I began writing in high school after my family moved to Chicago from Michigan, leaving behind the first girl I fell for. I lost touch with her and knew she enjoyed reading books, so I decided that I would write a book and get her attention. At the time I wasn’t big into reading, in fact I had only finished one book series in my life to that point, but once I started writing I realized how much fun it was to create whole new worlds and watch the story play itself out on the pages. That girl and I have parted ways but I still thank her for allowing me to find my passion in life.
What makes me passionate about writing is being a creator to a world that never existed before I thought of them. To watch the story play out from my head to the paper and ink, its a feeling that is hard to describe. With True Despair, the third book in the True Death series I have written, I watched a scene play out differently on the pages them it did in my head, it was amazing. Seeing my story take on a life of it’s own was one of the greatest feelings.
The pathway to publishing I took was a hard one. I went with a self publishing house that charged me and my parents a lot of money and gave little results. The first copy of Fate, my first book, was not something I would hand someone to read, granted it was a great learning experience and I am proud of that first copy. To say I wrote a book in high school is a great accomplishment. I did get discouraged at points in my writing, down times if you will. I have had a long time battle with clinical depression and that has helped me add to my stories, but it also has, at times stunted my gusto. I have also experienced writers block, who hasn’t am I right? But I was told by a famous author once at a meet and greet the best thing to do is just step away for a while, go out and experience life then come back with fresh eyes. It really has helped at those points when I can’t get the juices flowing.
I guess the first book that really influenced me was The Hunger Games. Like I said earlier I wasn’t big on reading when I started writing. The Cirque Du Freak series was the only series I had read before writing. I had already finished my first book, but the way it made me want to stay up to read the next chapter, even when I had school in the morning, amazed me. Each chapter ends with some kind of cliff hanger that makes you want to find out what happens next. I have tried to incorporate this into my own series, wanting the readers to have that same feeling I had reading about the games.
What is True Death about? It is a four book long series about a young teenage girl with her whole life in front of her, when she is cursed by Death never to love again. She meets two others cursed like herself, together they discover the reason they were thrust into this hell. One must take Deaths place, but only one. Who will allow others to die in their place? Is there a way out of this curse that doesn’t include having the only people they can care for die?
Are you a by the seat of your pans writer? I am the kind that just sits down and writes. I love seeing where the story takes itself. I normally have a rough outline in my head, many a few key points for the series, but how I get to those points is made up on the spot as my pen runs across the paper.
Who influenced you the most? My parents, no question. They have been there from the beginning and even helped me get that first hard copy of Fate made. My aunt has also helped a lot. She has done all my editing for me. I can’t afford to pay people to do it, so she loves to read and volunteered to read and edit my work the best she could. My friends Lynn and Will at Da Sorce in Chicago. Lynn helped me design the covers for True Death and True Savior for a very cheap price, they are great.
I don’t really have an answer to how I make the characters come to life. I just write the story as it comes to me and hope for the best I guess. I mean I enjoy my stories, even though I know what is coming I still get that feeling of wanting to see what happens to each character as different situations arise. So to me I guess just let it flow out of me is the best way.
I have a tone of hobbies. I’m a giant nerd and really into my sports. Hockey is my favorite thing to watch. My mother and me, its our bonding what brings us really close. I’m kind of a mom’s boy at heart. Anything syfy I will at least take a look at it once. Anime is something I really enjoy and any kind of card game. I just got into Magic the Gathering thanks to the people who worked on my covers. I’ve always been good at playing sports, anyone I have picked up I’ve been good at without training hard at it. I can be pretty funny without trying, at times.
How do you choose names for your characters? I am the worst at coming up with names. I normally just use a name I like. Some of the characters in the True Death series did come from a baby name website. I used names that their meanings reminded me a little of the character or from the culture that person can from, like Milo and Kael, two of the villains in the series.
The best compliment I could get as a writer would be that my books helped that reader connect with someone else. I watched a few people really connect over book series in my life, they can draw people together. If I could help someone find a life long friend through my series it would make my day. My fans will always come first no matter what. If a reader gets into the story and enjoys it, makes friends and shows me that, that would be the best thing I could ask for, before fame or money, to see people connect because of my book.
All of my books are on Amazon as ebooks right now. I am working on getting hard copies of True Death made at the moment. I have links to each book on my website saywhatzack.com. I will also be posting on my Facebook page and website about new books and a time table for the hard copies for those, like myself who really want a book to hold in their hands.
Tags: chicago, clinical depression, curse, electronic books, Fantasy, fiction, friendship, Hockey, Magic the Gathering, Michigan, middle grade, pre-teens, sports, The Cirque Du Freak series, The Hunger Games, True Death series, True Despair, True Savior, ya, Ya fantasy, young adult book, young adults