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culver & venice: How are you now that The Sun Born Over is out? Are you excited?
j. d. may: Oh yes! This is quite an experience.
culver & venice: So, as you know, we’ve been talking a lot about fiction and fiction-writing here at von reuth and culver & venice. What brought you to write The Sun Born Over?
j. d. may: I don’t know actually. It kind of just happened. That sounds really awful, doesn’t it? “I accidentally wrote a book” isn’t very helpful, I guess, especially since it’s not very accurate. Let me see. In a way it’s always kind of been there, but I think it really started with Three Oaks, the peace of the place. Everything else progressed from there.
culver & venice: Is Three Oaks a real place then?
j. d. may: The idea of one, yes.
culver & venice: How long did you take to write The Sun Born Over? Weeks, months, or years?
j. d. may: The first genuine draft took about a year. I worked on it on and off after that and had some really great support, online and offline, that helped me see what needed changing and what could be left out. Put together, it was probably not more than two, maximum three years, but spaced out across a few more.
culver & venice: Was it difficult writing it?
j. d. may: It wasn’t a chore if that’s what you mean. It could get frustrating, but I kept on going back to it. Part of it was wanting to know what happened next, why the two do what they do.
culver & venice: What were you aiming at when you first started?
j. d. may: Entertainment. I read so many dull books in my work-life – very worthy books, subject-wise, but not exactly entertaining – that I kept on wanting something light and fun to read. There were a few books I read that were exactly that, of course. There are a great many entertaining books out there, so it wasn’t for the lack of supply. It was more that reading those stories made me want to finish writing The Sun Born Over, and I wanted it to be the kind of book that gets readers really involved, just like the books I was reading got me stuck to the pages.
culver & venice: Taking your first Amazon review into account, were there alternative endings you considered?
j. d. may: Actually, no. Ok, let me rephrase that: that’s not how it was. It was more like watching two people make the decisions they made and seeing where they ended up after making them. I at times felt I didn’t have much say on what they were doing, if you get what I mean. I hope that makes sense.
culver & venice: So where do you as an author come in?
j. d. may: I write it down. It sounds really mundane, but that’s what you do: you take a pen and piece of paper, or open up a file on your computer, and start writing. You put it to paper and try not to turn it into code in the process, as in, something only you understand but other people can’t really follow. I think the hardest part in writing is figuring out what needs to be said and what can be left out.
culver & venice: Do you feel you know that now?
j. d. may: For me it’s an on-going process. I also think that it really depends on the kind of story you’re writing, though the questions remain the same: do I need this, can I leave that out, where do I draw the line? That never stops. I really admire writers who are able to get it right after the first few times.
culver & venice: Do you think it’s a talent?
j. d. may: I think it’s a great skill to have, a bit like chipping away at stone to get the statue. Some are really quick about it, others take more time, but the result is what counts. It’s just that the process varies wildly from writer to writer.
culver & venice: Speaking of which, you’re a bit of an art fan, aren’t you?
j. d. may: Oh yes, though I wouldn’t say it’s exceptional. I enjoy visiting museums and galleries when I find the time.
culver & venice: Are you working on anything new at the moment?
j. d. may: A few poems and spoken word experiments, actually, but the world of poetry is not an easy place to be in. There are so many incredibly talented people out there, it’s pretty daunting but also very inspiring.
culver & venice: So we can look forward to a poetry collection in the near future?
j. d. may: I’d absolutely love that. As you know, though, it’s not always that easy. We’ll see.
culver & venice: Thank you, j. d., for taking your time to answer our questions.
j. d. may: Thank you, it was a pleasure.