So I had the extremely great pleasure in recently reading Jim Franz' book World Without Faces and I have to say that this book blew me away.
It was so much more than I was expecting. It was original and so well written.
It sucked me right into the story and I became engrossed with the plot and the characters and before I knew it I was done with the story and was left a little sad because I wanted more.
I love when I find books like that, the ones that you can't stop reading and that surprise you with the twists and turns and just the whole experience of reading it.
After reading it I just knew that I had to speak with Jim and ask him some questions about his work and the book.
He graciously accepted my offer of a little interview and below are my questions and his answers.
MGO: Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be when you were little?
JIM: I began writing when I was in elementary school. My mother had a typewriter, and I would happily bang out anything I imagined. During high school, I wrote dozens of short stories on a Commodore 64 and worked on the first novel I would finish. Despite that, I believed writers were somehow "other". You couldn't become one. Writers didn't have childhoods, and they didn't hone their craft through many drafts and stories. There were no blogs, then, nor any trade magazines of which I was aware to see writers as being human. For that reason, I never thought it was possible to be a writer. It's not that I rejected it; I was oblivious.
When I first went to college, I chose pre-med as my major. I knew I wanted to be in a helping profession, and medicine was an obvious path. Although I did well in the coursework, I didn't enjoy it. I felt like I was missing humanity by studying only the human body. I eventually found what I sought in the field of psychology. I've since earned my doctoral degree in psychology and I'm still a practicing clinical psychologist.
Throughout my education and career as a psychologist, I continued to write novels. The novels I've written act almost like markers in my life. One particular novel was written when I was in college; I completed another when I was in graduate school. I remember plotting parts of a third during my lunch breaks in a hospital cafeteria. Despite never recognizing the career path of a novelist, I never seemed to stray far from the primary tenet: keep writing.
MGO: I must admit, I adored your book World Without Faces, but I had never heard of Prosopagnosia and in fact I had to look it up to see if it was actually a real illness. I was pretty fascinated with what I read about it. How did you learn about it and what gave you the idea to use it in a story (which was brilliant by the way)?
JIM: I first learned of prosopagnosia in a college course, but I memorized it as a fact out of a neuropsychology book. In graduate school, I again was reminded of the disorder, but it still didn't stick with me beyond its definition. It wasn't until years later when I was actively brainstorming my next novel that the idea of a protagonist with prosopagnosia occurred to me. And once you've got a character who can't tell who people are, it only made sense to have him witness a murder then try to solve it!
MGO: You also have another book out called Bleeders that looks really good as well. I noticed it is in a different genre than your first book. What made you decide to switch genres and which genre do you prefer to write in?
JIM: I understand that most authors prefer writing one specific genre, but I haven't found that to be the case, for me. When I pick up a book to read, I don't care whether it's YA, science fiction, fantasy, suspense, or mystery. I've read and loved them all. Similarly, I don't judge my ideas based on their genre. So long as I have an intriguing and exciting plot with interesting characters and strong relationships, I've found my next novel.
I've heard (and see value in) the advice that authors should focus on one genre in order to build a dedicated readership. I believe there's truth to that. However, I also know that I'll follow my favorite authors into any genre, so I hope to become that author for my readers.
MGO: Any plans for future books (gets a hopeful look in my eyes that you are planning a sequel to World Without Faces)?
JIM: You will definitely see more novels coming out from me! I'm working on one novel right now, and I have a series idea that refuses to leave me alone. Unfortunately, I'm not a speed-writer. Developing plots and strong relationships between characters takes a while, so I'll never publish as many books a year as some authors do. I hope to have a new novel out by late Summer or Fall, 2012, but it's too early to announce anything definitive.
Since I hadn't published any novels prior to writing World Without Faces, I refused to allow myself to consider plot ideas set in the same series. Unpublished writers are routinely told, "Don't write sequels. What if you can't sell the first one? Go write something else, instead."
Now that World Without Faces is out, I've allowed myself to wonder whether there's enough of a journey left for David and his friends (and enemies). As of this moment, I believe there is. World Without Faces is a stand-alone novel with its own beginning, middle, and end. However, I can't help but wonder what life looks like for the characters six months after the final scene. If I can develop a plot that stays true to the characters and that meaningfully adds to the world I created in the first book, I'll write that story.
MGO: I always am interested in what books authors like to read themselves so, who are some of your favorite authors and books that you enjoy?
JIM: As I mentioned above, I'm eclectic in my reading. I adore Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus series. I also enjoy Scott Westerfeld's novels, and I'm currently reading the Ender's Game series by Orson Scott Card. I recently read My Sister's Keeper and Plain Truth from Jodi Picoult as well as Dear John by Nicholas Sparks. Once I find an author I enjoy, I tend to go through their backlist. I'm also easily swayed by friends; if somebody tells me they have a new favorite author, that author ends up on my To Be Read pile!
Thank you so much Jim for doing this interview with me and sharing your book with me as well. I really truly had a great time reading it and I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.
And thanks for letting us get to know a little bit about yourself as well.
World Without Faces is a fabulous YA read. Very unique and so well written.
If you are looking for a bit of mystery and fun, please try this book. You won't be disappointed at all!!