Get to know author Arcy Jay – Ramona Portelli Blog

Robert Johnson is from Columbus, Ohio, originally from a small town in Lousisana, Independence.  A lot of his family comes from there. At a very young age, he was obsessed with R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. He then started to move on to other books. He was actually obsessed with the horror genre at a point in time, but eventually he veered off and tried others, namely the crime genre.  He has started reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and decided to read some James Elroy afterwards.

Ramona: As an author you write under the pen name – Arcy Jay.  From where did you get this pen name?

Arcy Jay: It’s a play on my initials, R C J.  I thought it would be fun to create a pen name, and it was a way of distinguishing my new writing style from my old style of writing.

Ramona: How does it feel and is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Arcy Jay: I feel as if I’ve evolved a bit from the way I wrote ten years ago.  I say this because back in 2008, I wrote a police crime drama titled Black Isis. This was before I knew what self-publishing was. I didn’t think my writing was strong enough back then. Even to this day, I’m trying to get over writer’s block.  Sometimes, that can be a challenge on its own as well.

Ramona: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Arcy Jay: For The Ave and Celina Eden, it took me about a year in a half. With work and school, it’s hard for me to finish projects quickly. This year, when I can, I’m challenging myself to finish more projects in a much quicker succession.

Ramona: How many books have you written so far? Can you name all your books one by one

Arcy Jay: I’ve written three books so far: Black Isis (2008), Celina Eden, and The Ave (2018).

Ramona: ‘Celina Eden’ is one of your published book. It is a fantasy and young adult genre.  Tell us more about it

Arcy Jay: I wanted Celina Eden to attract more of the Harry Potter and young adult readers instead of my typical crime audience. I actually had the idea for Celina Eden back in 2013 when I was taking Biblical Literature as one of my classes at OSU. I knew what characters I wanted to use for Celina Eden, I just didn’t have a basis for a story just yet. In the bible, we started from Genesis and worked our way through. The idea of the garden of Eden gained my attention. So, I decided to make it about a group of kids meet up, have their differences, set up the magic system in the process, and told their backstories. I typically use strong female leads here and there, so I used Priscilla Ardella as my main character. It wasn’t at first, but the idea later became to write a dramatic, yet, light-hearted epic fantasy adventure. And this is the first of many books, so there’s more to come this year!

Ramona: Your other published book ‘The Ave’ is about crime fiction and drama.  Tell us more about it

Arcy Jay: Sure. It’s about a drug dealer named Lavonte Smith. He narrates certain chapters about his life in the streets and how he grew up. How he meets up with Ray, an old school gangster that used to run The Ave at an earlier age. The second narrator is Tanya Greene. She used to be a drug addict, but now, she goes through a ten-step program ordered by the courts to get her back to a sober path. She even reminds the reader how much she hates it, but she’s doing it because of her daughter. The daughter was taken because of her former addiction to drugs. Then, they eventually cross paths, Tanya and Lavonte do. The Ave was an idea that came to me some years back when I was thinking about how I could put together a crime novel from an underdog’s point of view. With Lavonte’s character in the book, I wanted him to be under someone, and give him some dimension when it came to getting the character’s right. I initially had a different story written, then completely deleted the old manuscript and started again from scratch. In one sitting, desperate to get my story back to where I was at, I wrote 14,000 words in just one sitting. And believe it or not, I wasn’t planning on releasing it because of the type of novel it was. I moved onto other novels I had planned for the future, but my editor insisted on me completing the manuscript since it was almost done (around this time it was sitting on 45,000 word count). I ended up releasing it July of 2018.

Ramona: You’ve been writing since you were very young, and has had the passion for writing ever since.  What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Arcy Jay: I’d say writer’s block above all else. You get a rush of ideas, and yet, you’re not sure how to progress a story. It’s that forward progression that keeps you wondering where the story will go. Sometimes that really gets me so bad, I have to step away from a story for a moment before going back to it. 

Ramona: What does literary success look like to you?

Arcy Jay: When you can write a book and not have to worry about a 9 to 5 anymore. When you can write and that’s the only thing you have to worry about doing, and to enjoy the stories you write. That’s my ultimate goal. If I can do that, then I’ve achieved literary success. I want to make enough to support my family, do things with my fiancée that I’ve always dreamt of. I feel like anyone out there who’s a writer shouldn’t sit on their talents, but get them out there to people, don’t settle for less, and share their stories with the world too whether it’s fiction or non-fiction.

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