NovelSpot: Michael Jodoin, thank you for taking the time for this interview. Even though it’s February, happy New Year! At the beginning of the year, did you make any resolutions this year for reading or writing?
Michael Jodoin: I try not to make resolutions. That way I don’t have to feel guilty when I break them, but I guess there are two things I am resolved to do this year. One is to shoot a great movie, (Love Sucks, check out the Facebook page) and to continue to build our company MIDO Entertainment. That’s the end of my shameless plugs.
NS: You certainly have quite a writing resume: books and screenplays, werewolves, vampires, zombies, Lucifer…what are your main influences as a writer?
MJ: Life is a great influence for anyone. Just twist your head so you look at it in a different way. It really works. In that respect I think my writing was predominantly influenced by Douglas Adams.
NS: When did you start writing? What got you started?
MJ: I’m not sure when I started writing. It was long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Seriously, I’m not sure exactly when it was.
What got me started was a need to vent and to escape from reality for a while. Initially I wrote short philosophical pieces, mostly when something annoyed me. That led to short stories and eventually longer works. I finally settled on screenplays as opposed to novels.
NS: How would you describe your genre and style to someone who hasn’t read your work yet?
MJ: My genre is, for the most part, horror. Holy Hell is different. It is only horror in the sense that it deals with Lucifer and demons and Hell, but is so much more than that. I suppose it could be classified as Religious Fantasy. Of course where reality stops and fantasy begins is up to the reader in this one.
As for my style, I’ve been told it’s decidedly different. That’s the best description of my style I could hope for.
NS: Your latest book Holy Hell has an interesting premise. How did you get the idea for it?
MJ: The idea for Holy Hell sprang from the need to understand forgiveness, redemption, and the ability to change in everyone. Add free will to the mix and I couldn’t think of a better setting or better characters.
Actually, I wrote my first two screenplays, The Wolf with the Red Rose and The Legend of Wooly Swamp, before I wrote Holy Hell. I kicked the idea for Holy Hell around the entire time I was writing them. For some reason writing Holy Hell as a screenplay seemed problematic for me so I wrote it as a book first. I was quite certain that writing the screenplay adaptation would be easy once the book was done. It wasn’t.
Converting a book to a screenplay is not the piece of cake one might think it is. What I thought would take a couple of weeks took three months, but I am extremely happy with the end product.
NS: So, what was your favorite scene/character to write?
MJ: That’s a tough one. I had so much fun with all the scenes and characters. If I had to pick one I’d say the Heaven scene with God, Lucifer, and Christ (JC) was my favorite scene, as well as the characters.
NS: What about the hardest scene/character to write?
MJ: The final confrontation in Heaven was probably the hardest. I felt that the entire story hinged on how this scene played out and in that particular scene God was the hardest character to write.
NS: Did you plot Holy Hell carefully or just see where the story took you?
MJ: I plotted Holy Hell very carefully, for all the good it did. By about page 35 my plan went the way of the buffalo and it evolved on its own.
NS: As a writer, who do you like to read?
MJ: Douglas Adams. Hands down he is my favorite writer. Weird for a horror writer, I know. Go figure.
NS: What is the first thing that comes into your mind when you start to write a story and where do you find the inspiration?
MJ: That’s a great question without a great answer. Sometimes I see something or hear something that strikes me as being odd and an idea springs from it. Sometimes I have a truly bizarre dream that sticks with me. Sometimes an idea just comes from staring at the patterns in the bathroom floor tile too long first thing in the morning.
NS: Ha ha. So, you deal with the supernatural quite a bit. Why is that? Do you find it’s easier to tackle certain topics that way? Or is it just more fun?
MJ: In the case of Holy Hell I felt it was the only way to tackle that topic effectively. As for the rest of my writing it’s just a lot more fun. Look around. We are surrounded by the supernatural.
NS: What are you currently working on?
MJ: For the first time in a long time I’m not currently writing anything new. I am doing some rewrites as needed, but we are in pre-production on our first low budget feature, Love Sucks, a vampire love story, sort of, set to begin principal photography in March and a 30 minute cable pilot, Salvation set to shoot next week [January, 2010].
NS: Best writing advice you’ve gotten? What’s the worst?
MJ: The best advice I’ve gotten is to know your subject. That may seem difficult with vampires, werewolves and zombies, but research is primary. In The Wolf with the Red Rose for example, I researched every phase of the werewolf legend, including Native American culture. I even researched how to sedate someone from the specific drug to the proper dosage. In this case it was to control them during the transition. The Devil’s in the details, pardon the pun.
I don’t really remember the worst advice I’ve been given. I think I blocked it out, but trust me you’ll know it when you hear it.
NS: Best writing advice you have to give?
MJ: This is easy. It is exactly what I tell everyone, including the high school writing class I spoke to. Here is my best advice: Hang out with people who don’t like you very much and are prone to criticize you constantly. Date people who are (or at least think they are) above your station in life and are most likely to dump you for no good reason and hurt you. When none of this bothers you any longer, you are ready to be a writer. Taking rejection personally is a writer’s greatest enemy.
NS: I’d love to get a glimpse of the writer at work. Computer or pen and paper? What’s your ideal writing day? Mood music?
MJ: I write on my computer for the most part. Pen and paper if I’m in the midst of conflict between myself and the direction the story is taking. I know it sounds bizarre, but it can happen.
My ideal writing day is the day when I finally figure out what my characters have known all along and it flows out of me like turkey s**t through a tin horn.
Mood music for me is mostly Solid Gold Oldies. You could ask me why, but I don’t have a clue. I do tend to surround myself with pictures that are relevant to what I’m writing. Again, when I wrote The Wolf with the Red Rose I had pictures of werewolves hanging all over my office. I also listened to Little Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs a lot.
NS: Thank you so much. Any last words?
MJ: If you want to be a writer then write. Just do it despite anyone telling you it’s not a realistic goal or that it’s not a real career. To Hell with them. If you want it, make it happen.