Welcome readers! In honor of the upcoming holiday, I’ve decided to give you an additional spotlight today! I have on my blog author BJ Neblett and his memoir, Ice Cream Camelot.
Ice Cream Camelot depicts BJ’s experiences growing up during the Kennedy Administration. The world and all of its problems and challenges are seen through the eyes of an eleven year old and his friends, exploring how those historic times changed and molded them. It has received terrific reviews and has been called the ‘60’s Catcher In The Rye.
So excited to have you on, BJ. Would you talk a bit about your journey into writing?
I’ve been into writing in some way or another. In grade school I would write crazy space alien stories during Composition Time. My first poetry was published in Encounter: An Anthology Of Modern Poetry while I was still in high school.
That’s quite a title. Where do you draw inspiration from?
My earliest influences were TV especially shows like The Twilight Zone. I learned about irony from reading O Henry and continue to find irony in the world around me. I’m inspired by the things I see, the people I meet, the things I learn.
I’ve definitely been guilty of binge-watching the original Twilight Zone. Other than Rod Sterling, which authors had an impact on your writing?
O Henry, F Scott Fitzgerald, Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury, KJ McPike, Robert Heinlein, HP Lovecraft, Langston Hughes, Flannery O’Conner, HG Wells, Ernest Hemingway, Alissa Berger, Matt Buscemi, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Anton Chekhov, Sandra Cisneros. KC, Alissa and Matt are all contemporary writers. Each is outstanding in their genre and they are worth reading and watching. I am proud to call them my friends and be included in their circle.
Any particular book which gave you the writing bug?
Hard to say. There were a few. I was an avid Peanuts and Charlie Brown reader when young. A Charlie Brown Peanuts book taught me how to read. Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles taught me how to dream. Rod Serling and his Twilight Zone show and books made me want to write.
As a fan of The Twilight Zone, I imagine you’ve seen /read your fair share of odd. Anything stand out in research for any of your novels as particularly strange?
Well, all of my family is gone, so actually, when writing Ice Cream Camelot I had to do a bit of research on myself, date and fact checking. Also, my newest book Planet Alt-Sete-Nine, which should be out summer of 2017, involves video gaming so I had to do a lot of research on the rapidly changing video game systems, technology, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.
What about any fan encounters – could any of them qualify for their own episode in the “dimension of imagination”?
Before writing full time I had a long career as a radio DJ including Seattle where I now live. One day in Starbucks, I was stopped by a gentleman who recognized me from the author photo on my first book Elysian Dreams. As we chatted, a woman walked up and asked if I happened to be DJ Billy James she used to listen to on the radio. She’d recognized my voice.
I can’t imagine how I would react to someone knowing me by my voice alone. I imagine it’s a bit surreal. Any other fun facts about your memoir?
Hummm… good question. Most people don’t know that I was pretty much a juvenile delinquent by the time I was 13, stealing cars, smoking, drinking, even sniffing glue. Not sure how fun that is but it’s true.
Well, true can be fun, especially when we’re reading about the experiences of others. In that vein, tell me more about BJ the author. How would you describe your books in general?
Although I write different genres, including romance, light sci-fi/fantasy, alternate reality, and general fiction, I have a couple of common ties. I consider all of my work to contemporary literature with currents and themes of irony. My life seems to be full of irony and it is something I find myself turning to again and again in my writing.
With the wide variety of genres, how would you classify your writing style?
My books and short stories are hard to button hole and it’s fun to watch my publisher try. I like writing light sci-fi/fantasy, taking ordinary people and placing them in extraordinary circumstances. And although I write romance, humor, general fiction and even a memoir, I like including the element of the strange and unusual and unexpected in my work. I think that is why my romance stories are so popular. Beyond the boy/girl relationship there is always an underlying what if to the story. Also, as I always tell people. If you want to get to know me, read my books and stories. There is always a small, sometimes not so small piece of me in the there.
And your current novel, Ice Cream Camelot any specific reason you decided to tell your story?
It’s something I’d been thinking about for some time. I’ve had an interesting and extraordinary life, even at a young age and although I write fiction, it was a story that just needed to come out. Many say I should do a sequel, which I am working on in what little spare time I have anymore.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve found about being an author?
Finding time to write. I’m a binge writer so I like to sit and knock out a whole short story or chapter in one setting. It’s ironic that the more I write, the more popular I become, the more there is for me to do as an author and the less time I have to write. For instance, I am currently teaching writing at Seattle’s Hugo House For Writers which has taken a bite out of my writing time.
The more popular you become, the more people want of you. It’s a double-edge sword it seems. Let’s talk about famous people – who would you want to play yourself and those in your memoir?
HA! That’s another good question. I’ll leave that up to the experts after my movie option has been picked up.
One thing most people can agree on is movies generally never live up to the book. Which movie adaption makes you batty?
Although they usually do a good job with the movie itself, I find most books don’t get properly translated into movies properly for one reason or another. That being said, I cringe at the new version of The Great Gatsby. I highly recommend anyone who cares to find a copy of the 1974 Robert Redford release.
Robert Redford, Leonardo DiCaprio, either way, works for me! When you are writing, what do you find to be your own version of Kryptonite?
Probably sleep. I binge write and wear myself out physically, mentally and emotionally. Then I am no good for anything except sleep which I can’t do because I have too many writing ideas floating around in my head. Oh, and ice cream and cupcakes…
Anything you’re working on now keeping you up at night?
Next year’s release, Planet Alt-Sete-Nine screamed for a sequel and is looking more and more like a trilogy. I am about half way through the first draft of book two. And I always have short stories and romance stories for the magazines I write for that I turn to for a bit of diversion. And of course there’s the memoir follow up; and a long overdue sequel to Elysian Dreams; and more short stories; and my blogs… and next week’s writing lesson plan… and…
Lol. So that’s a yes! Well, BJ, it’s been an honor to have you on today. One last question – any advice for newer authors?
Same as I give to my students. WRITE! And don’t give up. It may seem the arena is overcrowded these days and it is; but there is a reason. With technology and the internet there are a lot more opportunities these days. It may be harder to make it big and rich on one big best seller; but it is a lot easier to make an income on many small stories. But then again, we do it for the art and love of writing, not for the money, don’t we!
You have some lucky students.
Thank you again for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to speak with me. Make sure you visit BJ’s blog spot – there you’ll stay up to date on releases, signings, appearances and such, and it has links to Amazon and all of his books, stories and more.
You can also visit his facebook at www.facebook.com/bj.neblett