Today, I am sharing John Darryl Winston’s Answers to 5 Questions. Mr. Winston is the author of three middle grade/young adult books. IA: Initiate , its sequel IA:B.O.S.S. and its third book, IA: Union, which drops today. Click on the links above to read the IRWYW reviews. This is his second 5 Questions interview and as before his answers are fantastic.
The IA series is an origin story by debut author John Darryl Winston. A Detroit native and public school educator, Winston created the coming of age hero’s journey as part of a creative writing and ‘Boys Read’ program. He is a graduate of The Recording Institute of Detroit, Wayne State University, The Motion Picture Institute of Michigan, and received his MA and MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. He has written songs with and for Grammy winner David Foster and record mogul Clive Davis. He has been a recording artist on Arista and Polygram records, and has written and/or produced songs for Gerald Levert, Gerald Alston, and many others. Winston currently lives with his daughter, Marquette, in Michigan and intends to acquire an African Grey parrot one day when he conquers his irrational fear of birds.
Lian-To start with can you tell us a little about yourself and the project you are promoting today?
John- Hmmm…fun, huh? Well like an onion (minus the smell) there are a lot of layers to me, so I’ll try to condense. I’m a Detroit public school teacher. I teach K-8 Phys Ed and Creative writing. Teaching is a second career for me with music being the first. I’m hoping to make writing a full-time third career. Can you guys help with that? I am promoting the IA series and specifically the third and final book in the series, Union, which publishes on Black Friday, November 24, 2017.
What does it mean to you to be called an author?
Being an author means that all lovers of the written word trust me to transcribe stories that I receive from the universe…or God. That means I better do my best or that privilege will be taken from me never to be returned again. I know…a bit dramatic but true nonetheless. It means for a moment in time, I get to be a hero or villain, an athlete or world leader, a man, woman, or life form from another world. I can be anything or nothing. I just have to make you believe me.
You answered this question before, but I loved how your answer has evolved.
What advice do you have for new authors?
The advice I have for new authors, and especially someone like you is to read, read, read everything, study, study, study (the books you like to read and craft books), and write, write, write every day about any and everything.
Do you hear from your readers much?
I do hear from my readers…a lot! And I love hearing from them…the good and the bad. It’s how I improve on my craft. You can’t listen to everything, but you can hear a lot of it and be open to what could apply to making you a better writer. I really appreciate my readers, that they would take the time to read my words, and as long as I can and is humanly possible, I will make the time.
It great to have that kind of support.
Who is your favorite character in the book you are sharing with us today?
My favorite character in IA: Union is probably the main character’s best friend, Harvis. The character came into his own and grew so well that I wrote a novella from his perspective called Invincible Assassin. The novella occurs between books two and three. Harvis is my favorite character because he is the only one who gets to experience Naz’s developing powers, which makes his journey just as relevant and in some ways more. He has to keep the greatest secret that’s ever been kept and stand in the shadows of a demigod.
You wrote Naz with a terrific group of friends. That really came through in my interview with him earlier.
If you could have lunch with 3 authors (past and present) who would they be and what do you think you would all talk about during lunch?
The first author would be Stephen King, and we would talk about what inspired him to write in the horror genre that created stories like The Shining, Carrie, and Misery. I’d like to hear about his battle with alcoholism and drug addiction and how he found the courage to defeat those monsters. Next, ask Octavia E. Butler what were the challenges being African American and writing science fiction in a colorless literary world and how she met those challenges. I would like to know did she feel like other African Americas would compromise her position of being unique in a Caucasian dominated field. And finally, I would like to hear from J.K. Rowling’s own mouth how the Harry Potter story developed and evolved over the course of the writing process
*If you could be friends with a character in one of your stories who would it be and what kinds of things would you do together?
If I could be friend with one person in my stories, it would have to be Naz because of the things he can do. Can you imagine having a friend who can move things with his mind? You could get into some real trouble. And therein lies the problem. That mind-reading thing would be an even bigger problem. But I supposed we would play pranks on people for fun (not very mature, I know), but ultimately it would be fun finding ways to help people and make the world a better place. Ugh! I went from immature to cliché.
In your last interview, you mentioned Cory, Naz’s dad as the character you would be friends with. Are they much alike?
Who do your stories appeal to?
I would like to think my stories appeal to everyone, but there’s no such reality. So I’ll settle for any reader ages 10 to 100, who wants to read a story with layers and depth, mystery and suspense that feels real but at the same time pushes the envelope of current reality.
What was the inspiration for your latest project?
My inspiration for my latest project, Ultima Humana, was at book fair where a young lady asked me where my sci-fi book was with a female hero. I was like, “Oh! I’m working on it.” Also the Superman story played a huge part. I wanted to write my own version. And finally the old 1984 sci-fi film, Starman was instrumental. Don’t ask me why?
What would your dream library look like?
For starters, my dream library would have all the classics (whatever they are), although I’d probably never get to read them all, all of Stephen King’s books, and one shelf dedicated to the science fiction genre. The library itself would be circular and at least 30 feet high with every book catalogued and accessible by a floating lift at the push of a button. There would also be a central computer with every book ever published, audio books included, in electronic form.
That is an ambitious library. It makes for a huge TBR list. Can I come visit it?
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My quirk is while I’m writing, I like to dress in the clothes that my characters wear. In fact, at this very moment, I’m wearing a Coach Marcus Fears special: a royal blue fleece Lincoln Railsplitters sweat suit, complete with matching royal blue Adidas high top basketball shoes. I’m flossin’
What makes you want to share your stories?
The fact that there wasn’t a story like IA out there when I was coming through the ranks made me want to share mine with the world.
Name three fun facts about you or your work.
Here are two fun facts about me and one about my IA series. A. I have an intense, irrational fear of birds, which is ironic seeing as I wrote an African Grey Parrot (Tone) in the IA series as a main character and I want one of my own. 2. I crafted the character Meri(dian) directly after my daughter Marq(uette). And D, and I hope this isn’t bragging, I had a number one record in the good old USA back in the day.
We got the IA tracks with your newsletter from your website. They were great.
Which of your current works in progress are you most passionate about?
Of my current work in progress, without a doubt I am most passionate about Ultima Humana. It is my opus: a story about the last human on a not-so-distant planet a long time from now (Haha). Among a race of immortals, it is my heroine’s mortality and ultimately her humanity that saves the day. It’s kind of a reverse on the Superman/Clark Kent story but not quite.
How do you write your books?
I started out writing in a character-driven style where I build everything around my main character and a setting or two. Then, I’ll have my character move through the setting while I throw roadblocks in his or her path and see how they react. That’s how I build the plot. I have the basics in my head though, even the ending as in the IA series. It’s the road I must construct. For Union, I used a basic outline. For my new story, Ultima Humana, I’m attempting to construct a basic outline while my protagonist is already well on her way through the web I’m constructing.
How do you define success as an author?
I would define success as author as having enough loyal readers that I could write a book a year and maybe a short story or article, live comfortably and not have to work another full-time job.
My Thanks to Mr. Winston for taking the time to answer these questions and I wish him the best of luck with his new book. All three books of The IA Series can be found at your favorite book retailers and book sites.