As we continue our interview series with the authors from the Beond the Gate anthology, it becomes more clear, how special this community of writers is. Everyone has something new and fresh that they bring to the table. This interview with John McGuire reveals a lot of interesting things. Not only is he one of the contributing authors for the anthology, but he is writing novels, novellas, short stories and comic books while also having a day job. Impressive, right? Read on to learn a lot more about John.
My name is John McGuire. During the daylight hours I spend time doing my best to unsnarl the roads in Atlanta, Georgia, but at night I sit in front of my glowing screen and create worlds through the steady tap-tap-tap of my fingers. While the dream is to certainly find a way to do this full time, I’m content in sacrificing sleep hours so that I might be somewhat productive on the writing side.
Have you written anything for publication before?
Yes. I have published two novels in the last twelve months, a Veronica Mars Kindle Worlds Novella, and a short story. In addition, I’ve also had multiple comic books published as well. Anything from superheroes to Steampunk.
Have you ever tried for the traditional publishing route, before you went for self-publishing?
No, not really. I think that some of it was being inspired by the SPP guys, and some of it was just wanting to get my work out there in even a small way. That said, I’m not against it, and am considering giving it a go to see if I can find a crack in that doorway and shove myself through it.
Tell us more about your comic books. Do you write them, and find someone to illustrate them? Tell us how that works.
Sadly I am only the word monkey… no one would ever want to look at anything I tried to draw (seriously, my stick figures look terrible). I joke and say that my job as the writer is to make sure my words don’t screw up the art.
As to how things work… it is a slightly different muscle than writing prose… and more like a movie/tv script. I break down what is going on in each panel on each page, letting the artist know where the characters are, what they are doing, and where they are at. I turn that over to the editor(s) and then update the script accordingly. Once that is “locked in”, then the penciler takes that and draws it out… really breathing life into the script. Assuming everything works for the story and the editor doesn’t have any problems, the pages get turned over to an inker, who adds the heavy black lines to those original pencils. Once that’s done it goes to a colorist (if the book is in color, something like the Walking Dead comic takes a little different path here).
Once all of that is done, the letterer comes along and takes my script and inserts all the dialogue into the panels. Sometimes that’s when I’ll go back in and massage the script (just the dialogue or narration, though) to make sure everything matches up. A lot of time this involves trimming those words since you only have so much room in those small panels and you want to let the art breathe when you can.
One trip to the printers later and you’re basking in the glory of your very own comic book… just before you start working on the next issue…
What are the biggest take-aways from comic books, that you’ve found useful when writing novels?
Collaboration. – I’m working with 5 or 6 people sometimes, which means I’ve got to put ego aside and understand that everyone is wanting this project to turn out the best. And the nice thing is that when it comes together, then you all look good.
In the actual writing side – That it is ok to say something in less words, and in self-editing my work it is ok to cut and trim instead of always adding more and more to something. Sometimes you really can get the point across better in a single sentence than in multiple paragraphs.
What or who are your biggest creative influences?
Rod Serling would be one on my Mount Rushmore. The Twilight Zone is something I remember from a very early age watching with my dad, talking about certain episodes, really breaking down what made something scary or tense or just plain thought-provoking. In some way that show inspired me to create. It showed a level of storytelling that I believe many have attempted since then, but not duplicated.
On the comic book side, I’d say pretty much all of Mark Waid’s Flash run. Not only did he make it where the Flash is now my favorite superhero, but he did it in a way that allowed him to grow up. It was truly one of those comics where I immediately read the latest issue as soon as it came out.
What is your writing environment like and is there anything you’d change about it?
Big desk, comfortable chair, double monitors, and normally a cat not too far away to ensure that I keep writing for the night. During the day it consists of literally any scrap piece of paper and a pen as I hastily make notes and then shove them into my pockets to transcribe either that night or later during the week.
And when I’m really good, I’ll bring a notebook with me throughout my day just to help keep me a little more organized with the random thoughts.
What made you decide to participate in Fiction Unboxed and write in this shared world?
I’d been listening to the Self Publishing Podcast since about episode 25ish. As soon as I found them I then proceeded to devour all the back episodes over the course of a week. When they announced the Fiction Unboxed I figured that at the very least I owed them a little bit for all the enjoyment they’d given me, and I thought it was an exciting idea to let people be the fly on the wall for the various story-meetings.
The Dream Engine was just a fun adventure, and when I finished reading it I knew I’d end up writing something in the world… if only to say that I did it.
Tell us about your story in the “Beyond the Gate” anthology?
I wrote “The Secrets of Storytelling” which is about a Ruddermouth and his current passenger receiving a distress call from another craft that’s managed to crash right at the edge of the Fog. But it is also about why the Ruddermouths tell their stories… and a glimpse at why sometimes we can’t avoid our past.
Your anthology story sounds really interesting. Is it something you’ll explore more, or was it a stand alone?
More of a stand alone. I’m not sure I’d ever get around to doing a full novel set in the Dream Engine world just because of the time commitment (since I have the day job I have to budget my time as best I can). That said, I could see writing more short stories set in the world, especially as the world becomes more and more fleshed out… there are bound to be some places that will need to be explored.
What do you plan to write next?
I have two books: one is The White Effect which is a story about someone who’s entire world resets and creates a new earth, with a new history around him. Trapped in that loop, my hero tries to figure out why it is happening and what he can do to possibly stop it. It is at the final editing stages.
And then I’m about 90% through with the first draft of a new novel: The Edge of the World, a Steampunk style novel set in a Flat world. When my heroine’s uncle goes missing, she’s forced to journey to the Edge in order to save him.
Love the ideas for the next things your working on. You must have a vivid imagination. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
Not to sound cliche, but I find inspiration all around me. Sometimes it is a lyric in a song, sometimes it is the name of a subdivision, sometimes it is a conversation, and sometimes I think it is just random synapses firing in my brain at exactly the right moment to make something cool.
I think the important thing a writer does is not shut out any of those potential voices, to take it all in, and then make it your own thing.
Thank you so much for taking time off from your writing to participate in this. It’s been a pleasure.
And to you, dear reader, before you run off to other important tasks in your busy life, remember that Beyond the Gate will be available for free very soon! You can register on the website to get notified when the book comes out, if you haven’t done so already. And check back here soon, because we still have more interviews with the authors from the anthology lined up.
And let’s not forget, that Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt are currently doing NaNoWriMo with the second book in The Dream Engine series. A book that currently is titled Tech Engine (or Tek Engine – that seems undecided right now). You can join Fiction Unboxed 1.5 at any time – but there’s no time like the present, so come participate in all the fun. You can find the first days content for free right here.
If you want to buy into the great bundle deal with Fiction Unboxed 1 + Fiction Unboxed 1.5 + Scrivener for beats, it’s still available. Click here to check out the Fiction Unboxed bundle deal.