotter.

5: Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?

I've been both (small press and self) and plan to continue to do both.  The Way of the Black Beast is self-published.  I've often advocated for new writers to go a traditional route to start because even if it doesn't work out, they'll learn about how this business works (or doesn't work) and they'll make great connections along the way.  As a result of my own journey, I've become friends with many talented cover artists who are willing to give me a "friend rate" to help me out.  The result -- I have a beautiful, professionally made cover at a price that I can actually afford.

6: What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?


7: Do you own an ebook reading device?

When I decided to try indie-publishing, I bought a Kindle. I thought it'd be a good idea to see what others did well and what I didn't like. The second I held it in my hands, I thought, "Now I see what all the fuss is about." It was a real eye-opener.

8: Who are some of your favorite authors and What are you reading now?

John Steinbeck is my all-time favorite author. Also, for sheer intensity, you can't do better than Jack Ketchum. I've also recently discovered John Jakes. For fantasy writers, I highly recommend reading Jakes or any historical fiction. Those authors have many similar world-building issues that we have, and it's an education to see how they handle it.  As for what I'm reading -- I just finished Brandon Sanderson's Hero of Ages, a fantastic conclusion to a fantastic trilogy. I'm now in the middle of Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong about a dental forensics doctor being called to Poland to help excavate a mass grave from WWII.

9: What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any?

A few have been amusing but I don't really care for them. I've yet to find more than a handful of authors who think book trailers did anything for their sales. Considering the cost of doing one well, I probably won't do one.

10: How did you come up with the title of your latest book?

The Way of the Black Beast had a long gestation period and at one point was call The Way of the Sword and Gun. I wanted to keep the "The Way" idea which is partially a martial arts/samurai nod, but the Sword and Gun technique belonged to a character that no longer fit into this book. The working title became The Way of Vengeance, because the heroine, Malja, spends much of the book hunting down two magicians as she seeks vengeance. But that title didn't really say enough about the book, seemed a bit of a turn-off, and limited the reader to only one idea regarding Malja.  In the course of writing, the concept grew that vengeance was a shadowy Beast Malja must learn to deal with and as I wrote that metaphor into the story it took on greater layers of meaning, and the title emerged.

11: What are you working on now that you can talk about?

I'm working on the sequel called, amazingly enough, The Way of the Sword and Gun. The character cut from Book 1 now has a place and so, for now, the title gets to be used. Sometimes things just work out.

The Way of the Black Beast -- a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel

10 Bits of My Brain -- a short story ebook collection

website --
blog --
Co-Host of The Eclectic Review Podcast (

THE WAY OF THE BLACK BEAST -- a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel

Malja wants answers.  She wants to know why the two most powerful magicians in all of Corlin ripped her from her mother's arms, raised her only to fight, and then tossed her away to die at age ten.  She wants to know why they are trying to recreate the spells which caused the Devastation that wiped out most of the world's population, leaving behind skeletal cities and abandoned technology.  And she wants to kill them.
With Tommy, an orphan bearing the tattoos of a sorcerer, she crosses this shattered land.  Despite the challenges they face -- crazed magicians, guitar-playing assassins, mutated beasts -- Malja pursues her vengeance with a single-mindedness that may destroy all she holds dear, forcing her to make a terrible choice 
between the family she lost and the one she has built.

10 Bits of My Brain -- a short story collection

This collection of ten short stories, including three all-new tales, runs from the tiny life of a fly to the far reaches of space, from an elderly witch in WWII’s Lublin ghetto to a dragon detective in the modern world’s harsh streets, from tattoos and chess games to robberies and betrayals.  These stories are packed with action, drama, and a bit of the weird.
“Stuart’s work defies pigeon-holing . . . All of these pieces, though, show a master storyteller at the top of his art.” — from the introduction by David B. Coe.

Kindle Version:  <>
Smashwords Version:
B&N and Print Versions are coming and might be out by the time this is posted.

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