Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author and founder of I Spark Change about his hit book, 12 Hours Of Heaven, what inspired him, and his creative process.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
First and foremost, I’m a father and family man. My wife, Tonya and I have been married for 25 years and I have three beautiful daughters. My family is my world and the reason for everything I do. I’m also a bestselling author, business strategist, and the founder of I Spark Change.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I initially wanted to write a book about twenty years ago after a near death experience where I was in a major car accident with my wife and two daughters onboard. We all escaped completely unharmed despite flipping a car on the freeway in a rainstorm. Witnesses figured we were dead after seeing the vehicle and were surprised to see us emerge without a scratch. Afterwards, I felt that a miracle had occurred and that a Guardian Angel had protected us. It was during a period of reflection soon after that I evaluated my life and what was important. This is when the idea for my book came to me in an instant. I saw the story that would become- 12 Hours of Heaven; Lessons for a Better World laid out like a movie I had just watched and knew I had to turn it into a book.
When did you take a step to start writing?
Initially I wrote a couple paragraphs very shortly after I had the idea, but it was not meant to be at that time. I quickly forgot about the book and went back to my life. It wasn’t until 2020 that I finally took the first step. Once the world shut down due to the pandemic, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I had lost most of my clients from work and began to get isolated and anxious about the future. I realized I had to do something about it so I decided to finally get the story out of my head and turn it into a book.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Well, I guess that depends on how you look at it. One could say it took twenty years from first idea to release. You could also view it from the time I started actively writing to publishing. In this case it would be six months, three months to write and three to go through the publishing process.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Time will tell. I’ve just begun working on a follow up to 12 Hours of Heaven. I’m pretty busy with everything my first book as led to for me so we will see what the journey looks like.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write 12 Hours Of Heaven?
When I began writing in 2020 times were bad. I saw that the world was going through a lot of struggles, and I wanted to do my part to make it better. I felt that 12 Hours could provide some inspiration and hope for those who were struggling like me.
What were your biggest challenges with writing 12 Hours Of Heaven?
I’d have to say getting started in the first place as I described earlier. I never felt I had the time to write until I was given the gift of plenty of time due to the pandemic. Another challenge was keeping my writing experience to myself. When I was about halfway through my writing I entered a time of intense spiritual connection where the story started to pour out of me. I went from writing 500-1000 words per day to writing over 2000 in a couple hours. I felt as if the story was being given to me by a higher power. This was so intense that I kept it private the whole time it was occurring. It wasn’t until I finished writing that I had the urge to share it with others.
What was your research process for 12 Hours Of Heaven?
Initially I researched tips on writing since I was a first-time author and needed to have a good process to follow.
I also read various books both fiction and non-fiction on Heaven and Angels. I wanted to make my story as accurate as possible with the knowledge I had and what I could learn from others.
How did you plan the structure of 12 Hours Of Heaven?
I saw the story like a movie originally, so I laid it out in an outline and then broke down the content for each chapter. I loosely followed these guidelines through the writing process as I wanted the story to come out naturally.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did 12 Hours Of Heaven need?
Absolutely. I knew I needed professional help, so I first spoke to a mentor who had written multiple books to get his advice. He referred me to a publishing consultant and editor. I ended up interviewing multiple editors before I found one that resonated with me and my work.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Get started! I believe that there are many more people with a story inside than those who actually become authors. Many are afraid of the process and all the work. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you just need to begin the journey.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I already let the cat out of the bag earlier about the follow up book. The working title is 12 Hours of Heaven; Time on Earth. I have five more books in the series planned. Who knows, there may even be an auto-biography someday as well.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
100 Percent! It may have taken me twenty years to finally get the book written but it was well worth the effort. Many people have shared that they have been inspired by my book and it has had a positive effect on their lives in some way.
It also led to me creating the I Spark Change organization to empower and connect individuals to spread positive change and elevate social impact. This is what will have a mush greater impact than any one book can have.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Linked In- https://www.linkedin.com/in/rickornelas/