Interview with Jason Kristopher

June 14, 2014 at 7:08 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

P10200191. Your books (The Dying of the Light) are a series of zombie apocalypse novels. What do you think your stories have that set them apart from the rest of the zombie genre?

First, a realistic and scientifically-vetted reason for zombies, as in it’s not just supernatural or science fiction ‘hand-waving.’ Second, and this is the key difference, the books aren’t about the zombies. Yes, they have zombies in them, and action and blood and guts and gore, but at its core, The Dying of the Light is a story about people. I always tell potential readers that it could’ve been anything that ended the world: aliens, earthquakes, global warming… none of that matters. This series is about the end of these people’s own personal worlds, and how they deal with what happens during and after, and more importantly, with each other. That’s the real story – the rest is just window-dressing.

2. What inspired you to write zombie novels? Did the characters come to you as products of the apocalypse, or did you drop them into that setting after their inception?

The idea for the story was a mash-up of two different dreams, actually. One about a lone zombie survivor on an island, the other about the end of the world (though I didn’t know at the time what had done it). My writer’s brain smashed them together, and suddenly, there was a zombie apocalypse trilogy. It makes me a bit nervous about the other connections my mind makes, actually…

3. Stephen King says people who don’t read don’t have the tools to write. Who are your favorite authors? Who inspires you to write? Who do you read to gain more writing energy?

on-writing-coverWould it be trite to say Stephen King? His book On Writing is the single best treatise on the craft of authorship that I’ve ever read. As for other fun favorites, I have a ton, but a few that come to mind: Isaac Asimov, Terry Brooks, Jim Butcher, Orson Scott Card, Arthur C. Clarke, Donaldson, Jordan, Koontz, Niven, Pratchett… see what I mean? For inspiration, I look at some of my friends, like George Wright Padgett (Spindown), who wrote one of my personal Top 5 sci-fi books. That is inspiring, to me. I like to re-read some books if I’m having trouble with a book I’m writing, too. For example, I’ll revisit The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series if I’m stumbling over dialogue – even though it’s English slang, Douglas Adams was a master of dialogue.

4. Do you have play lists of mood music you write to? If so, which artists/songs generally make the cut?

If I have music on, it’s generally instrumental – tuneful background noise, basically. The soundtrack to Lord of the Rings, or Last of the Mohicans, that sort of thing. If I’m struggling with a particular type of scene, I’ll find some music that fits that ambiance. For example, my “Car Chase” playlist has Guns N’ Roses, Project Pitchfork, Rihanna, and even Motley Crue. But usually, I like it quiet or very low music when I’m writing; it keeps me focused.

grey gecko press5. You are not just an author, but the owner of a publishing company: Grey Gecko Press. Tell me a little about that. What made you decide to open such a venture and what are your goals for the company?

I’ve always been business-minded, and when I published my first book, I knew there would be business expenses involved. Originally, I never planned to publish anyone else’s work, but then a friend (author Wayne Basta) asked if I could help him, and Aristeia: Revolutionary Right became the second book published under the Grey Gecko imprint. I found I really enjoyed working with other authors to share great stories, even if they weren’t mine, and I had the ability to do it… so why not? From the beginning, the company has been about treating authors fairly, publishing great books, and doing things the right way, even if that bucks centuries of tradition.

As far as goals… well, I’ve long said that I’d like for Grey Gecko to be ‘the Google of publishing.’ Most people interpret that to mean I want to be rich, when that’s not at all my goal. I want Grey Gecko Press to be huge because it would mean that every author would have a chance at the same kind of success that only a few get now with traditional publishing. Every struggling writer, pounding away at their keyboard (or typewriter, I’m not judging) would know that at least one company would look at their work when it was done, regardless of their past publishing experience – because, at the end of the day, Grey Gecko isn’t about making money: it’s about publishing great books and putting authors first. As you can tell, I’m quite passionate about this endeavor.

