Author Interview: J. M. Sullivan

Today my guest is J. M. Sullivan, a writer I met on Twitter while enthusiastically participating in her monthly hashtag game #authorconfession. Now if you know me, you’re probably aware that one can easily reel me in with anything Alice related. The darker the better.

Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles came out on the 16th of May, so we’re going to discuss the novel, writing and Twitter games.

Thank you for stopping by at Inks, maps and Macarons. (You’re welcome! :D) Let’s get on with the interview!

1. Why Alice? What inspired you?

I LOVE Alice, but the inspiration didn’t come so much from the story itself rather than the ‘fit’ of the retelling. I’m a huge horror movie fan so I watch them all: werewolves, vampires, demons, ghosts, zombies, you name it. And one night, the idea hit me—the only way you can get rid of a zombie is by chopping off its head, and isn’t that what the Red Queen is all about? It was just too perfect a coincidence to let slide, and I outlined the whole story that night,

2.Do you enjoy retellings of classical stories? Do you plan a continuation for Alice or are you working on something different now?

I adore retellings! In fact some of my favorite books of all time are retellings. Ella Enchanted is a Cinderella retell, and more recently Jackson Pearce and her Sisters Red set (they aren’t really a series, but they are all interconnected; it’s fascinating) and of course Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles are all at the top of my list.

For Alice, I am planning a continuation. I have already started drafting the sequel. I’m not as far along as some of my readers would probably like, however, because in between Alice and Broken Glass (working title), I wrote a Sci-Fi Peter Pan retelling! I’m in the revision process right now, but if everything goes to plan, both Peter and Broken Glass will release sometime in 2018!

3. Do you listen to music while writing? Do you have a playlist for Alice?

Yes! I have to have music or I just can’t focus. I loved my playlist for Alice it was filled with Halsey, Banks, Twenty-One Pilots, and of course Melanie Martinez. Her song ‘Mad Hatter’ was Alice’s unofficial theme song (that and Castle by Halsey—I always heard that one when Alice was about to kick butt lol).

4. Who is your favourite character and why? Who is your favourite character in the original Alice story?

I know authors really aren’t supposed to have favorites, but Chess holds a special place in my heart. I love his personality and his charm, he is just so fun to write! It is fitting, though, since my favorite Wonderland character is his namesake, the Cheshire Cat! They both bring such a different dynamic to their stories and I love them for it.

5.When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?

I have a pretty solid sense of who they are. I know their description and I know their personality type and what they are fighting for/what they believe in. I find that information is the best compass for me, so even though I may not know at the beginning they had a dog named Skippy who died in the third grade at the beginning of the story, as I write certain scenes, Skippy might just show up unannounced. It may sound strange (I’m probably not explaining well—go figure!), but I guess, what I’m trying to say is that I try my best to let the characters live out the story on the pages.

6.What was the hardest and easiest part in writing your novel?

Hands down the hardest part was the fight scenes. I agonized over them. It was so difficult and intimidating to try and take this scene that seemed so vivid in my head and put it onto paper. It was a huge balancing act between giving enough detail, but not slowing the pace, but making it seem realistic—so hard!

The easiest part? Those were probably the scenes with Chess. To me, he was just such a natural character that everything just flowed so well when he was there. His wit and snark were also a lot of fun to put down, so his scenes definitely seemed to fly by.

7. I love your Twitter game, #authorconfession. How did you come up with the idea?

Well, I had been seeing all these fun games on Twitter, and I thought that I’d like to maybe start one. So I thought about it for a while, but nothing ever seemed to fit. Then one night while I was working, I thought how cool it would be to hear my favorite authors’ secrets about their writing, and that seemed so fun that it might be a game other people would enjoy playing! (I also loved the idea that it could connect other writers to THEIR readers) So, I drafted up the first month’s worth of confessions, and the rest, as they say, is history! 😉

8. Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? What’s your view on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you?

I love Social Media. I think that being able to network and connect with people is so much fun and I enjoy it immensely. I guess my two biggest tips for Social Media are (whichever platform you choose, although if you don’t have one I ABSOLUTELY recommend a Twitter account)

  • Be Yourself – As an author you are creating a brand, and that brand is I can’t think of anything more exhausting than keeping up a false persona. To me, that seems like it would just add a whole new job to your list! Also, cliché as this may sound, there is only one you! Don’t copy other platforms, they’ve been done. Be you, and kill it!!!
  • Be Kind – It boggles my mind, but there are some people who use Social Media as a more negative outlet than positive outlet. And personally, those are the kind of people I unfollow in a heartbeat. Life is too short to be around people who make you miserable, even online, so make sure your presence is one that people enjoy being around!

9. Where is your favourite place to write?

At home I have this oversized writing chair that I loved to curl up under with a nice blanket and a good cup of coffee. It’s just in my living room, not a fancy writer’s desk or anything like that, but I love it!

10. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Be nice to yourself! We writers bet up on ourselves far too often. An inner critic can help keep you on your toes, but don’t give it so much free reign that it derails your work. Remember, someone needs your words. No one can tell your stories. To get them out there you have to write them!

Thank you very much for your time and answers and good luck with your writing!

Thank you for having me! 😀


Author Bio: J.M. Sullivan is a Science Teacher by day, and an author by night. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect for a healthy dose of sparkle and positivity, you can find her on Twitter or Instagram @_JM_Sullivan.


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