Interview With the Mushroom King.

Hello my lovelies! Hope all has been well this past week. Anyways on to the blog post for this week.

This week I interviewed a fellow fantasy author by the name of Joplin James. He is the wonderful author of The Tales from Mushroom Manor series. Today we’re going to learn more about Joplin.

1.   What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve been writing most of my life.  Started when I was a kid.  What has pushed me is this never-ending need to put words to the stories swirling around in my crazy mind.

2.   How long have you been writing?

As soon as I learned how to hold a pencil!

3.   Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I am a special education teacher by day…writer on the side who dreams of one day making it big with a bestselling book.

4.    What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Just do it!  Even if you have to schedule time for yourself, WRITE!  Let those stories come out of you!

5.     How do you handle writer’s block?

Funny thing…my first book I sat it on the shelf for 5 years after writing half of it.  I realize now it needed to simmer in my mind and that I never really had writer’s block…I was letting FEAR stop me from writing…once I made the commitment with myself to finish it, I was done in 3 months and wrote the 2nd book, which was longer than book one, in only 8 months…there is no such thing as writer’s block…it is only FEAR that holds us back.

6.   What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Bringing the story to life!  Your readers have to feel like they are right there next to your characters, seeing everything all the senses and emotions…make the readers be engrossed in your tale!

7.    When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I entered my first Young Author’s Contest in elementary school.  It was a story about a mouse who gets caught in a circus.

8. What time of the day do you usually write?

Late morning to early afternoon works the best for my brain.

9.     Describe a typical writing day.

When I am on summer break from teaching, I sleep in until around 8am, then have a HUGE cup of coffee and usually start writing around 10am and stop for lunch then continue until around 2pm.  One day I was so engrossed in finishing a chapter I didn’t realize 8 hours had gone by and my body was SO sore afterwards, so I have learned to take breaks both physically and mentally.

10.   What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

When I kill a character…every time I have, I bawl!

11.     What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I speak the scenes out loud after I write them to see how they sound and to feel the emotions.

12.    Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

I have a few die-hard fans who reach out constantly to me wanting book 3 to be done already!  The youngest fan I heard from was an 8 year old girl from Michigan.  I also have international fans as well, India, Romania, UK.  It is neat receiving messages from around the world.

14.    On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?

Some days I only write a couple of sentences, some days, I write for many hours on end.  Just depends on what is going on in my professional and personal life…and some days I will schedule writing days with myself on my google calendar and keep that time sacred and write.  Ideas will come to me for scenes in the shower and in my dreams.  It’s crazy.  And they are stored there until I write them out. 

15.    Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?

Yes, I have both a personal and professional Facebook page and Instagram.  Look me up under Joplin James Patras.

17.      Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

Your voice matters, your talent matters and you have to get those stories out of your head…SO WRITE!  Also, reality check, not everyone you know is going to rush out and buy your book.  It is hard not to take it personally when they don’t.  When I released my 1st book, I was thinking all 1,200 of my Facebook friends would buy the book from me and then our wedding and honeymoon would have been paid for…I was very hurt when only 250 of those 1,200 people actually bought my book.  I thought I had failed as a writer if even my family friends, coworkers and acquaintances won’t even buy my book.  I had to let that go and really look at why am I writing…is it for fame and glory and making mega-millions?  No.  Of course that would be nice if it happens, but I truly write to inspire others, to give them an escape from their own crazy lives and live in my fantasy worlds and experience adventures with my characters. That was the hardest, but most rewarding lesson I had to learn because once I accepted that I can’t control who buys my stories nor take it personal if they don’t, the really great thing is I actually wrote them. 

18.   How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing? Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing the story?

When I started the first book of my Tales from Mushroom Manor fantasy series, I did sit there and had an idea of the main characters and wrote out their names and then did a tentative outline for where I was wanting the story to go.  I also wrote out the names of all the major lands and their leaders.  And believe it or not, I also write my chapter names first for each of the books.  I knew what I was going to name book one, book two and book three from the start and had chapter names for each as well…this is like an outline that I use to help the story flow…but at times, I had removed, changed or added to chapters to the books as their main story progressed, but I have known how I have wanted this series to end way before I even started the first sentence of book one.  There has been an overall vision that I have allowed to guide me, but with that said, there have been surprises along the way, shocking deaths, new characters, extreme plot twists that weren’t in my original outline that comes out of nowhere and I am taken off guard and have to adjust the original outline.  My writing is very fluid and I feel my fingers are just the vessel from out which the story flows for itself and I guide it all the way, but really it feels as though a divine power takes over when I write and I just go with it.

