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IR Approved Author J. C. Weston on Motivation: “…all I want to do with my life is bring a little joy to people.”

The Swift Uplifting Rush received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author J. C. Weston.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

The book’s title is The Swift Uplifting Rush, but it also includes a brief novella, Drawing Hands – for that reason, the book is listed as The Swift Uplifting Rush & Drawing Hands most places where you can buy it. Paternum, which is also emblazoned on the cover, is the name of the series as a whole. I consider its publication date to be January 1st, 2020 – although, in fact, owing to a misclick when I uploaded it to Amazon, the physical version was available for purchase on December 25th, 2019.

What’s the book’s first line?

” ‘…Aaron Atwick proposed a single metagene,’ said Professor Marigold, ‘but we now know that there are over a hundred genes that can grant superpowers.’ ”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

My usual pitch is “When Quinn finds an experimental superpower-granting costume in their parents’ attic, they didn’t expect to be drawn into a web of superhuman intrigue, but their discovery serves as the catalyst for that conspiracy to slowly unravel.” – that’s the pitch for the series as a whole, though – I have four sequels planned. This first book is basically the origin story for Quinn as they become a superhero.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

There was no single moment of inspiration that made me want to write it, to be honest – I was struggling with the novel I had been working on before The Swift Uplifting Rush, and thought focusing on something else for a while might help. I ended up planning out and beginning an entire 5-book series! The story became important to me as I developed it and wrote it, but there was no particular reason that I wrote this particular story – although I did include a breakdown of various influences on the plot and characters.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

I think that that one of the most important things about The Swift Uplifting Rush is the way I handled diversity. Diversity in literature is important – reading about diverse characters helps build empathy and can help people connect to those who are different than them, not to mention how important it is for minority readers to see themselves represented. But a lot of literature that includes diverse characters focuses on those diverse elements as the main point of the story. You’ll see books about gay kids coming out and finding their first partner, or black people struggling to be black in a white-dominated field, etc. But what you don’t see as often are stories about minority characters where their minority status is as irrelevant to the story as Harry Potter’s race is to his own, and that’s something that I, as a queer person myself, feel is lacking. I specifically chose to write a classic superhero narrative that featured a minority character – specifically, the main character, Quinn is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns – without the story being about those elements of the characters. That’s not to say that those elements don’t play a role in characters’ backstories and motivations, but they’re not the main focus of the plot in the same way that, say, Love, Simon‘s plot is driven by the role Simon’s sexuality plays in his life.

To sum it up – The Swift Uplifting Rush is a classic-feeling superhero origin story which also happens to feature a diverse cast of characters. What’s not to love?

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that the main character, Quinn, is somewhat autobiographical. Like Quinn, I’m a nonbinary Jew in their early twenties who in many ways feels like they don’t know where their life is going. Much of Quinn’s personality is based on my own, just in a different context. Fortunately, many other aspects of them are more original – my father is in perfect health, my mother was never kidnapped, and my coming out went much more smoothly than theirs did, as shown in Drawing Hands.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

I think that Bex Taylor-Klaus would be pretty ideal for Quinn – they have the right height and the right look, and on top of that they’re also nonbinary. Anthony Mackie would be great as Canaveral, the superhero who takes Quinn under his wing and becomes their mentor – he has the right combination of flippancy and intensity. Of course, the main villain of The Swift Uplifting Rush is a shapeshifter – I don’t think picking a single actress for her makes sense.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a little kid – maybe at the age of 10 or 11? I distinctly remember finding out that books were written by people, and wanting to do that some day.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

It’s the first book I’ve finished, at least! I was trying to write a fantasy novel before I started The Swift Uplifting Rush, and while I might one day go back to it, it was nowhere near completed. So yes, I would say this was my first book.

The sequel to The Swift Uplifting Rush, The Unforgiving Minute & In Letters Bold (Paternum Book 2) was published September 27th, 2020.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

I try to spend between 2 and 3 hours a day on a creative output, although obviously it’s hard to find the time for that every day. Some of that is writing, some of it is drawing, some of it isn’t even for Paternum – I have a few other projects I’m working on as well.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?  

I think the best part is that everything is under my control. While I’m not against taking input from others by any means, I am against people telling me that I must or must not do something in my art, and I worry that if I went the traditionally published route, I would be ordered to do certain things. On the other hand, the hardest part is the lack of feedback and response. It’s hard to improve as a writer if you never hear what people think about your work – like I said, I’m not against criticism of my work, just orders.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why? 

It would depend on what the conditions were. I worry that a traditional publisher would want me to remove the queer themes from The Swift Uplifting Rush, would want to keep diversity limited to books that can be marketed specifically as diverse stories, and leave it as just a bog-standard superhero novel. I have ideas for books that I’d be willing to publish traditionally, and I’d love to be able to one day, but for The Swift Uplifting Rush and its sequels… even though the diversity isn’t the point, and the structure could stand without it, I think that removing it would leave them a hollow shell of what they could be.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Honestly, I just want to make people happy. Any of my friends will tell you that I’m a people-pleaser at heart – all I want to do with my life is bring a little joy to people, and maybe some catharsis as well.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

Terry Pratchett was, is, and will remain, my idol as a writer. I doubt I’ll ever be able to approach his mastery of character, plot, or humor, but I can strive – his skill as an author motivates me to do better. GNU Terry Pratchett.