Welcome to my Author INTERVIEW with John Darryl Winston, the author of the amazing book called IA: Initiate.
This interview is part of a tour that runs from March 21 to 25.
- Tell me a little about yourself and your background? What were you like at school? Were you good at English? What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I am the proverbial jack-of-all-trades, aiming for master author. I was an athlete in high school, baseball being my best sport, joined the Army straight out of high school as a saxophone player (was a musician in high school, too). After 3 years serving our country, I formed a band known as Kiara and did the local circuit. We put out our own records in Detroit, which were successful enough to bring my group to the attention of record mogul Clive Davis and Arista Records (Whitney Houston’s label) where we signed a recording contract. Our first 3 singles on our debut album made it to the top ten on Billboard, and one, a duet with Shanice Wilson made it all the way to number one. We recorded 2 albums with Arista and a 3rd with Polygram.
After music, I became a public school teacher and founded the Winston Institute of Arts, a non-profit fine and performing arts organization that serviced at risks children in the metropolitan Detroit area.
I was not a good student through high school and would’ve probably been targeted as having ADHD today (my parents had their own special brand of medication that worked wonders on me). If it wasn’t music or sports, I wasn’t interested, and that includes reading and writing, so no, I was no good at English.
My ambitions for my writing career are simple. It’s my third career after music and teaching and my last one.
It suits me, and I want to get my books into the hands and my stories into hearts of souls, who like me, who long for something that challenges, sparks, and exercises their imagination.
- Which writers inspire you
Stephen King inspires me because of the realism in his stories. He’s scary. J.K. Rowling inspires me because of the road she’s traveled and her ability to world-build. She’s thebest. And John Edgar Wideman inspires me because I think can feel his pain as a writer, as a human. We are kindred spirits.
- What was your life like before becoming an author?
Before becoming a writer, I was the typical super ambitious guy trying to find his way in the circle with no direction. All I knew was that I wanted to be of service, spending all my time teaching, singing, playing instruments and sports, helping kids do the same. That was and still is me only add writing/author to that mix.
- Which comes first – the character’s story or the idea for the novel?
I’d have to go the chicken or the egg analogy on this one. To be honest, in the IA series, I don’t know which came first, Naz’s story or the idea for the novel. I can’t separate them. They are one and the same. It’s like when people ask me are my stories character-driven or plot-based. Again it’s hard to separate the two, kind of like destiny. Are we shaping destiny or confined to it? I know what I want to happen in my story, IA, but sometimes Naz and Meri don’t cooperate.
- When did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve always been a writer as longs I can remember, first like a West African griot I would tell stories and never write anything down, then I would put my stories into songs, from there it was stage and screenplays (Cinema is my true love) and finally the novel form came to life for me about five years ago.
- Why do you write?
I just wrote a blog on why I write, but I’ll condense it here and say I write for people who want stories that are real but push the envelope beyond reality and challenge the mind. I write for people like me who are missing something the current body of fiction or science fiction doesn’t reveal. I write because I like being connected to the creator and the creative process because I, too, am a creator, and I write because it’s fun … sometimes.
- So, what have you written?
Hmmm … what have I written? I’ve written over 500 songs, 2 screenplays, 3 stage plays, 2 and a half novels (Halfway done with IA: Union), an article for a sports journal, and countless unpublished short stories.
- Where people can buy or see them?
You can find my songs on various artist, Gerald Levert, Gerald Alston, Jordan Hill, Kiara, etc. My sports article is out of print, and IA: Initiate and B.O.S.S. are available on Amazon and my website, johndarrylwinston.com as well as giveaways on Goodreads.
- Give me an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Naz is an average kid, having the same characteristics as most kids. The rub comes in the choices he makes, which begins to define him as the story progresses, and he doesn’t always make what some feel are the right choices … or does he? He has developed the abilities of telepathy and telekinesis, but doesn’t know how to control these powers. He’s also good at chess, basketball, and a few other things … don’t wanna give it all away, right?
- What sparked the idea for your book?
