Wednesday 23 May 2012


What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?

     My name is J. L. Mullins and I was born in San Francisco, CA. I currently live in Central California, though my wife and I wish to move north, as we are partial to colder/wetter weather.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
     I have wanted to write/create worlds for as long as I can remember.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
     Murder of Souls is a Post-Apocalyptic High Fantasy best described as: the story of the last humans alive, god-like magicians, after they fought each other to a stalemate, obliterating their world.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
     It completely varies. Especially since I have so many ideas at any one time, and I can only, effectively, write one at a time. So, between 3-4 years, on average, but what I am working on now will be done around a year and a half after I had the initial idea.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
     I am currently working on Dragon Bearer, which will, hopefully, be a long running series. A rough teaser is already posted on my website.

What genre would you place your books into?
     My book is unique, in that I have never found another book in its same subgenre, but perhaps I have not looked hard enough. It is High Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic; meaning it is set in a different world, which has ended, and there is magic (presumably the root cause of the end). There are many stories that have magic involved in a cycle of world ending and rebirth, but, in my mind, those don’t qualify, because that world isn’t “over.” It isn’t a transition to a “new” world; the world is just going through a phase, as it has before, and will again.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?
     I wrote this book the way that I did, because I have had a tendency to make my stories far too large, and last way too long. Thus, by restricting the cast to 40(ish) people, and the location to a barren world, I was forced to focus on character development and create a tight, short story arc.

Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
     I love the crows in Murder of Souls. I really enjoyed writing their separate, but unified, personalities. Their humor always makes me laugh, and I love their capacity to be serious and to act decisively when they must.

If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
     That is easy: Lonar, but he is from my current project, so… I can’t say much more.

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
     I don’t have a routine, per se, but I do enjoy having tea on hand, and classical music playing in the background, when I am able. Even so, I often write without one or both of these aids.

Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them? ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
     Definitely. My wife is my first reader, generally seeing the first drafts. Beyond her, I have several friends, including a physicist and an engineer, who I ask to read what I write, and they give great feedback, sometimes pointing out things that hadn’t occurred to me.

Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
     I will definitely do all I can to make my work available to reviewers. I am pretty easy to contact through my website. (See below) I will likely only gift my book to reviewers who have at least a moderate following, but it is available for “free” to Amazon Prime subscribers.

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
     Oh, definitely. I am still a very new author, and, so, I get incredibly excited whenever I find a new review, in no small part because it represents someone who read my book and had a strong enough response to want to write a review.

Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
     Only if it was needlessly cutting: i.e. “Only a moron would write such a book…” and then, only because that isn’t an opinion, it’s just attacking for no reason, but I have never had anywhere near to that kind of experience.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
     I definitely write the book first. Titles are much easier to mold.

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
     A lot of things for my stories come from dreams. Others are inspired by everyday interactions. It varies.

Are character names and place names decided after their creation? or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
     Honestly, if varies. Some characters have names years before I created them, some change names day to day.

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
     In general, I will decide the flavor of a character beforehand, but the specifics only come into focus as I write.

Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
     I write where the story takes me, but, after the first draft, I go back through and weave in more foretelling details and, in truth, do the bulk of the writing once I know how it will end.

How do you market/promote your books?
     That is actually an area I have been researching and testing the waters. So far I have found that approaching reviewers and doing author interviews works rather well. It is also very helpful to have a well-structured, professional website.

What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller?
     Hype, a catchy cover, and the ability for readers to finish it, are the only things really needed to sell well. (If a book is popular, many people will buy it just so they can criticize it.) To endure, though, it needs to have believable characters and story elements, as well as good pacing, an interesting premise, and a satisfying ending. But that’s just my opinion.

Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
     I suffer from writer’s block all the time. The only way I have found to get past it is to write anyways. The worst that can happen is that you throw it all out after you are done, and then you are just back where you started, but if you don’t write, you stay where you started anyways. So, there are only positive or neutral outcomes.

What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
     I love blacksmithing. It is a marriage of pyro pleasures and the joy of creating things with my own hands. I hope to, one day, have a forge and anvil of my own.

Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
     Oh, definitely. Never directly, but I use friends, and occasionally not friends, as the starting place for characters, but I always grow them past that initial connection, so that the end result is not, easily, traceable.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
     Not intentionally. But, that being said, I feel that an author will always convey their views of the world through their work. That is one of the things that make stories so compelling: not only are we seeing a whole new world, in many cases, but we are seeing it from a new perspective.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
     I think that books can be transferred to movies well, but it is rarely done. The worst example I have seen was Eragon. They completely distorted the storyline, and what they created wasn’t even internally consistent.

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
     I think that they will for the general public, but mainly because they are so much cheaper and more versatile (and only once school books are available and usable in that format). That being said, I will always have a few shelves of books, and, hopefully, a fire to read them beside.

Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
     I have been world building, reading, and writing for as long as I can remember. I have always loved entertaining people with stories, both funny and creative.

Did you have a favourite author as a child?
     Yes, I did: J.R.R. Tolkien, hands down. I have read The Lord of the Rings a dozen times and listened to the unabridged audio books at least a dozen more.

Do you have a favourite genre of book?
     I am very partial to fantasy, though I enjoy a good historical fiction, and/or science fiction, and, more recently, I have found several Alternate History books which I enjoy.

Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
     Honestly? No. Are there parts I don’t like? Yes. But I have been told, and firmly believe, that you are not done editing until you hate the whole book. When you cannot stand to go through it again, then you are done. I am slowly coming out of that phase with Murder of Souls, and, these days, I quite enjoy reading snippets.

What do you think about book trailers?
     I think they are clever ways of catching a wider audience.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
     Write, re-write, and read what you write aloud. I am constantly amazed by how many punctuation errors this catches, as well as helping reveal awkward sentences, both in dialogue and in prose. Then, when you think it’s perfect, find an editor. You may shed some tears the first time someone tears apart your work, but you will grow.

Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
     J. L. Mullins might be considered a pen name, but other than that, no.

Where can readers follow you?

Readers can follow me on my website or on (See below)
My website:

My Goodreads author page:

1 comment:

  1. Jeanz, your questions make for a very interesting author interview and offer up much "food for thought."
    J.L., several of your comments had me eager to respond. One in particular relates to the future of ebooks vs books in print. The Joplin tornado destroyed the school books. A contribution of one million dollars from Arabia was used to purchase computers for each student. They and the teachers had a steep learning curve this year!