19.  When writing a series how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

I have two people I use, my aunt and a dear friend, who I share with them what I wrote a chapter a time and ask for their feedback.  I know a scene is really good when I hear how they get excited about what went down in the chapter.  I am also notorious for throwing in surprise plot twists, so the book isn’t predictable to the readers.

20.  What was your favorite part, and you’re least favorite part, of the publishing journey?

My favorite part of the journey is when I have finished each book.  I have cried each and every time with happiness. Proud to have brought each story to life.  And also, when you get that first published copy in your hands…ugh!  The tears always flow again! My least favorite part is looking at those sales numbers.  I am learning to promote without looking all the time at the numbers.

21.   Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels?

The first book is always harder I found…took me almost 5 years with book one dragging my feet and only 8 months with book two.  It gets easier because the characters are developed.

22.    What do you like to do when you are not writing?

My latest addiction is making funny Tik Tok videos!

23.    What did you want to be when you grew up?

I vet, a teacher, an astronaut or an actor.

24.   What’s your favorite food?

Crab-legs hands down

25.    What is the best part of your day?

After that first sip of coffee in the morning.

26.   Have you ever been on any sports teams? If so, what sport?

I was never very much into sports but as a kid I did love playing baseball and being on a little league team.

27.    Your hero?

My mom, she was a single mother after my father died.

28.      If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

My dad, because I miss him, he died in an airplane crash when I was 8 years old.  Oprah Winfrey just because, well, she’s Oprah! And Princess Diana, I think there was much we didn’t get to learn from her.

29.     Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.

I starred in 6 Walmart commercials when I was in college, one I even did all by myself! HAHA!

QUESTIONS ABOUT BOOK HIS BOOKS

1.     How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have two books released for Tales from Mushroom Manor and also a book of poetry.  My favorite book I have written so far is Book Two…but I think my fans are going to fall in love with Book Three…I know it will be my favorite once it is published.  But book are like children or students…each are unique and can be appreciated for their individuality. 

2.     What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?

How I can multitask all the subplots…It is truly a crazy whirlwind inside my mind and these stories and characters and plot twists just seem to take over…I am still amazed they come from me.

3.     Do you have a favorite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.

Again, just like the books, it is hard to have a favorite because each character has a place and serves a purpose, whether they are a main one, a supporting one, a hero or a villain, I love molding each of them and bringing them to life.  But, with that said, of course Suzy Shortbread is very near and dear to my heart after all the main plot revolves around her growth as she develops her magic abilities.  But, if I am honest, I absolutely love Brian Vaughn, and the journey he goes on throughout the series as well.  I introduce him at the ended of book one in the Human realm, and (spoiler), I end the series with him back in the Human realm.  It is a truly emotional scene…and, just like I did in both book one and book two, I put a little surprise plot twist cliffhanger right at the end that will make my readers question everything that has taken place throughout the entire series.  I cannot wait for my fans’ reaction to how the series end, plus, I set the stage for the future as well…yes, there is a sequel series in the works.

4.     Where do you get your inspiration?

Books I have read as a kid and as an adult, movies, people in my life I meet, nature, lots of different things inspire me.

5.    Where can readers purchase your books?

Book one and book two are both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as is my book of poetry.  Tales from Mushroom Manor is also an audio book as well, on Audibles and iTunes for purchase, and let me tell you, I hit the narrator jackpot with the one I have…She is from the UK and does all the character voices and really brings the story to life in a different way.  I LOVE listening to the stories in my car when I drive to work.  I highly recommend buying the books AND the audio version and listen and read together! (They are all on Kindle as well, but I like HOLDING a book, not reading it on a screen.)

6.     Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

My author Facebook page and my Amazon Author page.

7.      Have any of your books been made into audiobooks? If so, what are the challenges in producing an audio book?

See above, but let me tell you, I used ACX exchange and had NO issue with producing my audio books.  Originally, I had 9 people audition to narrate my book and it was the last one who I fell in love with.  I did a program with my narrator where we split the commission on all the audio books so I didn’t have to pay anything up front. She is truly amazing and I lucked out BIG time snagging her talent.

QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS CURRENT BOOK

1.     Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

Okay fans, book three is going to surprise everyone!!!  I can tell you that some of the characters you’ve met before are not who they appear to be!  Dark magic has a sticky web that has been weaving itself through the plot this whole time.  Not everyone is good and those that maybe you thought were bad, you might learn they had their reasons.  Lots of secrets will be revealed in this tale!

2.    Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

      Ghosts from the past will come back to life!  That’s all I am      going to saying !

