J. A. Clark grew up in a small village in Wisconsin where he found a passion for sports. He learned of his talent for writing in college and carried that talent as he traveled the country while in the U.S. Army. After serving overseas, he spent his time perfecting his craft in the world of freelancing. In addition to writing, he is an Affiliated Twitch streamer.
Please briefly describe your latest book.
My most recent book is a work stemming from my main series – The Sorcerer’s Order, affectionately referred to as TSO. TSO: Defense of Fayrule is an epic adventure, sword and sorcery type of book. The story pulls you into a small piece of an enormous, fantastical world. Following the example of the previous books in the series, a Sorcerer, his familiar, and his eccentric friends, go out into the realm to banish the evil presence threatening their land. In this case, Zane, the Sorcerer, takes his pet bear, a hot-headed Satyr woman, and a curious Gnome girl, on a great adventure through Fayrule. While their adventure is filled with peril, it is also filled with heart-warming stories of friendship and sacrifice.
Tell us about the setting. What motivated this choice? What do you think is important when choosing a setting?
The setting is high fantasy. The world of magic has always fascinated me. But to go deeper into the question, TSO follows the Sorcerer’s Order, not any specific character or group of characters. Specific to Defense of Fayrule, I wanted to get away from what I had done in the first two books, each of which had many Human and Elven interactions. I wanted dense forests with magical races and problems that extended beyond just the Human’s drive for power. I wanted a showcase for magic and all of its uses; be it good or evil. I think the most important thing about a setting, and therein world building, is to be true to yourself. Create settings that make sense, not one that follows some trope. As trivial as it might sound, your characters will have more natural reactions to more natural settings. The reader can tell when something is being forced.
How has your background influenced your writing? To what extent does your own life influence your writing?
In general, I always remember being a writer. Which isn’t to say I knew I would be writing books when I grew up. However, I recall writing a story in 4th grade where my teacher added a comment in the margin that was something to the effect of ‘you’d be a great creative writer’. Maybe that should have been my first clue that I had some sort of talent for it. Answering the question a little more specifically, I was somewhat inspired by the Lord of the Rings movies. I wanted books with huge battle scenes and epic sword fights. That’s where my time in the Army comes in. The scenes I’m proudest of are the scenes where I’m able to look back on my military training and apply it to the situation.
Can you take us through the process of writing a book? What do you do first?
The first thing is I get motivation, which is really nothing more than I need to feel like I want to. I’m not one of those writers who will sit down and draw elaborate webs and guides. That’s homework. That’s what I did in 4th and 5th grade. When motivation and inspiration hits, I sit down in front of my computer, and I get to work. It’s all a blur thereafter. I may have minor thoughts in my mind to major plot points, but 98% of the time, I have no idea how I’m getting to that plot point. Writing the next sentence is as new to me as it is for the reader to read that sentence.
What was the most challenging part of writing your latest book?
I sometimes wonder if I’m learning throughout the process of writing and bettering my work. In my mind, the act of writing isn’t enough. I want to make sure that I’m learning and producing better work than I have previously. When I have one of those ‘eureka’ moments, I add it to my writing checklist. But it can sometimes be difficult to apply all those mental checks as you’re cruising through the document. On several occasions I caught myself skimping on an important detail because I got caught up in the storytelling, forcing me to go back and do some rewriting and editing. With that said, as long as I’m applying everything I learn and the final product mimics that sentiment, you’ll need more than the delete key to wipe the smile off my face.
How did you come up with the title?
This is my favorite question that anyone can ever ask me, and also the one that gets me most excited. Because the answer is that I never come up with the title. There’s a popular anime that talks about “The Heart of the Cards.” This is essentially the philosophy I take with my books. I believe that somewhere, be it in the first paragraph, final chapter, or anywhere between, the book will tell you what the title should be. As odd as it will sound, I believe you need to listen to what the words are telling you. Long gone will be the days of stressing over the title!
Which of your books are you most proud of?
As it wouldn’t be silly of me to respond to this with “all of them”, that isn’t quite fair to question. While my baby is TSO as a whole, my readers respond extremely well to my other series which is referred to as The Goddess series. The Goddess series is of the light horror and supernatural flavor. If I had to put a stamp on one book, it would be Eternal Reign, the second and last book of the series.