Featured Interview With J.S. Sterling
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was raised on the east coast of Florida where we could watch Space Shuttles lift off from our front porch. I moved to Tampa for college at the University of South Florida. Now I live in the much less chaotic city across the bay, St. Petersburg with my wife and daughter. I taught middle school English here before becoming a professional writer and I always keep those advanced, inquisitive kids in mind while I’m coming up with new stories.
Our pug, Frank, should have received a co-author credit on Grail of the Grimoire. He was snoring right next to me while I wrote at least 75 percent of that book.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
My parents said I was reading beer cans and car logos by the age of 2. In fourth grade I read Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities to impress my teacher. That year I also came in second in the class’s writing contest. As far as I know, the kid who beat me doesn’t have a book out so I guess I’m winning now.
I started taking writing seriously in college, really because I wasn’t very good at anything else. My freshman Creative Writing professor did a lot to encourage me to continue. It still took another 10 years or so for me to have the confidence to finish an entire novel.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I read a lot of YA, obviously, but more contemporary than fantasy. I like to have my own ideas while I’m working on a project rather than risk cross-pollination with another story. I also read a lot of non-fiction, including history and biography. My favorites right now include Erik Larsen, Neal Shusterman, Christopher Moore, and I really enjoyed Matt Haig’s latest novel. I’m also looking forward to Hank Green’s new debut.
The British novelist Nick Hornby convinced me that you don’t have to write high-minded literature to have your stories mean things to people. John Green convinced me that there was a place for men in YA literature. My daughter inspires me by trying to keep her attention span with my stories for longer than two minutes.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
Grail of the Grimoire takes Christian biblical legend and applies it to one of the most chaotic and important periods of Western culture, the Third Crusade. What if all of the myths and stories we know by heart were actually true, and that that sort of magic still exists around us?
Cassandra knows that she is capable of some strange things, but is scared to explore her powers beyond easy tricks to hustle dice games. It turns out she’s capable of so much more, but it takes her being kidnapped to find her true place in the world and just how important she is.
Grail of the Grimoire came from a thought I had while my daughter and I were finishing up the Harry Potter series. I wondered why the magical and Muggle worlds didn’t rely on each other more, considering they had so much to gain from each other. The story obviously took a lot of turns along the way, especially in deciding that it should be historical fantasy and what time period in which it should be set, but that was the original nugget.
The first draft took about four months to complete, but it took another four months or so of rewrites to get it where it made sense. Through that it changed tense and point-of-view about five times, major characters had racial and religious identity crises, and the romance element was amplified a bit. Thankfully only my wife knows how bad those early attempts were.
Connect with the Author on their Websites and Social media profiles