Who is J.W Northrup?
My youth was spent on sports and on the outdoors – much of it with my father – wandering through the beauty of the high mountains, feeling the tranquility of the outdoors and the sense of adventure that comes therein, only to return to the dissonance and conflicts, the rules and regulations of modern civilization. And I believe because of that, I developed a rather exterior view of life.
I began writing in the mid 80’s. Back then I was literally writing as a professional calligrapher and my works adorn many a wall with a favorite saying or poem.
But life as a starving artist was not suitable for me nor was a professional pursuit of the mind and the spirit as offered by the established institutions. Psychobabble was repulsive to my sense of scientific logic and administering drugs as a solution to mental disorders was even more abhorrent and degrading to a human being, despite the promise of a healthy income that seems to come with a diploma hanging on the wall. I nevertheless caved into a pursuit of some kind of monetary success by entering the trade of a designer.
Thus I became skilled at the art of 3D modeling in the field of mechanical design for engineers – which was rather ironic as my purpose was not the technical expertise and accuracy they required, but rather, whether or not the models I created were beautiful – which is the artist in me. I got away with it because my models WERE beautiful and because I grudgingly spent the required time to add the technical details that satisfied the requirements of the anal mind of an engineer.
Knowing that my real purposes were somewhat deviant in the field of engineering, I began writing in the mid 80’s as an outlet for my creativity and my desire to communicate and because my life would never be believed unless it was written down on paper.
I have written two novels and dozens of hilarious short stories describing some of the more bizarre events in my life and will continue to do so until I have faded away an there is no more to write about.
Alex Laybourne: Good Evening.
Jim Northrup: Hello,
Alex Laybourne: It took a little while, but we made it, I am looking forward to talking with you.
Jim Northrup: Yes, hope this proves interesting.
Alex Laybourne: I shall do my best, sir. You came highly recommended by my friend Nick Wale,
Jim Northrup: We have a good time. He and I think a lot alike.
Alex Laybourne: That is a good sign for our conversation then.
Alex Laybourne: What has the reaction to ‘The Gold Slaves’ been like?
Jim Northrup: Well, it is just out and is my first published work. I’m pretty much in the promotion phase currently, and looking forward to receiving some feedback. Thus far it has all been good.
Alex Laybourne: The first publication is certainly a nerve-racking event. How has it compared in reality to the way you undoubtedly played it out in your head?
Jim Northrup: That never happens. You want your book to be published and poof! Everybody wants it!. Bestseller! I mean it is your baby. Everybody’s baby is the most beautiful baby. Then you come down to reality.
Alex Laybourne: I remember that come down alright. Does your publisher help out with some of the promotional work or are you self-reliant on that score?
Jim Northrup: There is help with advice. There’s help getting it published and putting it out there. But promotion is pretty much on my own. Which can be daunting! So many things out there; Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, etc. Nick Wale has been helping me with that.
Alex Laybourne: Nick is a great guy, he has given me no end of advice when it comes to my own writing. What have you found to be the most difficult hurdle in the transition from writer, to published writer, and now promoter?
Jim Northrup: I think the writing is in my nature and what I do. I was never much into social media, but that is a necessary component to being successful – You’ve got to promote yourself – which again is not in my nature. But it’s something you just have to learn to do.
Alex Laybourne: Social media, blogging, as you have said, these are things that the modern writer needs to adapt to include. Many a writer has been swallowed up by the promotion machine. Yet at the end of the day, selling one book is harder than selling multiple books. Are you already working on your second novel?
Jim Northrup: Well actually I already have a second novel completed.
Alex Laybourne: Wow that is impressive. Is it a direct sequel to The Gold Slaves?
Jim Northrup: No, but it is a similar genre and story. I’m actually working on a sequel to the Gold Slaves now.
Alex Laybourne: You are, by the sound of things, quite the prolific writer; a man much as I. Do you have the luxury of being able to write full-time or do you have an ‘evil day job’ to keep you distracted?
Jim Northrup: Yes! I love the description! “An evil day job!” I’m not yet at the point where I can do this thing full-time. Bills to pay….
Alex Laybourne: Yet you have managed to write and publish a book, complete a second and start working on a third. Can you allow me a little glimpse into your daily routine?
Jim Northrup: Yep. Go to work, get off, go home and write, and then on the weekends.. I write. Of course you try to have some kind of a life in there. But it takes dedication if you want to quit your day job.
Alex Laybourne: I understand you on that one. I have a full-time job, which now appears to be taking a turn for the (much) better, and giving me the opportunity to travel the world a little, but coupled with raising four children, finding time to write certainly means any form of social life is impossible. You sum it up well however when you say, and I believe this was in an interview with Nick, that you are a writer, it is something you need to do. Writing is indeed a compulsion, something we are born to do, but how long have you considered yourself to be ‘a writer’?
