Name Jack William Finley
Where are you from
A little about your self `i.e. your education Family life etc
I never know how to answer questions like these. I suspect I need an editor when answer such question as much as I ever do.
I grew up in the 70’s on a diet of Cop shows and war movies and House of Mystery, House of Secrets and Sgt Rock comics.
I spent my childhood pretending to be a soldier or a policeman. I suspect I started out something of an Arthurian Romantic. I’m not sure how well that served me. I did a poor job living up to my own standards and when at an older age when the reality clashed hard with my romantic visions of it my world became much darker, a lot more Horror fiction, more villains, more scars and more ghosts. I imagine that has a lot to do with who I am today. Haunted by the nightmare of unrealized overly romantic dreams of an impossible future. So many failure, so many bad choices, wrong turns and wrong paths. Some times I wonder if my spirit isn’t still trapped in the deep, dark woods to this very day, struggling to find the right path, the way out, back into the sun.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Latest…I have a story in ‘Poets in Hell’ which should be coming out late in June. Working on a couple novel ideas and possible a story collection.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I think I was just born that way. I don’t remember ever not being a writer/story teller. I got serious about it in grade school as a way to get the attention of girls and got professional After meeting Michael Slade (Jay Clarke) at the Seattle World Horror Con and being confronted with the reality that the only difference between what I was doing at what pro writer did was that they finish more stuff than I did and actually sent it somewhere for publication and there really wasn’t any other real difference.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Girls. Writing a book is hard. Very hard, but it’s do-able. Saying hello to girls you don’t know…not so much. Writing has not yet fixed the curse of singlehood, but I live in hope that it may yet be of some use in that regard.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t think so. It’s hard to give an objective answer to that. Other people might see something unique and/or specifically me, but I have so many different stories in my head…so many different kinds of stories. I try to write in whatever style/way that best tells the story.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I think my subconscious has a lot more to do with that than my conscious. I think the best titles are little the best story ideas the ones that aren’t forced, they just come to you and stick in your head and won’t go away. As often as not a story starts with a title-it may change before the story ends, but that’s how it goes a lot of the time.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Probably. Is there a short answer as to exactly what it is…probably not. I suppose that’s why most people write, it’s why I write. This is the way the world is and this is why that’s a bad thing or this is the way the world could or should be and this is why this world is better than the one we are in now. That sort of thing.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Hum. I supose that depends somewhat on how you define realistic. I think it’s vitally important that readers believe that given the circumstances of the story this IS what REAL people would do. The actions of the characters have to be believable and have some kind of consistent psychology or the whole thing would be meaningless. Readers would have nothing valid to relate to. As to the rest of it-If you set something in this world or it’s history I think you have at least some responsibility to portray that would as realistically as you can. If you prefer to to invent your own world that’s fine, some stories need that. You just need to sell the reader on one element of suspension of disbelief and that is that the story takes place in a different world. That said once you create a world it isn’t license to just do anything you want whenever you want. Your setting has to have rules your readers have to know what they are and you have to stick to those rules or again, it all becomes kind of meaningless.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not so much the stories or the events in them. The actions of the characters again I think have to be grounded in some level of real world experience. You have to base what they do on what you know real people have or would do in similar circumstances.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
My life? Hum…I suppose the books that influenced my life most where the history books and biographies I’ve read. The ordinariness of great men and women and the greatness of ordinary men and women. And history, the human race has such a violent and brutally ugly history. The beauty of an ugly history is that you know as bad as things might suck, they’ve sucked this bad and worse before and we’re still here.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I know a lot of writer’s who’ve been really helpful and I’m so tempted to play the name dropping game, but the truth is I learn what I learn from every writer I read-Sometimes more from the bad one than I do from the good one’s and ALWAYS more from the good and bad than from the great. You can learn what the great ones do any other way than to be as good as you can possibly be every time you write and sometimes it works and you slip across that bridge and sometimes you don’t and if there was some magic formula we’d all be using it.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Grunt Life by Weston Ochse, Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry, Rachel Rising by Terry Moore and Chris Claremont’s run on the X men. That’s the immediate non-fiction anyway.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I don’t have as much time to check out new people as I wish I did. A lot of the people I write with at Perseid are really good. Tom Barczak, Bill Snider, John Manning, Larry Atchley Jr stand out for me, but there are a ton of good people. Jessica McHugh is doing really interesting things. Elisha Fraser… If Heaven exists it’s the place you get to caught up on all the reading and writing you ran out of time for here. I’m not even sure any of those people qualify as new.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Right now I’m working like a dozen or so shorts and taking another look at a novel I tried back in…the late 90’s.