Who is this “Jim Hull” guy, anyway? Well, for starters, your friendly blogger has some ebooks for sale all over the place, like at Amazon and Smashwords. At Smashwords, they offer a chance for authors to interview themselves. Tempted by this exercise in narcissism, I warmed nicely to the task, and here is what I came up with:
For your latest work, THE VAMPIRE IN FREE FALL, why a vampire for the main character?
Vampires make good anti-heroes: they’re by nature smart, capable, and alienated. They have superpowers, which helps them get through obstacles and perform interesting and impressive feats. They’re conflicted, since the humans they love also make ideal prey. Mainly, though, literature’s modern vampires (as opposed to the original Dracula monsters) can look askance at humanity’s folly … and then correct some of it, here and there, with judicious use of fangs and violence. I wanted to create a thrilling adventure, framed with my vampire’s wry assessment of the world, and I hope readers have as much fun reading it as I had writing it.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Southern California isn’t exactly a literary Eden, but it’s big and open, with a vast feeling of freedom, and all the driving we do gives us plenty of time to think about life and meaning … and plots and characters. SoCal is part of America, whose literary style tends toward the dry, direct openness made famous by the noir novels of the mid-twentieth century. This sere, simple eloquence — along with the local sense of freedom — had a tremendous influence on my writing.
What were your first writing experiences?
I was a terrible writer as a kid — couldn’t string two thoughts together without wandering. But I kept getting “A”s in class. Even better, the teachers would comment: “Original!” I thought I was a genius. Turns out I was the only one who didn’t copy the writing assignments out of the encyclopedia. In high school I finally met an English teacher who put my nose to the grindstone, and I began to learn how to structure essays and short stories. In college I discovered how to express a character’s throughts through her actions. Most of my life, I’ve written short-form works, either essays or stories. Didn’t know I had an entire novel in me until my vampire tale walked up and bit me in the neck.
What is your writing process?
In the shower, ideas occur to me; then I stand at a counter and type on my laptop; then I walk around the living room, thinking; then more laptop. Next day, back to the shower and continue.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Writers want to write; promoters want to promote. Usually they’re not the same person. So writers seek out publishers to help them with marketing. After a years-long, humiliating struggle to find a publisher, an author finally succeeds, only to discover — too late! — that the company has little interest in promoting the book, so usually it dies on the vine. If I’m going to get the shaft in that way, I might as well save myself the trouble and self-publish, especially at a time when writers can produce their own books for practically no cash outlay. They still must promote their work … but how is that any different from before, when publishers dumped our shiny new books onto remainder shelves? At least today we can publish ourselves right away.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords helped me get the ball rolling in the world of ebook publishing. They’ve always been helpful, with prompt replies to queries and tons of information on how best to set up a book in their store. They have a huge set of distribution channels, and their royalty split is refreshingly generous to authors. I found Smashwords a great way to get my toe in the water. (And as I write this I find my inbox contains an email telling me I’ve sold another book here.)
What do your fans mean to you?
For my legions of devoted fans — and I understand there are new regiments forming — I want them to feel the joy and excitement of the worlds and ideas and adventures I’ve constructed. I also love to receive feedback, comments, and discussion about my books. I write on topics that thrill me, and I want others to share that energy and inspiration … and a good long conversation is always a great way to do that. (You bring the whisky, I’ll supply the cigars. If you’re a vampire, please bring your own plasma.)
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest pleasure is getting lost in the telling, when the story or essay just pours out, almost as if some being or intelligence is murmuring into my ear and I can’t type fast enough to keep up.
Another joy — after hours of writing and editing — is to finish a chapter or essay, re-read it, and, at the final words, get the feeling of “YESSSS!!” When that happens, I spin away from the keyboard, walk to the window, gaze outside, and smile … and know I got it right.
Who are your favorite authors?
For crime and thrillers: John D. MacDonald, Robert B. Parker, Lee Child, Andrew Vachss. For sci-fi: Robert Heinlein and John Scalzi.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I’m a full-service wordster: I narrate books (a growing list of which are at Audible.com), do public speaking, and hire out to do editing, copywriting, and ghostwriting. I enjoy dancing, chess, puzzles, music (classical, pop, rock), and of course reading — lots of reading — and I’m at all times a pushover for a nice, long discussion on philosophy or politics or art or science or — well, what do you want to discuss? Let’s do it.
What do you like to read?
Thrillers, sci-fi, online news digests, science, philosophy, psychology, and the occasional vampire novel.