Interview with Bobbi JG Weiss, author of Hooked (Dark Fantasy)

Bobbi JG Weiss made her world debut one Christmas morning (cough-mutter-mutter) years ago, and as long as she can remember, she’s wanted to be a writer. Why? She has no idea. Probably a birth defect.

After several boring “normal” jobs, her writing wishes came true — she and her husband/partner David Cody Weiss began to make their living as full-time freelance writers, focusing on Hollywood tie-in merchandise like movie/TV novel adaptations, comics, and other related and often ridiculous products. After 20+ years of this, the “WeissGuys” decided to enter the wild world of self-publishing.

You can find more information about Bobbi, her books, her life, and her weird husband at She also posts on Twitter, tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook unless her passwords mysteriously stop working and she can’t get on, which seems to happen a lot. Why? She has no idea. Probably computer voodoo.

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About The Book

He is not Captain Hook.

His name is Jonathan Stuart, and he’s just an ornery post-alcoholic bookstore owner from Pasadena with a mania for fencing and a bad habit of disappointing his girlfriend. He doesn’t want to be in the Neverland, impossibly trapped aboard the Jolly Roger with a horde of greedy stinking pirates. He was tricked there by Peter Pan.

Pan happily invites children to come to his wondrous magical island, but he has to trick adults. No adult in their right mind would go willingly. Adults, you see, don’t have a very good time in the Neverland. The fairies and mermaids are against them. The island itself is against them. Most of all, Peter Pan is against them.

In particular, Peter Pan is against Jonathan Stuart. Why? Jonathan had better figure that out, and he’d better do it fast before his mutating memories insist that, not only does he indeed belong in this nightmarish hell of bloodthirsty children, ticking crocodiles and vengeful boy gods, but he’s never existed anyplace else.

So you see, he’s definitely not Captain Hook.

Well, not yet.

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Can you tell us what your book is about?

Hooked is about a man who discovers that his life is not his own, that all the horrible things from his childhood had a specific purpose, and that the purpose is linked to one of the most beloved of all children's stories. It's a dark fantasy/horror, so poor Jonathan Stuart, the hero, is not going to have an easy time of it. For anyone who's ever felt haunted by circumstances, this is your book!

Why did you write your book?

Writing is what I do. I've been a published author for over 20 years (see my full resume at And I love creepy stories. I wrote Hooked because the initial idea intrigued me, and as it developed in my head, it felt like a creepy world I wanted to play in. (I was right!)

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

The main character is Jonathan Stuart. He's a difficult man, a guy with a terrible temper and mean manners at times, but he knows it and tries to overcome it. He was the victim of severe child abuse, and thus he has trouble with relationships. Actually, he has trouble with everything. He escapes in books (he owns a bookstore) and finds stress relief by perfecting his skills in fencing.

The only good thing in Jon's life is Melanie Forrester, his girlfriend, a professional researcher with an eye for detail and an uncanny ability to sift through Jon's bull to see the truth of him. She can see his inner struggles, and she loves him for it, hoping that one day he might smile more than frown. But he smiles enough to satisfy her... for now.

Melanie brings out Jon's good side, which Jon deeply appreciates. They make a good couple. Perhaps they would even get married, but someone from the Neverland has other plans...

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I create characters both ways. I'll often use an actor or TV/movie character as a physical and personality model, just until my character is developed enough that I start to see the real them. And almost every character I create contains aspects of my own personality and those of other people I know. I don't always do it on purpose — it's just how it seems to work. Maybe it's my version of "write what you know." But I never go far enough that a real person is recognizable.

I initially based Jonathan Stuart's looks on young Christopher Walken, mostly because Walken's smile is brilliant while at the same time his face can so stunningly reveal an inner violence that is a big part of Jon's personality. But Jon developed far beyond Walken as I wrote the novel.

As for Jon's personality, I first based him on my husband, David. David has A.D.D. and was also emotionally abused by his father. You could say that I'm a lot like Melanie in that I admired David when I learned about his past. I could see how he constantly had to deal with it, and how, in his case, that unfortunate struggle actually made him a very good man (wifely squee!). Melanie has a lot of qualities that I have, but she's not based on me.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

I have to plot. I have to know what I'm doing and where I'm going. I do most of my major thinking before I ever start writing, and my plot documents can get up to 50 pages or more, depending on the story. Now I'll contradict myself by saying that, if in the act of writing I get an idea or I drift, I'll follow that idea to see where it leads. When a sudden idea gels, I'll go back to my plot doc and revise it to include this new idea.

I'm not good at spur-of-the-moment thinking. I'm the kind of writer who sits for hours without moving, and if I'm interrupted, I get all snippy. I need to dwell in my head to work things out. But for me, that makes the writing process much more fun because I don't have to worry about where I'm going or how. I can pay attention to the moment.

And now I'll contradict myself again by saying that sometimes, though rarely, my process is exactly the opposite of everything I just said above!

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Heck yeah! Hooked is a story that involves the Neverland! Setting doesn't get more important than that. But the settings in the real world, in Jon's life at the beginning of the book, are also important. He owns and runs a used bookstore and his house is full of books — in other words, he's a man with one foot outside of the real world already. He lives in Pasadena, in Los Angeles, the city ruled by Hollywood and all things superficial. He even has a recurring nightmare that ends up to be more real than his "real" life. In a way, the whole story is about where Jon wants to be versus where he actually is.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I've written books and blogs on this topic. In a nutshell, I believe that writer's block —or what I call Page Fright in my book Writing Is Acting — is just a form of fear: fear of commitment, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of something. When you can identify this fear and disarm it, you won't have writer's block.

In my own life, writer's block has mostly been a fear of success. Sounds stupid, doesn't it? But I was constantly told to be obedient and humble and grateful and quiet as a child. A writing career, especially in the self-publishing world, requires just the opposite! You have to be proud of your ideas, you have to pursue them openly, you have to thrust them out into the world and encourage people to buy them. That's not obedience, that's almost a form of arrogance. And it's certainly not quiet. It's very difficult. But ever since I identified my fear of success, I don't have writer's block. In fact, I now have more projects and ideas than I'll ever get to finish!

What do you like the most about being an author?

Seeing my name in print. Yeah, I've got an ego, and I've worked hard to get it this big!

What is the most pivotal point of a writer’s life?


What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Don't give up. Have faith in yourself. But also be realistic. Try to look at your writing as it really is. Are you ready to publish? Are you really good enough yet? Or do you need to practice more, read more, learn more, before you leap into the professional business of writing? There are a lot of people out there writing bad stuff because they believe that self-publishing will instantly make them legitimate writers. But writing is a craft, and it must be learned.

If you wanted with all your heart to be a plumber, would you just go out, buy some tools and then start to advertise for work? No, you'd have to learn how to be a plumber first. Writing is just the same. Learn the tools of the trade — spelling, grammar, vocabulary, story structure, character development, plot development, etc. Observe the world closely to see what real people do, how they really act and why (don't rely on TV and movies!). Always look for ways to improve yourself and your work. It's hard to know exactly when you're ready, but if you do these things and get good comments when you give your stories to others for test reads, you might be ready. Then GO FOR IT!