Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with J.A. Giunta

Welcome to another Writers' Wednesday! Today we have an interview with fantasy author J.A. Giunta.

Welcome, Joe! Can you tell us a little about your background?
I was born and raised on the east coast but have lived in Arizona for most of my life. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English from Arizona State but work as a Software Developer for the University of Phoenix. Funny how a career can sometimes stem from a hobby.

When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?
I began to write adventures shortly after discovering pen and paper role-playing games when I was eleven years old. My first story was roughly fifty pages long, typed out on a commodore 64 and printed on a dot matrix. I can still feel the staples that bound it pricking my fingers.

Tell us about your latest writing project or published title.
I’m currently working on the second book of the Ascension trilogy, titled The Mists of Faeron. It’s a self-published work and is actually a rewrite. I spent months improving my writing, by reading numerous books on writing (by writers) and talking with other writers. I learned more in three months at the Absolute Write forums than I did my entire time in college. Well, at least in regards to writing a novel.

How do you go about developing your characters?
I think of them as real people, with belief systems that stem from their upbringing. They have their own quirks, their own way of reasoning, favorite foods and pastimes. I try to have this all reflected in their dialogue and actions, in the way they respond to others and the feelings they go through. The hardest part for me, while calmly writing away, is that people don’t always act rational. They make mistakes, sometimes bad ones, and might not realize it right away.

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?
The most difficult thing about writing is writing. Literally, the first draft. I’m not one of those writers who spews out the first copy just to get the story down on paper, who then begins the process of many revisions. I spend a lot of time thinking about the story, about the characters and their motives, and put it all down in notes and an outline. I break the story down into scenes and lay them all out on paper, then flesh them out from my notes. When I begin writing the first draft, I agonize over every word until the flow is just right, until everything I want in it is absolutely perfect. When I finish a scene, I go back and revise it. Once the manuscript is completed, I do a full revision and edits.

For me, the most rewarding part is being done.

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?
Very poorly, thank you. I try my best to get in two hours of writing a day, but sometimes it just isn’t feasible. I work from 5am to 2pm, get my daughter from school after work and then it’s dinner and family time when the wife gets home around 6. So there is some time in there for me to write, if I can work in my office uninterrupted. The problem is that’s a mighty big if. Still, I manage to produce between 15 and 20 pages in a week, which for me is roughly a chapter. As I mentioned earlier, these are not speedily typed pages but are the product of many painstaking hours.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
I’ve suffered from too many images and words in my head to get them down, but I’ve never run out of material. Even when I reach a scene I’ve left somewhat open and have only a faint idea of what I want to write, as long as I sit in front of the computer the words will come. I spend most of my day thinking about the next scene in my manuscript. It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing on my mind when I go to sleep. I revise and rework in my head. When I actually sit down to the computer, I’m usually ready to go.

What is your favorite movie? Did it inspire your writing in any way?
I almost didn’t answer this but thought I’d point out for anyone just starting to write that creating a novel is not the same as creating a screenplay. I know, it sounds obvious, but when I first began writing, I saw my scenes as part of a movie in my head. I wrote in ways that would translate well to the big screen. I only learned later this is a pitfall of beginning writers.

Apart from that, there are numerous movies that I love, though some seem better in memory than in the watching again. Movies that move me inspire me to move readers. They remind me, when things seems tough and playing a video game would be easier, that I write because I love to stories and share them with others.

Thanks for stopping by today! For more information about this author or his books, visit his website.


Sarita Leone said...

Great interview! I'm off to check out Joe's website now. :)

Diane Craver said...

Hi Joe,
Great interview. I went to your site. I like it and fits what your write so well. BTW, we have the same birthday month - not the same year! LOL

J.A. Giunta said...

Glad you liked it! =)

As for birthdays, it's amazing how many in my family are around Oct-Nov. We've got more scorpios than you shake a stick at!