Saturday, May 25, 2024

Meet John Luke Chica

HEARTHANDHOMEBUDDIES.COM

Meet John Luke Chica

I have to admit I am very picky about local books. I struggle with reading in Filipino. But I continue to read and it is always a pleasure to find a book I enjoy.

I am very happy with the growing community of writers though I have not had many opportunities to meet many Filipino authors. I was lucky to meet and get to speak with John Luke Chica, author of The Shadow Immortals. Let me share the interview below.

Ginny: Okay. But again, thank you for coming. Thank you for allowing the interview. I actually met John Luke Chica at the How to Write a Book and Self-publish It Workshop. And I was privileged to be able to buy his book, The Shadow Immortals, of which there were limited copies that day. Would you please tell us about you?

John: Yes. First of all, thank you for inviting me. This is such a sweet surprise to be invited to have this interview with you. Of course, I had the pleasure of meeting you during that event. And again, thank you, thank you again for inviting me.

Yes, I am John Luke Chica. I am a self-published author. I write sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian novels. So that’s really my genre in terms of writing. And I’m also a creative director for an ad agency, currently. And then, really, it was a dream of mine to become a self-published author.

And what else is to know there is to know about me? I’m a Piscean. And as you can see my shirt I’m 100% loyal to my partner.

Ginny: Good. That’s very important. So when did you start writing?

John: Oh, I started writing when I was very young, probably around 15 or 16. When, because my mom – just a little bit of backstory here – my mom used to be a writer in Manila Bulletin, way back when there was no internet. So it was just broadsheets.

It influenced me to write because she was writing her own book but didn’t get to publish it. So I’m trying to continue or I have continued the dream of,  publishing a book within the family. So that was her dream. I just wanted to carry on the legacy, so to speak.

Ginny: Why science fiction and fantasy?

John: Well, I have been such a diehard fan of Star Wars ever since I saw it on the big screen when my dad brought us to the cinemas. I just fell in love with it automatically when I saw Star Wars and such a diehard fan that I have a lot of collectibles and memorabilia of Star Wars.

As you can see, my cap is a Stormtrooper, but I dove into sci-fi because of Star Wars and I love the book, Dune. Of course who doesn’t love Harry Potter? And sci-fi and fantasy kind of go together in some aspects. But Star Wars was the start.

Ginny: Okay, but what made you start writing seriously?

John: Unfortunately, I had to be in the pandemic for that. Because there was nothing to do. And it was a great opportunity for me to focus on writing. I really wanted to start to publish a book. It’s a lifelong dream to be an author to be a published author.

A little bit personal. I went through a very emotional breakup. And I began questioning myself, what do I really want to do? I thought I wasn’t getting any younger, like most of us -by the way, I’m 43 years old.

I had an existential crisis, and I wanted to do something that’s really for me because most of the time when you’re working for a company or you’re doing business, it’s mostly for other people and the people around you –  the people that are close to you, but you never really do anything selfish. So this time, I wanted to do something just for me, to follow that dream and make it a reality.

Ginny: I see. And do you feel fulfilled now that you have published?

John: Oh, yes, definitely. I feel accomplished. I feel like I’m on the right path. And honestly speaking, I think this is my calling. if you ask me if there’s one thing that I want to do for the rest of my life, it is to write stories and publish books.

Ginny: Okay, so do you write every day? What is the writing habit?

John: I am going to lie if I said I was writing every day. But no, the writing habit is it’s Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Normally I’d write because those would be the less stressful days for me. And every Thursday, actually, on my Facebook page, I invite other writers to write with me – we do writing sprints. We do live-stream writing sprints.

We use the Pomodoro technique where we write without distractions, right for 10 minutes, then take a break, and then do another 20 minutes and then 30 minutes. So whatever progress that you want to do, anything that’s productive, that’s focused on your book, then that’s progress for any writer. So whether it’s,  300 words, 150 words, or 1000 words, small progress is still progress. Right? So that would be the habit.

Ginny: I’ve joined your sprint. What made you decide to do the Pomodoro Technique?

John: Oh, I discovered it through YouTubers, writers, and authors that have YouTube channels. So from Daniel Green from iWriterly, I don’t know if you’re familiar with these channels, but I got that from them.