6. You’re quite an entrepreneur. What other projects do you have up your sleeve?

I think it’d be grP1020027eat to have a Grey Gecko bookstore, for one thing. For another, we haven’t been able to focus on as much as I’d like with Grey Gecko is giving back to our community. I’ve got some ideas for creating local resources and ‘maker-spaces’ for writers of all types and kinds. When we’re ready, I’d like to take our business model into other fields, as well, including movies, film, and even music. So yeah, a few projects on the horizon!

7. How would you feel about having your books made into a television show or series of movies? Would you want to write your own screenplays? Who would be your ideal director?

One of the comments I have most about my books are that they’re very visual, very cinematic, and I agree! I think they’d make great movies/TV shows, mainly because that’s what I see in my head when I write them. I’m not sure about writing the screenplays myself, although I’d give it a try. There’s a lot about the behind-the-camera part of the film industry that I don’t know, so I’d at least listen to some experts… though naturally I’d want final say. I’d rather not have it made at all than made badly. I’m not sure of all the director’s names on The Walking Dead, but they do such a masterful job with a show that’s so similar in tone, that I’d likely pick one of them, given the choice.

Jason and rene8. You’ve had booths at Comicpalooza and done numerous book signings with local bookstores. What were those experiences like for you? What are your favorite parts? What are your least favorite parts?

Despite what I may say on Sunday afternoon at a convention, I actually enjoy talking to people about our books. Helping people discover a new book they haven’t heard about, or seeing their excitement at the next volume in a series, or seeing the light of wonder shine in a child’s eyes as I hand them a copy of Greystone Valley is why I do what I do. As far as book signings go, I enjoy them for many of the same reasons; talking to people about my books and getting tP1020015hem excited about reading is a blast. What it really comes down to for me, though, is that I’m a storyteller at heart; however I can tell you a story, I’m going to do it. My least favorite part of all these things would be the setup, teardown, and logistics that go into planning them… mainly because I’m lazy! I’d love to show up with a cup of coffee and find everything set and ready to go, but that’s the price you pay for being your own boss, I guess!

9. What other published work have you been a part of? And what can we expect to see from you in the future?

Aside from The Dying of the Light, I’ve also published several short stories, some of which are based in my zombie series, some not. I also contributed one of my favorite short pieces, The Art of Steaming, to the horror anthology A Fancy Dinner Party, along with 9 other Grey Gecko Press authors, and it was also featured in the collection Penny Dreadfuls: Halloween Special. For future work… boy, have I got some ideas for you!

First, I’m finishing The Dying of the Light with the third book, Beginning, due out this winter. Then there’s Under a Cloud-covered Moon, the first in a series about an irascible, anti-hero detective who works for the Seattle Metahuman Crimes Unit, solving crimes by and against ‘metas’ – non-supernatural mutants who’ve been called ‘vampires’ and ‘werewolves’ for centuries by those who had no idea of their true nature. I’ve also got a middle-grade/YA story in mind about a Teddy Bear (because it’s a job, not a toy) named Freddy McPhane, as well as my epic fantasy series of 30 books (no joke), not to mention the 150+ other ideas I have written down. I’m going to be busy!

10. If there is one thing you would want your readers and fans to know about you, what would it be? If you had one request of your readers and fans, what would it be?

I want all my fans and readers to know that I love hearing from them! Whether it’s a quick note, or a detailed letter, I’m always excited to connect with my readers, which is best done through email at jason@jasonkristopher.com.

For a request, I’d request everyone who enjoys the books they read, especially indie books, to leave a review on Amazon, GoodReads, or elsewhere. Short of buying more books, a review is the best way to support indie authors and small press. That and telling all your friends, of course! To find out why reviews are so important, visit my blog: On the Importance of Reviews, or, It’s Just 21 Words!

