A few weeks ago, I received a book review request email from someone unknown to me- J.M.Bush. After finding me on Twitter, and noticing I do book reviews, he sent me a personality packed email, and a request to read a free copy of his novel, Storm in Shanghai, for review. I agreed, and guess what? I’m so glad I did. Check out my review: Storm in Shanghai review.
Since the review, I have contacted J.M.Bush to see if he’d like to be a guest on my blog, and he agreed- yay! Today’s the day that I get to welcome him to my blog and introduce him to you lovely lot.
Storm in Shanghai is a fantasy novel set in present day, Shanghai. What inspired the narrative, and is fantasy your go to genre?
The story was inspired by my time living in Shanghai, China from 2011-2015. My wife was working at an international school, and I had given up my job in America as Claim Processor for State Farm Insurance to become a stay-at-home Dad as I was not allowed to work in China. Having been a musician for the past 20 years, playing in several different punk bands, I ended up forming a band in Shanghai. We played a lot, toured around China, released two albums, and were featured on National Chinese news to 1.5 billion viewers, so I had this kind of double life while living there. During the day I was a stay-at-home Dad, but at night I lived the life of a punk rock star, and those two lives had very little to do with one another. When I decided to write the book, I took that idea and wove magic into it because, yes, fantasy (and to a lesser degree) sci-fi are my go to genres.
How has living in China helped you with the drafting of Storm in Shanghai? It must have had great influence over your work.
I left China in 2015, and me and the family now live in Penang, Malaysia. The sequel to Storm in Shanghai will take place here; I made sure to set that up in the book! But my time in Shanghai absolutely helped with the sculpting of my book. In fact, many of the characters from the novel are based on the people from the Shanghai punk rock scene. On my facebook page I have recently been doing a character inspiration series, where I introduce the real life versions of the characters from the book.
Character development is an important feature in your novel. Could you describe your main character in 10 words or less?
Family man, mage, fast, son, selfless, funny, insubordinate, leader, hungry. Haha, I hope that wasn’t meant to be a complete sentence, If so, I totally cheated.
What experience, good or bad, stands out for you in the drafting or publishing process of your novel?
In drafting the novel, I learned that you’re not always as good as you think you are. After beta-reads, I recieved some harsh criticism. The story was good, but the book was to ‘explain-y’ one reader told me. He begged me to show him and not tell him why the characters were doing what they were doing, especially the Maelstrom. So, I went back and did several rewrites, which is where the flashback chapters came from for both Jaret and the Maelstrom. This really improved the way the book read as now you could follow both of the characters from their youth until the present day, and see their motivations for the wonderful or terrible things they have done. It was a great lesson- get multiple opinions and listen to your readers.
In the publishing arena, I learned that there are millions of people trying to do what I’m doing. They all want to get published and many of them write better than I do, write stories with more marketability than I do, or know the right people. After a year of queries, I had two full requests on this book. After a couple of months each, they passed. I had many partial requests, but those never panned out either. So, I made the decision to self publish. Many people think that self publishing your first novel is a mistake. They say that your first book probably isn’t good enough to publish. They say to just keep writing. But others, like Hugh Howey, say publish it. Self publish as many books as you can. Just keep writing. I prefer that advice.
What is your writing process? Structured or ‘as and when’? Plotter or pantser?
I come up with an idea, and sometimes jot down notes so as not to forget them. But when it comes time to write, I just sit down and let my fingers do the talking. I’ve explained it before like this- there is a movie playing in my mind as I write and I just type what is happening as fast as I can. I never pause to consider motivations or if this makes any sense. I just type as fast as I can to keep up with that movie in my head. The details got sorted out in editing and rewrites.
What advice would you give to an aspiring fantasy author? Is there anything you have learnt from your journey that you didn’t know when you set out?
Write something else, something that will sell. Hahaha! No, but seriously, some people will tell you to write what you want to read, and other people will tell you to write something marketable. My advice is do whatever makes you happy. If you want money, write with marketability in mind. If you have stories in your head and you want them out, write those. If you want to read a book about six dogs that can turn into cars and know karate, please write that… I want to read it.
Would you like to share a small excerpt from Storm in Shanghai? Pretty please…
What is next for J.M.Bush?
Keep writing! As much as possible. The family is in talks to return to America in late 2017, but nothing is final, yet.
Here’s your chance to pitch other books or upcoming works.
I have two manuscripts currently being edited and a third being written. One is a sci-fi lovestory set in my hometown in Alabama, and taking place in the not too distant future. The second one is a mixed genre fantasy/sci fi where in ancient times, human magic users from Earth travelled through time and space on wooden ships to arrive on a planet full of dwarves. Space travel, axes and hammers, magic, and same sex relationship between the two main characters… a dwarven warrior and a dwarven sorcerer. The third book is a non-fiction collection of the articles I have been writing about my international travels. Also, I have recently committed myself to participating in a 100 day project, where I will write one short story for 100 days. I’ll be posting them all on my Wattpad. Oh, and it’s about dwarves. I’m a big fan of the short yet sturdy race that lives under the mountain.
Thank you to JM.Bush for joining me today!
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Permission to use any excerpts, quotations, or content must be sought from the author, JM.Bush.