Let me introduce –
“Achromatic Chronicles: Blue”,the first book in a 6 book series. More information to come but if all goes well they will be available by late February. pic.twitter.com/0vJZIYTg0X
— Drunk3po (@Drunk3po) January 27, 2023
BlabberingCollector: What’s your book called, and what is it about?
Jay: It’s called Achromatic Chronicles: Blue, and it’s a story about a sixth-grader and his friends who live in a town, and I can’t give away too much with spoilers… but basically, he asks a lot of questions like, “Why? Why is it like this? Why is it like that?” And he is told, “You’re not allowed to ask questions; you’re just supposed to do.” He’s an average kid; he doesn’t stand out. He plays the triangle in music class. He develops a unique relationship with the color blue.
BC: I did like the triangle part. I thought that was funny. What made you decide to write this book?
BC: Can you tell me about the process of writing the book?
J: Since I’ve never done this kind of thing before, the process was “learning as I go.” I watched a lot of interviews and videos, and I read and consumed a lot of information [about] the process of writing a book and what different authors went through. What worked for me was starting off with the general outline: plot, purpose, characters, place. Just like bullet points! The first outline was, like, six books. It was big, and then, I was like, “Alright, let’s condense.” You think, “What story? Do you want to do this in one book?” You start to space it out. “Do I want to do this?” I have it somewhere, this big spiral notebook. And it finally came down to where we are today. The original concept was like a book book, not a graphic novel. When the original book was finished, I sent it out to about thirty testers to read. Several of them came back with the same idea: a graphic novel. I immediately thought, “Well, this is going to take another year, easy.” But I loved the idea! Maybe more younger people will be more enticed to look.
BC: When you did your outline, did you use Microsoft Word or actually write with a journal and pen?
J: I had to get away from my computer because I have a terrible problem [with] distractions. Twitter… Amazon… I had to leave my phone in my car. There is a park close by me. Oddly enough, a lot of it was done whilst traveling. I would get a lot done sitting in an airport or on a flight. When I was done and knew what I was doing, I typed it all up. From there, I met with a writer that does fantasy work, and I asked him if he wanted to do this project with me. He also did some editing. His name is Andrew. He loved the story! He helped with the timeline of the story; some parts were earlier on in the book, and he thought it would be better if they were later in the book. He helped with the formatting and made it more cohesive.
BC: How long did it take you to get self-published?
BC: Why did you go with these specific illustrations?
J: I put the word out on several sites that I was looking for an illustrator. I explained the project, and several people reached out with concept designs! Everyone was fantastic in their own style, but there were two illustrators in Hawaii that had sent me a couple of sketches, and I loved [them]. It was what I envisioned. I thought it through the mind of a third or fourth-grader. Would they want to pick this up and read it through? I didn’t want an over-complicated illustration. They brought it to life for me! I think it fit the characters and my vision the best out of everyone that reached out. Lily, who was the head illustrator, was fantastic.
BC: Do you know exactly how the rest of the series will go or are you going to see where the story takes you and the characters?
J: I have an outline. Technically, this is book one, and there are six total with these characters. This first one is world-building; the story really does take some twists and turns in the next few books. The truth is, and maybe this is the wrong way of thinking, but the amount of money I spent to get where I am now was more than I realized… paying for editors, printers, artists. It was a lot! They all did such a great job. I didn’t want to crowdfund a project that wasn’t started. It just wasn’t for me. I wanted it in my hand before I sold it. After speaking with Eric July for a long period of time, I decided I would just pay for it up front and get it to where we are today and launch it. At the end of the day, for whatever reason, if it doesn’t make enough money, then I won’t be able to create a second book. And that is totally fine! I did it; it’s done! If a few people buy it and like it, then that is awesome! It’s nothing to be ashamed of; that isn’t a failure. If it does reach a certain expectation, then you take a block of that money and set it aside to create the second book. It was a lot of money.
BC: I bet.
BC: Adults always seem to be worried that kids will leave books behind for movies or video games. As a teacher, do you find that kids are still into reading?
