JD Kaplan currently lives in Northern Illinois with his wife, two kids and very insecure Golden Retriever, Max. He has worked in the software industry for nearly 18 years after a period of failing to publish his poetry. At this stage in life he’s actively trying to change careers again to be a full time author of fantasy and science fiction novels.
What makes you proud to be a writer from Chicago? I don’t know that pride comes into it but I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and after spending about 20 years living elsewhere (Austin, Tucson and San Jose) it’s really great to be home. It’s funny how the things that bugged me about this place have become a source of great comfort. I love the down to earth people here.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? At the age of 13 my aunt introduced me to Frank Herbert, Stephen R Donaldson and J.R.R. Tolkien and that year I wrote a 200 page book. It was the worst garbage ever but I did complete it and it had a story. I guess that’s a victory in itself. I’ve tried my hand at a few different styles of writing—poetry, short literary fiction and music—but in the end I have come back to the type of stories I loved as a child.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? When I first graduated from college I got a job in a bookstore in Tucson and spent all my free time writing poetry and short fiction. I basically collected rejection notices…this was at a time when you still got rejection notices from publishers and agents. Nowadays you’re lucky if you get a post it note with ‘no thanks’ scrawled on it.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? As a kid I was quiet, shy and a bit reclusive. I loved to curl up with a good book that featured impossible things. I didn’t have much interest about reading stories that were feasible—I wanted to escape. Both my parents were educators and reading was valued as a good pastime in our house.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? Sometimes I come up with a title before or during writing, but rarely do those titles survive to the end. The one exception to that is The Scary Girls. I tried different titles for that book but in the end that one just stuck.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? My writing falls somewhere into the broader range of urban or contemporary fantasy. There aren’t any vampires, werewolves or benevolent monsters in them. It’s more like the urban fantasy of Charles de Lint or Neil Gaiman, though I would never compare myself to them, of course. I’ve heard people refer to it as ‘slipstream’ lately. Stories with magic and fantasy elements but set in the modern world.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? Listening to Forsythia by Veruca Salt really loudly in my car as I drove somewhere. I just got this scene in my head where the main character first meets the Scary Girls. I ended up replaying that scene in my head over and over, tweaking it, adjusting it, even roleplaying it until it solidified. That was where the book was born.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? Every time I complete a book it’s so empowering. I’ve got two I’ve published and another three that I’ve completed but have shelved. That moment when you finish it is quite awesome.
Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I had an agent request my manuscript then lose it, forget who I was and then eventually just blow me off. The entire process took 6 months and really almost killed my energy to get published. On the other hand, I guess I should thank her for driving me to self-publish, which has been an awesome experience.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? The first moment I held a trade paperback copy of my first book. Then again with my latest book. I had kind of thought it wouldn’t be as intense as the first, but I was wrong.
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? Well, since I decided to go independent, I’ve not really had many negative experiences. Sometimes it’s disappointing at how hard it is to get noticed by readers. Marketing a book is hard. It takes a different skill set than is needed to write the book.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Write every day no matter what. I liken it to running. If you’re a runner, you make sure to run every day. You build it up as a habit that you just do without having to convince yourself to do it. Even one missed day can take you out of your stride.
Who is your favorite author and why? I have two favorite authors. Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint. Both of them write the kinds stories I love to read: lyrical, thoughtful and full of magic. Their stories draw on myth, folklore and other sources to inject magic and fantasy into our everyday world.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? I am really drawn to strong female characters. One of the things I love about the more mainstream urban fantasy genre is the wealth of strong female leads. Mercy Thompson (Patricia Briggs) is probably my favorite character currently. Some of my favorite characters in my own work are female. Penny from Waking Dreams, and Foxglove from The Scary Girls were so much fun to write. I really want to get to the point where I feel comfortable writing an entire book from the perspective of a strong woman.
Your Journey To The Dreamside Begins Now!
‘The Scary Girls’ contemporary urban fantasy by JD Kaplan will captivate your imagination and tease your own dreams. Kaplan’s descriptive writing will draw you into the plot by his use of vivid colors, musical concepts, space and time, people and places, romance and terror, reality and fantasy.
His main character named Patrick Benjamin MacKenzie, better known as Trick to his friends takes the reader into his world as a lead guitarist for a band named ‘Fishmonger’. Little does Trick know that by walking into ‘The Carpenter Creek Brewery’ for drink or two one night will change his reality!
Three women, all with the name of a flower will soon come into his life. His reaction: “The music we’d made together had been magical. Like good sex almost. No, amazing sex. I was hooked. I thought about them that entire night and when I finally I fell asleep my dreams were full of music and magic, all of it revolving around those girls, The Scary Girls.”
Characters that you might meet or hope not to meet somewhere at some time will overwhelm your senses. Music, romance, supernatural places, images, and characters from an ancient world take you on a journey to the “Dreamside”. When you wake there will be a lot of questions, but I guarantee that the read will be intense.
Cold Coffee Press Endorses ‘The Scary Girls’ by JD Kaplan as a contemporary urban fantasy that will stimulate your imagination. We received this book in a PDF format for review. The review was completed on March 29, 2015. For more information please visit Cold Coffee Press. http://www.coldcoffeepress.com
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