Jeff Whelan is the author of the highly reviewed Space Orville. Wherever you look you find wide praise for his book, currently available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. (My daughter, a huge science fiction fan, already has Space Orville on her TBR!)
He’s also a great guy, who’s always available to help other authors, spreading the word about them and their books.
So, let’s learn more about him!
Please, tell us a little about yourself.
Wow – okay. Let’s start with my name, Jeff Whelan. I’m a Pisces. I enjoy long walks in the sunshine, fuzzy robes, slinkies and . . . waitaminute . . . wrong interview. Let’s start over.
I was born in Oak Park, IL, near Chicago and am the oldest of children. My family moved to DeKalb, IL when I was about 3 and I’ve lived here most of my life with the exception of 9 months traveling with a carnival on the east coast and 3 years in San Francisco. I’ve worked for over 20 years as a special education paraprofessional at the high school level and also work nights from home as a remote medical transcriptionist. I’ve been blissfully married for 16 years and have 2 brilliant children. I also act and have been a member our local community theater for 19 years.
As for my writing, aside from several short stories posted on my blog, I currently have only one book in publication, my humorous, young adult science fiction adventure, “Space Orville”, which I started in high school and finally managed to finish some 18 years later. After nearly 10 years of desperately trying to break into print, the advent of the independent e-book made it possible for me to publish “Space Orville” myself on line. “Space Orville” can now be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords & Lulu. Links to everything are posted below.
How long have you been writing?
Ever since I could grasp a crayon and print my name.
Do you remember the first story you wrote?
The first significant story that I can remember was something I wrote in 6th grade called “The D-Barrier”. It was about a couple that was trying to film images of ghosts using a tricked-out holographic video camera. When the camera is accidentally left running, strange beasties from another dimension creep through and wreak havoc in our world. Wish I still had that. I went on, in middle school, to write a couple of radio mysteries for our local public radio station which used to host a Young People’s Radio Festival. Our school librarian, Mrs. Phyllis Horton, liked my writing and encouraged me to enter. Our ensemble won first prize.
Can you tell us two eccentricities about yourself?
Just two? Well, there’s my passion for dashikis – African, Indian, South American, you name it. Got a bunch of ’em. They’re beautiful and really comfortable. Oh, and I can wiggle my eyeballs at will.
What was the best thing you’ve ever heard (or read) from a reader?
So many people have said so many wonderful things. My first reader review, by Megan Broutian, was very thrilling. Here was someone I didn’t know who stated she was “in awe” and found my book “witty and well-written”. As if that weren’t special enough, the next reader to post a review stated I served up “vivid description, priceless Lewis Carroll-like dialogue and wordplay, as well as meditations both profound and playful” and created “that literary miracle J.K. Rowling accomplished: an expansive, fully formed, vibrantly imagined, believably magical world.” Honestly, comparisons like that? They both delighted and humbled me a great deal. I remain eternally grateful for all who have posted such kind and thoughtful comments.
Do you have a good Indie author to recommend?
Oh my, yes. Michael K. Rose is a master of the modern short story. His stuff compels you to read until you are finished. I am eager to read his longer works, like his science fiction series, “Sullivan’s War”. Also, R.G. Lawrence, who demonstrates tremendous versatility in his storytelling with an expert grasp on character development and pacing. His novel, “Golden Boy” was fantastic and I am just about finished with “The Circle”, which has me on the edge of my seat.
Honestly, though, I’ve read so many good things by so many amazingly talented indies – Rolando Garcia, Martha Rodriguez & Ford Forkum to name a few – whose talent rivals that of any popular print author. The amount of talent out there in the independent e-book world is simply stunning. My TBR list is huge.
Who inspired and/or supported you to become a writer?
I must give a lot of credit to the school librarian I mentioned earlier, Mrs. Phyllis Horton, for her support and encouragement all those years ago. She got me believing that my writing might be worth something. We all need a Mrs. Horton in our lives. Authors and past teachers aside, my wife and 2 sons are now my biggest source of inspiration and support.
Do you have a WIP (Working in progress)? If so, can you tell us a little about it?