Because back then I didn’t have PaperKat Books to rely on. So I had to do self-research, do my research, self-study. I’m not properly educated on how to be an author or develop a book or a novel. So, even before the mentoring program with PaperKat, I was doing my own research because I wanted to do it independently.

Ginny: Yes, yes. But speaking of PaperKat,  Kath always says you have to have a deadline. So what kind of timeline? Do you set for yourself to write the second book of The Shadow Immortals? Yes. Is there one?

John: There is one in line, but it’s not scheduled for this year or next year because I’m currently writing another novel. It’s a cyberpunk novel. And it’s set here in the Philippines. So I’m localizing it. I’m stepping away from the fantasy world and moving to sci-fi dystopian because that’s my first love.

So I’m writing that book. It’s called aftermath. 2089 Regenerate. So it’s a trilogy. So I’m writing book one now. My deadline to answer your question is, according to Kath, it’s going to be in August. So that’s the deadline. I have to finish my manuscript by August because there’s a lot of work to do. Editing,  back and forth with the editors, etc.

Ginny: When did you start working on this book?

John: I started writing the book at the beginning of the year but plotted it last year.

Ginny: Okay, so technical question, outline, or by the seat of your pants, which is your style?

John: Both. So I’m not a plotter. I’m not a pantser. If I’m not mistaken, I’m what they call a plantser. So it’s a combination of both. So I do my outlines as much as possible,  lay it out, to have a general idea of how the story is going to go. But at the same time, it shifts; it changes when I’m writing it. So  I will have a eureka moment; this will be better than I originally planned. So there.

Ginny: People often tell us that the characters talk to you and tell you what they want you to write about them. Do you have such moments where the characters tell you what they want?

John: Yes, my process is what I do is I profile each and every character and develop a backstory. So I will try to voice it out as that character and see if it really fits his or her profile. Because if it doesn’t feel that it fits the profile, I won’t be using it.

But yeah, I do talk as if I was the character trying to put myself in their shoes. Is this normal for that character to do this sort of actual or say these words? So yeah, if you see me writing, you’ll hear me talk because sometimes I voice out the dialogue myself. So it’s kind of weird.

Ginny: Okay, no, I don’t find that weird at all. I think that’s, that’s perfectly normal. My next question would have been, who do you bounce your ideas off of sometimes we get stuck. When you have those moments where you hit a bottleneck, you can’t quite shake the story into place. Who do you talk to? Do you talk to anyone? No,

John: I don’t talk to anyone. I talk to myself. Sometimes I read. Oh, yeah, I read one or two chapters to my partner. And I would look into his reactions. So if I liked the reactions, then that tells me I’m on the right track. But if I don’t get any feedback, then that’s a red flag for me. So I may need to change something. That’s a signal for me to change something.

Because feedback is better than no feedback I think. Yeah. So yes, it’s my partner. My partner and sometimes during the writing sprints I would ask my fellow authors for your feedback as well.

Ginny: Let me go to The Shadow Immortals because not everybody knows the book. Maybe they might not have been as lucky as me to have grabbed hold of a copy already. Tell us about shadow immortals.

The Shadow Immortals
The Shadow Immortals

John: The Shadow Immortals is about a boy searching for his mother. It’s set on a desolate planet called X’zane. There are two species on this planet, the Ukwe elves and the exotic people.

So they have been at war for countless decades. And while searching for his mother, he will discover a power that will change the entire planet and society’s future.

Ginny: Where are the names coming from?

John: Well, I’m kind of in love with Latin. And also, I love Greek mythology. So it’s really a combination of both. So if you notice there is a saying there throughout the book Mors solum initium est, it means that death is only the beginning. And that is the tagline of the book.

Yeah, so it’s, it’s actually Latin. I got that from a Latin translation. And also the names there are a combination of Greek mythology and Latin. And then I just combined it. And again, like what I do with my dialogue, I say it. And when I say it, and I hear that I like the sound of that name, then then I would use it. Yeah. It has to go also with the profile of the character.

Ginny: So as I mentioned to you PaperKat Books was my first salvo into current Filipino writers. Actually, I think a lot of Filipinos are not that familiar with Filipino writers, even though there have been mainstream Filipino writers for more than 20 years at this point, right?

