Maurice: Both. I full-time write AND have two other full-time jobs. I have a B.S. in Biology.
How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
|Maurice: Well, to be fair, this is a process that has taken a lot of time to evolve. A learn as we went thing, since at one point the imbalance almost cost me family. Don’t get me wrong, my wife knew that I was a writer from the beginning (this was pretty clear while we were dating when I’d put off or cancel dates because I was on (self-imposed at the time) deadline). Also complicating matters was that I have bipolar disorder with hypomania, which went undiagnosed for the first decade of our marriage. It’s the hypomania that was the big problem as I would pile up huge amounts of work and then spend my life moving at a thousand miles an hour wrapping up everything to hit my deadlines. And I always hit my deadlines. In the beginning, I’d try to bring my wife (who isn’t a reader) into the process by reading my work out loud to her (she enjoyed being read to). However, this proved a short lived experiment as I tended to draw a lot from real life to a point where it made her uncomfortable. Ironically, she recently went through a writing workshop with me and wrote a poignant piece that drew incredibly on her real life, so she gets that piece of it now. Also, we had kids pretty early into our marriage. I believed two things: I wasn’t going to get as much work as I would have liked done and kids wouldn’t understand the closed door of “daddy’s working”. The reality was that I produced more words than I ever had before, just in shorter chunks as I was blogging up to six times a day (thousand plus word pieces typically). And the kids amused each other all I had to do was be in the room. If my wife was home and I was sequestered away writing, I had an open-door policy where anyone could interrupt to chat with me. These strategies were okay, but far from perfect. There came a tipping point where I had to either change how I did things or lose everything. So I reprioritized my life around my family rather than the writing. Ironically, I ended up producing more this way. My family got the “best” slice of my time rather than my leftovers. My writing schedule was shaped around them and their hours. So I wrote either before they got up or after they went to bed or while I was at work (more on this later). On weekends, my wife would take the boys on “adventures” so that I could have Saturday afternoons to write. [Also, real money started coming in for my efforts. This alleviated much of the tension.] This strategy I call “Bring Them on Board.” Meaning, there was a family meeting where I wanted their input on how best to carve out my time with them to accommodate my writing. They came up with that schedule. This strategy has continued to evolve and broaden. My wife in a lot of ways has become my business manager. She tracks the money (who owes me what and how much) and I run potential jobs/events by her so she can ask the question “is what [I am] being paid worth the time spent away from family?” We use Google calendar as a diagnostic tool to measure the state of my hypomania (all my deadlines and meetings are calandered and color coordinated so when my schedule vomits the rainbow, we can see that I’m ramping up). She also helps me throw my writing convention, Mo*Con. As far as a day job goes, when I have one (and I currently do as a middle school teacher…ironically, this happened because the school so loved me as a sub when I was shadowing my kids through school) I do most of my writing there. It started when I worked for two and a half years in a sales job (my first 9-5 gig). My manager and I came to an agreement that I would use my breaks and lunch to write. So I’d plan my writing the night before then hit the ground running during those times. Basically, I learned to do writing “sprints.” It so changed my method and output, I’ve kept it up ever since. My oldest son sometimes “agents” me, negotiating my appearance fees since it involves them taking me away from him. My youngest often claims that he’s giving me space to write, which is usually code for “I’ll be playing video games.” But I would go to their schools to do talks or run workshops/residencies or substitute teach to spend more time together. I would work them into projects (my middle grade detective novel series is basically a chronicle of my kids’ antics in school). I recently worked my youngest’s videogame playing into a story as we played games together and called it “research.” And, when possible, the family goes to cons with me (me and the boys did a “guys road trip” to one of my speaking engagements and my wife went on a cruise with me where I was teaching. Again, nothing like her enjoying cruise life to relieve tensions and for her to encourage me to write more so we can do that again).|
Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?
Maurice: Octavia Butler, Walter Mosley
Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?
Maurice: These days, jazz. Bitches Brew (Miles Davis) is getting me through my space opera.
How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?
Maurice: 6 months
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Maurice: I write longhand.
How many books have you written?
Maurice: Twenty. Have 12 published.
What are some of the best resources you’ve found for research?
Maurice: People. My neighbors in community mostly.
What have you found to be the best marketing practices for your books to the black community?
Maurice: Working in the community
What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
Maurice: A play for the Indiana Repertory Theater, work for Dungeon & Dragons, a Black Panther short story. Unfadeable, my second middle grade book. Sweep of Stars, book one of my Afrofuturist space trilogy.
Thank you Maurice, for your time. How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?
Seventh Star Press is proud to reveal the new cover art by Enggar Adirasa for the new short story collection The Best is Yet to Come by John F. Allen! A Kindle pre-order window is now open, so reserve a copy today! The Best Is Yet to Come will be available in print and eBook formats on October 17th!
Pre-order the Kindle Version at the link below!
Synopsis of The Best Is Yet to Come:
Featuring ten stories collected for the first time ever, The Best Is Yet to Come, presents nine years of creativity spun from the mind of John F. Allen. Action and adventure are ever present in these stories, but be prepared for some drama, horror, fantasy and science fiction as well.
This volume includes a holiday story, “An Ivory Christmas,” featuring Ivory Blaque, Allen’s bold heroine from his acclaimed urban fantasy series The God Killers, and the center of his literary universe, The Ivoryverse.
Also included are:
“Forest of Shadows” the debut of a fabled, ancient warrior named, Jaziri, Prince of Kimbogo Province.
