Exclusive Interview with

Jeff Schanz

Let’s start with your Career as a writer!

When did you start writing?

Unofficially when I was 11. I thought my Dungeons and Dragons character needed an epic story of his own. Never got through that one.
Later, about 3-4 years ago, I was going through some personal crises and needed to write to give myself a distraction and purpose. Haven't stopped since.

What makes writing your passion?

I love movies and books, and writing takes everything I love and want to see and worlds I want to live in, and I can do it all by myself. It's my custom happiness, made to order, and I'm in control of it.

How long have you been writing?

On and off, in varying degrees for 41 years. Seriously, only about 3-4 years.

What was the feeling when you published your first book?

Anxiety, nervousness. I had no idea I belonged in the author world until i got my first positive review. Suddenly, this whim was real.

What’s the story behind your choice of characters?

In "A Vampyre's Daughter"...
A question popped into my head, what if a vampire really had a daughter? Would he love and protect her? Could they act like a parent? What would she be like? Monster? Victim? Story branched from there, and changed considerably from the original concept.
It's all about what makes a monster, and my female vampire is the innocent and the MC is a man with a violent and not so-innocent past - to offset her character.

What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?

Querying, begging for people to publish the book, and scouring the avenues to find people to read it. Much harder than writing the stuff.

How do you get over the “writer’s block”?

I don't. It's just a part of the process where the brain needs a new avenue, or time to rethink. I don't really believe in block.

We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?

It's my passion. No doubt. It's what I want to do in every free moment.
As for advice...
Put all your obsession into the creation of a great story, worry less about the prose. I write like I want to find out how it ends. I’d like to think that creates interest for the reader as well. So, if the story is that interesting to the writer, it’s a good bet the reader might think the same. Story is more important than slick prose to me.
I see many authors who complain about the motivation to write. If you can’t get yourself motivated, then there might be something wrong with your story. It should interest you the same way it should interest your readers. If you can’t work up the motivation to write it, they won’t be motivated to read it.

If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?

"WTF are you doing? Stop that." That covers most things. :)

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?

I crave reviews. I deal with all reviews like data to sort, catalog and study. Bad ones, good ones, all have their reasons to say what they say. Not everything is stuff to take as gospel. Look for commonalities. Dismiss what doesn't fit or seems agenda driven.

What is the feeling when you get a good review?

Like sex.

Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Of course. Every author has. Write what you know... just change the names and circumstances.

Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?

Every character has some element of me. I have to be the actor, so there's stuff about me in everything. Some more than others. No one is exactly me. I wouldn't make a great hero, anyway.

What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?

It's close. As long as the book cover doesn't dissuade from reading the story, it's good enough. If it looks half-assed, or like every other bland story of that genre, then I'd recommend sprucing up the cover. Mystery is fine as long as it isn't entirely pointless.

Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?

Yes and yes. I love talking with readers. I also talk through my books.

How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?

Again... like sex.

Who is your favorite author? Why?

Have a few. Bernard Cornwell is my current fave, but I like a lot. Tolkein got me started.

What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?

Unrealistic dream: Stephen King/JK Rowling.
Slightly less unrealistic: Jim Butcher.

Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?

Have no plans to. Depends on why.

If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?

See "dream" answer above. :)

What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.

Try to avoid trolls. I hate confrontations.
Haven't had one so far, so not sure how I'd handle it yet.

What would you say to your readers?

Like many writers, I write in spare hours, late at night, or on lunch breaks. I used to scribble notes and drafts at my daughter’s softball games. Time to write can be a battle, and if I get readers tell me how much they like the books and want more, it’s like caffeine and chocolate injected directly into my veins. Drives me on with a gleeful grin.

Thank you for sharing! Let’s talk about your Personal Life!

Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?

Hopeless nerd, sports nut, divorced father of 2, animator-by-day, obsessed with telling stories.
Nowadays, living in Round Rock, Texas with the love of a wonderful woman and the company of 2 dogs who think I'm shockingly boring entertainment.

BFA from the University of Florida, MFA from Savannah College of Art & Design. My father was ex-Air Force and an airline pilot, so I saw the world when I was 9 (sure wish I could do it now). As Johnny Cash said, "I've been everywhere, man."

What is your day job if you have one?

Animator or video games and movies

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

I'm a writer. All my free time is spent writing. Otherwise, I watch movies with fam, play with my dogs.

Did you have a happy childhood?

Good enough. No life is perfect. I was loved and well raised. No angst to drive me to write poetry or do drugs.

Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?

I was always a creative. I tried to write a story about my DnD character. Epic fail.
Much later, I got serious when I was going through marriage troubles. It was a welcome world to immerse myself into.

Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?

-3 part series sci-fi fantasy about a monster fighter and his ghost brother. That's coming out in August.
-YA portal fantasy about 6 teens who get transported into their favorite, but perilous, tabletop role-playing game.
-Sequel to "Vampyre." That one's in 2nd draft.

What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?

Depends on the level. I would say focus on what's important. Too much agendas and politics as to who gets what funding and what info should be given, and what should be amended in history.

If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?

Health of my fam, enough money to not worry, and fans to keep me writing.

What is your favorite music?

All sorts. Rock, some pop (older), country, blues, swing, electronic. Don't like much new stuff lately.

Share a secret with us 🙂

None of my family has read my books. Boogers.

Thank you! We wish you the best of luck for you and your art!