MEET JIM CRONIN
Jim is a retired middle school science teacher, working part-time as an educator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He has been married for forty years to the love of his life, with whom he raised two incredible sons. And now Jim has four amazing grandchildren to spoil rotten.
Jim was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in Arlington, Virginia before moving to Denver where he attended High School and eventually college at Colorado State University, graduating with a degree in Zoology and a teacher certification. Jim and his wife currently live near Denver in the small town of Parker.
After writing The Brin Archives trilogy, Jim wanted to try his hand at reaching a new audience. The idea of a nerdy teenager with few friends suddenly learning that the fate of all earth depends on him struck Jim as a fun sci-fi adventure.
Jim is a fellow Solstice author and I'm happy to bring you his interview.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK.
Aeon Rises is the story of a teenage boy, Justin Madrid, who is an outcast at school. He gets intense migraines any time he tries to look at an electronic video screen, so this excludes him from many of his peer’s activities. But then came the day the aliens tried to kill him. That was the day everything changed. Now, the fate of all humanity rests in his hands.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE FOR THIS BOOK?
There are two energy beings in the story who enhance and teach Justin how to use his newly discovered ability to see beyond the images everyone else sees on a computer screen. One of these entities is named Aeon. I use the phrase Aeon Rises, when it awakens inside Justin for the first time. This sounded pretty cool to me, and it also refers to Justin himself coming into his own, so I liked it as a title.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK? IS IT PART OF A SERIES?
This was something new to me. I recently completed my science fiction trilogy, The Brin Archives and wanted to try my hand at writing something for kids the age I used to teach. As of this time, Aeon Rises is not intended to be a series, but one never knows.
HOW MUCH OF YOUR BOOK IS BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES OR THOSE OF SOMEONE YOU KNO W?
This book is actually based a lot on many personal experiences. I relate to Justin very well as that nerdy, bullied kid in school. It also takes place in the city of Aurora, Colorado. Where I lived and worked for many years. In fact, Justin’s home is based on a house I lived in, and his school is one I taught at. The library the evil librarians have taken over is where my wife currently works.
WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH WENT INTO WRITING YOUR BOOK?
For Aeon Rises, I did a lot of looking into UFO and alien conspiracies to find several locations to base the activities of my characters. This is how I found out many of the details related to aliens at Area 51, Denver International Airport, and Hooper, Colorado with its UFO Watchtower. In addition, and to help make the teens seem more realistic, I visited my old school and a former teaching partner to pick the brains of her students. They read part of the book early on and gave me feedback about what they thought about how the kids acted and talked in the book. It was eye-opening, and very helpful.
WHAT CRITERIA DID YOU USE WHEN SELECTING THE COVER FOR YOUR BOOK?
I wanted to convey the idea of an alien invasion, and a teenage boy attempting to defy them. This artwork fit the bill perfectly.
WAS THERE A MESSAGE IN YOUR BOOK THAT YOU WERE TRYING TO CONVEY?
I guess the main message is that even nerdy teens can have great power. And maybe a little hint that relationships outside the normal expectations are just fine too.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOUR BOOK?
Maybe a few years down the road I will look back and want to change something, but right now I am happy with it as is.
IF YOUR BOOK WOULD BE MADE INTO A FILM, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY THE LEADS?
Oh goodness, that sounds ambitious thinking about a movie already. Possibly Jake Austin (The Fosters) as Justin, Rico Rodriquez (Modern Family) playing Kevin, and possibly Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad) as Myah. I’m not really up on the top young rising stars these days, but these might work.
WHEN AND WHY DID YOU BEGIN WRITING?
I began writing a couple of years after I retired from teaching. My brother was working on a book and I was critiquing it for him. One day we started brainstorming ideas for something I could try writing, and Hegira, book one of The Brin Archives trilogy was hatched.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST CONSIDER YOURSELF A WRITER?
Funny you should ask this. I had a few categories in mind for describing my level of success as an author. I considered myself an author when I found a publishing company to handle my first book. After that, once I made my first sale to somebody I did not know, or have any connection to anyone else I knew, I considered myself a successful author. Then, I became an award-winning author once I earned my first literary award, and now, my next goal is to reach the level of Best-Selling author if I ever become a top ranked autor in any category on Amazon. Just a silly little game I play in my head.
