CA: How did you choose your pen name?
JR: My real name is John Rife. In my family, John is a heavily used name on both my mother and my father’s side, so I felt it better to use something closer to my nickname (JR).
CA: What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
JR: I write Fantasy primarily though I have composed other works. In my career outside of writing, I do a good bit of business and technical writing. I have been a fan of Fantasy since fourth grade. I had a desire to write since first grade, though I didn’t find my “theme” until I read a version of The Knights of the Round Table in the fourth grade. Since then, I’ve been drawn to all things fantasy.
Despite my commitment to fantasy, I have been doing some writing concerning paranormal or unexplained phenomena as seen in my latest work, Pennsylvania: A Paranormal Journey.
CA: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
JR: Though I had been writing since a very young age, I did not have the desire to be a professional writer until after High School. I was the lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter for the band Day of Wrath in 1998-1999 & again in 2000-2001. During both of these periods, I received a lot of positive feedback about my writing/lyrics. I still to this day (though admittedly they’re packed away somewhere) have letters from fans telling me how much my words meant to them and how I was able to inspire and encourage them. It was in 1998 that I seriously thought of writing full-time as a career and begin making notes of intended works.
Trying my hand at Hollywood, I answered a casting call for a major motion picture and attempted some B-movie success. This really slowed down my attempt at becoming a writer. I never made it to the B-movie screen and my Major Motion Picture part didn’t even result in a credited part. Instead I was reduced to an extra and in the end, all the scenes I was in were cut (unless you’re one to watch “deleted scenes” on your DVD Bonus Features menu).
For nearly a decade, I slowly put some of my works together and then in 2006, I just decided to “do it”. I had been out of the music business for a considerable amount of time so I wanted to explore my creative side again. In 2007 I saw the fruits of my labor in my first work, Lord of the Forrest. Since then, I have been doing some serious writing and getting better practiced in my craft.
CA: Who or what was your inspiration for writing?
JR: Each piece really is different in terms of where the inspiration comes from. I have a great affinity towards Welsh culture and legend. I believe that Stephen R. Lawhead is a master at bringing this culture into today’s mainstream. His use of the language and settings are incredible. Lawhead is a major inspiration to me. But aside from people, there are written works I am highly influenced by; classic standards such as The Mabinogion and Le Morte D'Arthur.
CA: What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
JR: It’s basically turn up the music and block everything out. If need be, I go to the local library with my laptop and MP3 player. When I’m on a project, I generally work 90 minutes a day for 5-6 days. I have become very disciplined in my work and schedule and rarely if ever stray from it.
This includes the research period, the writing period, and the review/edit period. The Braveheart soundtrack is usually on repeat in any of the processes. If I’m not in the mood for the instrumental stuff, I will listen to Extol, As I Lay Dying or even Blind Guardian.
CA: Your book is about to be sent into the reader world, what is one word that describes how you feel?
CA: What was your biggest challenge in writing your book(s)?
JR: Time. Even the 90 daily minutes I allot myself is not enough it seems. As with just about anyone else, my life is quite busy and I have a lot going on between my family, trying to come up with an income to support us all, and just some time to sit back and breathe.
CA: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
JR: When I’m not writing, I’m definitely “Dad”. I love my kids and I love being with them. They’re wonderful beyond words. And when the kids aren’t home, my wife and I like to get out and just be together. And when I’m not with anyone in my family, I’m usually playing Lego Star Wars II or Guitar Hero alone or with friends.
CA: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
JR: I’ve completed 3 books. My favorite is probably an unwritten book but as far as the completed ones go, Lord of the Forrest is my favorite. This is a book that can appeal to anyone; even those not fans of the genre. Many readers find the story comparable to that of the The Princess Bride as it shares many of the same elements and innocence.
CA: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
JR: It’s a combination of the both. The first book I wrote definitely had some characters translated out of my personal life; as well as an opportunity to kill off a few of my own demons. But in my works, real people may inspire the flow of the story more so than receiving their own portrayal in my works. For example, in Lord of the Forrest, there were many casualties on both sides of the good and evil coin. But around the time Lord of the Forrest was about to be released to the public, I lost someone very close to me. It is because of that loss that none of the heros in Sword of Jyr died. The loss of this person put a desire in me to really take out some of the loss and mourning that is quite often a major part of my writing. It was indeed a tribute to him and though his memory is still strong in me, my future works will be returning to my standard formula of epic drama.
CA: Do you have any advice for the aspiring writers out there?
JR: Writing is definitely not for the weak. There are many failing and disconcerting moments. If you can survive those moments, then you are already a success regardless of how many copies you sell.
CA: How can a reader contact you or purchase your books?
JR: I now use MySpace as my home page. All my published works can be found at www.myspace.com/jrifefiction .
Lord of the Forrest and Sword of Jyr are published by PublishAmerica and are available at nearly every on-line retailer and at any stores where I do signings.
Pennsylvania: A Paranormal Journey is only available for purchase through Lulu as it is a self-published work.
Just go to my home page on MySpace and you can hyperlink to wherever you need to make your purchase just by clicking on a book cover.
Email contact is: email@example.com
CA: Is there anything you would like to add?
JR: Yes… Crystal, my sincerest thanks to you for putting this together and supporting writers everywhere!
CA: You’re very welcome John, and Thank you for being part of my interviews with authors. There really need to be more dads out there that spend time with their families like you do :P