This Week’s Featured Author Interview with
Hi, M.J. Woods, welcome to the Indie Publishing Group website. Introduce yourself to us. Tell everyone who you are, where you’re from, what do you enjoy doing, hobbies and interests.
Hi everyone! I’m an indie author of romantic fiction hailing from Syracuse, New York. I write under the pen name M.J. Woods. Outside of my hubs and kids, my sidekicks are a beautiful but not-so-bright Bernese Mountain Dog (Rizzo) and an alpha-male orange cat (Nemo). My 9 to 5 days were spent working in the legal field of a small town/city for over twenty years. Now, I write romantic fiction – sometimes with a hint of suspense, but always with the law woven in, along with humor, strong heroines and swoon-worthy guys of varying backgrounds. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America and belong to my local RWA chapter.
Music is of huge interest to me. It inspires me to write, and I much prefer it over quiet. I like all different kinds (depending on mood) and all my books have playlists! Live music is a big thing where I live. (Okay, maybe Karaoke, too!) Another passion of mine I’m beginning to share with my readers is my love of real estate. I love imagining what it would be like to live in a house that’s for sale, whether it be a local farmhouse or some celebrity mansion on the opposite coast.
When did you start writing and why?
I don’t think I can answer the ‘why’ of it from the beginning because I’ve been doing it for so long. I was just a kid when I started (I’m over 4 decades old now. That’s right – in dog years, I’m dead.) While I have taken many breaks from writing, I have always known it’s what I love to do.
I just never knew how to write a book.
Finally, after all the reading, and learning about writing, and thinking about writing, and watching from the sidelines while other authors wrote, I took the leap and just did it. Now, I write because I have constant inspiration and characters coming to me that beg me to put them out there. (Yes, sometimes they fight for position!)
Which is your favorite book you have written and what gave you the idea for it?
I have written/published three full-length novels in the span of the last year. (Though it took me far longer to flesh out the first one!) Each one is a favorite once it’s done, so currently, I’m in love with the final book in ‘The Amped Series’ Trilogy releasing in November 2017. It’s my favorite because it’s my first ‘the end’, the conclusion to the first set of characters I fleshed out enough that they delivered three full-length novels. What started as a stand-alone written in single POV of the heroine developed into a dual POV three book series, and I am so happy that I finally reached my first HEA.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
With my current release, “Fall”, the title was obvious to me in some ways, because of the previous two titles in the series (“Balance” and “Sway”). (It had to be one word, of course!) As I was writing Book Three though, the term ‘Fall’ in its various meanings was an emerging theme, and it just stuck that this is what it is ‘supposed to be’. When my nine-year-old daughter suggested the same name (without knowing what I’d been toying with), I knew the title was cemented.
Who helped you with the cover? Or did you design it yourself? What was your inspiration for your cover design?
I design my own covers – in my head, anyway. To date, all my novels have covers inspired by a scene in the novel. My husband is a graphic designer as part of his trade, and I’m incredibly lucky to have him helping me when it comes to this. I’m very proud of the work he does to bring something from my brain to what you see on the covers of those books.
What are some of the themes of your story?
The Amped Series is a romantic suspense focusing on the relationship between the hero – an accomplished, attractive bachelor driven by charitable ambitions – and the heroine – a sassy, NY lawyer coming into her own after her husband’s unexpected passing. While multiple themes including reconciling loss and resolving internal conflict carry through, the characters never take themselves too seriously. They are multi-faceted and thus, real – whether facing precarious situations, effects of impactful issues such as corporate greed or drug addiction or just facing past demons to try and win battles within themselves. Oh, and sometimes there are some rather ‘descriptive’ love scenes. Maybe erotica to some, but the same scenes could be considered tame to others. Po-TA-to, Po-TAH-toh, To-MA-to, To-MAH-toh, as they say.
What’s your process when you sit down and decide to start writing a book? What is your process, and do you have a system?
I’ve not developed an exact system. I guess chaos is my ‘system’! I do have a whiteboard to flesh out characters and scenes. I take an insane amount of notes (digital, handwritten notes, etc.) while coming up with new material. I also research ideas and characters at first, either online, in magazines/newspapers, or in person by visiting a place/event or interviewing someone.
When I’m ready to write a book, I need concentrated focus for days at a time, though I have to break those chunks of days up depending on my schedule to get to the end. I sit down at the keys and write until I absolutely cannot write anymore, every day. My editing and proofreading process is just as intense a ride for me. I dread it more than the creative part, but the end result and the feedback I receive usually makes it worthwhile. (Especially when my editors fall in love with my characters and are eager to discuss them!) ~ No one likes waiting back to hear other people’s thoughts and opinions. My wife already knows that I don’t receive any criticism very well lol! Ben J
Who are some of your favorite characters and why?
I never thought I’d be capable of writing my own characters that I’d fall in love with, but I have! I love all of them, even the jerks/antagonists. However, I’m a sucker for Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. She’s a Jersey Girl with a mouth and a soft spot for dessert, and she has two sexy men in her life that want to pin her to a wall most of the time. What’s not to love?!
Who are some of your favorite authors?
So tricky, as my tastes vary and there are too many to list. Standouts for me? I think Stephen King is a brilliant writer, though I cannot read a lot of his work because I thoroughly dislike being scared. That’s how I know he’s just that good. I enjoy reading romance authors Lauren Rowe and Meredith Wild. Nora Roberts was often in my library too, back when I had more reading time (especially her more mystical titles). Janet Evanovich when I want something laid back and fun. I also deeply admire Liz Gilbert’s author voice in “Big Magic”, as well as her message. It was after reading that book I put (most of) my fears aside and just decided ‘I want to create. This is what I’m going to do now’.
Have you got anything you’re working on now?
I am currently working on a stand-alone that I hope to release in February 2018. It’s a spin-off from Alexis and Aidan’s Amped Series but will make sense to readers without the previous series. It involves two young characters that lean more towards angst and comedy than suspense and erotica, so this is a little different than what I’ve just written. I’m growing to love these two lovebirds even more, now that they’re front and center!
If you could have any superpowers what would they be?
Oh, that’s easy. Flying, the capability to be invisible, and being able to instantly transport myself anywhere.
If you could travel to any location in the world where would you go?
Okay, this one is harder. There are so many places I’ve never been. I’m a small-town girl! I’d love to visit Greece and Italy. But before I venture that far, I’m hoping to cross California off my list. (Those superpowers would come in handy with this, for sure!)
Where do you hope to be in 5 years’ time?
Hopefully still inspired, and still writing books with characters people can relate to.
Thanks so much for taking the time to do an author interview, M.J. Woods! Take a minute and check M.J. Woods out on the links below. M.J. Woods’ book series, The Amped Series, is available now on Amazon!
Author of The Amped Series