M.J. Felder’s love for the creativity and emotions that words can produce was sparked at an early age, as his father was known to regularly play masterpieces from Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, and many other geniuses of the day. He would later begin writing short stories and rhymes on index cards he â€œborrowedâ€ from his motherâ€™s dining room buffet lol.
A few years later, M.J. advanced his rhyme writing into full songs (following in the path of his mother) and began recording as a rap artist. This was accompanied and later evolved into writing and performing spoken word. Ever focused on words and a better way to put them together, M.J. found himself becoming critical of song lyrics, and movies. Heâ€™d routinely tell friends and family â€œThey shouldâ€™ve said this, they shouldâ€™ve taken the story that way, it wouldâ€™ve been so much better ifâ€¦â€
One summer day after graduating high school, and eager to get to the playground to play ball, M.J. was angered over the fact that his friends were all busy. Out of sheer boredom, he would pick up a certain Novel his mother and sister had been trying to get him to read. His mind was completely blown from the character development, plot twists, and the effectiveness of how the author drew him in with vivid descriptions and powerful dialogue. M.J.â€™s world was now open, and he introduced it to Stephen King, Walter Mosley, Tom Holland, Dean Koontz, Sistah Souljah, Neil Gaiman, and others.
The next phase of his love affair with words began to take shape. He decided to try his hand at writing a Novel! An enormous fan of Marvel and Star Wars, his first attempt was a Sci-Fi thriller that takes place on a newly discovered planet. M.J. would eventually abandon it and continued writing poems, songs, and speeches.
Then years later, he would again decide to try his hand at writing a novel. This was motivated by his creation of a new character and an original premise for a story. But it all became real when he came up with the titleâ€¦ SOUL OF A KNIGHT. M.J. began writing such an extensive outline that it became obvious to him that it was too much for just one book! SOUL OF A KNIGHT would have to be a trilogy. Much research would ensue, followed by countless rounds of rewrites, tailoring, and query letters. Finally, M.J. would find the right weapon to slay the beast that isÂ Procrastination and put his full effort into getting his epic published.
M.J. Felder resides in Buffalo, NY where he lives with his two sons and is a career firefighter in the Buffalo Fire Department. Heâ€™s worked with the inner-city youth of Buffalo for over twenty years in the capacities of residential treatment, Buffalo Public Schools, head start, and more. He is an avid music and sports fan and loves to travel the U.S.
AllisonJanel: How would you describe yourÂ Swagger? What makesÂ M.J.,Â M.J.?
M.J.: What makes M.J. M.J. Good question. I donâ€™t succumb to trends too tough; you know what Iâ€™m saying? Peer pressure was never an issue for me, and it still isnâ€™t. I like what I like, and that extends to almost everything. My style of dress, the music I listen to, even my taste in women!! Iâ€™m very particularâ€¦ sometimes to a fault.
AllisonJanel: What led you to your career path?
M.J.: Creativity and writing are like a forest fire in my family LOL!! Almost all of us sing, and a large number of us write. My mother, who I get so much of my attributes from, is the person who walked the footsteps that I subconsciously followed. She sings, directs choirs, and writes songs. I started writing rhymes, and I was SERIOUS! I was nice with it too. I Iove crafting stories in my songs. I was recording in the studio with a producer friend of mine and my dream was to sign with Bad Boy. I called myself moving to NJ with my lady at the time who was from Jersey, BUT THATâ€™S ANOTHER STORY, LOL. Then I eventually moved away from emceeing and wrote and performed more spoken word and writing speeches. But I knew I had more stories to tell. I came up with an idea for a book and the desire to develop it became unanimous in every part of my being.
