Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’ve been writing stories since I could pick up a pencil. I completed my first ‘novel’ when I was thirteen years old. I completed the second when I was sixteen. I haven’t stopped writing novels since then.
I started to seriously consider publishing some of my work in 2013. My first title, THE DEATH OF INK, comes out in January 2014.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
THE DEATH OF INK is my latest book and I had many sources of inspiration for it.
The title of the book escapes me, but a book with daily writing prompts and beautiful pictures was my main source of inspiration. The goal of the book was to get you out of writer’s block.
One of the prompts instructed you to write about meeting someone in a bookstore and then sharing with that person your story idea. Years later, the person is now a famous author. You discover that the book the person became famous for is actually the story idea that you shared with them years earlier. You return to the same bookstore and see the person hosting a book-signing. You step in line and soon it’s your turn.
What do you say?
It was from that writing prompt I got the idea for THE DEATH OF INK and built on it.
I started this story as a senior in high school (now a college graduate) and my primary audience was teenagers. That inspired me to set this story in high school and have it be a sort of romance.
Then came the idea that the person with the original story idea turned out to have stolen that story from someone else too, but that someone else is dead and haunting him.
As a teen , I was also inspired to find the a large amount of young writers who helped me and guided me along the way. We’re so used to viewing teens just as passive readers, when they’re some of the most amazingly expressive and raw writers out there. They desire authenticity.
With the large amount of young writers out there, I realized there were few stories featuring characters like them. I decided to write about teens who liked to write, but in a three-dimensional way, where they aren’t just caricatures or tropes from a cheap teen film. It’s time to realize tons of teens write and read, and not all of them are nerds, bookish, or anti-social.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
When I brainstorm I tend to have to pace the room. I have to see the scene and envision it. Sometimes, I have to say the dialogue aloud to hear if it sounds convincing. A lot of times, I have to write things out old-fashioned, with paper and pencil. Sometimes I have to sit quietly and get into like a trance, where I see and hear the characters as if I am watching a movie in my mind, and then I write what I envisioned.
The best writing tip I have ever received is to do whatever you need to do to write. People may think it’s strange. They may laugh and they may giggle, but do what you got to do, even if it is standing on one foot. One man told me the best place for inspiration for him was when he was sitting on the loo. Hey, whatever works for you, go for it.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I read this book called KING OF THE LOST AND FOUND, a young adult novel I loved.
The characters were fresh. They weren’t tropes or caricatures, but dynamic and fun.
Reading it was amazing. Although my story is a supernatural suspense novel, and not a comedy, I wanted to capture some of that youthful buoyancy in my novel.
I’ve read a lot of Stephen King and Ted Dekker novels, and I feel seeped into the stories I write.
What are you working on now?
I’m polishing up the second book in THE DEATH OF INK series. I’ve already written all of the books, so I should be churning them out rather quickly.
Besides that, I’m working on a title called THE GOOD WIFE about a girl named Emma adopted overseas who faces sexual abuse after her adoptive mother dies. Later Emma runs off and elopes with her childhood friend. She lives a very restricted life as she discovers too late her new husband is very controlling.
WISDOM AND HER CHILDREN is about a man named Solomon who commits murder and flees from the law with his two children in tow. It describes their lives trying to live invisible and Solomon’s growing erratic behavior. I’m planning to make it a novella.
I’m not planning to write another Young Adult novel, but that may change.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I just discovered awesomegang and it’s awesome, if you’ll excuse the redundancy.
Besides this method, I would say Goodreads has been great. I have gotten to know many lovely people and received so many amazing tips.
The most important thing is going where your readers are. I joined this site called Figment, which caters to young adults who write and read. Getting their feedback on my work has been invaluable and I’ve made many great friends.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
My advice would be to write often and receive feedback, but you don’t have to change everything the moment someone sneezes.
Not everyone is going to like your work. There will always be something an author could perfect or change.
You’ll get some people who’ll eat up your story like ice-cream and you’ll get some who’ll spit it out. I say it’s most important to cater to your fans and your target audience. If the majority of your target audience loves your books, you’re in the clear.
So yes, it is okay to receive criticism, but at times you have to step back and look at the bigger pictures. At the end of the day you hold the cards. Do what you like with your novel.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Don’t get so bogged down by ‘the rules’ it stops you from getting the words out.
Another great piece of advice is ‘Rules were made to be broken.’ Break away from convention. Don’t shy away from topics because it’s not within genre or not for young adult literature. Don’t be afraid to show humanity in all of it’s ugliness and flaws, because that’s where real character and real goodness shines the brightest.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading Long Division by Kiese Laymon and Paradise Lost by John Milton.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m hoping to build a platform and extend my following on the web.
I want to help promote fellow authors and great, undiscovered literature. I plan to do so on my blog.
What is your favorite book of all time?
To Kill A Mockingbird
Author Websites and Profiles
M.M. John Website
M.M. John’s Social Media Links