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Monday, 23 August 2010

Interview with Jake Webber, Author

Lafitte's Black BoxImage by stuartaken via FlickrA lifelong resident of Louisiana, Jake Webber enjoys researching and studying history. He attended Louisiana State University and is a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe. His professional background is in the medical field. He is married and lives in Baton Rouge with his wife and two children. Jake is an avid reader who loves a good story. He also loves history. In his first novel, he combines the two loves for an interesting adventure.

SA: Tell us about Lafitte’s Black Box in a few sentences.
JW: Lafitte's Black Box is an action/adventure set in New Orleans aimed at teens and young adults. Discovering a box that has been buried for two centuries, a young boy finds himself on a quest for Lafitte's treasure through modern day New Orleans. Since moving to the Big Easy, Deveraux Parker has had a hard time fitting in and finding friends, but as events unravel, he makes some unsavory pals and begins an unexpected adventure taking him to the oldest and most mysterious places in old New Orleans.

SA:   What qualities do you need to be a successful writer?
JW: Imagination, patience, tenacity, and self determination. I think a keen eye that sees things in people and situations that other people maybe don't see. Small things or odd eccentricities that may be beneath the surface that can be incorporated into characters or stories.

SA:.  What is your working method?
JW: Initially, a rough outline of the story, character development by writing a few paragraphs about them...their personality, look, fears, insecurities, desires, etc.  Research of places, people, time period, etc. Then I close my eyes and imagine the scene and write. Review and rewrite.

SA:  What is the single biggest mistake made by beginners to writing?
JW: Possibly not putting enough research into the story or into the story's setting.  Maybe poor character development as well.

SA:    How did you come to write this particular book?
JW:  Lafitte's Black Box came to me literally during a night of insomnia. I began to imagine ways to fall asleep and the premise of the book came to my mind. My main character is pulled back in time through a dream. I mentioned to my wife that I wish someone would write a book as I described what I had imagined. My wife suggested to me that I should write it. The next morning, I thought to myself, why not and began researching writing and my central character and setting.

SA:    If you have a favourite character in your novel, why that particular one?
JW: Gaston, the pirate that Devereaux befriends is my favorite. He has the look of a killer but a heart of gold. I actually wished I would have developed him a bit more. I can see him coming  back later in the series.

SA:    How can people buy your book?
JW: My book is available on Amazon, Kindle, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes and Noble, and most Internet book sites. Many independent bookstores have it as well as some Barnes and Noble and Borders. Many of the stores will order it as well if you ask. It's also available on my publishers site, http://www.llumina.com/store/lafittesblackbox.htm.

SA:  To what extent are grammar and spelling important to a writer?
JW: I think to a great extent. Certainly, an editor and publisher will correct those, although some errors slip through. I believe a writer could lose some credibility. Hooray for spell check.

SA:    How much revision of your MS do you do before you send it off?
JW: As much as I can and feel comfortable before sending it off. I'll reread it and rewrite many times.

SA:  Where and when is your novel set and why did you make these specific choices?
JW: Lafitte's Black Box is set in New Orleans both in the present and in the early 1800's. My central character, Jean Lafitte, lived there and during that time. I think New Orleans is a mysterious and interesting place. I wanted to teach a little history of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans to the reader.

SA: To what extent do you think genre is useful in the publishing world?
JW: It helps classify and define a work. Writers and story's can be grouped and placed. It's useful for the publisher to target writers, audiences, advertising, etc. As soon as you think of an idea for a story, you will begin looking at who your audience will be. You will think to yourself, what kind of story is this. So to answer your question, I think in the publishing world it is very useful.

SA:  What are your writing habits?
JW: Writing is new to me. I like to write short stories. I am my worst critic and will get frustrated and not write for awhile. I am currently writing the follow up to Lafitte's Black Box. I have the third in mind to write afterwards for at least a three part series.

SA:  How do you know where to begin any given story?
JW: I think each story is different. Each story is special. The beginning usually comes to me and I let it take me to where it leads. Sometimes that is to a dead end, but sometimes it can me magical.

SA:  What sort of displacement activities keep you from actually writing?
JW: My real job is a distraction.  That is sort of a joke, but it puts food on the table. I have a hard time writing at home. There is always too much going on around me which makes it too hard to focus on my writing. Finding those quiet moments are a gem and those moments have to be taken before they are gone.

SA:  Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group?
JW: My family is my biggest support. My wife and my mother are a great support. I bounce things off my father as well. He has been very supportive. My friends have shown an interest as well.

SA: Is presentation of the MS as important as most agents and publishers suggest?
JW: Absolutely. It must be done professionally and must look professional. Shabby presentation or any presentation not done by the guidelines put out will be ignored or worse remembered by the agent or publisher.

SA: How long does it normally take you to write a novel?
JW: My only published novel took a year to write from pen to paper until I put a period on the last sentence. But that doesn't include the first and second revision. My second is taking me longer however.

SA: What are your inspirations? 
JW: I have many small inspirations here and there. My family, wife, and kids are an inspiration. Just looking at this beautiful world around me that God made inspires me. People or strangers may inspire me on any given day. I am inspired by other writers and their works. Some writers that have inspired me are Ernest Hemingway, Irwin Shaw, and Stephen King. 

SA:   If there’s a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it?
JW: I don't know if it is one thing or another but I'll have moments where I have total writer's block. There will be no writing during that time. It may last a week, two weeks, or more.

SA:   Do you think writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?
JW: I think there are writers that are wonderfully and naturally gifted. I also think that some writers maybe aren't so gifted but they can develop and become really good. Some people discover that they are natural writers and those people, with practice, can become great writers.

SA:  What are you writing now?
JW: As mentioned above, I am writing my second novel which is actually a follow up, or second in a series to the first. I am using the same premise the first used. It will take place in a different time and place but will still have my main character and friends in it. I will introduce some new characters in this next book. It will follow with a third.

SA: Is there any aspect of writing that you really enjoy?
JW: I enjoy when I really sit down and the story comes flowing out of me, usually faster than I can type. At those times I don't worry about grammar or sentence structure. I'm just trying to get the story out as fast as I can before that moment is gone.  I worry about fixing the grammar and those things later. To me, that is the best part of writing.

SA:   Do you have a website or a blog that readers can visit?
JW: I have a blog that I would encourage your readers to visit. I started this blog to give a little background on my book. I show the reader the places in the book with photographs and give the reader a little history of the places as well. The blog link is: http://lafittesblackbox.blogspot.com/

SA: Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?
JW: A small place away from the home. I would like a small office near some shops and cafes. I write better away from home, somewhere quiet. The cafes would be a nice place to go and people watch, relax, gather my thoughts, and go back and write.
 
SA:  Where do you actually write?
JW: Early in the morning


Word of the Day is divorced from the post that precedes it and produced in response to a request from a follower to provide just such a service.
Word of the Day; lyrical – enthusiastic, effusive language. ‘In order to enliven the talk on accountancy, Gerald expressed his thoughts in lyrical language, but most of the audience fell asleep anyway.’

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