DESCRIBE YOUR WRITING STYLE.
I am a weird combination of seat-of-the-pants and outliner. I have a basic outline of the characters and who they are, and a rough sketch of the plot in my head and on paper before I ever start, but once I get to writing, I am constantly amazed at the different twists and turns the story takes as I write it. Sometimes it is like the characters in my head are telling me there story, and I am writing down what they say. Many times I would stop and read something I just wrote and be confounded about where the idea came from. It was often something I never considered when I sat down to write.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST LESSON YOU HAD TO LEARN AS A WRITER?
Aside from the fact I am a terrible speller, and I have no concept of correct grammar or punctuation, I guess the hardest thing to accept was to sometimes let go of a pet idea if it does not advance the plot or help the story. The first few times my editors convinced me to delete a chapter, or gut it and do something completely different, it was incredibly difficult. But it made the novel better in the long run.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A WRITER?
Marketing is my current bugaboo. I am only now starting to learn what works and doesn’t work for me in my attempts to sell the books I have written. I am always on the look out for new ideas on what works for others. I am in a phase now where I want to try my hand at attending ComicCon and Sci-fi conventions in my area to sell books in person.
NOT INCLUDING FAMILY, WHO SUPPORTED YOUR EFFORTS TO BECOME A PUBLISHED AUTHOR?
Despite their confidence in my complete lack of understanding the English language, with good cause I should add, several of my former teaching partners gave me tons of support, and one even acted as my first editor, even though she hated science fiction books.
WHO WAS YOUR FIRST PUBLISHER AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THEM?
I was originally picked up by a small company called Musa, but just as they were about to start working on my book, Hegira, they folded. Not long after, I was picked up by Solstice Publishing and have been with them ever since. I have learned a great deal about the editing and business end of the industry. They never seen to tire of my very basic questions on this steep learning curve.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR NEW WRITERS?
Never give up! Find beta readers, proof readers, and editors who are willing to help you, and listen to what they have to say. I earned over a hundred rejections from agents and publishers before getting my book to a quality level a good publisher was looking for. Even the best writers benefit from suggestions from others.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS?
I love the classic science fiction authors, Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, etc… I am also a big fan of Tolkein and Eddings in the fantasy realm. For historical fiction, I am a big fan of Shaara.
WHAT ARE YOU READING NOW?
Right now I am trying out a few new authors, in particular Bruce Polky’s Making History, and listening to an audiobook Words of Radiance, part two of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series.
WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Not much. Maybe onions.
IF YOU COULD MEET ANYONE WHO EVER LIVED, PAST OR PRESENT, WHO WOULD THAT BE?
Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Neil Armstrong, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jesus. To name a few.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOWS AND MOVIES?
I love The Big Bang Theory, Killjoys, and Stranger Things. Any of the superhero action movies: Avengers, Black Panther, Wonder Woman. I also love The Martian, The Help, Twelve Angry Men, and most Hitchcock films. Oh, and don’t forget the old late-night monster movies.: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Them, Invasion of the Body Snatchers…
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC TOUCHES YOUR SOUL?
The Beatles and most of the folk singers of the sixties.
WHAT DO YOU WANT WRITTEN ON YOUR HEADSTONE?
“Sit down and have a chat.” What I would love is to have a bench that activates an AI system that uses my voice to have conversations with visitors. Yes, really. I have had several conversations with my wife about this. All I need to do now is live long enough for the technology to become available.
DO YOU HAVE A BLOG OR WEBSITE READERS CAN VISIT FOR UPDATES, EVENTS AND SPECIAL OFFERS?
My Webpage: http://jimcroninscienceedutainer.weebly.com/
Justin Madrid always considered himself an average nerdy freshman in high school, and an outcast because intense migraines prevent him from playing video games or watching television. Even looking at a phone screen hurts. But when the aliens, disguised as local librarians, started trying to kill him, everything changed. And now it is up to Justin and his cool new power to save the earth from invasion.