Lucy Turns Pages: Read, Write, Publish, Promote

Lucy Turns Pages: Author Interview: Jerry Schulz, SFF author

Author Interview: Jerry Schulz, SFF author

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1. Please introduce yourself (who are you, what genre/s do you write in, what books do you have out)

Hello, my name is Jared Carvalho, although I write under the penname Jerry Schulz. I write across many genres, though most of my novels are in the Science Fiction and Fantasy realms. Only two of my books have been self-published at the moment, as I’m currently seeking representation to have my other work published traditionally. Most recently is Level One, a Science Fiction novel that follows a downcast man as he traps himself inside of a video game with a painful secret. My older book is a collection of short stories I compiled after graduating college.

2. What are your favourite books?

I’d have to put the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown up at the top for me, with Golden Son being my favorite of the original trilogy.

Next, I would say the Ender’s Game series, specifically the sequel trilogy with Andrew Wiggin as an adult. Although, as much as I love the writing, I’m not currently interested in supporting the series due to the author’s views on LGBTQ rights.

Finally, I have to give shouts outs to some of my favorite books from when I was a kid, including The Giving Tree, Holes, and Redwall. All three of these were heavily impactful on my reading in my younger years when I wasn’t much of a reader, but still glued my nose to every page of these books.

3. When did you know you wanted to be an author?

That’s actually a tricky question, because I’m not sure when “author” specifically became my goal. I remember first wanting to be a writer in high school, hoping to work on video games. Then I wanted to be a playwright and screenwriter. However, it wasn’t until after I finished college that I finished my first novel, and the experience was one of the most fulfilling I’ve had since I started down the path of learning the many writing crafts. So, even now, I would love to work in film and television, but after finishing my first book, those are the only personal projects I work on now.

In a long-winded way, I guess that means the answer is “generally” since high school and “specifically” after college.

4. What is your favourite part of the writing process? What is your least favourite and how do you get through it?

An easy answer for favorite and least favorite would be first draft and proofreading respectively. That being said, I can certainly get way more into the weeds than that.

My favorite part of the process would have to be the initial concepting phase. Although, this is less of a step and more of an ongoing seasoning across the entire process. Specifically, the part that has become my absolute favorite in recent years is discussing ideas with my girlfriend. Waking up with the book on my mind and turning over to her and geeking out over possible plotlines and world building, or conversations in the car to distract from a long drive. There’s nothing better than talking out book ideas out loud and getting that immediate feedback.

My least favorite part of the process that isn’t just proofreading or editing would have to be drawing out the in-between chapters. Concepting and outlining will rarely cover everything a novel needs, so sometimes there are chapters where characters need to react to what is happening around them or putting together the pieces of the puzzle or traveling to the next major location. This is when writer’s block sets in hardest. Making sure the connecting threads are there can be tough, but I’ve had to include tens of thousands of words during edits when I ignored them and tried to skip these important moments. It’s rough, but necessary.

5. What is your writing routine?

More often than not, the routine is to stare at a blank document or the last thing I wrote for about an hour, then play some Destiny, then close my laptop and call that a successful day of writing. However, on a productive day, or when I get into a productive kick with weeks of progress happening consistently, I find some caffeine, put on some music, and start writing and deleting garbage sentences until they start to read moderately well. From there, it’s all about keeping that momentum up through whatever time I’ve allotted myself to write for the day.

6. How do you balance writing (and everything else to do with it) with the rest of your life?

That is definitely something that I’ve struggled with before. Sometimes its my work that suffers because I spend more time writing personal projects than the professional ones that have deadlines. Other times, I’ve definitely put off social engagements because I was on a productive kick. These days, however, my best trick is to move my writing to the end of the day, even going so far as to pull my laptop into bed. It helps me keep personal writing specifically set to “free time” where it can’t get in the way of other commitments. It can mean that my daily output is only a sentence or two, but as long as I get to the end of the book, it doesn’t matter how many steps were in the journey to me anymore.

7. What inspires you? How do you beat writers block?

Every book has a different inspiration. My most recent project came from playing spaceship focused video games, like No Man’s Sky and Hardspace: Shipbreaker. Then there’s my recently published Level One, which was inspired by spite and a friend of mine telling me I could write a better book with gaming at its core. So, I’m inspired moment to moment for what to write, but as far as what fuels the passion more generally, it’s the fact that I want to further my career to the point that I can be financially stable enough to support myself and my girlfriend in our life together.

As for the writer’s block, I don’t beat it. I’ve never figured out the secret sauce to make this phenomenon stop. My best bet is to take a break with the next section consistently staying on my mind. The answer will come, and usually at an inopportune moment. So, I just keep thinking until I’ve got enough notes to act on.

8. How do you keep consistent/write a lot?

Writing is my job, which means I write every day one way or another. So, consistency isn’t exactly a problem when my whole life revolves around typing out thousands of words a day. Still, keeping myself focused on writing my personal work is all about keeping and maintaining goals. I prefer to specify a chapter a day, but sometimes one chapter will take a whole week. If that’s the case, then rewrite the goals to accommodate the new pace. Even if it’s only a single sentence, that’s still a win when the drive is hard to find.

9. Does anyone read or edit your work before publication? If so, how did you find them?

I’ve used a few resources for my self-published work. First is myself, then my girlfriend, who is definitely the more observant proofreader. She’s the reason my published work is in any state that I’d consider worth being published. I have also reached out to proofreaders and editors online, generally finding them through Fiverr. One who I’ve worked with a few times in the past works under the screenname missfrancis and I would highly recommend her services.

10. Can we have a sneaky look at your future plans?

I always have a lot of irons in the fire, so there’s a lot to look forward to. On the self-publishing end, I’ve already started work on outlining the sequel to Level One. It’s still under a working title, but I expect to have it ready to join the series in 2023.

Additionally, I’m currently querying for representation of a SFF story I wrote recently, which follows a space-pirate through a feudal edge of the galaxy with his space-wizard ex-boyfriend.

Finally, my currently active project is a Fantasy novel that follows several young characters through a competition that will test their magic against a labyrinth of monsters, with a title and great power as the grand prize.

11. Finally, what advice would you give to other writers (inspiring, those publishing and those published)?

The best advice I think I can give is on how to take and identify quality criticism. Especially when publishing online, it can be easy to find well-meaning readers who hand out compliments and five-star ratings even on a first draft that’s riddled with major spelling and grammar errors. Similarly, there are people who fail to put their grievances with a story in a productive and constructive way, instead leaning on insults towards the work and the author.

That all being said, I know for a fact that my own stories have improved from comments I’ve gotten from beta readers, editors, and just the average customer. Criticism can be great for the story and for the author.

Link to my book Level One:
The physical edition of Level One is an Amazon Exclusive:

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