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Meet J. D. Richards

Today we’d like to introduce you to J. D. Richards.

J.D, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
For my day job, I’ve worked as a structural analyst and systems engineer at a couple major defense industry companies. While some of the design work is interesting, much of my day is spent writing technical reports and other documents. Page after page, and year after year of being stuck in that style of writing began sucking my creative soul dry. I often found myself daydreaming on the job as an outlet.

One fall day my wife mentioned to me that a friend of hers was preparing to work on a neat project – she was going to write a novel as part of the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge. The goal is to write 50k words all within the month of November. The intent is for all the aspiring wannabe writers to finally commit the time to write that book they’ve always wanted to, casting fears of failure, editing, self-doubt, etc. aside.

The next day was a particularly awful one for me, as I was facing a mountain of edits and re-writes on a technical report, I had little interest in. I realized if I was to put this much effort into something I hated, why couldn’t I put the same energy into writing a story I loved on my own time?

A few days later I began my own NaNoWriMo challenge, and by the end of that November I had completed the first draft of my first novel, The Blue Jewel. I was hooked. I had discovered a love for writing fiction. Since then I have published The Blue Jewel and worked toward my goal of writing every day. I have two more books in the works and continue to study the crafts of novel writing and editing.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The hard part for me is setting aside the time to write and being honest with myself when it comes to editing. Making time consistently to put my brain to work after a full day at the office is hard, especially now with two little kids at home. The stories are always there, though. I still like to daydream at work or while driving and am always reading other books and listening to podcasts. In those quiet moments when I’m alone with my thoughts, the characters and the plot lines and the stories develop quickly.

J. D. Richards – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
In my current day job position as a system engineer, my responsibilities include piecing together the whole system design and making sure all the other engineering disciplines are balanced and working together. I enjoy the give and take from the various groups, whether the challenges are software related, or mechanical, structural, electrical, etc., we are all working to the same goal but see the project through different lenses.

Designing and integrating complex systems is an excellent exercise in preparation for novel writing, as the elements of storytelling are not too different. Every novel has a beginning, middle, and end, with a variety of characters each driven by complex desires and challenges. The common thread of the plot must weave through all the other story elements while following a consistent set of story-telling rules familiar to the reader, while straying away from clichés and other tedium. Many authors begin writing without an ending to their stories in mind. However, I have found that much like when designing engineering systems at work, my novels flow best when I follow my pre-orchestrated vision of the story beginning to end.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
No one creates in a vacuum, especially not me. I rely on a good core team of beta-readers who read my writing early in the editing process to ensure my stories are congruent and enjoyable. I rely on my editors who remove all the distractions from my readers of improper punctuation, grammar violations, and other crimes I commit against the English language. I especially rely on my sweetheart – she is always so loving and supportive of me. She helps me find the courage to keep on writing even if my books are only just for her.

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