AllisonJanel:Â What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
M.J.: Schedule?? What is that? LOL! I hate to admit it but, I have no writing schedule whatsoever, SMH. I really need to create one and stick to it. At least thatâ€™s what all the research Iâ€™ve done says lol. I write in response to inspiration. That happens with no warning. It can happen at any, and all times of the day. I keep my notepad â€œTrigger Fingerâ€ ready. In the past, Iâ€™ve lost a few ideas because I didnâ€™t jot them down immediately. I hoped that I wouldâ€™ve just remembered them because they were so good. Then I would get FURIOUS with myself for losing the idea(s). The closest thing I have to a writing schedule is late nights. Iâ€™m a true night owl, and many ideas come to me in the late hours of the day. I keep my phone close enough to comfortably grab it when Iâ€™m bed, so I donâ€™t miss out.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â AllisonJanel: Please tell our readers more about SOUL OF A KNIGHT, and why you believe itâ€™s an awesome read.
M.J.: SOUL OF A KNIGHT is an Urban Fantasy Epic trilogy. This first installment is The Knightâ€™s Birth. Itâ€™s the story of a London Bishop. Heâ€™s a star student-athlete whoâ€™s terrified and confused when he learns he has a supernatural price on his head! But while this just slightly outweighs his emotions over his fatherâ€™s betrayal, he reluctantly accepts a new reality of mystery, menace, and confrontation. Public consequences soon follow, with uneasy decisions made. Survival for more than just London depends on supreme multitasking, loss of focus, will, and spell oblivion.
I believe itâ€™s an awesome read because of the originality of it, and how it deals with issues everyday people can relate to, all the while incorporating a paranormal element. Plus, a young Black man is the main character.
AllisonJanel: Where do you get ideas and inspiration from for your books?
M.J.: I get ideas and inspiration from everywhere: conversations, songs, current events, movies, books, you name it. Inspiration for me is instantaneous. Small thoughts, ideas, or even phrases someone says to me turn into full-blown plots in a matter of minutes.
Â AllisonJanel: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating SOUL OF A KNIGHT?
M.J.: One of the most inspiring things I learned was that a story will write itself if youâ€™re faithful to it. Thereâ€™s no need to force it. I developed my characters and stayed true to them. Also, I knew where I wanted the story to end, even though I didnâ€™t know all of the details on how I would get there. I rocked with it and it organically took me where it needed to go.Â Â
Â AllisonJanel: What do you think makes a good story?
M.J.: What I think makes a good story is originality and real dialogue. Ask yourself what a person in this situation would really be thinking. What would they say, how would they feel? And then express that.
AllisonJanel: What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
M.J.: My advice for new writers is simple. Read, Research, and then READ some more! Read various authors and various genres. And do as much research as you can for creative writing, and especially any subjects you tackle in your story.
AllisonJanel: How do you deal with writerâ€™s block?
M.J.: I think everyone must find a specific way to deal with writerâ€™s block. Thereâ€™s no silver bullet. I found my process while I was still writing rhymes. I was stuck on this one song. I could not write another bar!! I kept trying to force it for a couple of days, it didnâ€™t work. So, one day, I ignored the song and began writing a new one. The thing was, I made sure the subject matter was completely different. That formula works for me to this day.
Â AllisonJanel: What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
M.J.: Oh, thatâ€™s easy. By far the most difficult part of writing for me is finding the time. Iâ€™m a full-time firefighter, and I have two young sons.
AllisonJanel:Â How do you practice self-care, as writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit.
M.J.: I believe self-care is of great importance. I practice it regularly. Relaxation is a priority to me, and I make time for it. I like full-body massages, I watch sports especially Basketball (NBA), and football (NFL). I enjoy working out, and I am VERY passionate about music and movies.
Â AllisonJanel: Do you have any upcoming events or projects that you care to share?
M.J.: Weâ€™ll be raffling off an autographed copy of the book along with laminated pictures of three of the characters and a SOUL OF A KNIGHT t-shirt on my social media account in the coming weeks. And I am currently well into writing the second installment of the series. Additionally, SOUL OF A KNIGHT can be purchased on Amazon and Kindle.
Â Connect with M.J. Felder below:
Â Instagram: @m.j.writer