DJ Renner, author of The Adventures of Silas Freethorn: A Puritan Tale
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by DJ Renner, author of The Adventures of Silas Freethorn. Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Darrin.
DJR: Thank you for having me.
SPS: For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself and your work?
DJR: I am a social studies teacher in upstate New York. The Adventures of Silas Freethorn was my first book. I always wanted to get into writing but instead became a sporting goods sales representative and then a teacher. I work a lot with the English Department in my school on projects. We are constantly searching for historical fiction that can be used to link our curriculums. My first book was written to fit a need for early North American colonization adventure that we were struggling to find a book for. The setting for the book is the mid-1600’s and the main character grows up in Puritan New England before being forced to flee.
SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
DJR: Late at night after my three children have gone to bed. All three are athletes and I coach at my school so most of my writing is done late or for full days on a school break or summer vacation. I am constantly taking notes and planning when working on a book to be ready for those writing opportunities when they arrive.
SPS: Can you put your finger on the moment where you decided that you wanted to publish your work?
DJR: When the idea for the Silas Freethorn book came to me in early 2013. All the literature I had come across for early colonization was based in English, Spanish, French, or Native American Indian cultures. It occurred to me to write an adventure book that took one character through all these cultures. It was always my goal to eventually publish but really became a reality when my wife read it and gave her stamp of approval.
SPS: Why do you think it is that you have found yourself writing in the style that you do?
DJR: To find historical fiction that appeals to the English teacher I work with, we have read nearly a hundred books over the last 15 years. I am also the Middle School Book Club advisor at my school and constantly read Young Adult titles. I’m sure this combination has influenced my style.
SPS: What would you say, if anything, best differentiates you from other authors?
DJR: It is easiest to answer this with feedback readers have given me. People seem to enjoy that the story contains adventure and a strong male role model but also an innocent love story that shows a sensitive side to my writing.
SPS: Where does the inspiration for your work come from?
DJR: The desire to write books that have an emotional impact on the reader, like my favorite young adult authors R.J. Polacio, John Green, and Karen Hesse consistently accomplish.
SPS: Have you received a favourite review of your work?
DJR: Rhonda Triller from The Post Star Newspaper wrote a nice piece for an article on local authors. The reviews that have impacted me the most are those by older readers that have praised Silas Freethorn for taking them on a trip down memory lane of their middle school years in a very entertaining way.
SPS: What’s next on the self-publishing horizon for yourself?
DJR: Raising Dad, Using Middle School Rules is in the late editing stages. Written from the perspective of an eighth grade girl and her seventh grade brother, they struggle to hold their family together after experiencing a tragedy. The girl uses school rules she has learned to guide her through emerging challenges at home and in school. Each chapter title is a school rule. I am very excited about the positive reaction from my first group of readers. I also have a professional article that is going to appear in the next edition of NYSEC’s publication, The English Record.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
DJR: No, but after speaking to some people in publishing and learning about the differences between traditional and self publishing it seemed like the better option for me. Being a teacher, coach, and parent are also big parts of my life. It’s nice to be able to write when I can, with no pressure of deadlines, for now.
SPS: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?
DJR: It has been rewarding in many ways. I was not prepared for the fact that marketing would be a whole other job, that now shares time with finding opportunities to write. I’ve always been kind of private in my personal life. I’m now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and learning to adjust to sharing my journey.
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
DJR: Before you publish, do a lot of research on the marketing aspect.
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
DJR: Rebecca Rupp, Megan Abbott, JD Spero all have great books I have recently read.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today, and all the best for the future.
DJR: I have really enjoyed the opportunity.
SPS: For more information on DJ Renner and his work, please do visit DJ’s author page here at The Showcase