Contest Winners Q & A’s


Asked by C.B – “What made you decide to finally make the jump into becoming a professional author and write this book!?”

AJ. Tipton – “It wasn’t something that particularly happened that made me decide to say, “I’m going to become an author.” I just finished writing ‘The Program,’ and I thought, “well it’s just sitting here. Let’s see if I can make something happen with it.”  I shopped online for a while looking for agents before I ultimately decided to go the route of self-publishing on Amazon.”


Asked by J.W – “When did you start writing your book?”

AJ. Tipton – “I’ve been writing this book off and on since I was seventeen years old. Before that, I was working on a book called ‘Secrets’ that will most likely never see the light of day. Writing was always something I did as a hobby, and I didn’t actually sit down and physically decide to write ‘The Program’ until 2014. I finished it in the same year.”


Asked by A.B – “What challenges did you face while making it all happen?”

AJ. Tipton – “There were two main challenges I faced while writing ‘The Program.’ The first was more mental than anything. Writing in-depth takes a lot of time. There would be days where I would spend a whole day just writing. That’s a lot of time and a lot of days.

I would get into my own head and wonder why I was even wasting my time. I would tell myself things like, “It’s not like you can take this anywhere. Your writing is probably not even that good, you’re a joke.”

These things would make me stop writing until inevitably I would get some sort of inspiration or stressed out and begin writing all over again.

The second was trying to figure out how exactly to get published. It’s not exactly easy until I figured out self-publishing that is. Plus, there are a lot of scams out there.”


Asked by K.C – “Who did the artwork for the cover?

AJ. Tipton – “I shopped online for a while before I finally found this cover. The creator’s name is Nemanja Vranjkovic.”


Asked by P.L – “How do you go about getting a book on Amazon and how do you get published?”

AJ. Tipton – “It’s not that difficult to get a book on Amazon to be honest. It will cost you more out of pocket in terms of editing services and cover art. If your not an editor, you usually have to send your work out to one and they tend to run high in cost. I lucked out and found a local one that a friend recommended to me. If your not an artist, you’ll have to shop for a cover and the good ones run a lot higher in price.

Getting published on the other hand is a different story. Most publishers won’t look at work unless an agent sends it in. So naturally, before you get published, you need an agent. Unfortunately, most agents are incredibly selective in the clients they take on. You can find both in the Literary Market Place.”


Asked by A.M – “Have you always wanted to write?”

AJ. Tipton – “Yes, for the most part. Writing has always been an escape for me. I’m not the very best at communicating verbally. Taking the time to think out my words, is a way for me to understand the thoughts going on in my head. Ideas, dreams, and feelings that would otherwise get lost in the jumble of words said out loud.

And I say I wanted to write for the most part, because I didn’t always want to write books. I wanted to be a Rockstar that wrote my own songs for years. The songs were terrible. But, I still have them!”


Asked by A.D – “What inspired you to write ‘The Program’?

AJ. Tipton – “‘The Program’ was inspired by my dreams of wanting to be anywhere else when I was seventeen. I wanted to just pack up and go. I was graduating high school soon, and I had zero prospects for the future. In short, I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life and I was very depressed and angry. Writing ‘The Program’ helped me release some of that anger and anxiety.

The actual story itself was inspired by this old anime I used to watch called ‘Noir’ and by the anime ‘Yu Yu Hakusho.’ I’ve got this obsession with anti-heroes! I feel that they are the most complex characters, and the most fun to write. Blake’s character, for example, was inspired solely by the anti-hero. Examples of the anti-hero would be Danny Archer from Blood Diamond, Vegeta from DBZ, Kyo Sohma from Fruits Basket, Hero from Gundam, Kirika Yuumura from Noir, Naruto from Naruto, Hiei and my personal favorite, Yusuke Uermeshi. To name a few.”


Asked by S.B – “What is your book about without spoiling the ending of course?”

AJ. Tipton – “The book is about a young girl named Aira Deven’s. Due to her own actions, she’s to stand trial for the attempted murder of her step-father. Adding to her family’s mounting debt, she’s at her wits end when two men appear from the shadows and offer her a way out.

The only catch is that she has to say goodbye to everyone she knows and loves for the rest of her life.

The idea was to sort of make you wonder, what you would do for the ones you love?

The book follows Aira as she walks a path she can’t turn away from. You see everything from her point of view. And you get to watch as the people who only the day before, condemned her to her new life, become her only form of stability.”


Asked by T.K – “Were any of your characters inspired by real people?”

AJ. Tipton – “Yes. Every character has some part of me in them, but there were quite a few characters inspired by real-life people.

Merana was based on my little cousin and my oldest friend. Her looks where based entirely on my childhood friend except that I gave her my little cousins height. Her personality, on the other hand, is almost my little cousin to the last drop. Except for her sociability skills, my friend could walk in a room full of people and make best friends with everyone before the night was up. And it would be unintentional.

Jalen was based on my little brother and my older sister. My brother is a charmer, and my older sister has always had this calming effect and the ability to not get mad but laugh instead. I tried to convey that as best as I could.

James was based on this kid I went to high school with that rode a motorcycle. Sorry for all the staring man.

And Aiden was based entirely on this kid we used to call Little Man.”

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