|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on September 29, 2016 at 1:25 PM|
ROC-Arts Q&A Exclusive!
Jeff Minerd Wise Cracks About Butt Cracks, Gets Serious About Writing
By Christine G. Adamo for ROC-Arts.com
Buy one copy of The Sailweaver's Son (above) for yourself, one for a friend and, heck, one for the kid next door!
Wanna rub elbows with a local celebrity? (Hey, so did we!)
Wanna meet a bestselling author before his head swells to the size of a mysterious gas bubble high above Etherium? Then meet Rochester-based Jeff Minerd on Fri., Sept. 30, at 7pm. He'll sign your copy of his novel The Sailweaver’s Son at the Mall at Greece Ridge Barnes & Noble. If you prefer an afternoon meet-and-greet, catch him once again on Sat., Oct. 8, starting at 2pm—when he’ll be at the Webster Towne Center B&N. Tell him we said, “Hi!” while you’re at it.
First, get the inside scoop! Learn what Minerd thinks about inspiration, writing and butt cracks. (Yes, butt cracks!)
ROC-Arts: If we’re not mistaken, your son inspired the writing of The Sailweaver's Son. If so, how? If not, what did?
Local Author Jeff Minerd: In a way, he did. My book started with a dream.
I dreamt that Noah and I were writing a story together. We were taking turns writing it, but it wasn’t going well. We were struggling. It wasn’t coming together. It may have partly been an anxiety dream about my relationship with my son. I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like. Anyway, when I woke up I couldn’t remember the story we'd tried to write—but one vivid image stayed in my head: three kids sailing a sailboat through the sky. The image persisted. Lying there, in bed, I started to think about the kind of fantasy world in which you could sail a boat through the sky.
Soon the world of Etherium came to me and then the story. It was as if it downloaded itself into my head that night. Not all the details but the broad strokes: the characters, the creatures, the main plot points, the key scenes. I never had an experience like that before. A short time later, I sat down and wrote the first scene. The book progressed from there. Noah was 10 when I started writing it. He’s now 14 and just started his freshman year of high school. Writing and publishing a book takes a long time!
I recently had the pleasure of giving Noah a copy of the finished book. Of course, it’s dedicated to him.
ROC-Arts: The Sailweaver's Son is billed as Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Yet, we’ve read it multiple times. (It's that good!) It's appeals to readers of other genres—and generations. Why is that?
Jeff Minerd: I wonder if I truly wrote a YA novel or just wrote a novel in which the main character happens to be 15.
When I was working on it, I tried to write the kind of Fantasy Adventure story I would enjoy reading. My audience was definitely me. At least, in part, so maybe that’s why adults as well as kids enjoy it? On Amazon, reviewers who’ve said nice things about the book run the gamut from a 4th-grade girl to a middle-aged man. Parents, in particular, like The Sailweaver’s Son because the hero—unlike most young Fantasy heroes—actually has parents. Yet, typically, the Sci Fi/Fantasy protagonist is an orphan.
This has held true for Frodo Baggins, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter and countless others. It makes the character more sympathetic and simplifies the story, making it easier for writers to get their young heroes into adventures. I didn’t feel like following that well-worn path, so I tried going in a different direction. My main character, Tak, has loving parents who play a part in his story. Adults who have kids enjoy that aspect of the book, as well.
ROC-Arts: The Sailweaver's Son has gotten rave reviews at GoodReads, Amazon, etc. How does that make you feel?
Jeff Minerd: The short, honest answer is? Relieved!
While advance copies were out there in reviewers’ hands and I was waiting for reviews to come in, I was a wreck. It made me feel extremely vulnerable to have my work out there and open to criticism. I had myself convinced that no one would like the book.I envisioned public humiliation. So, when the first reviews came in and they were positive, I was overwhelmingly relieved. Since then that relief has changed to exhilaration and gratitude.
I’m pleased beyond words that people have enjoyed and connected with the book.
ROC-Arts: Our readers are curious. You have family in Rochester, NY, but have traveled/lived elsewhere, haven’t you?
Jeff Minerd: I grew up in Rochester, my dad worked for Xerox and I always loved the arts and culture here.
That includes Writers & Books, The Little Theatre and the RPO. They were and remain a few of my favorites, so I am very glad to be back here after spending a few decades away. I spent a year in Roanoke, VA, getting an MA in Creative Writing at Hollins College. After that I lived in Baltimore and Washington (DC). I worked for a nonprofit called The Writer’s Center. I did that for many years. It’s the DC counterpart to Writers & Books here in Rochester.
I was also on staff at The Futurist magazine for a while and then became a medical writer for the National Institutes of Health. I liked living both places. They’re great cities with a lot to offer, but I liked Baltimore better. It’s a wonderfully quirky and unpretentious place. On the streets of DC? You see a lot of power suits. On the streets of Baltimore? You see a lot of butt cracks.
ROC-Arts: A comedian, too? Nice! What other fiction works have you published? Nonfiction? How long have you been writing?
Jeff Minerd: I started to get serious about fiction writing when I was in my 20s.
I loved short stories and I wanted to be the next great American short story writer. But, to be honest, my work back then just wasn’t that great. It wasn’t bad, necessarily. I managed to publish a couple of stories in The North American Review. One of them, “Stepping Off,” is about an aging jazz musician. It won a prestigious award.
But, overall, I didn’t have the vision or the voice to be a truly great short story writer. As I got older, I had to let go of that dream and turn to science and medical writing to make a living. I didn’t write fiction for more than a decade and wasn’t planning on writing fiction ever again. Then one night—completely unexpectedly, as I already described—the story of The Sailweaver’s Son just came to me.
ROC-Arts: Stephen King says that's good, in On Writing. Now a bonus question! How 'bout a bit of advice for other writers?
Jeff Minerd: This is advice I wish I’d received and followed.
Writers tend to be loners and introverts, but it’s important to get out there and network. Make human connections. Let people know who you are and what you’re doing. Many publishing success stories I’ve heard involve an unknown writer being noticed and helped by someone more established. So, go to conferences. Join groups. Meet people.
I recently joined the Rochester Area Children’s Writers and Illustrators group. RACWI is a wonderful collection of people, ranging from unpublished writers to well-published and well-established authors. I didn’t have any connections, when I began trying to get The Sailweaver’s Son published. My book had to slug it out in the slush piles with all of the other books by unknown and unconnected writers.
Mostly? It lost the fight.
ROC-Arts: Well, people are gonna be fighting to get a copy of The Sailweaver’s Son. Well done, Jeff.
Meet The Sailweaver's Son Author Jeff Minerd (photo: Heather Lee).
A review of Minerd’s book The Sailweaver’s Son was recently featured in the Democrat & Chronicle. Christine Green, writing for the D&C, called it “a fun-filled, steampunk adventure perfect for the (Sci-Fi) buff in everyone.” Check out the full review here, in the paper’s Lifestyle literary column. Meet him on Fri., Sept. 20, or Sat., Oct. 8, where you can pick up your own copy of the book.
Then post your own thoughts about The Sailweaver's Son in the comments below.