Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
I’m Jon Del Arroz, known by most as “the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction”. I do a lot of work but I’m primarily known right now for my steampunk series, The Adventures of Baron von Monocle, which has won awards and is a multi-time #1 bestseller on Amazon, and my crowdfunded superhero romance graphic novel, Flying Sparks.
What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?
For Steam and Country (book 1 of Baron von Monocle) came about because I was at a convention talking with another writer and we were discussing how well we could write certain things. I don’t remember the details, but at some point I said “I bet I could accurately write from the perspective of a teenage girl” and it became a dare. Later, I went to Dragon*Con with my wife and we saw this beautiful Steampunk ball. The costumes inspired me and I knew where I was going to go with my dare. Zaira became my readers’ favorite character, so I think I did a good job!
For Flying Sparks, I originally had a story based on following a villain. Then Batgirl (the Stephanie Brown version) was cancelled, and it was my favorite book, so I wanted to add in a superhero with a similar wide-eyed plucky girl adventurer attitude. Eventually, I thought “wait, wouldn’t it be fun if they were dating and didn’t know they were enemies?” And so the concept was born.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Usually just a desire to see something and not seeing it exist out in the wild, so I try to remedy the situation by creating what I enjoy.
How do you deal with creative block?
I’ve never had it. I have too many ideas and not enough time to finish them all.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
I think over-editing is a problem a lot of authors have. There’s a raw emotion to the early drafts that if you tone it down too much it can kill the energy of a book. That excitement is what readers connect to. If you’re having fun, the readers will.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
Don’t skimp on the covers! Titles, I am just naturally good at coming up with. I don’t know how to develop that other than a lot of practice. I think I went through 10 different titles before finding For Steam And Country, but when it hit, I knew I’d found gold.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I love it. I use it for marketing! But I don’t get a ton of negative feedback about the work itself usually, it’s just folk who want to attack me for personal reasons (a weird online culture we live in now). When it’s actual criticism of the work itself I try to just to 100% let it go cuz otherwise you can stew forever and it slows your progress down on the next work.
How has your creation process improved over time?
Everything I write now is just so much cleaner and tighter than it used to be. I think it just comes from doing it over and over. It really took til about my 4th-5th book for everything to click and fire on all cylinders. But once I got there it all became a lot easier. I have a very rigid process now I don’t deviate from, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best for everyone. You have to find your way through doing.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
The worst was my first novel. I was so in love with it and wanted it to be my baby so badly, but it just wasn’t there. It took me 15 years to complete cuz I didn’t know what I was doing. After I came out with my first published book, I started re-writing it almost from scratch. That process was really painful and slow but I turned it into a really nice story (it became my novel The Stars Entwined). The process was SO much work, but well worth it, and that was really my biggest leap in learning how to write.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
Somewhat both. I write the story I want to write regardless. I think that’s the key to being an indie author. However, readers tell me they want things, like Von Moncle has a side character James Gentry who was really popular. I was told over and over that readers wanted him more developed, so I wrote Knight Training as a thank you to the readers, which is a book from his perspective. It just depends!
What role do emotions play in creativity?
It’s everything. The entire goal of art is to evoke an emotional response.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
I think the more you use that side of the brain, the more it naturally comes out. It’s like any other muscle. Gotta work at it to get strong.
What are your plans for future books?
I come out with books so fast it’s hard because I don’t know what to promote. Right now I’m focusing on Flying Sparks volume 2, which will be wrapped up on a kickstarter campaign shortly. Then I’ll get back to writing my steampunk world with a pair of books: Spy Training (James Gentry, The Steam Knight) and then Von Monocle Book 4: The Iron Wedding. I have a military sci-fi trilogy called The Saga Of The Nano Templar which is complete and should get published shortly as well, so look out for those!
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I’m really big into baseball. I wrote a novella about bringing baseball to the moon (Gravity of the Game), but I spend most of my free time at the ballpark. I have season tickets to the Oakland A’s and I try to talk about baseball a lot… but my audience really is not interested! I don’t care though, it’s so fun and I love it.