Twilight Times Feature
with Joni Latham
Interviewer: Lida Quillen
1. Does your creativity express itself in ways other than writing?
Definitely. I still have all my coloring books and break them out from time to time. I'm always doodling cartoon frogs and dogs. I've been know to create a whole panaroma full of them. Also few years back I crocheted animals (frogs, octopi, mice, etc) and clothes for stuffed Teddy bears for sale until the fingers began to get too stiff to work the needle. I would also consider my penchant for unicorns and the web site that I made to showcase as a creative outlet since I did make the backgrounds and the banners.
2. Do you feel you were creative, even as a child?
I have my parents to thank for my creative streak. They read to us every night before bed and never curtailed our imaginary friends or attempts at drawing, writing, or playing. My cousins and I were always doing skits and puppet shows for the parents. They had a huge backyard where spies and detectives used to hang out. We actually wrote one of our skits down. I found it the other day in a bottom drawer. Must be about thirty years old now. In Jr. High, a friend and I created two imaginary creatures who lived in the top of the gym and watched us as we exercise. One was George, a Pterodactyl and the other Alexander, a flying dragon. I still daydream a lot, and have been known to dream parts of my stories.
3. Could you share with the story behind the story? In other words, how did your writing lead you to your first novel?
I've always wanted to write, but never thought I could do it. In high school, I tried but had no one to give me any feedback. I found the old manuscript the other day and it wasn't so bad. It was based on The Big Valley. Anyway, I put every thing on the back burner until 1995 when I saw the television series Forever Knight. I told Julie how I would have changed the show and she asked to see the story. Well there wasn't one, so I quickly wrote one for her. That was the beginning of the first novel and its sequel which are safely stowed under the bed. A couple of the local vampire authors told me if I could write the same story without using vampires, do it. So I did and that's how Eyes of a Jackal come to be. I will still go back some day and redo the original. I still think it's a good story.
4. How did you prepare for the creation of your first novel? How much research was necessary?
One nice thing about writing fantasy and creating your own worlds is that not much research is necessary. Mainly you have to make sure that you stay within the canon you have created. I do look up the occasional phase or mode of dress for a particular eras if they are to wear a costume, but there is no intensive research needed.
5. What kind of reaction do people have to your writing?
The readers always love my stories, whether verbal or on paper, but the professionals did not.
6. Do you find anything difficult in the writing process, and if so what?
Turning off the internal critic. When I wrote my first novel, I was ignorant of the process and dashed it off in 3 months. Now it takes about a week, sometimes more to complete one chapter, because I continually go back to rewrite myself. I working on this addiction. I've joined INTERNAL CRITICS ANONYMOUS. I am getting better.
7. Do you currently have any writing projects?
Yes, what happens when your hero comes to visit and won't leave.
8. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I'm definitely a true Texan. I was born in Ft. Worth (you can't get more Texan than that) and grew up just outside Ft. Worth in a small town called Azle. My imagination has always been a big part of my life. My dreams were vivid, serial, and in Technicolor. We were putting on plays and skits as kids. My cousin and I even wrote one down when I was about twelve or thirteen. I never could quite get a hold on writing, prose or poetry, in high school. I tried both without much success. I just didn't understand at the time that you just had to tell your story and that there wasn't any particular way to do. I still have my high school attempt at home, and it's really not too bad compared to the one I did a few years back.
A few years back, November 1995 to be exact, I was telling a friend how I saw one of the characters in Forever Knight. I ended up telling that person a whole story, and they asked that I write it down. To this day, I cannot remember who the friend was nor will any of my friends own up to it, so I cannot attribute my beginnings to them. So, instead I credit Nigel Bennett for inspiring me to write. If I had not loved his portrayal of LaCroix so much, I would have never written two novels with him as the model for my vampires. From there I joined several writers groups on-line, and a local one here in Denton. I've had numerous short stories and poems published, some of which can be seen at http://byjoni.com/poetry/page1.html. I've also worked on the other side as a Managing Editor and an Arts Editor with an E-publishing house and Editor-In-Chief with Twilight Times. I have also served as Vice-President and President of the Denton Writers League, a local group of readers and writers.
I don't want to make a mint at writing. I don't even want to quit my day job to just write. I write as a release and as a way to put down my dreams so they aren't forgot. My only hope is that when do finally publish a novel that I'll garner a small following who love and devour my characters. Does this sound too corny?