Author M.J. Hardy is one author who has successfully changed our perspectives for good for the true-crime based novels with his book, Sleep Baby Sleep. Loosely based on the 1970s infamous unsolved Oakland County child killer case, Sleep Baby Sleep is a must-read if you’re someone who prefers reading crime and thrillers.
After the release of the book, we, at Vowelor, had an interesting conversation with the author about his writing. But, before we continue with his interview, here’s a little something about him:
About the Author: M.J. Hardy
M.J. Hardy is an author, community activist, entrepreneur, and veteran from Michigan, USA. He took up service soon after his graduation and spent subsequent years in Asia, Pacific Rim, and the U.S. west coast for the next twenty-two years. After his retirement, he turned to writing and authored Sleep Baby Sleep, a fast-paced murder thriller that is capable of keeping you at the edge of your seat and biting your nails till the end. Other than writing, Hardy loves to read, watch mystery dramas and documentaries and spend time with his family.
Further, Hardy shared about his life, his writing journey, his inspirations, and more interesting things about himself. Here are all of his interesting answers:
Tell us about yourself, your family, your occupation, passions, etc.
I’m a self-proclaimed Renaissance man. After receiving my undergraduate degree, I joined the United States Army as an infantry officer. I served in the military for nearly 22 years and have worked as a consultant for a Fortune 50 company. I now devote my time to creating contemporary short stories and mystery novels, advising, and spiritual mentoring. My wife and I have been married for over 36 years, and we have three adult children.
When and where were you born and bought up?
I was born and raised in the Detroit suburbs, a magical place to grow up in the 1960s and ’70s. The automotive industry dominated the United States and the world. According to Fortune 500, in 1977, General Motors was the second largest corporation in the world, while Ford was the third largest and Chrysler the tenth. They dominated the economy of greater Detroit, not to mention all the large, medium, and small businesses that supported the industry. Names like Lee Iacocca, the president of both Ford and Chrysler, responsible for creating the Ford Mustang and Chrysler Minivan. John DeLorean, the flamboyant auto designer who created the DeLorean DMC-12 made famous in the movie Back to the Future, was synonymous with Detroit.
Adding to the area’s uniqueness was the creative talent in the arts. Celebrities such as Kristen Bell, Eminem, Kid Rock, Madonna, Glenn Frye of the Eagles, Barry Gordy and Motown Records, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Jerry Bruckheimer, S. Epatha Merkerson, Mitch Ryder, and the Detroit Wheels, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Tim Allen, Michael Moore, and Sam Raimi are all products of the greater metro Detroit area.
The greater metro Detroit area also inspired art and architecture movements in America. Cranbrook is known internationally for its place in the modernism movement and some of its community of artists such as famous architects such Albert Kahn, Eliel Saarinen, and Charles and Ray Eames. Stretching along Woodward Avenue is the impressive 319-acre campus of the Cranbrook Educational Community, which consists of the Cranbrook Institute of Science, the Cranbrook Art Museum, the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and the Cranbrook House and Gardens in Bloomfield Hills.
What were you like in your childhood? Any good memory you would like to share?
I was always a good kid; never caused any trouble at home or in school. I always enjoyed exploring the woods near our house or solving make-believe mysteries. It took me a while to learn how to ride a bike, so I became an excellent runner following the other kids on their bikes.
What do you think has been your biggest achievement till today?
How well my adult children care and look out for each other.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing?
I have always enjoyed writing. During my childhood, I would sit down and create mystery comic books. It was 3:00 am, I was on a video teleconference, and I thought I needed to do something more with my life. So, that morning, I started writing my book.
Which writers inspire you?
Ian Fleming (James Bond), Agatha Christie (her stand-alone mysteries), and John Grisham.
Writing is stressful at times. How do you relax your mind?
Although I pray, meditate, and walk, my favorite thing to help clear my mind is vacuuming the rugs and polishing the furniture—my wife loves me.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left but could say I’ve used everything you gave me.” Erma Bombeck
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Trust your instincts – they are more powerful and accurate than you give them credit.
What kind of books do you like to read personally? What are you reading currently?
I enjoy reading other mystery writers—it helps me learn to write better.
If you could have been the original author of any book, which one would it be and why?
Shogun by James Clavell, I enjoyed every aspect of the book. Well-crafted and exciting story with compelling characters—a story that has readers wanting to turn to the next page.
How is your day structured; do you have a special time to write or is it pretty much random?
A failure on my part; I don’t have a regularly scheduled time; however, I try to write and promote every day. Stephen King talks about locking himself in the office for six hours daily. I had a writing coach who recommended that I get up early every morning and write 1,000 words daily. The bottom line, I have to write more each day.
