Today, we have a treat. My good friend, J.L. MacDonald, has granted me an interview. Enjoy!
- Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?I had thought about it years ago when I first started writing. I didn’t want to be a complete mystery so I decided to use my initials and last name instead so there’s a bit of anonymity but not completely. In the future I’d like to write some other genres and I may write under a pen name then to avoid confusion for the readers who might see my name and automatically think the book is about superheroes.
- What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?I’ve been extremely lucky in that department. My best friend is an incredible editor/proofreader. (It was due to his editing of my stories that he decided to take the writing plunge himself)
- Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?I think it would really depend on what they are wanting to write and how much research they’d like to do on the subject. I wouldn’t think it would be much different than a female author writing for a male character or vice versa (as an example).
The writer could always use their … Vulcaness for lack of a better word…to their advantage as well. They could very well have a character that is pretty stoic.
Another thing is to take an emotion you are comfortable with and use that as a basis. As an example, let’s say I have a character that LOVES sports whereas I don’t. What I can do is use my passion of something else and transpose it to how that character feels. I’d of course have to do some research on the actual sport to get the terminology correct.
If a person wants to write, nothing should stop them from doing so.
- If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?Don’t let the empty MS Word page mock you or intimidate you. Ignore it, and the negative voices it your head, and just write. First drafts aren’t supposed to be perfect. Just get the idea down. You can’t edit something if it’s not there.
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?Renting a table at the Regina Comic Con a few years back. It was the first time I sold anything at a con so that experience was quite new to me. I also met Keith Dobranski (AKA Mod Master Heroclix) who knew me on Deviant Art. Neither one of us knew that we only lived an hour away. We became quick friends and Keith has done the cover art for “Metahumans vs Robots” and “Metahumans vs The Ultimate Evil”. Keith is a phenomenal artist and I like to poke his brain about art related questions I have.
- What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?So far I’ve only written two short stories from a male POV and I didn’t feel it was much different than writing from a female POV. When I wrote the one story from Det. David Rayner’s viewpoint, I was staying true to the character’s personality. He’s appeared in all, if not most, of my Nightcat stories so I know him pretty well and didn’t find it that difficult to write.
In my first Nightcat novel, several things happen to her that could only happen to a female. I may share the same gender as Nightcat, but our experiences are vastly different so in that respect so for me there’s no more difficulty writing for a female character than for a male character.
- Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?I do because you can sometimes get good feedback. I don’t have that many reviews at the moment, and only one had some criticisms. I feel like I can learn from those types of reviews and become a better writer.
I don’t mind if someone didn’t care for the book as everyone has different tastes. If I got a “This book sucks” review, without any explanation, then I’d be scratching my head trying to figure out if it was the genre they didn’t like, the writing or if they were simply a troll.
- If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?Oh, that’s easy. Write more.
- Have you ever Googled yourself?Some days when I’m bored. I have a fairly common name (there was one other person in my hometown that had the same first and last name and same middle initial) so I get a fair amount of hits. I’ve also Googled various character names of mine out of curiosity.
- So, you probably get asked this a lot but where did you get the idea for Nightcat?
I actually came up with the idea when I started high school. I was just getting into the superhero genre with the X-Men and Spider-man cartoons. I noticed that female cat characters were, for the most part, someone that had a penchant for cats and had lots ot tech to simulate a cat’s abilities. At the time I was also a big fan of Disney’s Gargoyles. One of the storylines involved human/cat hybrids. That got the cogs in my head turning and I it was then I decided to make a superhero that was actually a cat. One of the things I grappled with early on is whether or not to give Nightcat a mask. I’m a bit of a softie and didn’t want her to permanently be in a cat form, so I gave her the ability to change back into her human form. That basically gave her a built-in secret identity so logically she wouldn’t need to hide her identity with a face covering. I know there are some superheroes out there that don’t wear masks, but I think there’s more that do. Back then it was almost part of what made a superhero a superhero. It took me a while to come to get comfortable with the fact that Nightcat had no need for a mask. When I look back on it, I’m glad I didn’t give her one. It’s far easier to draw an expressive face on her without worrying about trying to convey it through a mask.
- How much of you is in Dana Harker?A fair amount actually. When I started writing about her, I knew I wanted to look at all aspects of her life and personality. I didn’t want to the character to be two dimensional. And being a newbie writer at the time, I used myself as a template in a way. I sat down and thought of my own likes and dislikes and gave some of them to Dana. Dana isn’t a carbon copy of me, she’s definitely her own person. We’re both techies and work with computers, but our jobs are quite different. She’s also a lot more comfortable being around people. Dana likes her alone time, but she isn’t socially awkward. Our sense of humour also differs a lot.
In regards to the similarities in appearance, it’s really only the red hair that’s the same. And honestly, I didn’t make her a Ginger because I’m one. Before I even thought what Dana would look like, I figured out Nightcat’s look and worked “backwards” to figure out Dana’s. Nightcat’s hair style, and colour, was inspired by Simba from The Lion King. Other than Nightcat’s alternate leg structure her body structure is the same in human form so it would stand to reason Dana would retain Nightcat’s red hair.
- How much of you is in Nightcat?It’s funny, because this answer is much different than the answer to the last question, even though Nightcat and Dana are the same person. Nighcat’s personality is pretty similar to Dana’s albeit a bit more outgoing. She can also handle being in the public eye without worrying what others think. Dana can handle it as well,but she would prefer to stay in the background. She also knows that she can’t really do that when she’s Nightcat so she just rolls with it.
Nightcat is quite good at making quips. It’s like she doesn’t really have to hold back like Dana would have to at work. I tend to think of great comeback lines long after the conversation is over.
Nightcat is quite confident. It’s not like she ever has to worry for her own safety (generally speaking) She knows that if something happens, she’ll be able to deal with it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not agoraphobic or anything but I don’t exactly walk down dark alleys at night either.
- If you could have a crossover between Nightcat and any mainstream comic character, who would it be? Would they start out as misunderstood opponents or would they be pals right off the bat?It’s kind of a toss up between Spider-man and Deadpool. Spidey is my favourite and I think he and Nightcat would get along, though his constant quips might make her shake her head. Plus there’s the age difference, depending on the version of Spider-Man of course. Nightcat is in her late 20s and if Spidey is depicted in his teens, there could be a small some disconnect there. For the most part, I think they’d get along. Possibly even having a teenage Spidey looking up to her.
As much as I love Spidey, I think a crossover between Nightcat and Deadpool would be far more humorous. DP’s juvenile behaviour and childish sense of humour would really throw Nightcat for a loop, and she would have no idea how to react.