Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Short Story Spectacular, Season 1, Episode 11 - J.M. DAVIS

As  the summer winds down and we begin to come to the end of Season 1 of the Summer Short Story Spectacular,  I'd like to introduce you to short story mystery author, J.M. Davis. 

Tell the  readers a bit about yourself, J.M.

After I retired, I began writing a family newsletter. Prior to that, all of my writing had been factual material pertaining to my career, technical agreements, patent applications, and company polices. In each family newsletter I added one story based on some event that happened during my youth. My brothers and sister told me they really enjoyed reading those stories. Apparently, the only part of the newsletter they actually liked.
In 2001, I decided to try writing fiction. I wrote for nineteen hours straight, only taking short breaks. Writing fiction gave me the kind of enjoyment I had from circuit designs during my early years as a young engineer.

A few years later, I began attending the writers conference held in Oklahoma City each year. Two of my short stories won third place in the categories in which they were entered. The following year, my novel won third place as well. I continued to write mainly for my own enjoyment, until I learned I could publish my stories in digital format.

I published my first short story on March 5, 2013. So far I have published five short stories, one suspense novel, and one romantic comedy. I plan to  continue writing short stories and novels until my mind gives out.

What is your all-time favorite short story and why?

A short story that has stayed with me for decades is The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, the pen name for William Sydney Porter. I was a young boy the first time I heard that story, but I understood the theme. When I was older, I read the story and thought it was even better than I had remembered it from my youth.

The Gift of the Magi is the story of a poor, young couple who love each other so much they sacrifice the most important things in their lives in order to get enough money to purchase their spouse a gift for Christmas. The gifts then turn out to be useless because Jim sold his watch to purchase a set of combs for Della's long flowing hair, but Della sold her hair to get enough money to purchase a chain for Jim's watch, handed down to him from his father, who had gotten it from his Jim's grandfather. 

J.M. you are the third Season 1 author to talk about that story. Readers, if you want to read it, flip back to my blog with Teresa Leigh Judd, in Episode 9. I put a link in that blog to the story in its entirety.  J.M., what is the most difficult part of writing short fiction?

For me, the most difficult part of writing short fiction is including enough information to convey the story clearly, without writing so much detail it drags the pace down. My first drafts often leave out a few things the reader needs to know to fully gasp the theme I want to convey. Writers understand why their characters do certain things, but if those reason are not made clear to the reader somewhere within the story, the reader may not fully understand the character's motives for certain actions.  

What piece of advice would you give to a prospective short story writer?

I recommend getting the complete story down first, and then go back and start revising it. I have found that works best for me. Paragraphs and scenes can be switched around later. The final versions of my short stories are generally far different the original drafts. 

Which of  your short stories should we read first and why?

My initial thought was to recommend one of the free stories, but after more thought, I decided to recommend the short story, As Tough As They Come. This story is about the bond formed between a mother and her son, that was never broken, even after he was abandoned by his mother when he was eight years old.

The story starts out like a murder mystery, with the main character in a courtroom on trial for a murder he did not commit. When it appears the defendant has no chance of walking out of the courtroom a free man, his mother shows up to save him from a guilty verdict. Before he can ask her why she never came back for him, twenty years earlier, she goes back into hiding.

During his quest to find her, he is charged with a second murder and becomes the most hunted man in the country. While trying to find his mother, a nationwide manhunt for the main character intensifies, and it appears his days of freedom will soon come to an end. With the authorities closing in on him, he has one last chance to find the truth.        


  1. Thank you so much for this opportunity, Linda.

  2. Enjoyed this interview with Jim Davis. He's The Best !!

  3. Thank you, Lora, for stopping by and reading the interview.

  4. Thanks for the nuts and bolts answers, J.M. I always dig hearing what works for a writer and what doesn't, how they do what they do creatively and/or technically. I appreciate your straight-ahead words.

  5. Thank you for your kind words, Ben. I appreciate you stopping by and reading the interview.