I’m a college professor teaching at Columbia College Chicago and a former professional producer/director. Born in London, England and raised in Canada, I now write, teach and make art here in the Chicagoland area. I’m an outsider by nature pushing boundaries and buttons in all that I do and encourage other artists to be radical creators. It’s my hope as a writer to make works that challenge the conventions of established genre and it’s a great opportunity for me to make worlds as large as I want without the restriction of budget. My work has been published by Dark Fire UK, Quail Bell, Avalon Literary Review, Crepe & Penn, Alternative History Magazine, Granfalloon, Altered Reality, The Chamber Magazine, Clever Magazine, Peeking Cat Literary Journal, Danse Macabre, Fiction on the Web, Night Picnic, CafeLit, Horla, Bond Street Review, Piker Press, Free Bundle, Filth Literary Magazine, Horror Sleaze Trash, The Mythic Circle, Murderous Ink Press & The Adelaide Literary Magazine.
What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?
I’ve recently completed three ‘murder memoirs’, crime novels based upon my life as a professional filmmaker. They’re loud, brash, full of kinky sex, violence and (I hope) a lot of humor. I’ve self-published my first YA novel, “N00bs” which is available on Amazon along with my work as an illustrator on the graphic novel, “History of Her Future” also available worldwide.
What is your creative process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)
I’m diligent as a writer setting aside specific writing times and formats. I read extensively in the genre(s) I am working as I believe it is important to know the tropes and techniques of specific stories. I love crime/mystery tales, fantasy and whimsy – even straight out horror and espionage stories and each have very specific guidelines. I like outlining and using a ‘big picture’ mind map to help keep longer stories or novels on track while short stories benefit from a fast sketch or outline.
How did you come up with the idea for your stories “Pride and Joy” and “Little Wild”?
This is an example of two distinct genres in my mind. “P&J” is a straight-out horror fiction that is an entry point to a longer piece I’d like to do about vampires and the Old West. “LW” is literary influenced fantasy name dropping a specific author with an ending that allows for transformation for both main characters. Even though both stories are unique, they touch upon themes that are common to all my stories – namely retribution and evolution. My characters and stories are about growing, building and persevering – all traits I believe essential to us as human beings, let alone as writers. Both stories came from the dark, furry recesses of my mind.
What is your background in literature? How much reading do you do? How necessary do you feel it is necessary for an author to read?
I read a lot. Every day in multiple genres. I read for fun, for study, to breakdown timing. I outline timing and paragraph structure by established authors, curl up in my reading chair and read for fun and spend at least two hours or more every day furthering my love and knowledge of writing, voice and technique.
Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?
My wife is often a first reader, tagging me for punctuation. I have Beta Readers for my novels and will occasionally send out a short story to a trusted friend if I’m worried about voice or tone – but I usually trust in myself and the editor I’m submitting to.
Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?
So many. I’ve got an “Ironwood” forest fable series that is mulling around plus a continuation of my ‘murder memoirs’. Book 4 takes place at the American Film Market. I’ve got a ‘House of Leaves’ inspired Post-Modern novel I an currently researching not to mention oodles of shorts for online, literary magazine submissions. I love writing these short stories and getting them out there (via Chamber Magazine, naturally) and seeing these pieces embraced.
Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?
I don’t do talks (yet) but I’m no stranger to public speaking. I’m waiting for the publisher to give me a date on my ‘murder memoir’ books.
What do you hope to achieve as a writer?
It would be nice to make a living wage – but it’s not why I write. I’d like to be enjoyed, remembered and even (one day) studied as an author of merit or substance. I hope to achieve some level of personal, professional satisfaction with my written work as I continue to evolve as a wordsmith. I’m getting better with every story.
What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?
Having made over 30 movies, I have had my fair share of good – and bad – reviews. I ignore them all (mostly). There are some that cut deep ( a recent IMDB review of my self-produced animated feature stung) but I can’t let them stop me. If I do, the bad guys win. I just keep on slugging knowing that it is easy to hide behind an internet handle or nickname. My best response to critics is – “What have you done?” If they haven’t done anything, well, enough said.
What advice do you have for novice writers?
Write, Read, Repeat. It’s really important to just keep at it. Expand your literary borders a little and read outside off your usual genres. Try different creative writing forms. Publish a lot of short stories for free everywhere you can.
What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?
They should BELIEVE they can do it and just keep on working it. Don’t fall pray to the endless workshop and guru seeking ‘formulas’ for success. Find a workflow that works for you and use it. Software doesn’t make the writer nor does an elitist attitude or whining about how unfair everything is. Find your peeps, your audience and interact with them. LISTEN to writers that have gone before you and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Know that we are all works-in-progress.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)
Find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jgesq. You can also find my WordPress blog under https://juliangrant.wordpress.com/
Checking out your website http://www.juliangrant.com, I see you have a lot of works in literature, graphic novels, and film to your credit. I could ask questions for days about your work. Your work ethic must be incredible. Undoubtedly, with all these successes, you had to have had a lot of rejections too. What drives you to create not only in writing short stories and novels and graphic novels, but to work in film too? To me it seems you must have a great spring of creative force that you channel into four or more directions.
Thank you. I’m a creative artist working in multiple disciplines and as I age, I am leaning into writing more as I can do this as long as I can string words together from anywhere in the world. Filmmaking is a young person’s game and I’m getting old now, not that it’s slowing me down, and I greatly enjoy the opportunity to write as large as I want without having to figure out how to pay for it. This is a luxury I have never known.
Great interview. I recently learned from Grant to publish a lot of shorts free wherever I can. It keeps you writing, pushing, learning.
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