Welcome to our Author Interview series.
Today we're featuring an interview with Jay Thomas Willis, author of Educated Misunderstanding. Our author interview series provides an opportunity for our readers to get to know our authors on a deeper level and also learn more about the types of books we're publishing.
Jay Thomas Willis was born in East Texas. He graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a B.S. degree in sociology. He also graduated from Texas Southern University with a M.Ed. in counseling, in addition to receiving a MSW in social work from the University of Houston.
Willis has held numerous social work positions, and has now turned to freelance writing. He has written fifteen books, fifteen professional journal articles, several consumer articles, and has written Op-Ed Commentaries for the Chicago Defender, East Side Daily News of Cleveland, Ohio, and an occasional “Guest” Column for the Final Call Newspaper.
This is a book of sixteen colorful and riveting short stories. The stories describe some fictional aspects of the author’s life. Some are recent and some are of the remote past. They are written to give self-expression to the author’s imagination. Each story is approximately 2,500 words.
The stories were first written strictly to entertain the author. Each story came from deep down inside the author’s soul. If we can say anything about these stories we can say they are easy reading and original. The author decided to write what he wanted to write rather than writing for an audience.
How did your book come to life?
I took a short story writing course by correspondence. Once I wrote the first few stories I was hooked, and kept on writing.
Who is you favorite character in your book and why?
There is no consistent character throughout the book except the author himself. I would say the author is the most favorite character. The author feels that he is an interested character to write about. This is so because of his growing up in poverty, having received a poor education, and having struggled all the way to achieve what he has.
Without giving away details, Can you describe one interesting scene in your book in less than two sentences?
My book is a book of short stories: but one interesting scene in one of my sort stories is the scene in Tap Dancing for My Life when: Samantha dreams about an adulterous affair between Helen her friend and David her husband. They are both having illicit affairs with each other and neither of them is aware of it.
Where do you find your ideas? Does something trigger them? Do you carry around a notebook in case inspiration strikes?
I get ideas from TV, tapes, newspapers, books, magazines, and out of a special place in my head that I call the zone. Sometimes I get ideas just living from day to day. Usually when I get in the zone ideas come to me. I never carry a notebook with me. I collect my ideas and write on my computer when I get to my study.
Have you written your entire life? Have you always considered yourself a writer?
I only started writing twenty years ago. And only recently considered myself a writer. I had to develop some skills before I could write. That took a poor country boy a while.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
It is so much easier to do self-publishing, just get it written and edited and printed. I personally couldn’t get anywhere with traditional publishing. I kept getting rejection letters until I quit trying. I am much happier with self- publishing.
If you were told your stories were unbelievable and no written very well, would you continue to write? What would your response be?
I would seek more training for myself, and in the meantime do more reading.
Would you ever consider converting one of you stories/published books into a screenplay? And if you could corroborate with someone, who would it be?
Yes, I would. I would corroborate with Walter Mosley.
What are you currently reading?
The Emancipation Proclamation, by John Hope Franklin; and Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, by Allen Guelzo.
What is the best book you've read? Devil in a Blue Dress, by Walter Mosley.
In two sentences or less can you tell readers something unique about your book?
Most of the stories are fictional although they all tell you something about the author’s life. All of the stories are original, and will keep you on edge.
Why did you decide to publish with Infinity Publishing?
I decided to publish with Infinity because I got tired of getting rejection letters from traditional publishing houses. I figured Infinity’s offer was too good to refuse.