Allow me to present J.A. Stubbs–author of The Adventures of a Gingerbread Man: The Cookie.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Cleveland, Ohio; and have spent most of my time there; except for my hitch in the United States Air Force (USAF), and in the Ohio Air National Guard (OHANG). I still make my home there, writing full time. I would have to say that my main side pursuit is the study of human nature. My educational experience has been varied but primarily involved with the sciences. I studied organic chemistry in college, and later went on to work in the fields of water chemistry; industrial fluids, and materials testing; weather forecasting; and research electronics. I enjoy puzzles of all kinds, and am an avid movie goer.
2. When did you start writing?
I wrote my first poems when I was in the fifth grade; and attempted my first science fiction story when I was in the seventh grade. However, I was never satisfied with it’s ending.
3. Why did you start writing?
I’m not sure that I can give a definitive answer to that question, except to say that I sometimes have ideas that are so compelling, or intriguing, that I often feel the need to write them down; just to purge them from my imagination.
4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel?
The idea of writing a story about The Gingerbread Man was born from a conversation I had with my middle child, shortly before he graduated from high school. In that conversation we idly discussed what kind of magic it would take to bring a gingerbread man to life. That led to more speculation about what kind of person would create such a creature. Later contemplation of that talk gave rise to the novel. I don’t think that the final project changed very much from the original discussion. It was more a circumstance of the idea becoming a seed from which the story bloomed.
5. How did you arrive at your book’s title?
Originally the title of the book was slated to be more authoritative, and “The Real Adventures of the Gingerbread Man” was what I had in mind. I soon realized that I couldn’t take credit for the creation of the concept of the gingerbread man so I changed it to “Adventures of a Gingerbread Man”. As I neared the end of writing the story, I realized that I couldn’t possibly relate of the intricacies of the storyline in one book. Once I decided that the story need to be a trilogy, to be properly told; I opted for, “The Adventures of a Gingerbread Man: The Cookie”; as it seemed more appropriate.
6. Does your story have a moral?
Morals can often be tricky to expound upon so I didn’t want to be heavy handed in that regard; and this is one of the reasons why developing a trilogy seemed appropriate. I felt that in order for the moral of Dab’s story to be fully considered, an understanding of each of the important characters motivations should have a chance to be revealed, explored, and considered. Once that has happened the reader can decide for themselves, what the moral (or morals) of this tale expresses. I would say that the major themes in the book are ‘self-determination’, the value of discovery, and learning; and the bonds that tie people together.
7. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
For me, the favorite character of the story is Dab. He is without guile, and is only driven by curiosity, and self preservation. He is the prime mover in this story, and everyone is forced to react to what he does, or causes to happen. This has been of great enjoyment to me during the writing process; for I often didn’t know myself what decisions he would make.
8. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I do not write everyday, as family responsibilities do not always allow for that. When I am writing, it is usually any where from six to fourteen hours at a stretch; as I don’t write or type very fast, and I usually get lost in the world I’m imagining. While I am writing, I strongly prefer to be by myself in a quiet place, where there will be as few disruptions as possible. I do not measure my progress in terms of word count, but rather in chapters completed.
9. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I’m not sure that I could write a story without an outline; however the outline exists only in my thoughts, for taking the time to write outlines down, seems a waste of time; since I am not likely to forget the paths that my characters travel.
10. What is your favorite book genre?
This is a tough question. I suppose I would have to choose Science Fiction, because it can challenge me with concepts, and carry me to other worlds that could be. But I also very much enjoy Fantasy Fiction for wonder, and insights into the hidden mystery of our world and the people therein. I have written in both genres, but have found Fantasy Fiction easier for me to write.
11. What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading “City” by Clifford D. Simak; and “Heroics for Beginners” by John Moore.
12. What is your favorite book?
My favorite book of all is “The Two Towers”, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
13. Any project in the works?
I am working on “The Adventures of a Gingerbread Man: The Oven”, in which Dab will discover how, and why, he came to be.
14. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
I have written several short stories, but this is my first novel; and it took about fifteen months.
15. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
There are several things that can make a story good; but first among them is the ability to hold the reader’s attention. If they can then learn something; or be entertained; or gain some insight; or discover a new point of view; then I would call it good, or at least worthwhile.
16. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Writing, as with many other pursuits, requires a commit of “time on task”, to achieve best results. Beyond that, it is helpful to understand why you are going to all the trouble to write, in the first place. If you wish your writing to be read, and its meaning understood; it would be helpful to have a good grasp on your goals for telling the story, in the first place. You should either have an understanding of what you are writing about or what it is you want to say. If you have a grasp of either you can do the necessary homework to discover the other. But always remember what you are trying to achieve with your writing; and that any potential reader, cannot ‘read your mind’.
And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Cake or ice-cream?
Why break a perfect marriage?
2. Ebook or physical book?
Physical books don’t require electricity.
3. Nights out or nights in?
A healthy mix is important.
4. Living in the city or living in the country?
I like to be around people, so I will say city.
5. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
I don’t like surprises, so I will say telepathy.
6. To find true love or to win the lottery?
True love can inspire one to the point that they don’t need to win the lottery.
7. Being Spiderman for a day or being Batman for a day?
Spiderman is stronger, and younger; so that’s a no brainer.
8. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
Neither sounds very satisfying, but I might choose 21st century Rap.
9. Being drawn into a tornado or being drawn into a whirlpool?
In a whirlpool your chance of drowning is 100%. In a tornado, who knows.
10. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
I have stayed awake longer than 48 hours many times. I think it’s easier.
11. Drinking a glass of expired, curdled milk or eating a bowl of cold, slimy worms? (Note: the worms would be dead, though not cooked.)
I think that I’ll never know, unless a gun is put to my head.
12. Spending half a day locked in a coffin (there would be a hole for air, of course) or spending two days trapped at the bottom of a well?
If I’m in the coffin I could sleep for a half a day.
13. Being two inches tall or being two stories tall?
I never want to take the chance of being stepped on.
Thank you for joining us, J.A.!
Readers: J.A. invites all to learn more about his projects by taking a look at his Kickstarter profile.