You may want to think twice before venturing out into the dark woods of rural Indiana in “The Legend of Matchemonedo.”
A young, set assistant of a 50’s science fiction serial gets to embark on the journey of a lifetime in “The Adventures of Star Blazer.”
A young woman in late 1970’s Indianapolis, learns to be careful what you wish for in “HoodRatz.”
When a woman struggles to care for her ailing father, she discovers the truth behind her troubled past in “The Sweetest Autumn.”
Long ago, a noble samurai finds forbidden love with a beautiful, ebony skinned princess in “The African Princess.”
A mysterious, military operative is sent on a covert mission in Egypt, when he encounters an alien monster bent on revenge in “Lazarus.”
Forty years ago, a young boy discovers that family means everything in “The Chocolate Malt.”
The Best is Yet to Come also features the special bonus short story, “Witch Way is Up.”
Explore the words of John F. Allen today!
This coming weekend I will be attending Imaginarium 2018.
And though my books will be available at the Seventh Star Press table, I’ll be more mobile. Unlike Imaginariums of the past, I intend on focusing the majority of my time attending workshops/panels and participating in panels of my own. But, FEAR NOT TRUE BELIEVERS, I’ll still visit the Dealer Room, but this year I want to participate more.
Imaginarium has become a great convention for networking and learning more about craft. It’s also a venue for veteran author friends to come together in a safe and friendly environment to mentor new and up and coming writers.
So, if you’re olanning to attend Imaginarium 2018, check out the panels I’m scheduled to sit on and of course stop by the Seventh Star Press booth and pick up a copy of my work.
IMAGINARIUM PANEL SCHEDULE
Fri, 5:30 pm in the Derby Room.
Defining Urban Fantasy Today – The definition of urban fantasy has evolved and broadened over the years, and this panel will discuss where that definition is today. The panel will explore the elements of urban fantasy for those interested in writing in the genre. Fri 5:30pm in room Derby. Panelist inlcude: (Mod- Megan McIntosh) John F. Allen, S.C.Houff, Michael Williams, Nathan Day, Carma Haley Shoemaker
Fri, 8:00 pm in the Derby Room.
Superheroes and Villains in Writing –Our panelists will discuss the elements needed for writing compelling superheroes and villains for today. Fri 8pm in room Derby. Panelist include: (Mod- Dan Jolley) Eric Moser, John F. Allen, Michele Lee, Tim Waggoner, Victoria Escobar
Sat, 5:45 pm in the Appalachian Room.
Marvel Vs. DC – A Face Off! – A fun “showdown” panel where our panelists (and audience) can debate and compare the worlds of Marvel and DC!
Panelist include: (Mod- Tony Acree) Leah Pugh, Sara Marian, John F. Allen, Brian Hatcher, R.J. Sullivan, Brandon Aten
Hey everyone BIG NEWS! Last year I authored the novella length, novelization of Submerge: Echo 51, a Science Fiction film by Demetrius Witherspoon. The novella debuted on October 6, 2017 at the Imaginarium Convention sponsored by Seventh Star Press, and is now available on Amazon or through me by direct mail.
To those who live in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas, on Saturday November 18, 2017, I will be featured at a book signing, movie screening and Director/Cast Q&A for the Submerge: Echo 51 film & novelization (see below for details).
Location: The Box – Media Production Space
1413 E Riverside Dr.
Indianapolis, Indiana 46202
Who: Meet Submerge Echo 51 Director Demetrius LaSean Witherspoon, Novelization Author John F. Allen, Actress Grace Carlton, Paisley Blackburn, Amy Thompson, Actor Brad Clark, Makeup Artist/ Submerge 51 Model Rachel Madison, Submerge Concept/ Book Cover Artist Bart Willard
2pm – Book Signing and Photographs with Actors in full Costume
4pm – Showing of the film: Submerge: Echo 51 and Q&A
Check it out on:
Free your schedule, mark this day on your calendars!
I’m proud and honored to have been chosen by award winning filmmaker, Demetrius Witherspoon, to pen the novelization of his upcoming Sci-Fi film, Submerge: Echo 51! This is a humbling opportunity to work with a talented writer/director of Mr. Witherspoon’s caliber. I’m thrilled to have been selected for this project and I can’t wait to get started. I believe in Mr. Witherspoon’s vision and I’m assured that Science Fiction fans will enjoy his film and the novelization I produce. Witherspoon said, “I look forward to working with John and having his talent added to the Submerge: Echo 51 project.”
Demetrius Witherspoon is an Indianapolis based, Award Winning filmmaker, having received the February 2016, Best International Dramatic Music Video Award from Wendy’s Shorts Awards, was featured in NUVO Magazine where his film, Submerge: Ni’Re Reborn was named Best of Indy Indie, January 27, 2016. Witherspoon has also directed other films, music videos and commercials.
2016 will be my third consecutive year as a vendor at one of my favorite science fiction conventions, InConJunction! I’m extremely hyped about this event and you should be too!
I’ll be there with my fellow authors and Speculative Fiction Guild members, talking SF, Fantasy and all things speculative fiction. We’ll be having a FUNKY GOOD TIME!!!
My titles and price list:
Plus, special pricing on multi-title purchases.
Of course I’ll be signing the books and giving out FREE handshakes and fistbumps, you know how I do!
So be sure to come on out to the Marriott on the east side of Indianapolis, 21st and Shadeland Avenue to be exact. Admission is FREE to the public for the vending room ONLY! To attend programming, there is an admission fee. I hope to see you there.