Friday, March 15, 2013

Interview with Author J. Michael Major by Jacqueline Seewald

Five Star/Gale currently provides opportunities to a number of debut mystery writers. Today I am interviewing one of them who will have his first novel published this month.

J. Michael Major is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association. His three dozen stories have been published in such anthologies as DeathGrip 3: It Came From the Cinema and New Traditions in Terror, and such magazines as Hardboiled, Bare Bone, Pirate Writings, Into the Darkness, Outer Darkness, Crossroads, and The Sterling Web. He lives with his family outside of Chicago.

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer:  The title of my novel is One Man’s Castle, because a man’s home is his castle, and the story is what happens in one man’s castle. It is a suspense thriller, and I chose this genre because I find stories are more exciting when ordinary people are thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer:  The initial inspiration came from reading a quote about Robert Bloch’s Psycho and how it took the obvious villain and showed how a killer could be a friend or neighbor instead. So I took it one step further and wondered: “What could make me a serial killer?” When I realized I could never be one, I wondered what could make me appear as one, and then the possibilities started to open up. Meanwhile I noticed a lot of stories on the news about how people were more concerned about the rights of criminals without seeming to care about what happened to the victims and their families – and out of that combination grew the main storyline of the novel.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your latest novel?

Answer:  Walter Buczyo is an angry man. Eight years earlier, a burglar, Harris, killed his wife and a high profile attorney got Harris’s sentence severely reduced on a technicality, and Walter lost his belief in the justice system. After that, Walter kills subsequent burglars, but after Harris returns and tries to murder him, Walter kills Harris instead. While Walter is away from the house, the bodies of all the burglars are discovered in Walter’s crawlspace, and Walter is on the run. Meanwhile, Detective Kevin Riehle has to find and capture this supposed serial killer for his very first case as senior partner, while he deals with a new partner and watching a family friend descend into madness. I wanted to create a situation where the reader roots for both Walter and the detective, all the while asking: “What is justice?”

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  One Man’s Castle is my first novel. Short stories and one novella (in the anthology New Traditions in Terror) comprise the remainder of my published work, with horror dominating most of them. The Horror Writers Association has monthly market report listings, and often the odd themes, combined with something I’ve seen on the news, inspires me to write something. Or I turn an old theme inside out. That’s fun too.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  I am working on the next Riehle and Capparelli novel, the detectives from One Man’s Castle. I have also written a number of short stories and submitted them to various anthologies. Writer’s Digest also asked me to write an online blog, which I did, and hopefully that will be appearing at the beginning of April.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer:   Mostly, it was the work of other writers that inspired me. Reading Joe R. Lansdale, James Lee Burke, Ian Rankin, Lawrence Block and Robert Crais made me say: “I want to do that!”

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer:  Don’t wait for the muse to strike or spend all your time reading “How To” books. Inspiration comes from sitting your butt in a chair on a regular basis. Though rewarding, writing is hard work. Just do it.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer:  Though being released by Five Star /Cengage in late March, the book will be readily available April 10, 2013 and can be purchased from many places, the most obvious being Amazon and Barnes & Noble. But the best place to check is my website It lists the numerous bookstores, libraries and festivals I will be attending, as well as direct links for One Man’s Castle to Amazon, B&N, and IndieBound books. There is also a very special link to Brain Snacks Bookstore, where anyone can purchase signed copies of One Man’s Castle and the amazing Sue Petersen will ship it anywhere worldwide!

Comments and questions are appreciated from readers and fellow authors. We look forward to hearing from you!


Alice Duncan said...

Great interview, and congratulations, J. Michael. I love having ordinary people thrust into extraordinary situations and having to blunder their ways out of them!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thanks for dropping by, Alice!

Kaye George said...

Best of luck to you, J. Michael! Thanks for the interview, both of you.

Jacqueline Seewald said...


Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

Gail Farrelly said...

Good interview. The book sounds like a winner. J. Michael, I wish you lots of continued success.


Gail Farrelly

Nancy Means Wright said...

Interesting interview and sounds like a great book. A very attractive website, too, Jacquie. Good luck, J. Michael! It's a mad publishing world out there.

J. Michael Major said...

Alice, Kaye, Gail and Nancy -- Thank you so much for your wonderful comments and good luck wishes! I feel very fortunate to be published by Five Star and I hope everyone enjoys the novel. And a special Thank You to Jacqueline for the terrific site and the fun time we had with this interview!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, sounds like a great read!

J. Michael Major said...

Thanks, Catherine!