|Today the author spotlight is on JS Latshaw. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself. |
I live in Los Angeles, and have been here since attending UCLA’s MFA Screenwriting program. I write and develop for TV and Film, while also turning my attention to novels. I grew up in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland – a pastor’s kid who always loved stories and was affected by movies and books like pretty much nothing else (except for the woods and creeks and ponds and animals and the constant need to know what lived beyond the horizon.)
Writing for TV and film, that’s so awesome! Recently, that’s piqued my interest but I don’t know if I’ll have the time to pursue it. What genre(s) do you write in?
I write mostly in a blend of fantasy, sci-fi, adventure, and YA.
Those are the genres that commonly authors hop around to, myself included. Are you traditionally published, independently published, or both?
I’m independently published in the United States and traditionally published overseas.
What made you choose the publishing path you’re on?
After years of writing scripts for television and film that would get some momentum but ultimately not enough to actually make it onto the screen I decided that I truly wanted to have my stories read by readers who could enjoy them. Turning to writing novels, I loved the idea of controlling all the aspects of production and not relying on a bunch of other people to get my story out to readers. This was a good fit with independent publishing. Though at some point I am interested in traditional publishing, so far I haven’t pursued it because I wanted to find my audience and experience the satisfaction of having readers first.
I hear that a lot from independently published author, again myself included. More and more authors are wanting to tap into their creative side in all aspects of their books, not just the stories and characters but in the design as well. Why did you choose to write in the genre(s) you’re in?
Honestly with each book the story dictates the genre for me, but in general I write what really excites me – and these are the genres that I’ve loved the most in the past. I grew up reading Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and Lois Lowry and Madeleine L’Engel so these are often the kinds of epic and personal stories I gravitate towards.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I was that kid that was always writing skits and plays and forcing my friends to put them on for parents who would humor us even though in retrospect they were pretty awful. I even convinced my third grade teacher to allow me to write and put on a Christmas play for parents that were visiting the class for the holiday party – a decision she soon regretted when my play turned out to be a 15 minute long re-enactment of the actual birth of Jesus, moans and groans and all. What can I saw, I really wanted to delve into the brutal humanity of the nativity. Writing has always been a great fit for me because I love sharing my perspective, my joys, my loves, and my fears with other people. I love exploring mysteries and creating intrigue, and I get to do all these things when I tell stories. I discover for myself as much as I share with others, it’s a difficult endeavor, but entirely rewarding.
Oh my gosh, I did the same thing! We would also have a New Years production, me and my best friend. Costumes, wigs, singing, dancing, stories. Eventually, in middle school, I wrote short stories and forced my best of friends to read them and give me feedback. Didn’t know I was preparing for a career as an author where I would continue to do the same thing. Tell us a little about your writing processes and your writing space.
My process has a number of steps, and I love when people ask me about it! First of all, the idea generation normally comes to me while I’m hiking in the mountains near Los Angeles. Something about getting my heart pumping leads to ideas I just don’t have anywhere else. I’ll end up recording a ton of voice memos while hiking, and then at some point I’ll sit down and transcribe them all into a text document. This is of course very fun – listening to me spout ideas while breathing heavily like some total weirdo. It might be ideas for whole stories, maybe just a visual, a snippet of dialogue, a description of a creature or place, etc. I’ll number all these little ideas, too. This document will often be about 40 pages by the time I start a book. Then when I feel like I have enough of these things to have a sense of my story, I’ll sit down with a pencil and notebook (it’s very important that these things be physical for me) and I’ll sketch out a general outline of my overall story. Often this will use the rough structure that I learned for storytelling for screenplays – so when people say my books feel cinematic, that actually makes sense. Once I’ve figured out the outline, then I take all the little ideas I’ve put in the word document, and I’ll place the numbers of each idea where I think they’ll fall on the outline. And so then I’m left with an outline and a pile of pages of ideas, and once I have all that I’ll just in and start writing the actual story!