J: They are not into reading as much, that is for sure. It’s so much easier to find knowledge on something with a push of their phone. If they wanted to research something, just watch a video or a short movie about it. The challenge is how to get young people to read like they used to. But media changes. I think a lot of that has to do with their guardians and parents – to do it together! I have family members who don’t want to read; they would rather watch TikTok! If they take the time to sit with them and read with them, then it brings a joy back to reading! We live in a weird time because, for me growing up, I could read comics all the time. The comic industry is doing terribly right now. I feel like children are now being cheated with comics, as there aren’t many good ones out there. They don’t want to read comic books that have terrible artwork, boring stories, and are just filled with politics! There is no adventure or fun. They will go to other places to be entertained. That is always a challenge. When I was in a classroom, we did book reports. It’s not like they aren’t reading, but they don’t enjoy it as much.
BC: What kind of books do you like to read? What’s your favorite book?
BC: Are there specific elements a children’s book needs? Are there certain themes or types of characters that you think kids gravitate towards?
J: They just need an adventure, I think. We see what has been really popular. When Harry Potter came out, they were everywhere! A series called Goosebumps kept children entertained. They were able to use their imagination. They used to have a book called Choose Your Own Adventure. My students ate them up! Basically, it is a book that, at the end of a few paragraphs, you have the option to decide what to do. And you flip to a certain page in the book, and you continue your adventure.
BC: When you’re finished with this series, do you plan on writing more books? Would you consider writing different kinds of books, like something for adults?
J: I don’t know! First time… I don’t know! I have no plans for an adult book. This could be a one-and-done. I’m happy with what I accomplished. I tip my hat to people who do this for a living. That is a gift.
BC: What formats will your book be available in, and where can people buy it?
J: You will receive a 220-page physical copy on the IndieGoGo. There are multiple things you can buy. You can buy a copy, you can buy a signed copy, buy a copy and gift a copy, or donate a copy to a child in need. The children are learning English in orphanages that I helped build, so I’ll be sending some to them to practice on. Near the end of the year, I’ll be hitting the road, turning the camera on, and dropping off books! It will all be because people supported a dream. I am forever grateful for that.
BC: What advice do you have for others who want to write a book?
BC: What kind of sandwich would you like right now?
J: That’s a good one. Right now? I would say I want toasted white bread with cucumbers, turkey, lettuce, Swiss cheese, and mustard.
BC: You had me until you said mustard.
J: Well, if there is no mustard, mayonnaise works fine too. I love cucumbers on sandwiches, man! I need them on my sandwiches. Even if it’s just roast beef and no cheese, there must be cucumbers. I like sandwiches that crunch!
BC: What about potato chips?
J: Uh, I’m not really a big potato chip person.
BC: Hogwarts house?
BC: Chicken or steak?
BC: Narnia or The Shire?
J: Ooooo. Narnia.
BC: What is 99 minus 100?
BC: 99 minus 100.
BC: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
BC: What is your favorite flower?
BC: Do you like tomatoes?
BC: What is your favorite season?
J: Winter… in Florida.
BC: What is that? Summer everywhere else?
J: I like Christmas; it’s my favorite holiday.
BC: Name an anime character.
— BlabberingCollector (@BlabberingC) February 17, 2023
Lee: How do you measure success?
Jay: *many minutes go by.* If you are just happy with where you are in life. I don’t think it’s friends, money, people, the car you drive, the house you live in. If you’re happy, then that is success. We have seen miserable people in all walks of life.
L: Have you achieved this success?
L: What is your favorite childhood memory?
T: Are there any real-life people you based the characters on?
J: Yes. I don’t want to give it away, but they already know! The funny thing is that one of the characters’ names is Ryan, and I had that name before I even knew Ryan Kinel! Now everyone is going to be like, “Oh, Ryan has his own character!” That name was already established before! Krista posted a photo of the book on Twitter, and people were like, “Oh, Krista is in the book.” And it isn’t; Fortuna is based [on] someone very close to me in Haiti.
T: Why did you select “that” color?
J: Ahh… You will know why at the end of the book. You have to buy the book to find out! The colors are all based [on] primary and secondary colors.
T: Are you happy?
J: I’m very happy. I wasn’t always, but I am today.
T: What is your favorite game of all time?
J: Tecmo Bowl; it’s a football game. That game was awesome. It’s an old NES game. I think I love it so much because I used to play it with friends. GoldenEye is up there too.
Thank you for your time, Jay!
You can also read his previous interview here!