Permalink 1 Comment

Meet Tom Sechrist

May 26, 2014 at 4:12 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , )

DCtitle

1. Describe your book and its inception. What made you decide to write this?

“The Stones of Andarus” is the first book in The Devenshire Chronicles series. It introduces us to the main characters and sets up the premise for the rest of the series. A demented Master Mage named Xavier annihilates a village in order to obtain the Stones of Andarus, which legends claim contain a fragment of the power of creation mixed with the twisted essence of a crazed sorcerer named Andarus. Daimion Devenshire realizes what is at stake and sets off on a desperate quest to stop Xavier from unleashing the unholy power of these three ancient artifacts. Joining him on this adventure are a group of unlikely heroes including The Lady Brianna Standish, governing lord of Prothtow Province, Shantira Dubris, sole survivor of Xavier’s attack on her village, Raven Darkseed, rouge adept of the Mystical Arts and Zandorth Krahl, Warrior of the Ancient Class.

What made me decide to write this was a desire to write in a genre I had never tried before. Prior to “The Stones of Andarus”, I had writtBooks13en manuscripts in multiple genres including westerns, science fiction, and detective/thrillers. I had always enjoyed a good Fantasy story and one day in 1998 I decided to try my hand at it. Little did I know that I was setting out on a story that would dominate and consume me for over a decade.

2. What were your influences? Is there anyone from your genre you especially admire?

My biggest influence when it comes to writing is Ms. Joynelle Pearson. When I was 13 I had a very explosive temper. One day that temper led me to punch a brick column in my schools court yard. Needless to say I wound up in the nurses station with an ice pack on my very swollen hand (thank goodness nothing was broken). Ms. Pearson happened to walk by and saw me sitting there. She lifted the towel over the ice pack and shook her head. She looked up at me and said, “You really should get a handle on that temper of yours. Have you ever tried writing a short story about whatever it was that angered you?” That piece of advice started me down the path of becoming a writer. At first they were just really bloody and violent short stories. As time went on I found that it really did help ease my temper and I really enjoyed the writing process. Those initial short stories started being expanded with actual plot lines, character development and so forth.

My other writing influences include Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Clive Cussler, Dean Koontz, Louis L’Amor and, of course, Tolkien. In the Fantasy genre I really enjoy C. S. Friedman, P. N. Elrod, and George R. R. Martin.

3. Many authors are heavily influenced by their environment when they write. Where is your safe space? Do you have mood music?

I don’t really have a designated place to write. Sometimes I write at my desk, sometimes I write in my backyard, and sometimes I write in my bedroom. I would have to say that my muse decides the environment I’m going to write in.

I absolutely have to have music blaring through my headphone when I’m writing. I have a very long playlist of all types of music on my computer. Everything from rock to rap to instrumental to big band to jazz, the list is practically endless. Sometimes I’ll pull up an Epic Music track on YouTube and write to that. Like my writing environment, it seems my muse picks the music as well.

4. What do you find to be the easiest of the writing and editing process? What is the hardest for you?

The easiest is the writing of the first draft. I don’t worry about the mechanics of writing, I just write, let the ideas flow and hope my fingers can get the ideas out as fast as my mind is producing them.

Editing gets tedious after the fifth or sixth time through the manuscript, but I enjoy the process of seeing where I’ve made mistakes and how to keep myself from repeating them. I also have a very talented editor (Rogena Mitchell-Jones) who has been a tremendous help in improving my editing skills.

The hardest part of the writing process has to be starting a new book. The excitement and urge to write are so strong and yet, getting that first sentence out has always been the hardest part for me. I’ve spent hour upon hour staring at that blank screen and blinking cursor and… nothing. I have lost count of how many millions of first sentences/paragraphs that I’ve deleted trying to get that new story started.

5. Many authors participate in book signings and conventions. Artistic authors like yourself who write and create for this genre do especially well at ComicCon and Comicpalooza. Are you interested in branching out into the event world? What would your ideal celebration of The Devenshire Chronicles look like?

I would love to branch out into the event world. I think book signings, conventions and other events where I can introduce readers to the world of The Devenshire Chronicles would be ideal. The perfect celebration of The Devenshire Chronicles would feature a booth with copies of all my books for sale, all sorts of book swag, portraits I’ve created of all the characters and a monitor set up playing the book trailers and other videos I’ve created for the series. I would be there signing copies of the books and talking with people about the books, writing and other creative processes. It would be great.

