Interview With Author J. A. McIntosh

Please introduce yourself and your books!

My name is J. A. McIntosh and I write about imperfect people seeking justice. My series is set in Meredith, Massachusetts, a rural town just outside of Worcester. All my characters are involved with the juvenile justice system in Massachusetts. Niagara Fontaine is an attorney for the Department of Children and Families; A. B. Hartwell is a juvenile court judge, and Jesus Raphael Leary is a grandparent raising an infant and trying to reconcile the conflicting parts of his life.

What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?

I started writing my books because of my admiration for the people who struggle each day to make life better for the children of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I spent twenty-five years as an attorney in the juvenile justice system and still do contract work for the court. I wanted to humanize these people, and accent how they deal with the trauma and chaos on a daily basis.

How do you deal with creative block?

My writing is my work. I get up most days and write for two hours. I don’t have writer’s block because I write no matter what I am feeling. If the writing is really bad, it just gets put away. I live in a small town, less than 9,000 people, and walking down the street inspires me and gives me creative ideas. My struggle is to get them on the page so that they are as fascinating and intriguing as I perceive them to be. I also try to write part of my novel later in the day, but my paying job involves writing, so I must do that also.

What inspires/inspired your creativity?

My desire is to have people read my books. This means I make different choices than if my main goal were to have people buy my books. I put effort into maintaining relationships with my readers, by doing appearances at libraries and conferences, by answering all emails, and by having an informative, fun newsletter. I talk about my rubber ducky collection, my obsession with gardening, and the fact that I decided to start karate lessons when I was the oldest person in the room.

Of course, I also want people to buy my book, but I am interested in maintaining a relationship for future readers and future sales.

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself:

I am an extrovert and have a great time at public appearances. I enjoy meeting people and talking about common interests, and I have put effort into making sure that my presentations are informative and entertaining. I do not enjoy doing social media so I hired a social media consultant. She is exceptional and, while I cannot say that the process is fun, it is now tolerable. Though I knew I was in this for the long haul, to build readership, I am surprised by the amount of time I devote to tasks other than writing.

When I took early retirement in June 2015, I developed a five-year plan for writing. My first book, Niagara Fontaine, a Meredith Massachusetts novel, was published in September 2018. My second in the series, A. B. Hartwell, is due to come out in the summer of 2019, and the third, Jesus Raphael Leary, in 2020.

My best advice for writers is to put your butt in the chair and write/type. To paraphrase Nora Roberts, you can fix a bad page but you can’t do much with a blank page.

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