3.    Can you share a snippet that isn’t in the blurb or excerpt?

  So it was now here, on this rooftop garden, where she stood outside in the elements, trying to center herself, and that ever-racing, overthinking Sprite mind, “There must have been a good reason why you left me?”  She thought out loud while sniffing a purple mountain laurel tree bloom, “You probably went off with that weird elf man, Lotie, didn’t you? Since he also disappeared right around the same time you did. But why, Dafydd, why didn’t you tell me first of your plans to leave?  Don’t I deserve a partner who will communicate fully with me and not just sneak off and do his own thing whenever he wants?  Ugh, I feel so hurt and betrayed by you!”

  It was then that a wave of new emotions began to rush uncontrollably all throughout her body and Suzy Shortbread suddenly yanked the pretty flower bloom, that she had just been smelling, right off the branch and crushed it angrily in her hands.  It wasn’t until the shredded purple petals were falling to the ground in front of her that she was snapped back into the reality of standing there in the rooftop gardens again.  

     “Oh my goodness, what just happened?”  She fearfully cried, “I’ve never felt that emotion before! That wasn’t anger.  No, what was it? It felt like something more… something stronger… Was that… rage?  It felt so… so powerful!”  She blushed to herself while quickly looking around to make sure she was in fact, still alone and that nobody had seen this rush of negative energy that had taken a hold of her.  “Is this what Dark magick feels like all the time?”  She wondered as she took a seat on the half stone wall that lined the perimeter of the rooftop garden, “Now I understand why Leona always seems so confident and indestructible!”

4.   What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

Everyone has magic that lives in them…but most fail to see it for themselves.  If people would only be kind to themselves and live life as their best version, the world would be a better place.  We need to honor that magic within each of us!

5.     Tell us about the process for coming up with the cover.

I used the cover creators that KDP has.  Not my ideal covers as I would love a great fantasy illustration cover for each book of the series.  Maybe someone if I find the right person to design them for me.  I can always release them with new covers.  Most famous books out there have multiple versions.

6.    Do you write listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this current book?

I am a true fantasy and sci nerd, believe or not I actually listen to Lord of the Rings music, Harry Potter music, Game of Thrones music, and of course Star Wars music as well.  I envision the movies of each book as I am writing the scenes.

7.   If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?

Ooooo, that is a hard one!  There are SO many talented Hollywood stars out there.  Okay for all the main characters, I would love to see Eva Green play the evil sorceress elf, Leona.  Shailene Woodley to play Suzy Shortbread; Ben Stiller to play Mr. Blinkystein;  Tom Hanks as Mr. Mishkin;  Kristen Wiig as Penelope Pringles;  Jean Reno as Francois Frog;  Tom Holland as Jacobo/Dafydd Canicus…oh the list could go on and on!  What a dream it would be to see my story up on the screen! OMG!  

8.    Can you give us some insight into what makes Suzy Shortbread’s character tick?

Suzy had tragic things happen to her at a young age, she was traumatized by the death of her parents, to the point that her memory has been blocked and she suffered from extreme amnesia in book one, and she really has not had anyone give her true magical training.  She is a sprite, so a bit rough around the edges and yet, she tries to model herself after the prim and proper fairies of Firefly Forest, even though that is not who she truly is.  Suzy’s journey throughout the series is learning to find the magic within herself. There is a lot of growth between the girl who starts out in book one and the young woman she transforms into by the end of the series.

QUESTIONS ABOUT FUTURE WORK

1.    Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?

I have two soon to be three books in my Tales from Mushroom Manor fantasy series.  I have a book of poetry called “I went for a walk today…” that I released last month. Next winter, I am releasing my memoirs, the story of the sexual abuse I experienced while being in scouting.

3.   Do you have any new series planned?

The Secrets Stories of Selohaar Magick- a Tales from Mushroom Manor Sequel Series

Book One:  The Blood of the Dragons – Coming 2022

Book Two: The Triquetras Trials – Coming 2023

Book Three:  Children of Star Nation – Coming 2024

So there you have the interview with Joplin. I highly recommend you check out his books Tales from Mushroom Manor because they are wonderful. If you would like to learn more or check out Joplin or his books I’m putting links down below. I hope this interview shed a little light on the world of writing for you all. 

And a special thank you to Joplin James for taking time out of his busy life to do this interview with me!

Until next time my lovelies!

Raven Towsley

Joplin James’ Profile: https://m.facebook.com/JoplinJamesAuthor/?view_public_for=266104540935563

Joplin’s Instagram: www.instagram.com/joplinjamespatras

Tales from Mushroom Manor Book 1: The Sorceress Returns: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BGQR7NN/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

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