What is the reason you write for; is it for the readers or yourself or something else entirely?
I write for both my readers and myself. I enjoy writing, and I hope I write a story that readers want—it’s a beautiful feeling when a reader promotes your book to other readers.
About the book: Sleep Baby Sleep
Sleep Baby Sleep is author M.J. Hardy’s newest addition to the crime thriller genre which was published in the year 2015. It follows a fictional account of the infamous unsolved Oakland County child killer case of the 1970s.
The suburbs of Detroit as one of the most beautiful and serene places to live had it all; good living conditions, excellent educational institutions, amazing neighbors, and next to no crime. But how will the civilians there deal with it when young children start disappearing and a serial killer seems to be on the loose? Read to find out.
What genre is your book? What draws you to this genre?
My book is a mystery thriller, as others have described my writing. I describe my stories as very intense, adult themes, accurate fictional accounts of real unsolved murders. “M. J. captures the essence of historical fiction. His stories offer a detailed authenticity to time and place, social norms, and current events. Then he weaves a story about characters we come to love and want to befriend along with a captivating “who done it “ crime that we are anxious to solve. M. J.’s books are difficult to put down … I am anxious for the next adventure he will take us on.”
Was there something that made you write this book?
Great question! I went through a long list of ideas on what I considered for my book. Even as I wrote, new ideas came to mind that I had to consider.
What makes ‘Sleep Baby Sleep’stand out in this genre?
I defer to my readers, who have been kind enough to write a review. “Sleep, Baby, Sleep” is an excellent read on many levels. If you are a Michigander or a history nut, the author does a wonderful job of taking the reader back to the simpler days of Michigan in the 1970s and does not miss a beat with references to Teen Beat magazine, Loves Baby Soft Perfume, Woodward Avenue and Faygo pop. But nothing is simple about the plot twists and turns developed by the author of the mysteries surrounding the children being killed and left on display purposely for the public to find. The book moves quickly- you will not want to put it down -put your other chores on hold for a few days because you will be busy reading 🙂 – you will grow attached to the well-developed characters. You will feel for the detectives and families of the children. You root for them to solve the crimes before another innocent child is taken and will groan when another child decides to walk home alone. I am waiting for MJ Hardy’s next book – he is a natural storyteller!”
Why do you think a reader should pick this book over anything else?
I won’t waste your time.
The book has the right amount of suspense, thrill, a gripping plot, and much more. What were the hardest and the most specific things or ideas to incorporate?
I wanted to accurately depict the mood, environment, and times that surrounded the crimes.
Is there any memorable experience you’d like to share throughout the writing process of ‘Sleep Baby Sleep’?
‘Sleep Baby Sleep’ took me four years from start to publishing. The day I decided to publish the book was a great and scary feeling.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Provide a product (books) that readers enjoy and recommend to others. Financially, cover all my expenses and make a reasonable monthly stipend.
Are you working on your new project? What will be your next book about?
I’m working on the next Charlie Taylor book (a prequel to Sleep Baby Sleep) and a collection of faith-based short stories.
What does success mean to you as an Author?
Do I want to be a New York Times bestseller? Or do I want to tell a good story? Or do I want my stories to be respected mysteries in the same vein as Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conon Doyle, or the great Catholic writers of their time, like Francois Mauriac, G. K. Chesterton, and Flannery O’Connor? Short answer, yes to all of them. So, I hope that you will give my writing a chance—a heartfelt thank you.
Do you prefer self-publishing or traditional publishing and Why?
Technically (grammar and punctuation), I am not a strong writer, so when independent publishing became a reality, I decided to self-publish my books. I could find editors, publish on my own, and then constantly slog through the rejection letters. Although, I believe that I tell a good story and make unique characters that readers enjoy.
One lesson that you’d like to pass on to young debut authors.
Enjoy the Process. Most writers think they will catch lightning in a bottle and achieve instant success, but that’s not the case. I enjoy it all—creative and business. First, you must complete your story and start marketing your book. A traditional publisher would do all that for the writer, but you must do it yourself as an independent writer.
Perseverance. I would say keep going one word, one sentence, and one paragraph at a time. Keep after it, and your story starts to take shape.
Editing. Yes, pay money to have your story professionally edited.
Criticism. Do not be thinned-skinned. Be open to honest and objective criticism. I was trying to help a young writer. She complained that she did not have a single review of her books. I told her I would purchase one of her books and write a review. I started reading the book, and it was terrible—sophomoric—no wonder she couldn’t even get family and friends to write a review. As an honest reader and reviewer, I pointed out many areas that would improve her story, but she refused to listen or change.
Your opinion about Vowelor.
Vowelor has been a wonderful experience and helpful. Like a great editor, they make me better.