A sequel to Space Orville, tentatively titled “Methuselah’s Cradle”, is in the development phase, i.e., scribbled notes, ideas and outlines. Hate to give away any spoilers, but it involves a quest to recover stolen time. I am also working on a follow-up to a well-received autobiographical short I wrote titled “Greyhound”, about the first time I left home at 19. Readers of that story on my blog have been clamoring for more of that tale.
What is your favorite of your books? Why?
Well, since “Space Orville” is the only full-length book I have ever completed and published I guess that would have to be it. Why? Probably because I actually managed to complete and publish it. That and I just like the story. It was deliciously fun to write.
What is your favorite of your characters? Why?
I can certainly relate to Space Orville himself since I remember what it was like to be an adolescent on the verge of adulthood, wanting to assert my independence and face new challenges on my own yet still feeling hampered by the adults surrounding me. But my favorite character would have to be NeutroFuzz, Space Orville’s constant companion. NeutroFuzz is a magnaradiant, capable of the most amazing things. I love him (I’m still assuming it’s a “him”) because he’s so incredibly versatile and is not limited to any behavioral constraints that plague other species. The most outlandish thing I can imagine, NeutroFuzz can probably do.
Do you like to interact online? What’s your favorite social media?
Yikes. Well, I recently saw a tweet that stated “Twitter is a full-time job” and, for an independent author, I suppose that’s all too true. That’s what it feels like, anyway. Actually, I shunned all social media until Space Orville’s publication, at which point my wife said I no longer had a choice if I wanted anyone at all to know about my book. She was right, of course. So, I plugged into Facebook and Twitter, but that’s still as far as I’ve gotten. As we indies work without the benefit of any powerhouse print publisher to promote our work, it falls upon us to engage in shameless self-promotion to get our stuff noticed.
The astonishing thing, however, is how this vast, global network of independent authors and artists works to support each other. Tweeting, re-tweeting, sharing, re-posting, comments, reviews, recommendations, guest blog and interview opportunities such as this . . . it’s utterly remarkable to be a part of this mammoth collection of brilliant people who are constantly paying it forward and helping each other out. When it’s working right, the social media can be a fine example of good karma in action.
How do you feel about marketing your books?
Can’t stand it. Let me re-phrase that. I’ve never been that great at tooting my own horn and it was quite an adjustment to have to spout off about how great my work was and why everybody should read it. But once I learned how it all works and found myself a part of that miraculous machine I mentioned above, I was able to get into it a little more. When I have an opportunity to share good things about others and they, in turn, are kind enough to share good things about my work, then I’m not so self-conscious about it all. Still, it is a time-consuming affair and there are many times I must force myself to sit down at the computer, again, to commence with yet another round of marketing and self-promotion. But, since I also get the chance to help promote the work of others, I don’t feel so bad about it.
Please, give us all your links – where can your readers find you and your books?
Okay, here goes:
Kindle owners can find Space Orville at Amazon: http://amzn.to/GP7Eps. Nook users can find him at Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/H95HR4. He can also be found in other formats at Smashwords, http://bit.ly/GSUSVJ and Lulu http://bit.ly/PwIJen.
I have a WordPress blog at http://bit.ly/H2U4cH and love visitors. I have a page at The Independent Author Network, http://bit.ly/H4uh5j, that likes visitors, too. I have a personal Facebook page http://on.fb.me/NrVm6s as does Space Orville http://on.fb.me/OHKfWW. Finally, I have a very active Twitter account at http://bit.ly/LQUTON. My Twitter handle is @SpaceOrville. Followers welcome!
Thank you so much, Renata, for this wonderful opportunity to share with your readers. It’s indies like you presenting features like this who keep this fantastic machine working the way it should. Hats off to you for your unparalleled support of indie authors everywhere. And I am greatly looking forward to digging into “Mean”! Cheers!
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Jeff! It’s really astonishing how the Indie Author Community (or should I say ‘family’?) embraces new members like myself. All I’m doing is paying it forward, and it feels great! 🙂
P.S. -Really hope you like “Mean”! Please let me know your impressions!
And readers, don’t go anywhere! Stay tuned for next interview on Monday.
- If you’re an author and want to be in my spotlight, contact me!