Friday, March 9, 2012

Interview with William G. Jones author of Driving to BelAir

Today I'm lucky to offer you an interview with William G. Jones, who is the author of the novella Driving to BelAir!

Information on purchasing Driving to BelAir is available on William's website. A link to that site is at the bottom of this article.

Book Blurb for Driving to BelAir:
When Dale turned his back on his past, who could blame him? One brother is a jealous alcoholic who wants to kill him, the other is a manchild whose entire life revolves around getting high. Even the girl he wanted to marry chose the sleepy Indiana farm town where they grew up over him.

When he moved away, he never thought he'd see any of them again. Boy, was he wrong.

After his father dies, Dale returns home for what he thinks will be a speedy funeral. Instead, he's asked to go on a road trip with his brothers and his still-bitter ex-fiancé to scatter his father's ashes at the old BelAir resort in Florida. Tagging along are his high-maintenance girlfriend and a pee-happy poodle.

Everything that can go wrong does, sometimes tragically, sometimes hilariously.

Is it the road trip from hell? Or one last chance to make things right again?

William, thank you for stopping by my blog today and sharing your thoughts with me and my readers. Ready for some questions? Here we go!

If you could work with any author, who would it be?

I really don’t know, because once an author (or actor, or singer, etc.) becomes famous, we tend to create personas for them. Inevitably, the meeting of real and fantasy results in something of a disappointment—for all parties involved, I think. On the other hand, I’m convinced some of the greatest writers of our generation are screenwriters, and I’d love the opportunity to be mentored by someone who has broken into the hyper-competitive world of Hollywood.

Who is your favorite author and is your writing style similar to theirs?

I have several authors competing for my favorite. Shirley Jackson, Graham Greene, Michael Snyder, Nicholas Sparks, Tim Sanders—I’m a notoriously fickle reader. If my writing style is similar to any of theirs, it’s not a concious decision on my part and I’m not aware of it.

What is your favorite part of a book?

I’m going to say the ending, because there are so many books I can’t make it through to the ending of. I’d say I never reach the ending of 75% or more of the books I start—I’m a terrible reader, I know.

When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?

Usually my character names come to me right about the same time their physical appearance does. I’ve never really thought about it before, I guess I just use names that fit the faces I see in my mind. 

What is your inspiration? Or who is?

Great stories are my inspiration. When I read a book or see a movie and it transports me to an emotional place, that’s what inspires me to write. Part of it is my own desire to create that experience for myself, but mostly it’s to create that experience for others.

Do you use real-life facts based on true stories?

I don’t necessarily base stories as a whole on true events, but I do try to weave in lots of little true events to make my fictional world more believable. I try to write stories that could happen in real life, and I try to make the characters relatable as people we’ve all known at some point in our lives.

Do you use your OWN experiences?

My writing is full of my own experiences. Sometimes the funnest or scariest things in my writing are taken from my own experience.

Did you think you would ever become an author?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since Kindergarten, and I’ve felt like I would be one ever since sixth grade. So yes.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

My best ideas start as stray thoughts. Most of my stories start out as a scene I see in my head or a situation I feel compelled to, and then the story just evolves from there.

Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to publish?

Yes, my first novel. I’ve been working on it for more than twelve years. I love the characters, I love the story itself, but I’ve never been able to make it all work.

How long did it take you to publish your first book, after you started trying?

I’ve never gotten a traditional contract. Last year, I began writing DRIVING TO BELAIR with the express intent of self-publishing it.

Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?

I started writing DRIVING TO BELAIR as a screenplay in late ‘07 or early ‘08. My dad has a restored ‘56 Chevy hardtop, and I’ve always loved that car. It’s funny how different cars from that era are from cars today, and how spoiled we are to modern conveniences. So that was the general idea beyond the story—I wanted my characters to take a road trip in a ‘50s-era car. I also loved a movie called WITHOUT A PADDLE, how it was this goofy adventure comedy centered around a tragedy, and the juxtaposition worked so well in the movie, I wanted to try it in my book as well.

How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children's books, etc.)?

Most of my writing was thriller or horror up until I started writing DRIVING TO BELAIR. I never really thought about it as a genre-shift. In screenwriting, it’s not uncommon for a writer to follow up a thriller or horror with a children’s story or a romantic comedy. There’s no attachment to genre in Hollywood. So, as I wrote the screenplay for DRIVING TO BELAIR, I was simply telling a story that I thought would make a good movie. When I adapted it to book form, I just labeled it as literary fiction.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Honestly, not a whole lot. I grew up right off U.S. Highway 41, which stretches from Michigan to Miami. So for the book, I wanted to make sure the route they took would actually get them from Louisville to Belaire Beach in Florida. Otherwise, I wrote what I knew. I had a ruptured disc in my back and was pretty much immobile from January through June of last year, when I wrote three-fourths of the book, so it was pretty much me and my computer. Any research I did was no more glamorous than a Google search.

What is a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?

I don’t keep a schedule, and because of it, I really don’t feel like a responsible adult. I do my best writing at night but I’m too tired to write at night anymore, so I end up doing most of my writing first thing in the morning with my laptop in my bed. Once I get up for breakfast, the day is shot until the sun goes down.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?


What is the best thing about being an author?

For me, it’s a release. I love concocting stories and letting the characters live in my head. Once the story is done and out there, I feel a nice sense of closure. 

What are you working on now?

I’m rewriting my first novel, hopefully for the last time.

What advice would you give aspiring writers? 

I honestly think any writer should write at least four stand-alone novels before they even think about publishing their work, either through self-publishing or through traditional channels.

Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?

My favorite novel is THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson. It’s the only novel I’ve ever read that genuinely freaked me out (though THE SHINING had its moments too). Graham Greene’s THE END OF THE AFFAIR is close behind, as is Truman Capote’s BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s THE GREAT GATZBY. I also love MY NAME IS RUSSELL FINK by Michael Snyder, several of Nicholas Sparks’ earlier novels (I think I’ve read THE NOTEBOOK up through THE GUARDIAN), and I’m pretty sure the last novel I really loved was Sara Gruen’s WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. I tell you one book I hated was Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, but I forced myself through it. 

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?

I’m gonna be honest here, I got nothin’.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?


Again, thank you so much for talking to us today William. I know I look forward to reading Driving to Belair! How about you readers? Does it sound good to you?

About William G. Jones

William G. Jones is a University of Kentucky alumnus and has worked in media and graphic design for over a decade. His short stories have appeared in InFuze Magazine, and his story "Choices" was selected for InFuze Magazine's Best-of 2005 anthology. He currently resides in Western Kentucky.

If you'd like to connect with William, or purchase Driving to BelAir, you can find him in the following places:

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