July 14, 2013

Author Interview with J. L. Petty

[Picture by Bokka

Hi J. L. Petty, first of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself. 
I published my first book “Death and the Journalist” with Solstice Publishing last year.  My stories range in contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy fiction. Over the years, I’ve written for various magazines and have been featured as an author in several anthologies. Most recently, my work has appeared in Screem Magazine’s November issue.  I’ve also contributed a short fiction piece to Dark media online. It is called “Malice”. 

I discovered a love for writing at an early age.  As a sophomore in college, I started working as a contributor for The Virginian Pilot Newspaper. After working with the local newspaper in my hometown, I began a career in entertainment journalism; which I loved.
A few years later, I switched careers and worked for Congress. As of right now, I am currently finishing up a Masters degree and I reside in Virginia. I just wrote a short story called “The Glass Eye”. It is featured in Fear: A modern anthology of Horror and Terror. International Best Selling authors Peter James and Sherri Browning Erwin wrote the forewords to this anthology. It was released in October for charity.   
What do you think makes your genre special? 
I think horror is special because it can be diverse.  Most people aren’t afraid of the same thing. Some people are afraid of ghosts, others are afraid of monster men, and some people are afraid of the unknown.  I like my genre because with every story I write I am able to challenge myself as a writer and tell the story in a way that I think will invoke fear in the majority of my readers. 
What do you think makes a great story?
I think that a story line that is relatable to readers makes a great story.  When my readers read my stories, I want them to feel a sense of fear because they relate to the character in some way. My style of writing is more modern. I wouldn’t write a story about a haunted mansion or a haunted castle… I would probably choose an apartment or something that is relatable to my readers. I think the scariest movies and books are ones that people can relate to in some way or ones that they feel could actual happen to them in real life. 
What is your latest book called and could you explain to us in 20 words what it is about?
Death and the journalist is about a journalist who has a showdown with the grim reaper after a horrible plane crash. The main character’s first instinct is to try and cheat death.  
Which kind of reader do you think will enjoy your book?
I think horror and gore fans will be attracted to my book. I was going for a young adult audience. 
Is it a Standalone, or part of the series? If it the latter, how long do you think will it go on?
For now, Death and the journalist is a standalone project.  If anything, I would like to write a prequel for my book someday. I think it would be more interesting, because I would like to tell my story from the perspective of the grim reaper. I think that would be cool. 
What influenced or inspired you writing it?
I have always had a fascination with unsolved mysteries and unsolved crimes. I was inspired to write Death and the journalist from a newspaper article I read online about a famous writer that disappeared in a plane crash. I think it was in the 1970’s. His body was never found. My story is actually based on a true story. I fictionalized certain elements for entertainment purposes.  
Why did you choose especially this title? Was it your first choice?
Death and the journalist was my first choice. I chose this title because of its symbolism. I don’t think readers know that the “Death” part is actually about the Grim Ripper. I think that initially readers associate the “Death” part of the title with the plane crash; where all the passengers have all died accept the journalist. Contrary to that belief, the story doesn’t hit its climax until after the plane crash. 
What was the hardest part for you working on your book?
The hardest part about working on this book was describing the death scene where the bodies are littered everywhere near the crash site.  I had to use a lot of expressive and graphic vocabulary.  It was hard to paint that picture because I wanted to invoke suspense all at the same time.  Also, I had to make sure that it was accurate too. So I did a lot of research about what happens to a corpse when it begins to rot and how long it takes. I had to research what old blood smells like.  
Showing vs. Telling is always a difficult thing for most writers. It’s always easiest to just tell a story. But what makes the book more compelling is showing and painting a picture for readers. It’s almost like you want them to read the scene and feel like they are right there with the main character. 
Was there a scene that you didn’t want to add or remove in your finished work?
Overall, I was very happy with the outcome of this book. Every scene that was written in the first manuscript of this book was used; I was extremely happy to see the final product. 
Do you already know what to do next?
Yes, I have plans to continue writing in the short fiction market. I hope to someday write horror for children. That is goal of mine.  I think that right now, the writing market is more accepting of supernatural books; especially with the success of Twilight and Harry Potter. So I think I will eventually lean towards that market. I’ve always stuck to horror, but I think may start experimenting with my writing in different genres.  However, I don’t think I will ever completely abandon the horror market altogether.  I will always be a fan at heart. 
Where can we find more about you and your books?
I am currently in the process of redesigning my new author website that should be coming out spring of 2013. It is under construction.  Just the other day I took professional photos for it. For now, any updates will be posted on www.deathandthejournalist.com . This is the best way to find out about my new website coming out in the spring/ summer; which will be advertising more of my work. Also, I have a biography page on Good reads. 
Any last words?
I really enjoyed writing this story and I hope readers enjoy it as well.  Death and the Journalist is bold, creative, and artistically diverse. Readers can purchase my book online at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.  
Short Story: Death and the Journalist
The flight attendant faced the passengers. Over the roar of the engine, she spoke in a firm voice with a hint of quiver, “We are going to be okay, please put your oxygen masks on,” then she sat down and buckled her seat belt. The fat man and I were still standing. Grimacing at my cramping hands, I kept my grip on the black metal bar.
In the midst of the now-panicked passengers sat one woman, calmly flipping the pages of her Cosmopolitan magazine and taking occasional sips of her Pepsi. She seemed so calm and serene; I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She had long black hair and her face was like that of a fashion model or actress. She was wearing a black dress and needed no jewelry to define her long ivory-colored neck. This woman had the whitest skin. Her limbs were long. She seemed to ignore everything around her and was patiently waiting for the plane to crash.
As though she felt me staring at her, she turned to look at me. Gooseflesh popped up all over my skin when I looked into her cold gray eyes, then shifted my eyes to the ground. I could smell the heavy smoke rising from the engines I stared at the rain drops that splattered against the exit window. Smoke drifted into the cabin of the plane. Amazon

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