Author Interview: J.D. Oldenburg #authorinterview

Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome J.D. Oldenburg, author of Horatio And The Fear Of Dying, for an author Interview.

About the author:

J.D. Oldenburg (Jose Diaz-Oldenburg) grew up with an unusually intense fear of death. He didn’t suffer trauma or family member’s death in his early youth, yet as a little kid he often sat with his parents to ask concerned questions about the subject. Conversations about death took place almost every evening. Some nights he understood, some nights he feared.
At the early age of nine, he confronted his anxiety by penning a short tale titled “La Muerte de la Muerte” or, Death of Death. A short story inspired by Jim Henson’s 1997 adaptation of an old Russian Folktale called The Soldier and Death.
In early 2015, La Muerte de la Muerte showed up hidden between old books in the family library and a new idea was born. Horatio and The Fear of Dying would come to life.
Armed with a bachelor’s degree in film, a couple of highly encouraging rejection letters, and seven years of experience in film production and advertising, J.D. felt compelled to bypass traditional publishing and retain full control of the final product. He built his creative team through persistence, trial and error, and craigslist ads. After locking the right artists, they embarked on an almost three-year process to the final creation released now.
J.D. hopes the book will help kids all over the world ease this universal fear and gain a strengthened sense of adventure about life.

Horatio and The Fear of Dying comes to Kickstarter October 3rd, 2017 – It will be available for shipping worldwide.

J.D. Oldenburg lives in Los Angeles, California.

Contact Details:


Hello, J.D. Thank you for being here today.

Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?

I am a film maker as well as an author. I aspire to lead my books into becoming movies.

My biggest aspiration with Horatio is to move kids into a place of less fear earlier in life.

Which writers inspire you?

J.K. Rowling inspired me to write my first novel when I was a scared teen who wanted to feel brave, and Neil Gaiman inspires a lot of ideas at the moment. They are both great at adding elements of real humanity to their fantasy worlds.

Eckhart Tolle inspires me as well. Though not a fiction writer, his through understanding of self has made me a better human and a better writer.

Tell us about your book?

Horatio and The Fear of Dying was inspired by Jim Henson’s adaptation of an 1850s Russian folktale called The Soldier and Death.

It is the story of a little boy who manages to kidnap death to save his family. Along the lines, he accidentally kidnaps the joy of living as well and must mend the cycle he has broken.

How long did it take you to write it?

It’s been a long process, I wrote the first draft in one sitting, inspired by a little tale I wrote when I was 9, after watching the aforementioned Jim Henson show. It took months of revisiting and sitting with my editor to get it finalized.

In addition to writing it, I drew sketch concepts and found all the artists involved through online ads. The whole process from conception to the final book took about three years.

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

I’m finalizing the publishing house so it’s ready for the book, and I have a line of greeting cards on amazon I’m really excited about because it supports the artists who paint them with royalties.

I’ll also have a horror coming of age novel titled The Feeder ready in a year or two. It’s based on a film I made in college, which you can see here: Though it’s packed with scares, it’s message remains one of growth and hope. Horror just seems to be the best genre to break into the film industry.

Why have you chosen this genre?

I love magic realism. I think you can plant deep messages in people’s minds in a really beautiful way with it.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve been telling stories for as long as a I can remember.

Why do you write?

Because I have to. I have the best time doing it. When an idea finally comes, I fall in love with it and it almost becomes more real than the world around me. I like being in that place.

Where do your ideas come from?

Tough one. Where does any thought come from? The ether, I think. Most of my ideas have come from dreams. It’s odd to call them mine, because I feel they came to me, I didn’t come up with them. I don’t have that many, either, I don’t think I’ll be one of those authors who put out hundreds of books in their career, I don’t know how they do it.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I like the laptop. Sorry if that’s uncool. I do free-write on a notepad, but thoughts and ideas only, never a draft of the story.

What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle is the only book I can say I’ve consumed more than ten times. Each time I do it leaves me something new.

The Harry Potter series changed me because I wanted to feel brave like Harry but I didn’t think I was, not really. I took to writing so I could have my own hero.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is almost a rethought model of The Jungle Book. I love his prose, it’s amazing.

I’m currently reading Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear. He takes his time with the book and I’m definitely not bored so I’ll list him too.

I’m a fan coming of age stories and idealized nostalgia, and Stephen Chbosky did an amazing job both penning and directing The Perks of Being a Wall Flower.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

By watching movies and re-reading books that got me writing in the first place. I try to turn on my writer/film maker mode and really notice why these stories moved me,

so I can re-discover why I was writing in the first place.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

Enjoy the process. The result is only a reminder of the time and energy you put into achieving it. If you didn’t enjoy writing it, finishing it will turn out disappointing. I think this ends up being true for both you and your audience.

Thank you, J.D., for all your enlightening answers! 

About The Book:

Once upon a time… a brave boy named Horatio challenged and conquered Death, dawning everlasting life over his Kingdom. But as life and death are in love, one without the other became joyless. Soon, Horatio must mend the cycle he has broken.

Horatio And The Fear Of Dying was inspired by Jim Henson’s 1997 TV adaptation of the famous 1850s Russian Folktale, The Soldier And Death.


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