THOMAS AWOKE WITH a jolt as the stench of urine and animal remains brought him to the present. He sat up, disoriented and nauseous, and looked around anxiously to gain his bearings. “Belle! Belle, answer me.” Nothing. No answer or even the faintest noise responded to his pleas. Darkness enveloped him like a thick, suffocating blanket; breathing was difficult as he gasped for air among the sick smells assaulting his senses. The now all-too-familiar feeling of panic rose in him once again as his thoughts returned to his little sister and the strange ships in the sky, haunting him. Feelings of fear and panic alternated within him, like being hot and cold when he had a fever. His eyes adjusted somewhat to the darkness, and he made out small details around him. Using his hands, he combed the walls for clues or any useful information.
His first instincts brought to mind visions of cold, clammy, dark caves. The walls were wet and uneven, and appeared to be made of rock. He plodded his way around the perimeter, taking small steps, looking for signs of an opening or exit. He marked his starting point by placing a foot-long rock on the ground, close to the wall, so he would run into it and know when he had made it all the way around. When he encountered the rock again, the only additional information he had gained was that the structure was somewhat oval in shape and made of some type of rock, as he had envisioned earlier.
After two more times around the space, he thought he felt cracks along the wall that could possibly be where the door was located. He placed two more rocks at that juncture, identifying that space as well. A chill came over him from the cool dampness of his surroundings, and he thrust his hands in his pockets to stay warm. He found his pocketknife, flint and compass there, and he felt comforted but knew these wouldn’t help him just now but later…maybe later. With every slight movement, his braces clanked noisily, reminding him of their presence. That in conjunction with the fact that he could not connect with Arista or Whisterly, made him question if he were actually on Remeon. All he could do was remain where he was and hope he didn’t starve while he waited for his captors to make themselves known.
Time passed slowly as he thought back on all that had happened in just a few short months. Reflections from his stream of consciousness flowed unabated. Utmost in his mind were the precariousness of his current situation and wondering where Belle was. But also everything else that had happened to him recently which played a part in landing him right here. He had wished for this, all of this. He had wanted adventure; he had wanted distance from his family-- mainly his pa. He had wanted to grow up on his own terms and had plans to make that happen.
Next, thinking back on his unexpected illness and the toll on his family, Thomas clearly saw in his parents’ eyes, when he woke in the hospital, how much they loved and cared for him. But amid the adventure and danger found on Remeon, he had felt needed in ways he had never experienced on the farm. Could he really save another race? And would he sacrifice himself to do so?
I've been writing in one form or another since I was a teenager. My love of the Fantasy genre goes all the way back to elementary school when I read The Hobbit for the first time - I've been hooked ever since. I currently live in Florida with my family, but love the state of Virginia where I was born. My works include poetry, short stories, and book two in my YA Fantasy series, Realms of Chaos, is now in process.
You can visit my website at www.jwgarrett.com to subscribe to my newsletter and find out the latest updates regarding new releases and works in progress.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Lexington, VA. I grew up in Lexington and Salem VA, before moving to Nashville, TN around the age of 15. I have wonderful childhood memories full of lazy summer days and unsupervised creative endeavors. Currently I live in Jacksonville, and while I love the beaches of Florida I still miss the mountains of Virginia.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
In the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by family.
What are you passionate about these days?
Taking care of our planet and its resources so future generations can continue to enjoy nature’s life giving force.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Depends on the day . . . sometimes I read, sometimes I go on a run, other times I’ll just hang out and watch a movie with a glass of wine.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Passionate, motivated, caring, determined, mischievous
Do you have a favorite movie?
I have three favorite movies – I know, that’s cheating. The Lake House, Somewhere in Time, and the Goodbye Girl. I guess I’m a romantic at heart and believe in second chances. All three of these movies have both bittersweet and breathtaking moments and offer a second chance to the heroine.
What inspired you to write this book?
Remeon’s Destiny came to fruition in my head years before I actually wrote it. It wasn’t until I started taking notes and forming an outline that I committed to writing it. Once I was dedicated to the process the story arc came alive, and I knew this book would be the first in a series.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be?And what would you do during that day?
That would have to be Simon. He is the main antagonist in the book, and l’m fascinated by his complexity. I would love to follow him throughout the inner workings of his day to see what sets him off and what he internalizes. He desires control above all else and how he goes about satisfying that inner need is intriguing.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
Through all the trials and tribulations that Thomas (protagonist) goes through he’s developing into a confident young man. The process of his multifaceted growth and as a result, his evolution as a character, is my favorite part.
What book do you think everyone should read?
A Tale of Two Cities. Its moral themes of sacrifice and justice are still poignant today in this classic novel.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors? T
he Hobbit, Harry Potter, A Wizard of Earthsea, Outlander, Clan of the Cave Bear, Little Women, The Thorn Birds, The Shack, A Woman of Substance, Fall of Giants
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
My characters are a combination of both real and imaginary people. In Remeon’s Destiny the main character, Thomas, is “inspired” by my father, but he certainly has character traits that are entirely his alone and completely fictitious. For most of my characters I draw from a “real” person initially, but through the writing process and determining the character’s individual wants and needs they develop into their own unique persona.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
Initially I have the reigns of the story, but as the manuscript starts to gel and the characters come alive they certainly do hijack the adventure from time to time. During those times I just hang on and write!
