"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Former Fire-fighter Heats up the Literary Scene as Author! A Q &A With Jimmy Gordon

1. Can you tell us a little about who you are and your background?

I would never, in my life, have thought that I would end up writing. I was the kid in the back of class avoiding the gaze of the teacher. I’d shriek when I would come across an essay question in place of the more mild mannered multiple choice option. It took me ten years to get through junior college! When I speak of how I got into writing I like to tell folks I fell into it...literally. I fell of off a train and broke my knee. I needed surgery. I was a professional firefighter at the time. A broken knee and that gig just do not mix. I was to be off of work for quite some time. During a visit to the firehouse the guys asked me what I was going to do with all of my time away, (as if physical therapy wasn’t enough). I had always been an avid reader, for some reason “I think I’ll write a book” popped out. They didn’t think I could do it. Well, to me that was a challenge and one I obviously accepted. I headed home that day, fired up the computer and started typing. That was a little over ten years ago. As of this week I started writing my seventh novel. Since then I’ve been rather active where literature is concerned. I’m on the board of directors for the Chicago Writer’s Association. I head up their Windy City Book Review Program. I’m a panelist for the Clive Cussler Adventure Writers Competition. I’m a mentor for a teen writer, (who by the way will have her first book published shortly). I was also instrumental in getting my hometown’s annual book festival going.
Aside from all of that, I am no longer a firefighter, another injury closed that chapter of my life. I’m now a husband, a father of two, I umpire high school and college baseball and finally, I’m the Den Leader for my little guy’s Cub Scout Pack. That’s about it….

2. Describe your creative process. Do you write everyday?

My creative process? Are you sure you want to know this? It involves martinis! No really, I don’t write every day. Up until my kids started going to school fulltime, which is recent, I pretty much fit writing in wherever I could. My son just entered first grade this year, so for the first time I finally have my weekday hours free. I generally write Monday through Friday now. I use my mornings for errands, exercise and the "honey do" type of things that come along with the marriage.
I write in the afternoons, starting out around lunch. I stop when I need to get my kids from school around three. Once the family has gone to bed I’ll be up on the computer, usually, until one in the morning, sometimes I’ll be writing new stuff, often times I’ll be cleaning up old stuff which is heading to the publisher/editor soon or I’ll be working on marketing the stuff already published. I take the weekends off. I need to catch up on my sleep. During the week I’m up with the kids at seven in the morning and that’s after typing away until one or two. As for the creative part, well, those martinis do help! Many of my ideas just come from the deep dark parts of my mind, I use a lot of things that have happened in my life or I wish had happened. Honestly, that’s a tough question, I just type and stuff pops out. At times I like it and go with it, other times I hit delete.

3. How would you define success as a writer?

That’s not up to me, that’s up to each writer on their own. As for me, and my success, that’s changed over time. At first it was just finishing that first book.
A major success for anyone! Then it was finding people who believe in my stuff enough to publish it, now it’s building an audience, which is really the toughest part. In this day and age it’s tough to get people to shell out $10.00 or $15.00 on a book. I am beginning to venture into the Kindle and Nooks, we’ll see where that goes.

4. What has been your most rewarding accomplishment thus far?

Writing that first book and publishing it, even though the publishing part was a terrible experience. I learned so much.

5. What would it surprise others to know about you?

I think I covered that when I answered question number one. Seriously, it surprises me that I have started writing my seventh novel. I recall finishing number six. I was sitting at a local establishment where I often go to write. My wife works from home a few days a week. When she does, our habits just do not blend and I need to get out of the house, thanks to lap tops and wifi it’s easy to do.
I claim a corner seat at a nearby bar, actually claim it, when I walk in folks move over, kind of cool. It's where I get those martinis I mentioned earlier, don’t get me wrong, I’m not following Hemingway, not that that's bad……but anyway, I finished that sixth novel and I threw it out there on Facebook and it hit me, how in the world did I write six books?
It still amazes me every day. It kind of hit me hard about a month or two ago; I was a judge at a poetry slam. The MC announced me and told the crowd a little about Jimmy Gordon. It was high school kids in the crowd, mostly. When he said I was the author of six novels I heard a few kids in the audience gasp with surprise, a very interesting feeling, a good one too for sure.

6. In your opinion, how has the publishing/writing industry changed in 2012, and how does it impact today‘s writer?

Actually, I recently talked about this in a guest post for a blog. I’ve often read that things change in the publishing industry at a snail’s pace. I have to disagree. In the ten years I’ve been in this business, I have seen the dynamics of this business change, well, dynamically. I think the biggest change has been in self publishing. I self published my first book, and at the time, I found, self published folks were scorned, dragged out into the streets, their backs whipped bloody and their books burned just for asking a book seller to shelf their book, even on consignment! Well now, you have big named folks like Joe Konrath setting the traditional model aside to self publish, not only to self publish but e publish.
I think e publishing will take the book business by storm, whether those big New York publishing houses want it to or not, which obviously, they don’t, but too frickin’ bad, right?

7. Who are some of your favorite authors?

My all time favorite is Bernard Cornwell. He writes historical fiction and let me say THAT MAN CAN WRITE!!!! I am simply amazed at how the words roll out as I’m reading his material. If I were half the writer, I’d be thrilled. I love Christopher Moore, Carl Hiaasen and Clive Cussler. The list of my favorites is long I’d love to list them all, and plug a bunch a who deserve it, but there is one gal named Jennifer Brown Banks…..

8. What‘s the biggest myth you think others have about writing or publishing?

Well, I think my case hits that point the best. Prior to my time in writing, as a reader I always saw writers as something like an introverted PHD sitting in some dark corner of a hipster cafĂ©. But anyone can write, anyone who puts their mind to it and just keeps writing. You’ll get there. As for publishing? Now that’s still a mystery to me. Why they pick to publish one writer over another, who knows?
I know a lot of great writers who should be published but they are not, while at the same time, there’s stuff out there I’ve read that never should have seen the light of day.
It’s a fickle business, what else can be said?

Thoughts? Comments?


  1. A special thanks to Jimmy for his time and interesting and informative responses.

    I'd like to respectfully disagree with one point expressed. I think it's a common myth that "everybody can write". I think everybody can be "creative". But it's not exactly the same thing. Good interview, Jimmy!

  2. Good post - I love reading about other writer's lives and work routine. And I'm certainly going to check out Bernard Cornwell as well as his fan, Jimmy!

  3. Hi Susan,

    Thanks so much. Always good to hear from you.

  4. Jennifer,

    I loved this interview with Jimmy. Thanks for sharing, and I will check out his writings. Also want to say that I have been enjoying these interview-type posts that you have been sharing with us. Very cool compliment to you by Jimmy in response to question #7.

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 17, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      Hi there, Yasmin,

      Long time, no hear from. :-)
      So glad you like the interviews. Variety is indeed the spice of life. Thanks so much for stopping by and weighing in.