Jude Austin has been writing for a number of years and graduated from a movie/screenwriting tech college in Tokyo, majoring in screenwriting. She currently lives in Chiba, and spends most of her time binge-watching Netflix, searching for the perfect sushi restaurant, and trying to have random encounters on the street with members of the Japanese pop group Arashi, all during the time when she’s supposed to be writing. She’s a staunch supporter of fanfic, never giving up, and squid.
Now that we know a little about this weeks featured author, let’s dive into the interview to learn more about her writing style and journey. Don’t forget to grab her latest novel Homecoming: Project 2 due to be released on April 2, 2020.
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What has Lamon Reviews learned from our interview with author Jude Austin
LR: Describe a typical writing day.
JA: I’m one of those lucky writers whose main income comes from home – I work for a bilingual travel magazine here in Japan – so I get to write all day, every day. That said, there’s no such thing as a typical writing day for me; basically, I wake up, start writing and keep going until it’s time to go to bed. I basically take breaks to eat lunch, play with the cat and fix a packed lunch for my husband the next day. Otherwise, it’s writing all the way.
Where it changes is what I write. While I tend to focus on one main novel at a time, I also have days when I decide to play around with other ideas, or draw big, complicated maps of the planets in my books.
LR: Describe your writing space.
JA: I actually have three. One is a table in whichever cafe/family restaurant I happen to be in (I teach English as well, and I often have a lot of time between students).
One is my VR room/cat’s playroom, where I keep my gaming PC. It’s a fairly compact room in traditional Japanese style with the paper sliding doors and tatami mat flooring. Most houses here in Japan have at least one tatami room, and many people here in Japan would much rather they didn’t, because tatami’s a serious pain to live with. You can’t put a bed on it, because the constant weight damages the straw. You can’t put a chair on it because the constant pushing back and forth as you sit down and stand up damages the straw. You can put a futon on it, but you have to roll it up and stash it somewhere every single morning, or the sweat from your body soaks through and, sooner or later, damages the straw. You also can’t replace just one tatami mat, even if it’s only one that’s damaged; you have to get someone in to rip up every mat and replace them.
With all that in mind, I actually covered up my tatami with fake grass from a garden center. It’s a bit scratchy on bare feet, but it looks great and it protects the real floor. So, writing area no. 2 is a desk with a PC and VR headset, in a traditional Japanese room with paper sliding doors, a paper sliding window, and fake grass on the floor.
Writing space no. 3 is on a couch which I’ve had for about five years now. It’s one of those that you can recline, which makes it perfect for writing as my back and legs are constantly supported, so this is where I do most of my work. I find it hard to work in silence, so I usually binge-watch Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu at the same time. The down side to working there is that we have a young and very energetic cat, who likes to play-attack my arm, turn me and my laptop into his own personal couch, demand I cease my silly keyboard-tapping to worship him as the rightful lord and master of the house that he is, or all of the above.
LR: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
JA: Both. I have a couple of separate universes in mind, mostly fantasy, but if the books are in a series, I like to keep as much continuity as possible. On the other hand, it’s no fun picking up a book where you have to keep wondering what’s going on. My latest book, Homecoming, is book 2 in my Projects series, and although it picks up barely hours after Book 1 (Project Tau) left off, you don’t need to read one to enjoy the other.
LR: What does literary success look like to you?
JA: Fanfiction. Or fan art. I probably would say this, since fanfic is how I first made my mark on the internet, but I actually think that having fan works made of your stuff is the highest compliment any creator can be paid. Fanfic writers know they’re never going to receive any money, they’re never even going to be given credit for the worlds and/or characters, but they’re inspired to the point where they go ahead and create their stories anyway. Same goes for fan art. I know a lot of writers are very touchy about fanfic, and on one level I can sort of see where they’re coming from, but if anyone ever made fan creations based on my world, I’d be thrilled. It’s happened before – some amazingly talented people drew things based on some of my fanfic, some years ago – but I would be deeply honored if they did it for my original work as well.
LR: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would you say?
JA: Never, ever pay anyone to read, represent or publish your work. Also, double-check agents’ credentials. I got burned pretty badly in the past with bad agents.
LR: How do you come up with the titles to your books?
JA: With difficulty! This is the main reason I rarely, if ever, title my chapters; I absolutely suck at titles. Generally, I try and identify the main focal point of the book and then name the books after that. This is why the first book in the Projects series is called “Project Tau,” even though Kata’s the main character: it’s his desire to see Tau that sparks the book off, and it’s his developing relationship with Tau that forms the main part of the story.
LR: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
JA: Probably the fact that I never write start-to-finish. Instead, I write down scenes and conversations that I think would work well, and then slot them into chapters and fill in the gaps.
LR: Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?
JA: Yes, and yes please! I’m on Twitter at JudeAustin18, I have an official Facebook page, which readers can click here to visit, and I have a monthly newsletter, “Stuff!”, which readers can subscribe to at https://www.judeaustin.net.
LR: When did you start writing?
JA: Professionally? I guess that would be when I was 12. PONY magazine had a running serial, and at the end of the first episode, they asked if anyone would be interested in writing the next one. I submitted my version of it, and got a letter back a little while later saying they wanted me to write Episode 5.
I completed my first novel when I was 18. It’s showing its age a lot, so I doubt it’ll ever be published, but I still kept it. Back then, Amazon KDP didn’t exist, so if you wanted to publish, you went the old-fashioned way or paid a fortune for a vanity press. So although Project Tau was published in 2016, it was actually written in 2006 when I was about 23. I just wasn’t able to get it out there until now. It’s only recently that I’ve been in a position to try and build a full-time career out of my writing.
LR: Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
JA: Don’t try and please all your readers, because you never will. I submitted the same chapter to two different beta readers. One came back and said there was far too much dialog, and she wanted more description. The second said there was far too much description, and she thought I should cut it and focus more on the dialog.
Most importantly, you should write the stories you want to tell, not the stories people think you should tell. I always call Project Tau my debut novel, but that’s not strictly true; the first novel I wrote and got published was an action/terrorist thriller called Tsunami. I wrote it for the wrong reasons; some people told me that no one wanted to read sci-fi/fantasy, and I had to write something contemporary. So I did, and even though I think it worked out pretty well from a writing point of view, it’s the only thing I’ve ever written that I can truly say I hate.
Our final thoughts for this week featured author interview
I hope you all enjoyed this weeks featured interview with Jude Austin. She is a wonderful author that has recieved praise for her writings and fans are awaiting her next addition to her fantasy sci-fi Projects series. Homecoming: Projects Book 2 is scheduled to be released and available for purchase on April 2, 2020. Project Tau: Projects Book 1 is available for purchase now on Amazon and Kobo.
Remeber to support your favorite indie authors by purchasing thier books and following them on social media sites. If you would like to stay up-to-date on Jude Austin’s latest writing projects, don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter “Stuff!” here. If you want to read more author interviews, book reviews, or book news by Lamon Reviews, you can find them here.