James Ryan Daley is a writer, editor, and digital designer. After earning an MFA in fiction at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2004, James has spent most of the years since then teaching writing to college students, creating websites about video games, and editing anthologies of fiction and political rhetoric. When he’s not obsessively poring over pixels and pronouns, James can usually be found arguing with strangers in the Internet or seeking out adventure with his wife and two daughters. Find out more from his website at www.jamesryandaley.com.
Welcome to BloggerNews. Can you begin by telling us when you started writing?
Well, my mother loves to tell a story about how I wrote my first story in 3rd grade, so I guess I’ll go with that. Really, though, I first started to become passionate about writing in high school–specifically, the summer between my junior and senior years. I had read On the Road the same month that fell head over heels for a pretty girl that lived 300 miles away from me. Now when you’re a sixteen year-old romantic (as I certainly was) and those two things happen within such a short time, there’s really only one course of action you can take: you sneak out of your house in the middle of the night, you hitchhike to see the girl, and you write down every thought you have in a notebook. After that, I just kept on writing.
What is your novel about?
Jesus Jackson is the story of a 14-year-old atheist investigating his brother’s mysterious death at conservative Catholic high school. So on the surface, it’s a murder mystery: he searches for clues, follows leads, and tries to find the truth about the murder. But to me, Jesus Jackson is really about the deeper truths that the protagonist finds himself searching for in the midst of this mystery: Why are we here in this life? What does it all mean? What happens after we die? This philosophical quest drives the story just as much as the quest to find the killer.
Jesus Jackson really comes out of all the thoughts and feelings that I had about religion when I was a teenager (and, to be honest, still have today). Like Jonathan, I came to the conclusion pretty early that religion just wasn’t my thing, and then had to learn how to deal with the difficult parts of life in the absence of that type of faith. Writing Jesus Jackson as a mystery just seemed like the obvious way to go: after all, what better way to explore the mysteries of life than through an actual mystery?
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Everywhere! Of course, Jesus Jackson is available on Amazon, but you can purchase it anywhere books are sold, so support your local indie bookstore!
Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?
I do! I am actually kind of insanely proud of my trailer. I spent a ludicrous amount of time teaching myself how use professional film-making software, and then an even more ludicrous amount of time making the actual video. It took a ton of effort, but it was totally worth it. Readers can find the trailer (and a few other fun videos) here:
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
Focus on the writing. Focus on the book. Far too often, I see new authors get so caught up with the publishing process that they lose sight of the vastly more difficult task of writing a really good book. One of my college professors once told me that there are only two things you need to do to become a published author: write well and submit. It’s the first part that’s the hard one.
What is up next for you?
Well I am working on finishing up my second novel right now, but I don’t like to talk too much about anything I’m writing until it’s done. Stay tuned, though…