Some Thoughts with ... Jonathan Neves Mayers

30 Apr 2023

The Author/s

Jonathan Neves Mayers

Jonathan Neves Mayers

Jonathan Neves Mayers was born in London to a British mother and a Bajan father. As a child, he would spend many evenings engrossed in fantasy and science fiction books, which inspired him to write.

Growing up, he became more interested in music, playing the flute at a music school for several years which gave him opportunities to perform at a number of venues in London and abroad. He took a Music degree at Cardiff University, writing his dissertation on Radiohead, and then played bass guitar and keyboard in a few bands in London. The passion for reading made a return, and eventually he decided to give writing a proper go.

Jonathan still lives just outside of London with his beautiful wife Cláudia and their wonderful, never-troublesome dog Suki. When not writing, he can usually be found trying to learn Portuguese, trying to play the guitar or trying to chase Suki.  

The Interview

1.- What made you choose self-publishing?
Whilst there are some benefits going through traditional publishing, such as having an easier route into bookstores and not having to front the costs of cover art, editing, and marketing, my main goal was just to write a book (hopefully a good one!), and it was great to have full control of the whole process. I’ve also heard that the querying process for agents and publishers can be quite brutal and long, and I liked the idea that I could release the book whenever I wanted to.

2.- How did the idea of Vevin Song appear?
For a couple of years, I was writing a sci-fi thriller, but then my wife encountered a serious medical issue and I completely lost interest in writing for a while. But one day, when we were driving back from an appointment, I came up with this idea about a world in the sky where winged creatures (Lightbirds) lived, and some creatures were sent to our world as punishment for something. The more I thought about it, the more I was drawn into this world, and it was a good thing to help me through the tough time that my wife and I were going through.

3.- The world used in Vevin Song is interesting. Could you tell us more about the idea behind it?
So initially it was going to be focused on Lightbirds who were sent to our world as a punishment, but I wanted more mystery and thought that more questions could be explored if it was from the perspective of humans witnessing this. It took me a while to come up with reasons why Lightbirds would come to our world, but then realised that, as well as obvious conflict between humans and Lightbirds, there could also be conflict within the different factions of Lightbirds themselves - eliminating a standard good vs. evil story and hopefully adding some complex layers to it.
Then I thought that Marla, the main character, should have attributes of a Lightbird, and the story was propelled from there!

4.- From all the process of writing, which part would you say was the most challenging?
Finishing writing a book is a challenge in itself, but the most challenging part for me came afterwards - requesting reviews of it before its release. People’s TBRs are long enough as it is, and I found that a lot of people were hesitant to give new unknown authors a chance. Many people didn’t reply to me, which made the self-doubt creep in and made me question if my book’s premise (and the book itself!) was actually good enough. I also generally find it difficult to talk about the book - imposter syndrome is very much real! But I didn’t give up contacting other people, and soon enough, some of them said yes. I started to get some lovely reviews which made the persistence worth it, and I’ve met some wonderful people through the process!

5.- How would you say this book changed from the first draft to the published one?
I touched on this in an earlier question, but Vevin Song was mostly going to take place in the world in the sky, and I had written several chapters when I realized that there needed to be a link to our world and it would make sense for the story to be viewed from the perspective of humans on the surface - for the first book, anyway. Without spoiling anything, there is definitely more of a fantastical nature as the book progresses, and there will be much more of that in the following books as we explore the other world much more.
Another big change was that, when I created Marla, the book was going to be written entirely in the first person and just from her perspective. Whilst she is the main character, there are some other POVs that help to flesh out the story and the world much more than if every chapter was from her POV. I think I have a clearer narrative voice writing in the third person than first person, although I would like to give it another go in another project at some point, if it does the story justice.

6.- How do you inspire to write? Do you have any tricks for writer’s block?
I always thought I was a ‘pantser’, as in I would just have the characters, plonk them in a situation and try and write my way through it. I wouldn’t describe it as writer’s block, but doing it this way meant that I was presented with a lot of different paths that the characters could take, and I didn’t know which to choose from. After a couple of years of not getting the book done to a point that I was happy with, I outlined the entire thing from scratch, which led to a number of new characters introduced, some massive plotlines added, some character deaths that weren’t ever going to happen now being put in place (and some characters who were meant to die now surviving!), and it eventually became the book that I wanted to read.
For the next couple of years, I made a promise to myself that I would write something every day. The thought of writing a certain amount a day was daunting, but I just made sure to put at least something on the page. Even if it was just a line of what needed to happen in a certain scene, or even just a couple of words. It helped to engage the writing muscle and, more often than not, it led to writing a paragraph, or a whole scene, which encouraged me to write more. It really helped to keep the creative juices and inspiration flowing.

7.- What can we expect from Jonathan Neves Mayers in the future?
I’m currently working on Book Two of the Vevin Song series, which should hopefully come out in 2024. I’ve also got some ideas for some other stories that I’m messing around with, including a cozy sci-fi about an alien rock band and a gaslamp fantasy with fairytale-like beasts, though whether they will see the light of day is another matter!