There is still a bias against Filipino work in comparison to foreign works. unfortunate reality, most of us grew up with foreign written books. So unless somebody introduces us to a good book, a good Filipino-written book, sometimes we never transition into reading Filipino works. What is your recommendation?

John:  The problem is all about visibility. No one, if you’re going to open for example, if you’re going to open a coffee shop, no one’s going to buy a cup of coffee if they don’t know you exist because they don’t know you’re there.

So number one, the number one thing is visibility. They have to know, they have to be aware that you’re there that you exist as an author or as a coffee shop, or else they’re not going to go inside there and buy a cup of coffee. So it’s brand awareness. You need to be visible.

As a self-published author, I make it a point to keep on posting to be visible as much as possible. So that more and more people get to know me. “Hey, I’m a writer; I’m an author. Here’s my book. Please buy it.” And that I’m more than an author. I’m also a person, I’m going through stuff. This is my life. So it’s not just about the book; it’s also about the author. So you have to somehow brand yourself. You have to brand the author as well as the book. So because that goes hand in hand.

Secondly, you have to engage with the community. It’s not just you keep posting and keep marketing your book, but there’s no engagement. There’s no community building. You have to interact with your audience. No matter how small or big your audience is. You have to Keep on engaging them. So that they would consider –  for those people who haven’t bought your book – they will consider buying your book. Because of that engagement, you will be able to create a personal connection with them.

And thirdly, you have to know where to market your book. I’m talking about I’m talking as an author because that’s, that’s what I know. They have to know which channels to do to market their book,  it’s not just directionless,  keep saying, “Please buy my book, please buy my book”, but you’re, you’re talking to the wrong audience. So that’s, I think those are three key things to know when you are if you want to be a self-published author,

Ginny:  As a self-published author, you chose PaperKat Books. Why did you choose PaperKat Books?

John: It’s not a grand story. Honestly, speaking, there’s no eureka moment there. Before the pandemic, when when I had this emotional breakup, I was really looking for something as I was just searching for publishing, self-publishing, how do I get my books published, and then, for some reason, the algorithm the Facebook algorithm pointed me to a sponsored post or a post about PaperKat Books‘ mentoring program.

It was fate, so to speak, that brought me to PaperKat Books, and if I’m being honest, PaperKat Books really saved me. It saved me from my mental state. It made me feel like I have a purpose in this world, and writing books … writing these stories gave me purpose.

So again, I have to thank; I’ve said countless times that I’m very grateful to meet her (Kath Eustaquio-Derla) because it gave my life more meaning, meaning, and a grand purpose. Yeah, so I’ve been jumbling my words because I’m very emotional about it. Because the mentoring program, being in this community helped me – helped me a lot.

Ginny:  We learn to write from other great writers. You must have some favorite books or books you use as references. Whose books do you recommend other people read if they want to become a writer?

John: Oh, on my shelf, there’s George RR Martin. My two favorite books are by Ray Bradbury. And that is Fahrenheit four to one. Also, Dune by Frank Herbert. Yeah, so those are my favorite books.

I also have a lot of graphic novels. I’m into X-Men, Avengers, the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the Marvel Universe, not just the cinematic ones. What else I’m trying to picture my bookshelf back at home. But yeah, that’s for the International.

For local, I would go for one of my co-authors’ books. Nobody’s adventure. There’s also The Secret of Derek Guerrero by Mark Manalang. It’s also a good book. And of course, there are a lot of upcoming books like Kadi Serafica’s Alamat. I’m very excited about that. Oh, if you’re into poems, I also like Echo – Echoes; I’m not sure if it is Echo or Echoes by Kylie Milanes. So those are great, great titles to look forward to.

Ginny: Would you like to plug in where we can get your books?

The Shadow Immortals by John Luke Chica available on Amazon

John: You can get The Shadow Immortals by John Luke Chica through Lazada. If you just visit my Facebook page at facebook.com/iamJohnLuke or you can visit my website at www.johnlukechica.com. And it’ll refer you to the links that you need to go to to purchase my book.

It’s also available on Amazon under KDP Select so it can be read if you’re if you’re not in the Philippines. You’ll be able to read it wherever you want.

Editor’s note: The Shadow Immortals by John Luke Chica is available on Amazon for $3.99 but is FREE with a Kindle Unlimited account.  Get your copy now!

[fbcomments width="100%"]