Interview by Lynnette Phillips

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Meet Accidental Author J.T. Weaver Creator of the Anecdotal Memoir “Uphill Both Ways”

What’s an accidental author? It’s just a term I use to refer to someone who never intended to publish like J T Weaver. He intended his anecdotes as a gift to his children. Something to leave to them about where they came from. When his tales were shared though he was encouraged to let others read them and thank goodness he has. Evidently story telling runs in his family and he’s been kind enough to write some of them down.

Here he briefly chats with Lynnette Phillips and shares a part of his journey into the writing world. 
^^^^^^^^^^
Lynnette Phillips: I know it wasn’t ever your intention to become a published author.  How did this happen for you then?
JT Weaver:  Hi Lynnette thanks for the opportunity today.
In January 2013, for the first time in my life, I felt like writing something.  I had heard about this ‘blogging’ thing and tried a few of them before I hit on WordPress.  I wrote of couple of Op-Ed posts; one on Social Security and one on the 2nd Amendment.  Much to my surprise, people liked them and made encouraging comments.
Then, one day in February I found a picture of myself with my mother.  I was about 18 months old.  It intrigued me because I remembered the story that went with the picture.  You may know the story as “My Mother’s Birthday.”  Before long, I had written several stories and my wife and my best friend and I began a discussion about what I was doing with all these stories.  From that discussion came two very important points; if you’re going to write these stories, write them from your heart and if you’re going to tell your story, tell the whole story, even the difficult parts.
The first post that followed was [what is now called] the Prologue to “Uphill Both Ways.”  My readership increased 10-fold overnight and the stories poured into the blog.  As I was nearing the end and my readers could sense this, they began encouraging me to publish.  I said “no, these are stories for my children.”  But they persisted.  I had accomplished what I had intended for my children, so in the end, there seemed to be no harm in the idea of publishing the stories.
LP: Did you keep a journal or enjoy writing essays in school?  Did your career require you to write?

JT:  Oh my, no.  I don’t want to give away the story, but when I was 15 I could barely read and write.  I had never even written a letter to anyone.  I certainly had never written an essay for school and I have never taken a writing class at any level.  My career was in Computer Science working as a Department of Defense contractor.  There were some occasions when I was called upon to contribute to proposals, and I think my technical descriptions of functions and processes were generally well received.  That is to say, I wasn’t fired because I wrote them.
LP: “Uphill Both Ways” is referred to as an anecdotal memoir, are there any anecdotes involved in the writing experience you’d like to share?

JT:  I’m sure there are dozens of them involving the matching of pictures to stories.  But the most important anecdote would be how the stories were written.  My father was a recognized and accomplished storyteller.  He taught people hundreds of lessons, always using a story as his vehicle.  I wanted my stories to be as good as his.  So, in my head I did what he did.  I closed my eyes, found a comfortable chair near the fireplace, and began to tell a story.  Only my stories found their way to paper.  I could hear him retelling story after story and I wrote them down as fast as I could.  When his stories were completed, I told my own stories in the same fashion, with the same inflections, and characterizations, that he did.
LP: In a recent post to your blog, “Lazy,” you refer to yours and your father’s OCD.  Does this concept carry over in your writing?

JT:  I don’t think either of us would ever be accused of full-blown OCD, but we certainly do have some of the characteristics.  I think those characteristics do carry over.  When he told a story to us, it contained such detail and rich description that you never wanted it to end.  He was capable of astonishing recall of detail and when there were gaps that he needed to fill, he would do the research.  He would check and re-check every detail until each story was it’s own masterpiece.  While I try to emulate my father, and sometimes I come close, I don’t have near the talent that he had.
LP: The cover of your book intrigues me.  As you’ve probably been told, the cover is the first impression readers have of your book so it is very important.  How was it created?  Did you have different possibilities and choose just one…did you ask others for their opinion?

If you’d like to read more about J T
and his stories visit his
blog at jtweaver.net

JT:  Just as I wrote each story in my blog before it was published, I did the same thing with the book cover.  I have no artistic talent, but I knew that my college roommate John Manno, http://www.johnmanno.com, did.  It was his ideas and encouragement that brought the cover together.  When I had a couple of them done in a concept that John and I agreed on, I posted them on the blog and asked for comments, just like I did with the stories.  The comments were amazing, critical, supportive, and timely.  John, and I, and my readership overwhelmingly approved the final product.

LP: Do you intend to keep writing?  Perhaps put together another book based on your blog posts?

JT:  [Grin] No promises.  But yes, I will continue to write for as long as I can.  I don’t write fiction so I don’t have an inexhaustible supply of subject matter.  Perhaps someday, someone will come along and say, “you know these 50 stories go together extremely well and you should publish these, and here let me tell you how they fit …” And then someone else … and someone else …
~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for talking with me here today J T. I hope you do put more of your stories together in an anthology of sorts and share it with what I’m sure are going to be your loyal readers.

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