Interview with J.W. Nicklaus, Author of The Light, The Dark, & Ember Between

J.W. Nicklaus resides in a place not entirely fit for human habitation about five months of the year. No pets to speak of, only the apparitions from which all romantics suffer.

An Arizona native, he’s been from one coast to the other, and a few places in between. College brought an AA in Journalism with a minor in Photography, and a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications. His work experience has run the gamut from Creative Director for a small advertising firm in Tucson to a litigation support bureau in Phoenix (and assuredly some awkward stuff in the mix).

Snow has been featured prominently in his stories, perhaps because of the seasonless cli-mate he lives in. Nature was meant to be enjoyed and experienced, not hidden from the senses. So to that end, he hopes someday to live amongst those who are able to live through four true seasons, and not just blast furnace and warm.

He enjoys the occasional Arizona Diamondbacks game with his son, as well as watching him grow up. The experience of being a single dad has taught him far more about himself than he ever thought possible.

Within the expanse of every waking moment, he hopes his guardian angel keeps its arms open wide and heart ever watchful, for there but for one true Hope goes She.

For more about J.W. visit

Welcome to The Writer's Life, J.W. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I blend in pretty well with the rest of humanity—I haven’t any alphabet soup behind my name, save for my college degrees, and I haven’t worked with Peace Corp, Doctors Without Borders, or served any sort of term in public office. What I have done is bear witness to all the things which make us tick. We all play a good game on the outside, putting up the front necessary to make it through each day . . .but inside beats a different drummer for many of us.

I’m the guy watching it all and trying to synthesize it into small vignettes, tiny slices of stories that reflect what I see and experience.

I’ve been writing, on and off, since I was a teen. I picked up the proverbial pen again once I hit my early thirties. It’s been quite the adventure ever since.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between is a collection of short stories told from various facets of our human need and desire for the slightest shard of Hope. Stories about love lost, love remembered, love taught, and even some of the deeper threads which sometimes unexpectedly tug at our hearts.

The stories were, in some cases, inspired by actual events (Blind, In the Name Of Love), one sprang from the kernel of an idea I received from viewing a painting in the Phoenix Art Museum (Requiem For Linny), and still others were inspired by dreams or even old songs.

I discovered that as I shared the stories (when I dared to) the responses were usually very emphatic. Most of the comments I’d receive spoke to how they connected with the reader. I wouldn’t typically get responses like “I liked it” or “It was good.” More often than not they started out with “It made me feel . . .” As time progressed it dawned on me that putting them together in one collection might have some merit.

What kind of research was involved in writing The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between?

Some authors, like actors, do in-depth research to get as close to their characters and situations as possible. What little research I did was in support of story details that I had little or no experienced with. For example, I’ve certainly been on boats in my lifetime, and even earned the canoeing merit badge as a boy scout, yet I’m ashamed to admit I can’t seem to keep starboard and port straight. So, for Emissary I had to brush up on my meager nautical knowledge. If I felt I was off-base in some fact I’d check out a number of sources to be sure I was on target.


The Light, The Dark & Ember Between by J.W. Nicklaus can be purchased by clicking here. Leave a comment for J.W. and you could win a free virtual book tour for yourself or a $50 Amazon gift certificate!


How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

The publisher’s original cover concept wasn’t anywhere near the concept of the book, much less its content. While I didn’t have any fixed notion of what the cover should look like I knew, without reservation, the first cover wasn’t going to cut the mustard, much less anything else. So after an impassioned, carefully worded response, the designer (if I may name drop, her name is Jana Rade—an absolute pleasure to work with) put forth a second concept that was much closer to the bullseye. I made a few suggestions about other elements I wanted to see, and she was great about working me on them.

As it turned out, the cover not only has elements of the stories but also conveys an unwritten question, which will hopefully be enough to draw the eye and create interest.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Going through the publication process is “bumpy” on its own, but getting there wasn’t so much rough as it was time intensive. It took perseverance and patience, and a healthy dose of faith that the writing would have enough worth to someone else but me.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

As I write this the release is still a few weeks away, but it has taken a little over two years get to this point, for a variety of reasons.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Don’t have an agent. I’m of the mind that if the content is strong enough it will do the work of convincing someone to represent me.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I’ve been toying around with a full-length novel concurrently with my short stories, but it’s about as refined as sandpaper right now, and I’m shooting for silk. Guess I should eat more leaves before spinning that cocoon.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Night, to be sure. Something about the night has always aligned with me. I’m not sure why but perhaps I’m better able to let my thoughts go towards the end of the day and focus more on writing than the other worries of the day.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

I would love to be able to do a national tour of independent bookstores. Nothing against the majors but my name would assuredly get lost among the stacks of more established authors.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Self-promotion is the de facto method of getting your name and book noticed, unless you’re Stephen King, John Grisham, David Sedaris, Sue Grafton, J.A. Jance, or any of the other brands. Yes, I said brands. They are people and authors (I’m pretty sure in that order), but their names imply a level of quality that needs little, if any, definition—you recognize them right away. Marketing your book yourself is a lot of work, but it’s critical. Only one person has the intimate knowledge required to truly support your book, and that’s you. You may have great things to say about your editor, agent, or others, but they didn’t live your words, you did. Who better to press the flesh and talk about it?

My own promotional efforts will begin with a month long blog tour and from there I plan on doing personal appearances and book signings around the state (but I’ll make a genuine effort if asked to visit elsewhere!) I also maintain a blog of my own and a web site.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

It sounds clich├ęd, but you have to believe in yourself and what you’re capable of. I’ve known people who have had great things to say but hadn’t the faintest idea how to say it, and that’s okay. That can be learned. Passion and drive can’t be taught, they come from within. If you write for yourself that’s great, but if you can touch another with your message then it’s absolutely worth pursuing.

Thank you for coming, J.W.! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

It will be available at, Barnes and, as well as through They can find me on Wordpress at, and on the web at

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