JM: It took about a year. I was working at Verizon Wireless at the time, answering phones, so I was writing before or after work, whatever time worked for me. I tried to do a big outline to start and then write a certain amount of words or a certain amount of pages each day. It really went faster than some of the other stories that I’ve done. I was really surprised — once I got going, (the process) went very quickly.
DTH: What challenges did you face throughout the writing process?
JM: The most difficult thing was trying not to exploit the idea of deceased loved ones coming back to life. There were different people I talked to about what it would be like if their loved one came back to life.
Most commonly, people would be very excited at first, but then I asked if they would feel the same way six months later. People would be worried about how they’ve changed (since their loved one passed away). I wanted to be as true to those conversations as I could, to tie in all of those concepts and discussions.
DTH: What inspired you to become a writer?
JM: I grew up reading lots of adventure stories like “Beowulf,” “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” When I was 14, I came across John Gardner’s “Grendel,” which tells the story of “Beowulf” through the monster’s perspective. It was really refreshing — I didn’t know you could write stories like that. So I started out writing different versions of what happened to different characters in “The Iliad” or “The Odyssey.” I wanted to be a part of the larger conversation.
DTH: What advice do you have for college students who are aspiring to be writers?
JM: The best advice is to try and establish a really strong work ethic. You have to have the habit of writing every day. Write as often as you can. Treat it as your job.
DTH: Why did you choose to participate in the reading at Flyleaf Books?
JM: I have been there twice before, and I really like the people there. They treated me very well in the past. The audience there is always really active — they always ask a lot of good questions. DTH: What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?
JM: The chance to explore and really communicate with people. At the end of the day, that’s the core idea behind writing. The communication that happens is really amazing, and it’s wonderful to be a part of that.