6. Did you learn anything about yourself or the world you live in by writing this book (that isn’t included in the book itself)?

Over the 16 years that I’ve been involved in The Devenshire Chronicles, namely The Stones of Andarus, I’ve watched myself grow as a writer and a person. I go back to the original first draft of Book 1 and I almost cringe at how bad the writing was. At the time I thought it was the best piece of literature ever produced, but looking back on it now, I can see how much I’ve grown. My wife has read both versions and she has made the observation that I’ve seasoned as a writer and a person since I began this story. As I have grown, I can see how the main characters of the story have grown as well. I have learned that while my skill as a writer has improved tremendously over the past decade, I still have much more to learn and that there is always room for improvement.

7. How have your friends and family reacted to your content?

My friends and family have been tremendously supportive of my writing. I have to temper their praise with the fact that they are my friends and family, but it’s good to have that kind of support.

One of my friends is hooked on the series and is always asking me when the next book is coming out and that I need to hurry up. She says she actually misses the main characters in between books and can’t wait for the next one.

My wife, Renee, is, without a doubt, my staunchest supporter and the primary reason Book 1 was ever published. When I met her three years ago I had given up on ever publishing The Devenshire Chronicles. She read part of “The Stones of Andarus” and encouraged me to keep writing. She has become my sounding board for story ideas and keeps me on track when I get discouraged or distracted.

8. What are your future writing plans? Do you have other books in the works?

I am currently working on Book 3 of The Devenshire Chronicles entitled, “The Amulet of Talmara”. I’m hoping to have it released later this year. I also have ideas for a pirate novel, a science fiction novel, a western, a post-apocalyptic novel and another Fantasy novel as well.

9. Tell me about your art ventures.

After I had released “The Stones of Andarus” I wanted a book trailer to go along with it. I had watched several book trailers and started playing around with a movie making program. I produced a crude trailer but I was never completely satisfied with it. I needed/wanted characterizations of the characters in the book and I didn’t want to use someone else’s artwork or photographs. I saw the trailer for “Sanctum of Souls”, a work in progress by Bex Pavia who is a friend of mine. She had 3D representations of her characters and I was blown away by that. I asked her how she made the characters and she introduced me to a 3D graphics program.

Over the next couple of months I played with the program, watched tutorials and experimented until I was finally able to produce the first 3D rendering of Daimion Devenshire. That was a very powerful moment for me. I had always pictured Daimion in my mind, but to actually “see” him was incredible. Once I had 3D portraits of all the main characters I started revamping my book trailer and found that I absolutely love doing that sort of creative work, almost as much as I love writing.

Since then I have gone on to produce a book trailer for Book 2 “Predator & Prey” and have gone back and replaced the text-on-screen in both trailers with my own voice over work.

I have also produced a video which is a remake of the original “Hawaii 5-0” intro. In the remake I call it “Prothtow 5-0” (Prothtow is a province in the books) and I use the characters from the book as its “stars”. I did it for pure entertainment value and the fact that I so enjoy making these videos.

I have found it’s a good outlet for me when I have a particularly bad case of writers’ block.

10. If there was one thing you’d want fans to know about you, what would it be?

I don’t write these books to become rich and famous (though I won’t deny the more pleasant aspects of that thought). I write these books because I want to touch people the way I’ve been touched through someone’s writing. I pour everything I have into these stories so that maybe, just maybe, someone will read them and feel like we have some sort of connection. I want people to read my work and feel like we had one hell of a good time together and it leaves them with some very warm and fond memories.

The Stones of Andarus (Kindle/ paperback)

The Stones of Andarus on Smashwords

The Stones of Andarus book trailer

Predator & Prey book trailer

Tom’s Website

Tom’s Facebook Page

Tom’s Youtube Page

Permalink Leave a Comment