MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR J.B. HAVENS!
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
I’m J.B. Havens, I write both military thrillers, zombie horror, and a little bit of science fiction.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
For the Steel Corps Series, I literally had a dream. Yeah, I know, sounds cliché but it’s true. I had a dream about the main character, Bea Michaels, and it snowballed from there. For the Zombie Instinct Series, I was brainstorming with an author friend of mine. I knew I wanted to write a zombie series, but I also was very aware that the genre is saturated and I needed to make the books stand out somehow. We came up with the idea of making the zombies self-aware and operate on a hive mind mentality, with a queen. I already had the main character, Molly Everett, from two short stories I’d previously written. It all fit and came together so to speak.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
For my military books, I’ve always been fascinated with the armed forces and a great supporter of our troops. While I’ve never served, I really admire those that have. I did my best to write an accurate novels, while still keeping the black ops feel to it. As for zombies, I’ve been a huge zompoc fan for a long time, movies, books, etc. I just HAD to write a zombie series.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
For my Steel Series, I did a lot of research. Weapons, ranking systems, lingo, etc. I also spoke with current and former military as much as I could. I know it’s not 100% accurate, but it’s as close as I feel like I could get it seeing how I haven’t served. For Zombie Instinct, there wasn’t a ton of research to do beyond geography and such. That’s the beauty of it, you can just let your imagination run wild.
Can you tell me about your Series?
The Steel Corps Series is a military thriller series based around Steel Corps. They are a special operations group based out of a top secret compound in rural Pennsylvania. Made up of each branch of the military they are a cohesive unit, a real family. They get their orders from the DoD and the POTUS. From there they go on missions around the world, eliminating bad guys and threats to the United States.
Zombie Instinct, is about an average woman, Molly Everett as she tried to survive the zombie apocalypse. A virus wipes out most of the population. Those left alive, are naturally immune. Of course, the dead infected didn’t stay dead. Fighting her way north, Molly hopes the cold will at least slow down the dead and give her an advantage. Until a blizzard forces her to take shelter in a small grocery store. Inside, she finds a teenage girl, Kelle. Trapped inside by the storm, Molly does her best to stay out of Kelle’s way and rest while she can. A deadly surprise inside the walk-in cooler changes them both forever.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
My favorite book in the Steel Corps Series, is book Three, Forged by Steel. In this one, the team goes to Russia to go after sex traffickers, i.e. the Russian mob. I also had to do a fair amount of research for this book. Both on the Russian mob, Russian special forces, and geography/maps of the area. It was a ton of fun to write. For Zombie Instinct, my favorite is Molly: The Beginning. It was a real labor of love. Originally just a short story, I expanded it into a novella. For such a short book it took me almost two years to finish it. I have a love/hate relationship with Molly. Lol.
Was it always meant to become a series?
Yes, both series were always meant to be several books long. Steel Corps is finished, all five books have been released. Zombie Instinct is just getting started. I don’t know how many books it will be.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
It varies, on my work schedule at my day job. When I can, I try to write in the morning and afternoon. I have a small corner desk in the corner of my living room. I usually write there or on the couch.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
I am working on the third book in the Zombie Instinct series, I don’t have a title for it yet though. I always title my books last. Honestly, I’m terrible at titles.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
I would love to do some more science fiction. Maybe something in space with aliens.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
That’s easy, editing! I do as much self-editing as I can stand before sending it off to my editor and/or publisher. But I’m really terrible at it. I rely heavily and the pros.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Winning an award for Core of Steel. Also I’d have to say getting a publishing contract for Zombie Instinct.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Talking to my fans. I love hearing their reactions to my work. Good or bad. Just knowing that people are actually reading my books is pretty amazing.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully writing full time and supporting my family. It’s a difficult task, but possible. I know several authors that do this, if they can. I can.
Have you always liked to write?
I’ve been writing since high school. I started with bad, angst ridden poetry then progressed to short stories. After that I didn’t write for a long time, until I got the idea for Steel Corps.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write it. Even if you think it’s terrible, get the words on the page. Then hire a professional editor.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I think I’d be a labor and delivery nurse.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I read all my reviews. And now, generally I don’t respond to them. Part of being an author is being able to take criticism. Justified or not, I feel like it’s important.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
Editing… I get a headache everytime.
What are you working on now?
The third book in my Zombie Instinct Series.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Haha, Eh, no. Not right now. It’s not worth reading yet.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
It’s difficult to switch genres. It makes selling books harder. Not all my fans like military and not all my fans like zombies.
Where did your love of books come from?
Ever since I learned to read, I’ve loved it. I think a lot of it stems from my mother. She’s been a long time book lover and a huge supporter of mine.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
This is WAY too long of a list. Lol. I read a lot of different authors and genres. Zombies, sci-fi, romance, thrillers, etc.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
I can’t choose. It’d be like choosing which of my children I like best.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
A bit of both.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Stress. If I get too stressed in my regular day to day life, I can’t focus on writing.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write what I feel suits the story best. If people like it, awesome, if not, that’s okay too.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
This is another long list. But the two the come to mind first are Samantha A. Cole and Brian Parker. Sam found my books and really helped me go from a wanna-be writer to a polished professional writer. We even co-authored two crossover novellas together. Brian Parker is an author I’m a huge fan of. I love his work. He’s also the owner of the publishing company that publishes Zombie Instinct.
Where can your fans find you and follow??
I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I also have a website. You can find me at the following links:
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️