Jim Northrup: Interesting, never really thought of that. I have always been an artist, but I suppose writing began in my 30’s – when I made an interesting transition from being a calligrapher to a writer. It is actually an interesting progression. With calligraphy you write beautifully and people love the “art” in the writing – adds to the message. Then you begin to write and the actual message -not the text is beautiful. I began writing about my life and people seem to like it – because my life was very interesting at the time. Hope that answers the question.
Alex Laybourne: It certainly does. Are you saying that your life is no longer quite so interesting?
Jim Northrup: Not as interesting. I had some pretty wild adventures. I guess sitting at the computer writing is not quite as interesting as running the Boston Marathon.
Alex Laybourne: The best adventures are the ones you are not expecting, what is the wildest things that you have had happen to you in your life thus far?
Jim Northrup: Actually I have written these all in a series of short stories. I’m just trying to figure out how to publish them – maybe just on my blog. I had some pretty interesting experiences working in France. Most notably – being all alone and taking the wrong train late at night ending up in the middle of a foreign land…
Alex Laybourne: Sounds like something people need to read. Have you thought about publishing them individually on Kindle; 99 cents kind of things? Get your work out there with your name attached; get people hooked on JW Northrup?
Jim Northrup: Sounds interesting. I’m just getting started at the getting published games; there is still a lot to learn. Thanks for the suggestion!
Alex Laybourne: My pleasure, it seems to have worked for me… this month at least. To come neatly back to your writing, how long did it take you to write The Gold Slaves?
Jim Northrup: Well, that began as my first novel 20 years ago! The first draft was repulsive and bore little resemblance to the final product today. But I kept working on it, got some critiques. It was like training. You really learn to write by writing. So all in all, 20 years. But only recently have I really devoted full-time to writing – which is what it takes to get published.
Alex Laybourne: Indeed it is, but it was clearly worth the hard work. One of your reviews can be quoted as saying;’ Enjoy it! This book is a huge breeze of fresh air into one of the most overcrowded genres in books.’ How does it feel to read such a wonderful response from someone to something you have written?
Jim Northrup: That’s what it is all about! That is why I write. I don’t do it for myself; I do it to create a good effect on others. A little acknowledgement makes it all worth it!
Alex Laybourne: That is a healthy attitude. I always say that I write because it is what I was made to do. You clearly feel the same way. We have already heard that it took two decades to fully prepare yourself for rounding off your first book. What is the most important message you have learned along the way?
Jim Northrup: Follow your true dreams and don’t let the naysayers convince you to “face reality”. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do what you truly want. BUT at the same time, you need to realize it will take hard work, and if you’re not willing to do that, you’re probably not following the right purpose.
Alex Laybourne: Hard work is the name of the game. I am so tired of the current generation and their belief in entitlement over working for what you truly desire. Do you have a particular system you like to follow with your writing, or are you more of a free spirit in terms of plotting your work and following guidelines?
Jim Northrup: I usually start with a general simple “concept”. With The Gold Slaves, it was very simple, it was just the idea of someone not knowing there was an “out” (The Gold Slaves are confined to underground mines and don’t even know they are “in” something). From there it became “how do I make a story out of it” and it kinda evolves from there.
Alex Laybourne: The open approach certainly leaves your with a lot of scope in terms of plot and movement. I also think it allows our truly creative side to come out. Do you write every day?
Jim Northrup: Pretty much. Promotion has become somewhat distracting of late. Some days I spend my time just writing promotional stuff (Facebook, blogs, Twitter), which cannot really be called “writing”, it’s just being cute for PR purposes – not writing a novel for publishing. I need to streamline things so I can get back to what I did before my novel was published – which is simply writing!
Alex Laybourne: I hear you on that front. I shall not monopolize your Sunday for too much longer, and will end on a question that I often dread being asked, but find myself drawn to posing when the tables are turned. If push came to shove, can you put a finger on what it is about writing that you love so much. What is it about this un-masterable craft of ours that drives you?
Jim Northrup: 1. I’m creating my own profession – not working on someone else’s purpose. 2. I honestly enjoy sitting down and creating a story. 3. I want to create a good effect on others, maybe provoke some new thinking, and maybe just make them chuckle or laugh, or even cry. 4. When someone buys your book, they actually want to “listen” to you and you have the opportunity to communicate with them. I like that idea.
Alex Laybourne: I could not think of four better points to answer on. It has been my pleasure to chat with you this evening, and if you ever want to sit down again, my door will always be open.
His novel; The Gold Slaves is available via Amazon, and is highly recommended. In fact, come back tomorrow for a special extract from his novel.