In his brief sojourn on this mortal coil, J. F. Hussey has sailed the Caribbean, skied the Andes, sipped Champagne in Reims, swum with sharks, beaten Army, earned a Ph.D. and fathered multitudes. A man of letters and changer of diapers, he lives in suburban Maryland with his five children, where he rises well before the sun to pound – lovingly – on his keyboard before the chaos that is daylight ensues.
His writing reflects his wide interests and his abiding concern for the way modern life can crush the joie out of any vivre, and celebrates the heroic lengths to which some will go to reclaim their birthright to happiness.
What inspires you to write?
For me, writing in a need grown out of years of practice. After a dozen years in academia I transitioned to a civil service position where I also earn my bread writing – just reports, briefs, etc. instead of scholarly prose. It was quite natural, then, for me to seek a more lively outlet. Taking up fiction was far more appealing than picking up any of the academic work I had put down.
Tell us about your writing process.
Yes, I’m a planner. The germ of a story, though, grows organically. My first novel, for example, came of a book I’d read – Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Work Week – and from what I observed working in government. I imagined what it would be like to have served decades in this way and then suddenly realize that you had to escape. All the fear and doubt and excitement of that process. I added to that speculative process some research about that kind of transition process. From there, though, things got very systematic. I employed Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method of composition, starting with a single sentence describing the protagonist and his situation and then adding facets stage by stage: expanding that sentence to a five-word paragraph, that paragraph to a page, that page to four. In between drafting stages there is character development, with full sketches for all (major and minor), including point-of-view summary paragraphs. The process is exhaustive and time consuming, and makes getting up to write at 4:30 everyday a necessary discipline. But it works.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Can’t say I have, though I do play out scenes, but more like a director of the stage in my head than as a character.
What advice would you give other writers?
1- Write. “Wanna” gets you nothing.
2- Get Criticized. Learn to love having your darlings killed for you.
3- Market. As Russell Blake says, you’re an artist up the point you finish the book. Then you’re a businessman.
4- Write again. Don’t be a one-trick pony
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Advice from two writers led me to self-publishing. Early one morning on watch (think 2 am or so), a fellow Naval Reservist told me about her indie writing career, showed me her trailers, etc. I was intrigued, having “always wanted to write.” Here was a way to do that. Shortly thereafter, I got back in touch with a Naval Academy classmate – also an indie writer – who was about to publish his fifth novel and was contemplating pulling the plug on his day job. Sounded great to me. Said classmate – thriller fiction writer Steven Konkoly – did indeed pull that plug (and just in time for bragging rights at our 20th reunion), and has continued to advise me about the business and the life of writing.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I’m hopeful in the same way I’m hopeful about the music industry. Both seem to be slipping from the grasps of the gatekeepers.
What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Contemporary fiction, suburban fiction, entrepreneurial fiction
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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