Sunday, July 31, 2011

Interview - Jay M. Hurd

I would like to welcome, indie author, Jay M. Hurd. He was kind enough to drop by, so please give him a warm welcome while we grill *coughs* interview him.

Please tell us about yourself? No. Ok, fine. I’ll give you the introduction I give my college classes. By way of introduction, I am Jay M. Hurd of Steger, IL.  I am married with two children ages 5 and 3.  I applied to University of Phoenix to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Information Technology with a concentration on Web Development with aspirations of eventually earning a PhD in Information Systems. 
While I was born in the suburbs of Chicago, I was raised on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State and joined the US Navy shortly after my high school graduation.  I served aboard the USS Nimitz CVN-68 during Operation Southern Watch, a military operation that took place between Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.
Following the conclusion of 4 years of service, I returned to Illinois to work on an Associate’s Degree in Applied Sciences and worked as a drafter for 10 years afterwards.  While in school for my Associate’s Degree, I wrote the foundation of what would become a science fiction novel that I went on to publish in 2004.  After college, I spent nearly two years as a hermit, working by day and writing by night.
As a drafter, I’ve work a number of contract jobs mostly in the civil engineering field.   Along the way, I met my wife on the job, and we concluded that the only reason we worked at that place was to meet each other, because we both ended up quitting not long after because of the management’s practices.  We have been happily married ever since.
I recently went in to business for myself, founding “Dakktech Web Solutions” after being recommended by a local newspaper editor to some local businesses as an affordable & talented web designer.  As DWS, I am offering low cost website design, SEO Copywriting, and general computer consulting to local small businesses.  I currently have 3 active clients that I provide services to.  While I was not planning to do this, it is becoming refreshing to know that I can take control of my own life.  My coursework here at University of Phoenix will certainly contribute to stability in my future, and help turn my hobby in to a career. 
My hobbies are numerous, including web design, graphic design, writing, knitting, paintball, gaming, amateur astronomy and history.  I enjoy following national and international politics & military news.  I am published science fiction author and I am the co-chair of a science fiction club that performs charity work in conjunction with a costuming club in the Chicago area.
My favorite quote is “If you are going through Hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill.
Tell us your latest news? Well, I’m recovering from a broken arm and I’m returning to work. I just got hired to the Monee Township Assessor’s Office as an Inspector/IT Guru/Desk Jockey
When and why did you begin writing? I began writing in college. I wrote a short story in a class for credit and the instructor liked the story enough to encourage me to expand on the story. It went from 15 to 30 pages and was the basic story or plot rather for Ascension. Another friend read the 30 page expansion and encouraged me to turn it in to a novel.
The origins of my writing go back even earlier when I learned how to draw (decent pictures, that is, not stick figures or pictures of spaceships. Ok, maybe the spaceships. Ok, the spaceships really had a lot to do with it.). I drew several characters over and over and they really started to speak to me… yes, in the metaphorical sense, not the literal sense.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? When my first book was published in 2004. I don’t consider myself a professional writer. In my opinion, I could only qualify for that if I could sustain my family indefinitely on revenue from what I write.

Tell me a little about your book. Ascension is the first in a 6-book series. It details the rise of Zendista McKenna to the position of Lord Chancellor of The Migichinan Alliance, and the obstacle laden path he faces to get there.

What gave you the idea for this particular story? I don’t honestly remember.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? I’m a part time writer. I write part of the time and spend the other part of the time telling my kids to calm down and be quite and then stare off in to space and try to restore what sanity I have.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? I always wanted to write, even when I was a kid but I could never get put two words together that would satisfy me. Once I finally figured out what I was doing, it became a lot easier.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing? I hoped they’re entertained.

What kind of research did you do for this type of story? Mainly had to make sure I avoided the use of phasers, lightsabers and sonic screwdrivers. I wanted to include an element of Celtic mythology in my story, especially in some of the names, hence the names Maxaa Branwyn, Branwyn being a Celtic goddess and Skathach Slann, Skathach being a male deity if I recall correctly.

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why? I prefer science fiction. Always been in to it. I like it because I make my own rules.

Now, let's get to the nitty gritty.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it? Well for a science fiction writer (and fan) you have to really make a conscious effort to refrain from equipping your characters with phasers, lightsabers, sonic screwdrivers and other previously thought-of devices. It draws the fine line between original work and fan fiction. Equally difficult is finding time to write when you have a busy home schedule with a special needs child. No advice here, I’m afraid.

It seems that violence and sex are popular. Does writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not? Yes, to a point. There was a scene in Ascension where Winter Ventrosia is stripped to her underwear and tied to a chair by mercs. Riskhad Slann comes in to the room to finds this and immediately orders her release and clothes returned to her. He is appalled by her treatment and apologizes to her. I wrote this scene to emphasize the respect for women that is a part of Migichinan culture. In my upcoming “Avenging Angel”, Maxaa is the recipient of abuse at the hands of a new antagonist which was difficult to write.

Where can people learn more about you and your work? For right now, go to my facebook page: The Alliance Chronicles Facebook or my blog. I keep trying to maintain a Wiki, but it keeps going away.

You're doing rather well. Now time to dig deeper.

What books have most influenced your life most? The Bible

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?  Tom Clancy.  One of my favorite books is Red Storm Rising.

What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it?  I’m reading Dante’s Inferno in its original format.  I wish there was a movie or video game for it.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  The only one that comes to mind is Lakisha Spletzer.  Maybe you’ve heard of her?

What are your current projects?  I’m currently wrapping up Avenging Angel:  Book Two of The Alliance Chronicles and I’m working on the plot for The Phoenix Tear:  Book Three of The Alliance Chronicles.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?  I’m happy with the book as it stands.

Do you ever have problems with writer's block?  If so how do you get through it?  I play games, watch movies.  That’s about it.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?  I play games, watch movies.  I’m also involved with my kids.  My wife and I homeschool them.  I’m also involved with local Star Trek and superhero fan clubs.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?  My favorite author is Tom Clancy.  I love his level of detail in his books and how complicated his storylines get.  

What was the hardest part of writing your book?  Keeping the story straight.

Do you have any advice for other writers?  Work out a system for taking notes.  I recommend mind mapping software.  Also, getting a wiki on a stick (a memory stick) is a great idea if you want to develop a private bible for your universe.  If you want a public bible, Internet hosts like GoDaddy provide MediaWiki as a service.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?  Keep writing!

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?  I will be appearing at the USS Chicago fan booth at the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con on August 12th an 14th.

Jay, thanks for enduring your torture *coughs* interview session with us. Make sure you check out his novel in paperback and for the Kindle at


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