This is the second in what I plan to be a regular feature highlighting indie authors. Jim Bernheimer is part of the reason I began my own indie author journey. At this time last year that I discovered his novels, some published by Gryphonwood Press and some on his own imprint, EJB. The stories were unique and had a texture to them that I hadn’t found anywhere else, and I loved the characters immediately. Just as important as good stories is that Jim is a genuinely nice guy who responded to my e-mail last year when I wrote to ask questions about his self-published novels.
PT: Jim, first of all, thanks for taking the time for this interview. Like many indie authors you still have a day job that pays the mortgage. Since you’ve been writing, do you think of yourself as an I.T. specialist who writes, or a writer who also happens to be an I.T. specialist?
JB: I consider myself an I.T. specialist who is transitioning to a career in writing. I have a 10 year plan, but I can retire in just over 13 years, so it’s probably going to end up being a 13 year plan. (Assuming I don’t make it big before then of course.)
PT: You began your publishing journey in 2009 with the short story collection, Horror, Humor, and Heroes. How did you first publish? Was it through Amazon or did you use some other avenue?
JB: Horror, Humor, and Heroes was me testing the waters to see if I could actually write something original. I came out of the world of fan-fiction and don’t try to hide it. It doesn’t necessarily carry the stigma that it used to and I never let it bother me when it did. So, I got my sister-in-law to do the cover art and put it together for publication on Amazon and used Smashwords to get it into the rest of the markets.
PT: If you had a time machine and could go back and bestow some wisdom on past Jim before he published that first book, what would you say to him?
JB: I would have gone with a pen name. It’s the biggest piece of advice I can offer a new writer and here’s why – these things follow you around on the internet. One of the first places I sent Horror, Humor, and Heroes to a site for review, I chose a site and the reviewer took obvious offense to me being self-published and a fan-fiction writer. It devolved into something approaching a personal attack, but ultimately he used the word “Buttsex” in the title. When you Google me, it shows up, fortunately several pages back these days. Besides the fact that I have two daughters who will probably see it at some point, there is the matter of my day job which involves background checks and a security clearance. I haven’t had to answer a question about it yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it pops up one of these days. So, yeah my advice to past me and any others taking this up would be to strongly consider a pen name.
PT: How would you classify the genre of most of your novels?
JB: I write in a variety of genres, but really it’s just escapism. I write for entertainment – principally my own entertainment. Beyond the pen name advice, I also tell aspiring writers to write the stories they want to read. Don’t write something just because you think that Vampire Ninja Space Pirates is what will sell; write it because you believe Vampire Ninja Space Pirates is the absolute best novel you are currently capable of. Readers can see through it when you’re “mailing it in.”
PT: If someone were to read all of your published works, which one should they read first and why?
JB: It really depends on what the reader’s tastes are. I write high fantasy (Spirals of Destiny), urban fantasy (Dead Eye), science fiction (Clone Detective Mystery), and adventure (D-List Supervillain). When I’m at a convention, I always ask what the person who stops at my table likes to read. If they say Jim Butcher, I start talking about the Dead Eye books first. If they say comics, I go to D-List and so on.
Ultimately going by sales, Confessions of a D-List Supervillain has outsold everything else I have. If you go on Amazon (at the time of this writing) and sort by Average Customer rating, it is in the top 50 of all science fiction novels on Amazon. If you go to Science Fiction/Adventure it is number 25 and in the Fantasy/Superhero sub-category it is the top rated novel…numero uno! There’s always going to be someone that will outsell me. I know it. I accept it, but I can smile knowing that I still wrote a damn good book even if it doesn’t have a big publisher behind it.
PT: Most of your novels are in series. Which is your favorite and why?
JB: Probably D-List (which will eventually be a 4 book series). I’m a sucker for the Anti-hero. He doesn’t always have to be the goody-two-shoes. Cal can be crass and annoying. It’s refreshing to write a character who has flexible moral boundaries.
PT: Let’s just say you win a big lottery. Do you give up your day job and write full-time for the rest of your life?
JB: Well my Powerball numbers didn’t come up, but if they did, I’d quit and write until I run out of ideas.
PT: Can you give us a preview of what you have coming up the rest of this year?
JB: Spirals of Destiny Book Two: Sorceress should be done by late summer. After that, I’m going to write both the prequel and the first sequel to D-List. The prequel will be Origins of a D-List Supervillain and the sequel will be Trials of a D-List Supervillain. I hope to have both of these done before the Christmas shopping season. In 2014, I hope to have the final installment – Fate of a D-List Supervillain done and then return to Mike Ross and the Dead Eye universe.
Thanks for your time Jim. I am truly a fan of your books and am looking forward to the new ones later this year. If anyone reading this has contacts in Hollywood, let them know that D-List would make a great feature film and the Dead Eye series would be a great TV series. For readers who want to find some really unique sci-fi, fantasy, and horror Jim’s books are available for e-readers as well as in print. You can find more about Jim and his work at his website JimBerheimer.com and his Amazon page. As always, if you like what you reader here please hit the Facebook and Twitter share buttons below.