The following is an interrogation of Jerry J. Davis, author, photographer, podcaster and overall groovy guy.
1. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a … lumberjack!
No, not really. At first I wanted to be a scientist. Then I wanted to be an electronics technician. Then I wanted to be a writer, followed in high school by the desire to go into photography.
Now I do a combination of all of them, kind of.
2. What inspired you to begin writing?
Reading things like the Hardy Boys mystery books, the Rick Brant Science Adventures (it was the literary form of Johnny Quest) and all the James Bond books. When I ran out I wanted there to be more, and so I started writing them myself — but with my own characters. By the time I was 16 I was submitting short stories to Sci-Fi magazines.
3. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Only recently, when I got an actual writing job — it legitimized all those years of it being a “hobby.”
4. What is your favorite genre and what are your favorite books/author?
I like a very specific types of fantasy and science fiction — something I think they term “Urban Fantasy” and “Social Science Fiction.” I’ll wander away from those genres but always seem to come back to them. They’re my core interests.
Favorite books include most of Chuck Palahniuk’s including Fight Club (I consider Palahniuk a dark urban fantasy writer, by the way), most of Philip K. Dick‘s books, and a lot of Tim Powers books including “On Stranger Tides” which Hollywood recently disassembled and reassembled as a Pirates of the Caribbean movie — surgically transplanting elements of the plot but not using the original characters.
5. What is the hardest part of writing a book? Hardest part of getting published?
To me, the hardest part of writing a book is finishing it. The hardest part about getting it published was knowing the right people in the right places to get your manuscript seriously considered. I lucked out with one, but now there’s no reason to play that game. Publishers can be by-passed and writers can connect directly to readers via things like the Kindle and Nook ebook readers.
That doesn’t mean you don’t need an editor, though.
6. How do you deal with rejection?
Develop an advanced system of self-denial. Kind of like an athlete telling himself he’s the best, no matter what anyone else says. You really can’t move forward without denial — otherwise if you listen to what other people say you’ll give up long before you ever “make it.”
You can never make it without simply moving forward. The only way to get better at writing is to KEEP WRITING. I cannot stress that enough.
7. What advice do you have for someone who wants to get published?
Find a good writer’s group who gives fair criticism, and if two or more people say the same thing during a critique, take it seriously. Work together with them to make all your stories — and theirs — the best they can be, then start submitting them to markets.
And also in this day and age, you have the option to go direct to your readers via e-publishing. The stigma once attached to that is fading in this new reality of eBooks outselling paper books. Old timers don’t want to admit or acknowledge it, but that’s the way the industry is going. Make the best of it, I say, but keep one foot in each camp — also continue to try for traditional publishing as well, as long as it’s still alive (which it may not be for long).
Just make sure you’ve gotten your prose as finely polished as it can be, and critiqued by someone you trust, before putting it “out there.”
8. If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Back in the late 1970’s I had this great idea about a park full of cloned dinosaurs breaking down, and they get loose and wreak havoc. I should have written it before Jurassic Park beat me to the punch.
Damn you Micheal Crichton!
9. How do you feel about the decline in bookstores and do you feel Americans are reading less?
Americans are reading more than ever before, they just don’t realize it. You can’t use the Internet without reading. Also there are more jobs for writers now than in any time before in history.
Thank you, Internet.
Bookstores will have to evolve and adapt or die. I see them becoming more like a Starbucks where people go and sit and talk, and then there’s either giant touch screens around or maybe bar-coded cards, or something like that, where you’ll push a button or scan a QR code and buy books that will deliver themselves to your ebook reader.
Also, I don’t believe paper books will ever die, they’ll just become high quality collectibles. So you’ll read your favorite author’s books on your ebook reader for $2.99 and love it so much you’ll end up with a $50 signed copy for your shelf. It’s already getting that way with the music industry.
10. What is one question you wish I’d asked and what is your answer?
Why shouldn’t people respect poetry more, and not dismiss it?
I’m often shocked by how vehemently some people react to poetry, and I mean in a negative way. It’s like you’ve asked them to eat spider soup, or drink rat gut beer.
I think poetry is terribly misunderstood by the majority of would-be readers — and also writers, I might add. All writers should write poetry, specifically structured poetry, because it teaches you how to say more with less, and how to make word pictures that are more vivid and immediate. That’s a skill that can improve any other type of creative writing. Sometimes if I’m having a hard time putting a scene together, I’ll outline it as a poem. That works for me like adding lighter fluid to a fire.
One can say that Twitter and text messaging is doing the same thing, but, not really. Not unless you’re using it to write poetry — which some people do. And I approve of that!
Jerry J. Davis is a writer and photographer in the Chicago area. During the day he’s a mild-mannered webmaster and digital marketing specialist who works for a large international corporation. At night, however, he lives in a small cottage at the edge of an enchanted forest preserve, and spends time dodging mosquitos and searching for the fabled Stonehenge made of old refrigerators which is rumored to be somewhere behind his porch.
More information about him than you’d ever want to know can be found at