I’ve heard a lot of authors are turning to voice recording. I’ve always been a stumbling and bumbling talker, which is why I gravitated towards writing so I don’t know how well that would work for me, but I can see how talking out the stories while moving around and doing stuff could get the creative juices flowing, and be a time saver! What are your favorite books to read?
I truly enjoy reading everything and think it’s really good to read widely and often, but in general I think I love dystopian and imaginative worlds like Lois Lowry’s Giver Series, places like Narnia and Middle Earth. Highly sophisticated portrayals of societies like in the Hunger Games and Maze Runner. I adore books for their ability to introduce you to places and people and thoughts and beliefs you’d have no idea of otherwise – so an author like Khaled Hosseini and his book The Kite Runner made a huge impact on me, as did Amy Seybold and The Lovely Bones.
What does marketing look like for you? Are you an avid believer in social media or do you like paid advertisement more? Do you DIY or do you have someone else or a company handle it?
I like social media a whole lot because that’s where the readers are! My nephew is a genius at Instagram marketing so he helps me with outreach and finding readers. We rely mostly on free networking with a small amount of paid advertising. He’ll look for books that are similar to mine and message readers of them with an offer to receive a free book of mine, and often these offers are eagerly accepted. It’s worked!
I’m in the same boat, and putting most of my focus on Instagram has really done wonders for reaching readers. #bookstagram is real! And that’s a great idea to message readers and followers of authors who write in similar genres. If you have to do any research for your books, how do you like to accomplish this? What is your organization of research like? How long do you usually spend on research?
I will do a lot of research, but I also know that for me “research” can be a convenient excuse to not actually jump into writing – and can be a form of procrastination. So I will do research, but I limit the amount of time I give myself for it, I have a deadline where I say to myself, okay well now it’s time to write, you can do more research later if you need it, but get started. Most of my research will end up in that big word doc of ideas. I also use Scrivener for my novels, which is good software collecting ideas and images and links and stuff like that.
I research much in the same way. I give myself a timeframe in which I have to get research and outline done to limit it, or down the rabbit hole I go. Which of your books is your bestseller and why do you think it is? What do readers say they like about it?
My first book, The Threat Below, is still my best seller with over 15k readers, but that’s partially because it’s the first in the series and also because it’s been out longer. The second, A Gallery of Mothers, is doing well too. Honestly to even have 10 readers who cherish the stories I’m telling is a total and complete thrill. I know what it’s like to get caught up in a make-believe world, and I love the idea that some people are loving getting caught up in mine.
Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.
My Brathius Legacy series books are long – around 450 pages each. There are 4 main books planned, and I’m working on the 3rd one. But I’m also writing a shorter 200 page standalone book set in the same world to tell a contained story first. Some of the characters in this stand alone book will show up in books 3 and 4 of the main series, so it’s a kind of a connective story between where we’ve been and where we’re going. I’ve also finished a couple other standalone novels, unrelated to the Brathius Legacy world at all – and will rewrite and publish them at some point, but not any time soon.
That sounds interesting! Of all the characters you’ve created, who is your favorite? (I know, it’s like choosing a favorite between kids)
I have a ton of love and affection for a lot of my characters, so yes, this is very difficult to decide! If I really had to choose one I would probably have to select my main protagonist – Iclyn Brathius – just because she’s where the whole story started, she’s based on mostly my daughter and a little bit me, and I just think she’s flawed and funny and strong and cool. Many readers actually are annoyed by her, even when they like the books – which was so eye-opening to me! But I can’t help it, I just think she’s the best. But there’s really a tier of favorite characters for me, which would be Icelyn, Adorane, Torrain, and Eveshone. Tier 2 would be Omathis, Amperous, the Priestess, and Istoch. It’s so hard to choose, they’re all so different. But I love writing all of them.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share with me and my followers! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you and your work. If you’d like to follow JS Latshaw I’ve included his social media links below! Happy reading, readers!
Author Website: https://jlatshaw.com/
Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jasonsethlatshaw/
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jasonsethlatshaw/