Monday, December 2, 2013

J. E. Hopkins, The Saffron Falcon

AUTHOR: J. E. Hopkins
BOOK TITLE: The Saffron Falcon
GENRE: Fantasy
PUBLISHER: Unseen Worlds Publishing

Please tell us about yourself.

I'm a retired business guy living in the Cincinnati area with my wife of 42 years and two demon cats, Boron and Carbon. I've helped engineer softer toilet paper, develop soy-based products that tasted better than 100% beef, and create healthcare software systems.

Please tell us your latest news.

I've just published my second novel, The Saffron Falcon. The Saffron Falcon is the second novel in an ongoing series that uses what I call "Transition magic" to explore the unique challenges faced by adolescents as they reach adulthood.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I write full time, most days of the week. I spend a couple of hours each morning working with social media to promote my work and attending to any of "business issues." After that, I'll write for as many hours as I need to produce one or two thousands words. I tend to edit as I go, but I also spend time each day going back over previous writing to give it another polish. I also work with a professional editor as I go, so many days I spend time incorporating her feedback. My days are pretty full.

When and why did you begin writing?

I write because I love it. But my day job made all but the most casual writing pretty much impossible. Within a week of retirement I joined an online writing workshop that forced me into the habit of writing a couple thousand words a week and that helped me learn how to use criticism to improve my work. Much of what I did during the workshop will never see the light of day, but that structured program helped me jumpstart my "third career" and got me started on the path to my first novel.

What are your thoughts about promotion?

I'm self-published, so marketing and promotion are essential if I want to get my writing discovered--which I do. I work daily to build a Twitter following (now 13,000+ followers of @jhopkinsbooks) and have contracted with a couple of professional organizations to help promote my books. Progress is slow, but measurable and steady.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I've never been stuck for long periods of time and unable to think of what to write. On the other hand, I've created multiple situations for my characters that I don't know how to get them out of. When that happens, I stop for a while (maybe a few hours; maybe a couple of days) to do some brainstorming for a solution and to think about the implications with respect to the other plots in the book. These kinds of challenges can be tough, but they're fun to work through and result in a better novel.

What are your current projects?

I'm writing a third novel that's set in the same world as The Scarlet Crane and The Saffron Falcon. I expect the third book to be published in early summer, 2014.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
  • Twitter: @jhopkinsbooks
  • Facebook:
  • Amazon Author Page:
  • LinkedIn: 
What genre do you write in and why?

My books are fantasy, because they contain magic. But we're not talking Harry Potter here -- "Transition magic" is a small but critical element that triggers questions of life and death, freedom and security. My books have the gritty texture and pace of dark thrillers.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

            The Saffron Falcon is a dark fantasy-thriller. It takes place in our world in the near future. Children can use Transition magic for one month as they approach puberty, but they must use certain ritual words and the magic must be unique. If it doesn’t meet these requirements, the child doesn’t make it to adulthood. Few children attempt to use their power because the danger is too great, and most who do use it, die.
            Life in the book can be tough. Favorite characters can and do die. Children can and do die. Magic wouldn't be very interesting if kids could use it with impunity. Some manage to find a way, but that's the rare exception.
            The Saffron Falcon features two parallel stories: in one, United States security agents try to recover an ancient codex that would eliminate Transition magic’s uniqueness requirement. If they fail, dark magic will be unleashed on the world. At the same time, the book tells individual stories of children throughout time who have used Transition magic to save themselves or someone they love.
            The book contains touches of humor even in its darkest moments and blends the suspense-filled pace of a fantasy thriller with a sensitive real-world portrayal of the challenges of growing up.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?

I wrote the The Saffron Falcon to explore several themes:
·      How abuse, poverty, and neglect affect adolescents today
·      The balance between individual freedom and government security
·      Stories of hope despite seemingly insurmountable circumstances 
·      Long-term consequences of disruptive forces around the world

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?

Two books are available now, in paperback and ebook formats, both on Amazon: The Scarlet Crane and The Saffron Falcon. Book #3 will be available in early summer, 2014.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?

I'd offer the same advice I've seen suggested by many others, but which I've come to believe is one of the few truths of writing: find time to write every day. And to this I'd add: get feedback from non-family and friends. It's the only way to sharpen your skills. 

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