JCM Berne codes by day. By night he retreats to his secret lair and fights the deconstruction of the superhero genre by writing stories where the heroes are trying to do the right thing and, for the most part, succeed.
He spends far too much time on twitter, discord, and instagram, whispering to himself that scrolling through one more set of pictures of expensive watches will somehow further his writing career.
Welcome to The Fantasy Review, and thank you for agreeing to this interview! To start this off, can you describe your book in 3 words?
Superhero space action.
How much input did you have on the cover design?
I gave my cover artist, Chris McGrath, a character description and a few options for the background. He picked from there and I couldn’t be happier! I had a lot more input into the cover of book 3, mostly because I had a specific idea for how I wanted that one to look.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, what does a typical day entail for you?
Not as much as I should! I get to my desk around 7. For the next 12 hours or so I alternate work (my day job) with surfing the web, discord, twitter, and writing. On a weekend or day off I do less of the day job and more of those other things. Occasionally I eat or drink something.
Are you a planner or pantser? Or somewhere in between? How does this affect planning characters, worldbuilding etc…?
I am mostly a planner. Like pretty much every planner, some parts of my outlines are less detailed than others, and I have things I have to figure out in the moment. I also sometimes come up with clever things while writing and adjust the outline as needed.
I’m definitely the sort of writer who needs a written timeline somewhere so I can track all the character movements. If there’s some bad guy we don’t hear from for two days, I need to have an idea why they were out of action for that time or what they were doing. I’m not sure the readers care but I have meticulous notes for all of that sort of thing.
I do come up with worldbuilding on the spur of the moment. I think if I had every little detail planned beforehand the writing would be boring!
We all have certain books that inspire us. What authors and books inspire your writing?
I am most directly inspired in this series by Robert Kirkman’s Invincible (yes, I know, not a book). More generally I’m inspired by the fantasy serial standalones of my youth like Steven Brust’s Jhereg, Steve Perry’s Matador series, and Jim Butcher’s Dresden files.
Do you have any other favourite authors and books?
I’m friends with a lot of indie authors, but I can’t objectively review their books so I’m going to skip over most of them. I’m a Steven Erikson fanboy, even if I don’t really aspire to write like him. I love Glen Cook and always have. Will Wight is my comfort food, though I’m not sure Cradle is actually good. I love Martha Wells’ Murderbot but I have to admit to not having tried her fantasy. Ann Leckie is tremendous. Matthew Stover’s Caine series isn’t talked about enough. Christopher Hinz’ Paratwa series was amazing and also overlooked. I’m sure there are more!
What are your future writing plans? Do you have plans for other standalones or series?
I fully intend to write many, many books in the Hybrid Helix. Book 4 is plotted and I’m excited to start it. I have very loose plans for many more. I did need a break, so I’m working on a side project – a wuxia thriller, it’s John Wick meets Taken starring Michelle Yeoh and set on Cradle. I have no idea if what I come up with will be worth publishing or not! If it is, I’ll be sure to tell the world.