Today it's my pleasure to welcome Joel Ohman! Thanks so much for taking time out to answer a few questions. :)
What books and authors, past or present, have inspired you to write?
I read a LOT, so there are many different things that have shaped my writing over the years, but I wouldn't say there was any particular book, or books, that I was consciously looking to for inspiration while writing Meritropolis. For the craft of storytelling, I have learned a lot from John Truby and his book, The Anatomy of Story. I can also see different threads of influence in almost everything I have read over the years that contribute toward making Meritropolis what it is—the strong protagonist of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, the philosophical bent of C.S. Lewis’ fiction, the dystopian setting of Hugh Howey’s WOOL series, and many more.
What are you currently reading, or what was the last thing you read other than your work?
I am constantly in the middle of about 15-20 different books. I read for an hour or two every day, and I try to read a wide variety of genres and authors, both fiction and non-fiction. You can check out what I am currently reading and follow me on GoodReads here!
Do you listen to music while you write, and if so what kinds of music and which artists do you enjoy?
I almost always listen to music while I write. Usually it’s a playlist of the same song or group of songs over and over again, because it allows me to kind of zone in on what I am doing. Here is a link to the Spotify playlist of music that specifically inspired Meritropolis (each of these songs were among the songs I would listen to on repeat while writing Meritropolis): spoti.fi/1qDgfy9
Are the names of your characters important? Or do you just choose some that you like and think will fit?
I am not very Dickensian in my character-naming. Usually it just entails choosing a name that I think will fit because of the way it sounds. Two mistakes I think some authors make is either A) choosing names that are too hard to pronounce/too unusual/too obscure or weird, and B) selecting character names that all sound quite similar to one another. Either way, it confuses the reader, which is never a good thing.
Do you have a favorite genre that you like to read?
I read pretty much everything! Fiction, non-fiction, you name it! I am of the opinion that, as an author, I can learn something from almost every kind of writing. Sometimes, it most definitely is a matter of learning what not to do—but, on the whole, I love to read a wide variety of writing styles, genres, etc.
How long did it take you to write Meritropolis?
It took me about a year and a half to write Meritropolis, almost two years, really. I feel confident that I could write the next book much quicker, because I learned a lot from my editorial team and others at whitefox.
Do you have any advice for authors who are considering the self-publishing route?
I am not one of those authors who will say that self-publishing is the best choice for every single author, but I am absolutely glad that I went this route. I love that I can fully control and fully own my work, but I would encourage anyone who self-publishes to try and adhere to the following advice:
1. Don’t be a cheapskate - be willing to pay for a professional editor, a professional book cover designer, etc. It boggles my mind that people will spend hours upon hours writing their book and then just take a few minutes to throw some clip art and stock photos together to “design” their book cover. Don’t. Just, don’t.
2. Work with professionals - by this I simply mean to not overly rely on friends, family members, and co-workers, all of whom will likely just tell you what you want to hear. You need someone who is not afraid to point out the problem areas in your book and provide an honest critique. You already know that your mom is going to say she loves your vampire-Scottish-Highlander-billionaire-love-triangle-in-space book that you wrote, so don’t even bother asking her for feedback. Instead, pay someone who does that kind of thing for a living...
3. Sell, sell, sell - If you are a self-published author and you are not actively involved in sales and marketing for your book—which is essentially your mini-business—or you are not paying someone else to be actively involved in the sales and marketing of your book, then you are not maximizing the reach your book can have. As uncouth as it might be to say this, writing is only half of what is required to see success as a self-published author. Yes, you need to write a good book, but you also need to effectively market and sell your book (either by hiring someone, or doing it yourself, or both).
ABOUT THE BOOK
Author: Joel Ohman
Published: September 9th, 2014
Genre: YA Sci-Fi Dystopian
Recommended Age: 14+
The year is AE3, 3 years after the Event. Within the walls of Meritropolis, 50,000 inhabitants live in fear, ruled by the brutal System that assigns each citizen a merit score that dictates whether they live or die. Those with the highest scores thrive, while those with the lowest are subject to the most unforgiving punishment–to be thrust outside the city gates, thrown to the terrifying hybrid creatures that exist beyond.
