Jeremy is an interesting person that likes to keep his head in the clouds. This is perfect because he writes books on outer space! He is an incredibly smart individual, and he and I have a very similar schooling experience. We both were able to finish a lot faster than normal, which enabled us to pursue other endeavors like writing.
I encourage you to check out Jeremy’s books as well as his Amazon Author Profile. You can also follow him on Twitter. Read this interview and get to know him. Then check out the links and discover even more!
When did you first start writing?
I remember two short stories that I wrote in school that were significant to me. The first was a one-page story I wrote in elementary school about astronauts on the Moon witnessing a nuclear war back on Earth.
The second, which I wrote in Grade 11, was titled “The Egg” and was about a vigilante trying to hack into a worldwide computer network in order to bring all of humanity together into one global consciousness. The latter story impressed my classmates enough to make me think that I had some ability to write fiction.
In my early 20s, I took a course at Simon Fraser University called “Writing and Marketing Speculative Fiction” taught by Eileen Kernaghan in which I wrote several short stories. At the time I didn’t feel ready to start on a full novel.
Finally, in 2003, I started writing what would become Edge of Infinity, the first book in my Master’s trilogy.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
For me, it was reading Wil Wheaton’s blog entries about publishing. He published one book under a traditional publisher and had a bad experience. The second book he published himself, and not only did he have greater creative control over the project, but he enjoyed much greater sales.
I followed his advice and self-published on Lulu, then expanded to Amazon and Smashwords. I enjoy being able to do my own covers and handle my own marketing. It’s a lot more work, but it’s far more rewarding, especially in the long term.
What is your writing process?
I find my process has changed with every novel I’ve written. For my last book, I decided I would stick to a strict writing schedule of 1,000 words each day, with no breaks for weekends or even vacations.
I found it worked really well, so I’ll probably keep using this method, perhaps even increasing the word count. To do this, however, I need to think about what scene I’m going to write (or keep writing) during the day.
I keep a folder in Scrivener called “Notes” where I basically just ask questions to myself about how certain plot points are going to be resolved. I find if I write down only the question and then leave it, I’ll come up with the answer the next day when I’m in the shower or doing chores.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love reading, both fiction and nonfiction. I find the more I read, the more inspiration and ideas I have for writing. I’m a technical writer and web developer by trade, so I spend time working on my web development platform (newLISP on Rockets) and building websites.
I love video games (the best game of all time is the Mass Effect trilogy!), and I’m currently working on a Freespace 2 mod set in my own universe, which is a lot of work but tons of fun to do!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I find the greatest joy in writing is to hear feedback from readers about the characters and worlds that I’ve created. To go from just a vague idea in my head to an actual novel that people can read and talk about is the best feeling in the world.
The best feeling is when I create a character that people find appealing or that resonates with them in some way. This is probably the hardest thing to do when writing, but it’s also the most rewarding.
In Beyond the Expanse I created several new characters that my beta readers latched on to quite quickly, so I think I’m improving on this aspect of writing.
How do you approach cover design?
I love science fiction books that have spaceships on the cover. In fact, I even have favorite artists with different spaceship styles that I recognize on the covers of many different authors.
So when it comes to covers, I want to do spaceships, and because I’m not only the author but the publisher, nobody can tell me I can’t do them!
So I create the ships in a 3D program (Blender) and then compose them into a realistic space scene using images from the Hubble telescope as backgrounds.
For my second book, however, I wanted a specific image: a “Galaxy-rise”, from the point of view of someone on a globular cluster orbiting the Milky Way galaxy. So I created a landscape image using Terragen.
I needed some 3D astronauts, so I found some 3D models on NASA’s web site. Then I got the image of the galaxy from one of many barred spiral images. I then composited the whole thing in Photoshop and added glows and reflections.
I find the cover design to be the most fun part of the whole process because you can do whatever you want! I usually start with a rough pencil sketch and then revise it until I get the basic idea down, then I start doing the 3D work, then finish it up in Photoshop.
I try to keep a consistent kind of style and branding between my three novels, so I use the same fonts and spacing for each one.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I ever read was called “A Bug In A Rug,” and it was one of those learn-how-to-read books. I remember it because my sister would tease me about how I hadn’t really learned how to read because I’d just memorized the words in that book.
Years later, I heard a line in a French-Canadian movie about a governess who was teaching her students how to read and how they would “fake it, and fake it, until it became real”. It got me thinking about how everything we do in life follows this pattern.
To become a writer, you have to pretend you’re already a writer and just keep writing until you have learned enough and gained enough skill to be called a real writer. It’s a long process, but it’s a rewarding one if you stick with it.
What do you read for pleasure?
On the fiction side, mostly science fiction with some fantasy. On the nonfiction side, I try to read everything I can get my hands on– including as much of the Internet as I can absorb without exploding!
I love reading about history and explanations about why things are the way they are– Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel is one of my favorite books because it answers one of the greatest unanswered questions of history: why did European nations invade and conquer Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Americas, and not the other way around?
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Number five is Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. I just loved his idea of separating the galaxy into “Zones” from the core outwards, with different physical laws applying in each one. The story itself is just a crazy rush of awesome ideas all colliding together at once.
Number four is the three combined books in the enormous Baroque Cycle– if I had to choose a favorite one I guess it would be the final installment, The System of the World. I loved how Neal Stephenson made the history of the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment seem real and like an amazing action adventure story.
So many neat ideas are in there that essentially form the core of our modern society, and you get to see it emerge from the greatest minds of the generation.
Number three would be A Game of Thrones. The first book in George R.R. Martin’s epic saga is also the best. I came to the books from the TV series, but the books are really well done and worth reading even if you’ve seen the show. Of course, I had to read all the books at once to see what happened, but now I’m stuck waiting for George to write the next one!
Number two is probably Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card’s first novel and easily his best one. The stark simplicity of the story is its greatest strength, and it had a profound impact on me as a young man.
But my all-time number one favorite book is Anvil of Stars by Greg Bear. I devoured this book while on holiday in England, and I was actually sad when I finished it because there was no more story to read! It stuck with me for a long time.
The story of a galactic-sanctioned revenge against the destroyers of Earth has a deep emotional resonance that leads to an incredibly satisfying conclusion, and the epic scale of the saga is truly awe-inspiring. One day I would love to be able to write a book as good as this one.
Who are your favorite authors?
As a child, I loved Asimov and Clarke. I also read Heinlein and some C.S. Lewis. In my later years, my favorite author was William Gibson, who lives in my hometown and I’ve had the honor of meeting!
More recently I’ve become a big fan of Greg Bear (Anvil of Stars is my favorite novel of all time) and Vernor Vinge. I don’t read much fantasy, but George R.R. Martin is an amazing author.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
So far, Twitter marketing and blog posts have been proven to be the most effective. I’m still a rank amateur at marketing, and I’m finding that it’s a lot more complicated and difficult than I imagined!
The other really effective marketing method is to simply release more books. I released the sequel to my first novel, and it increased sales of the first novel. I’m hoping that the release of the third book does the same!
There you have it. Jeremy is a very motivated individual that has a mind that is always turning. He knows how to set goals and stick to them. Whether it’s writing a thousand words a day or meticulously planning his cover, he gets the job done. I’m very happy to have interviewed him, and I hope you enjoyed reading this information.