Advice you would give new authors?
It’s a difficult road, but don’t give up or give in to doubt. Be selfish of the time you carve out to write. Every little bit matters: researching, outlining, studying books on craft, reading, as well as actual writing. It all plays a part. All these activities help to make you a better writer. Sacrifice something else: T.V., video games, other screen time, sleep. If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time. A word about rejection – There will be those who don’t appreciate your work – that’s okay. You’ll need to develop a thick skin. In the process of writing a manuscript you’ll fall in love with your characters. You want to find an agent or publisher who feels the same so that they can champion your work. Be fearless in pursuing your passion!
What makes a good story?
So much. That’s a loaded question and very subjective. I’d say it begins with imagination. When you have an inkling of an idea it needs time to grow, simmer and evolve. It will eventually unfold. Encourage that growth by reading and allowing your mind space and time to create – not easy in today’s world, but the creative development process needs to be nurtured. A strong emotional connection with the reader is paramount. Have you ever been reading a book and you realize as you turn the page you don’t remember what you’ve read? Your thoughts drifted and you’re thinking about what you want for dinner or tomorrow’s schedule. Most likely you weren’t emotionally engaged in the story and that’s essential. Hard work comes with the job. Writing will pull you away from family, work, leisure and sleep. Be prepared. Patience is also a necessity. The process of writing and publishing a book is long and often tedious. The time varies by individual project and can be anywhere from a few months to many, many years, for some even decades. Then, depending on the platform chosen for publishing, could take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more for traditional paths. Last, get other eyes on your manuscript. You as the writer are very close to your work. Step back and let others read it and give you feedback. It is preferable to hire an editor who will show explicitly what needs to be changed. As gut wrenching as the editing and revision process can be, it’s worse to send a novel out into the market that isn’t ready. Face the red ink – rejoice in it even. It’s one more step to help you progress and learn as an author.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently rereading The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, No Spare Time by Ursula K. LeGuin and Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I recently finished Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi and loved it!
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I believe there are certain times we are just not receptive to writing, so it may seem difficult to find the next step in your story. At those times stop and try to work through the issue. Sometimes you might just need some time away. Take a walk, run, sleep if you need it. If it’s a specific scene you’re having difficulty with, skip ahead to a scene you’re excited about writing and come back later to the difficult spot. There are those days where things just don’t seem to come together. We all have times like that. Try researching, outlining, character sketches, writing sprints or some other writing related activities.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Everything on your journey matters. You are a culmination of all your experiences that landed you right here. Trust in your individual path and stay the course.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
There are more opportunities than ever before out there, but also it’s very competitive. Determine what works for your individual scenario and then pursue it with a passion, starting with researching the basic models: self-publishing, traditional and hybrid.
If you desire control over the whole process and don’t mind digging in, self-publishing may be for you. You can get started immediately, but it’s difficult to be a full time jack of all trades. And if you choose this option you’ll not only be writing but finding and evaluating cover artists, editors, formatters, beta readers, advertising your books, and publicizing. The rewards can be great if you’re willing to put in the time.
With the traditional model it will take much longer for your manuscript to be published, often 18 months to 2 years even. However (depending on your contract) the actual work of publishing and a majority of the marketing is done by the publisher. There is often a long query and acceptance process as well. If you choose this route be sure to research agents and publishers in depth before sending your queries to give your manuscript a fighting chance, and then follow submission requirements to the letter.
The hybrid model in some ways combines the best of both worlds. Usually you’ll see some cost sharing between author and publisher, and thus sharing of the risk of publishing as well. On the upside royalty percentages are usually much higher than those for traditionally published authors.
With changes in the publishing landscape happening so fast writers must continually re-evaluate and adapt to make sure they are still on target with their own personal goals. More and more I think we’ll see the lines blur between self-published authors, traditional and hybrid. All are fighting to keep market share as this business continues to shift and evolve to meet today’s market needs for the reader.
Pen or typewriter or computer?
Computer! I can’t stand to think of the time I’d waste transcribing from paper.
Describe what is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I have a process of note taking – ideas mostly at first. I add to these notes over the period of weeks, sometimes months. From these notes I create a more organized outline and add to it, as with the notes, over a period of weeks or months layering in detail for individual scenes as I go. Using the detailed outline I begin writing. I set daily work count goals and goals for finishing chapters as well as a timeline for finishing my first draft. After the first draft is completed I do a round of editing then send to beta readers and finally my editor. Following incorporation of edits and beta feedback I make a listing of areas to revisit for plot strengthening, rework, more description etc. then research and make those changes. Last, I reread the entire manuscript before submission, tweaking and editing as I go.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I typically am writing one novel at a time, but on an ongoing basis I have other projects at various stages, i.e. note taking or outlining. Almost always I have several short stories in the works also.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read –
Remeon’s Destiny is a coming of age story with a focus on inner strength, overcoming and living with personal limitations and following one’s destiny. It has universal themes and a broad appeal to YA audiences, as well as cross-over appeal to the adult market. There’s something for everyone!
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