I wanted to created a hero that was real and flawed, that people, especially kids not only dreamed about but aspired to be like. I wanted to create a story, book, and hero/superhero that called others to action, to find the hero/superhero within.
- How do you market your book?
I market my books anyway I can, social media, of course, and I just hired a professional book publicity firm. Let’s see how that goes. I use word of mouth, which I’m absolutely horrible at, your prototype introverted writer, but I’m working at that, determined to break out of my shell for the good of the author in me. One writer told me he carries books around with him with a goal to sell at least five a day. I thought wow, what a great idea. But I can’t do that. I take that back. I’m going to start today, “buy” any means necessary.
Publisher: Purple Ash Press
ReleaseDate: April 19, 2014
Genre: Science Fiction
Buy @ Amazon
- Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? What do you do to get book reviews?
My advice to authors is to first determine what they want out of publishing their book. If it’s just to see their book in print and have it available for their friends and family, they are fortunate and their vehicle is called Createspace at virtually no cost. But if they want awareness on a larger scale, they need to understand what they’re up against and the amount of energy required. It’s not as easy leaving no stone left unturned because there are many stones that are a waste of time and will have you spinning your wheels. It requires research, some trial and error, and a healthy dose of social media. It requires constant re-evaluation and re-adjustment of a well-organized plan and a high tolerance for failure … indeed failure should be looked at as a friend, a friend you can trust that tells you exactly what you did wrong. Specifically, befriend other authors and engage all your readers. If you’re going to respond to reviews only respond to the positive ones with words of gratitude, and never, ever give up.
As far as reviews. The easiest way to get reviews is to give people a copy of your book and ask them to review it. To be honest that doesn’t usually work. You can trade reviews with other authors, but there’s a loss of credibility there not to mention Amazon frowns on the practice and will snatch those reviews off their site with the quickness. Also there are a lot of scam authors out there that will say they’re going to review your book if you review theirs, and when you do, they never return the favor so beware. Here’s an idea. Join Goodreads, become a part of the community, join a group or two, read, read, read, which you should be doing anyway and review all those books, and let Karma do it’s work. That’s what’s worked for me.
- What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Read and write as much as possible, become involvedin a writing community (Goodreads is a good place to start), and develop a platform on social media.
- Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Please contribute to our Kickstarter … pretty please.
- How can readers discover more about you and your work?
IA: Initiate is origin story and a hero’s journey that follows thirteen-year-old orphan Naz Andersen and his nine-year-old sister, Meri. They live in a present day alternate Detroit/Chicago-like city known as the Exclave where they are surrounded by poverty, gang violence threatens every corner, and drug dealers rule the streets. Naz thinks he is ordinary except that he hears voices, has nightmares, and walks in his sleep.
The most important thing in the world to Naz is protecting Meri and getting her out of the Exclave and into the prestigious International Academy. But Naz has a secret, one that he is oblivious to, and only Meri knows. When Naz becomes the target of a notorious street gang he begins to discover the voices in his head, the nightmares, and sleepwalking are actually telekinesis and telepathy at play, a gift from his father of whom he has no memory.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Darryl Winston is a recording artist, turned educator, turned author. He dates his love of storytelling back to reading the bible with his father and sisters and later when he first saw Superman The Movie as an 11th grader in his high school auditorium. He got the idea for his debut series while piloted a Boys’ Read program as a Detroit Public School teacher. He is the founder of the Adopt an Author program, which has as its mission to create an atmosphere where boys and girls learn to love reading and writing.
He has written songs with and for Grammy winner David Foster and record mogul Clive Davis. He has been a recording artist on Arista and Polygram records, and has written and/or produced songs for Gerald Levert, Jordan Hill, Gerald Alston, and many others.
He’s a graduate of the Recording Institute of Detroit, The Motion Picture Institute of Michigan, and Wayne State University. He has his MA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University and will be graduating, June 2016 with his MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes. He lives in Detroit with daughter, Marquette and plans to buy an African Grey Parrot when he conquers his irrational fear of birds and name him or her Tony or Toni.
John is offering ecopies of IA: Initiate to the 5 winners of the below Rafflecopter.