Hello Jeff, please tell us about you, as a writer.
Well, I started writing several years ago, when I was at the point in my life that I wanted to reinvent myself. I started putting one word in front of enough until a novel appeared.
I enjoy writing a variety of fiction, ranging from pre and post-apocalyptic stories, to children's stories and cyber-warfare. The Great Collapse-Survivors of the Pulse, which came out in 2010, was the first in the Survivors of the Pulse series, a story about the collapse of civilization when electricity is lost across the planet, permanently. The series concludes in The Dark Age-Survivors of the Pulse, which is set five-hundred years in the future, when men once more depend on swords, bows, and arrows to survive. My last novel, The Last Prophet, is a fictional story based on the book of Revelation in the Bible, and is written in the first person from the perspective of the prophet.
Your latest books are The Dark Age and The Last Prophet; perhaps you’d you give us some insight into it in a few sentences?
The Dark Age and The Last Prophet were released within two weeks of one another. The Dark Age is a post-apocalyptic novel in which humanity struggles to rebuild civilization and break free from five-hundreds of darkness. The Last Prophet is a story set at the end of days, when a man named John March, is called to proclaim that the end of the world is at hand, and to warn mankind about the Beast.
How did you come to write this particular book?
Although it was the second of my three novels to be published, The Dark Age was written first. I've always wondered what we humanity would do without it's vast and increasingly complex technology. In The Dark Age, not only must humanity live without modern technology, they must live without the benefit of thousands of years of ancient technology as well, since it was also lost when civilization fell apart during The Great Collapse.
In regards to The Last Prophet, I have always wanted to write a book based on the book of Revelation. There is such rich imagery and fantastic characters that I felt it was worth writing another novel about. This time however, I wrote it from the perspective of the prophet, a weak and fallible man who, like the rest of us, is riddled with self-doubt.
Do you have a favourite character from the book? If so, who and why this particular one?
I have several characters I really like in each book. My favorite character in The Dark Age would probably be the protagonist, Ferrell Young, and the antagonist, Kraken. The story would not be quite what it is without either.
With The Last Prophet, I'd have to say that one of my favorite characters was the wife of John March, Lara. She was always supportive of her husband throughout his journey, and demonstrates just how strong she is when he dies.
Where can people buy your books?
The Dark Age and The Last Prophet are available from the publisher, Amazon, and most major bookstores.
What qualities does a writer need to be successful?
I think there are three qualities that a writer must possess to be successful; imagination, belief in oneself, and a thick skin. First, a novelist must have an imagination that create a world replete with fictitious places, people, and events. Second, a writer must be confident enough and believe in oneself enough to carry them through when naysayers, including those closest to them, try to dissuade them (often with good intentions), from pursuing their dream of a writing career. Lastly, a successful writer must be thick-skinned enough that when their work is slammed by critics (which it will be), they do not fold and abandon their dream.
What’s your working method?
I tend to start with a rough idea of a story. Then, as I write more the plot and the characters begin to develop. Then I start to develop more of a formal outline that helps build more structure for the remainder of the book.
What’s the single biggest mistake made by beginner writers?
I don't honestly know. From my own mistakes, I can say that I was way too naïve about the challenges around getting published. I was even more naïve about the amount of marketing that would be necessary to sell books. Like many others, I'm still waiting to see how successful my efforts will be.
To what extent are grammar and spelling important in writing?
I look like grammar and spelling as necessary evils. They have little to do with developing and telling an exciting story, but you cannot do so without them. While they do not make a book a bestseller, poor spelling and grammar certainly can sink one.
How much do you revise your MS before sending it off?
At first it was nowhere nearly as polished as it should have been. Now, I try to get it as polished as I can before sending it in. It's a lot easier to make changes before it enters the editing process.
As a writer of Christian fiction, to what extent do you think genre is useful in the publishing world?
I think the genre is far too underappreciated. I believe that human beings seem to have an innate interest in the supernatural, but I believe that the market has been saturated with the Twilights and Harry Potters for the last five to ten years.
Regardless, I believe that if I can write good, quality, entertaining Christian fiction, there is a huge market for it.
Many authors see marketing as a bind. What's your opinion on this, and how do you deal with it?
I can certainly understand and appreciate that many authors don’t like the marketing side and to be honest, I'm not sure we are the most qualified. Until we achieve some substantial recognition however, it is up to us or the publisher to market the author and the book.
What sort of displacement activities keep you from writing?
My day job. For the time being, I do most of my writing at night and on weekends.
What support, if any, do you receive from family and friends, writing group, or dedicated professionals?
My family and friends have been very important, particularly when I first launched my writing career. I continue to have significant support from both, which I appreciate very much.
Is presentation of the MS as important as agents and publishers suggest?
Absolutely. As with grammar and spelling, it doesn’t make the book successful, it keep it from getting published.
How long does it take you to write a novel?
That largely depends on how much time I have available to put into it. Typically it takes from six months to a year.
Who or what inspires your writing?
God, Life, both…I don't really know for sure. Subject matter that I am either familiar with or have an interest in is important.
If there’s a single aspect of writing you find frustrating, what is it?
With me it's the dotting of the "i" and the crossing of the "t" that comes once the rough draft is finished that is the most frustrating, that and the marketing.
Is there a particular feature of writing that you really enjoy?
I really enjoy the pure creativity of the writing process. As an author, I get to create a world, populate it with people and places, what could be more fun then that?
Do you believe creative writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?
Both. While people are sometimes born with an innate creativity, it takes time and practice to develop as an artist.
What are you writing now?
My current project is children's novel, a mixture of Chronicles of Narnia, Pilgrim's Progress, and science-fiction.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can visit?
Yes. I am listing them below.
Author Jeff Horton's website- www.hortonlibrary.com
Given unlimited resources, where would you do your writing?
Sometimes outside by the pool, sometimes on a yacht, other times in a quiet study.
Where do you actually write?
In my living room, believe it or not.