But for one High Score, conforming to the System just isn’t an option. Seventeen-year-old Charley has a brother to avenge. And nothing–not even a totalitarian military or dangerous science–is going to stop him.
Where humankind has pushed nature and morals to the extreme, Charley is amongst the chosen few tasked with exploring the boundaries, forcing him to look deep into his very being to discern right from wrong. But as he and his friends learn more about the frightening forces that threaten destruction both without and within the gates, Meritropolis reveals complexities they couldn’t possibly have bargained for…
BONUS Original Artwork – 17 original chapter illustrations that precede each of the 17 chapters: Bion (Bull-Lion), Scorpicon (Scorpion-Falcon), Chimpanzelle (Chimp-Gazelle), and more!
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Meritropolis – Joel Ohman
The crowd filling the courtyard massed on either side of the girl and her captors, a slow-motion whirling river of bodies, moving them along like so much flotsam, toward Commander Orson and the gates. Charley watched intently as each person in the crowd strained to get a glimpse of the little girl.
Charley had read books about hangings in the Old Days, where crowds had traveled from miles around to see, and even cheer at, the macabre deed performed, but this was different. There was no excitement, but there was also no undercurrent of disappointment, of sadness, or even of shame; it was business as usual. Someone had been sentenced to the gates and that someone just happened to be a scared little girl.
Each person in the crowd wanted a glimpse of the girl to see how she would react, to see if they recognized her, to see the pitifully low Score on her arm, and perhaps to verify that she deserved the gates, but there was no outrage, no demand for justice. The System had ordered her to the gates, so it must be just. Charley thought about Sven’s statement: “I’m sure it gets easier” and considered that, maybe, if you see something often enough and put up with it for long enough, even the most horrendous deed can become part of your daily life. Maybe you just stop caring.
Was this how the crowd had reacted when Alec was put outside of the gates? Charley wondered. As the younger sibling of Alec, only eight, and presumably unable to take in what was happening, Charley had been confined underground during Alec’s gate ceremony—they had simply replaced Alec by assigning someone new to sleep in his bed that exact night. Had some of the very same people around him now looked at Alec with the same sick feeling in their stomachs that Charley now felt? Had they remained silent, swallowing their shouts, averting their eyes, and now, after many such acts of cowardice, they no longer even cared? Bile rose in Charley’s throat. He wanted—he needed—to care, to hate those who had taken Alec from him. It was all he had.
Charley watched the gloved hands of the guards on either side of the girl squeeze her pale, stick-like upper arms, roughly pressing her forward, just a few short steps in front of Charley. She faltered, stumbling as the toe of her slippered foot caught on the edge of a cobblestone, bending her foot back and causing her to let out a sharp cry of pain. One of the guards on the outer edge, a redheaded Blue Coat with a bristly goatee and arms knotted with thick cords of muscle, gave a muffled curse and dropped back behind her, harshly shoving her onward.
Her cry ignited some primal part of Charley’s brain: pure emotion, cause and effect. Synapses fired, rage blossomed. To act was to live, as natural a part of living as breathing. There was no fight or flight, only fight.
In an instant, Charley launched himself at the guards, eyes glazing over, an answering cry rising unbidden from his lips. His limbs pistoning as if controlled by an unseen puppet master; marionetting in time to the inner drum beat of angry energy. There was no plan, no strategy, no thinking ahead to plot out actions and counteractions. There was only the ever-present NOW.
About the Author:
Joel Ohman is the author of Meritropolis–“The Hunger Games meets The Village with a young Jack Reacher as a protagonist”. He lives in Tampa, FL with his wife Angela and their three kids. His writing companion is Caesar, a slightly overweight Bull Mastiff who loves to eat the tops off of strawberries.
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
- $50 Amazon gift card (INT)
- 3 x Stuffed Animals (US)
a Rafflecopter giveaway