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I dunno one? It take me a month at least to pick one and I’d change my mind five times typing it. Janet and Chris Morris and Sarah Hulcy from Perseid have been great. I would be here at all with out Borderland Press and their Writer’s Boot Camp. Brian Keene, geoff Cooper, Mikey Huyck, Mike oliveri from back in 2002. Doug Clegg. Joe Nassie. I’ma get smacked in the head for leaving somebody out of which there are tons that’s as close as I can get to one. Math is not one of my strong suits.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Nope. Don’t get me wrong I’d love to make good money at it and also have a career of it, but it’s more than that. It means the world to me that people want to read what I write, but I was writing long before anyone was reading this stuff. It’s like breathing or eating or any other natural function. This one just takes a lot more thought and concentration to do properly. It’s lake a shark that can’t stop swimming. If I stopped telling stories I’d stop being who I am. I might still go through all the same motions of being alive, but I’d be a fundamentally different person.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Of Course. I think the answer to that should always be yes. You don’t. But you should ALWAYS want to. You NEVER write a perfect book or a perfect story. You write it the best that you can in the moment you’re writing it, but hopefully everything you write makes you a better writer and by the time anything makes it to publication you have written enough that you could write the last thing better. You should never AIM for less than perfect, but you also have to understand that it’s a matter of getting as close as you can and then moving on to the next thing and doing it again. And that’s a good thing, because if you could write the perfect story, what could you possibly do after that that would have any real meaning or value. That’s the trap of perfect. Life is a process always moving forward and there always need to be someplace to go next.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Not really. I remember I spent a lot of time in the library as far back as I can remember. I’m sure that didn’t hurt.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sacrifice Beyond Meassure
Jack William Finley
The world was beautiful and alive with wonders to fill the imagination and yet deep below its surface billions of souls cried out in helpless despair.
From a hundred million light years away they heard the cry of pain whispered on the solar winds and they came. How could they not? How could any civilized race ignore such pain, such utter sorrow?
Xaygon looked out across the crystal blue water, a brilliant shimmering turquoise reflecting the warm amber light of the sun. It was indeed a beautiful world, teaming with life as far as his borrowed eyes could see. A planet covered with an almost unimaginable range of colors, shapes, sights and sounds and smells to make every sense come alive with wonder.
Xaygon was a Zyalusian, a being of pure spirit energy. They could travel the universe riding upon waves of light, surfing the cosmos from star to star, galaxy to galaxy drinking in all the wonders the universe had to offer. Sorrow, sorrow this deep and ingrained was an emotion the Zyalusians had almost forgotten. A thousand galaxies and billions of stars and few things had ever touched him as this haunted world now touched him. Beneath this amazing world of wonder and delight was a graveyard of an entire race screaming out in pain and confusion.
This horror could not be allowed to continue. Something must be done. Something would be done.
The shaggy canine whose body Xaygon borrowed could sense the pain beneath the ground. Most of the animals and many of the plants could sense it. They could sense it, but not understand it. In so many way Xaygon was grateful that they could not understand and in a small way perhaps even envious.
Xaygon left the dogs body and took flight upon the gentle breeze soaring into the clear warm sky.
“What is this place,” zeeyhara asked? Her thoughts trembling with emotion cast out from her mind, the violent ripples from a ragged stone crashing into a calm pool. “What abomination could cause such suffering?”
Opalescent light shinnied in the cloud Zarkahn’s spirit inhabited. “I fear the answer my not be as sinister as you assume Zeeyhara. We have studied the planet and probed the thoughts of its creatures and I fear this may be a product of ignorance and folly far more than of evil or malice.”
“But how can that be,” Xaygon asked.
“There once was a race of creatures on this planet, intelligent and in some ways wise but their spirits did not grow as other aspects of their minds did. They were not open in the ways of the nature of the universe. They buried themselves in the ground went they died.”
“Surely the must have know enough to set their spirits free,” Zeeyhara said.
“It would seem but a few held such knowledge of the spirit world. Countless billions did not.”
The light of Zeeyhara and Xaygon dimmed and flickered in sadness and disbelief. “The fools. The poor ignorant fools.” Xaygon’s thoughts shuddered.
“We must free them,” Zeeyhara’s thoughts cried out. “We must find away to dig the up and set their spirits free.”
“I fear it is too late for that dear Zeeyhara. Some of the creatures here have already tried that. The Canines, the feline’s and some of the ape were close to the race before they died away. It took too long for them to understand what had happened, why the spirits of their former companions did not join them in the spirit realm. By the time the understood the bodies had all decayed and become one with the very earth itself. They are part of the planet now. The haunt the very soil of this place.”
“There must be something we can do,” Xaygon thought.
“Sadly I’m afraid we must me a terrible choice. We have three options, none with out consequences of unimaginable horror.”
“We must do something; surely we can not just leave them to their fate, no matter how foolish they were. We must help them,” Zeeyhara’s thoughts pleaded.
“Indeed we must, for the safety and serenity of this place something must be done, but our recourse is limited and all will have grave and unfortunate results,” Zarkahn’s thoughts warned them. The spirits of these people must be set free, but they have become one with this planet. If we do nothing they will be set free when this systems planet goes nova and destroys the planet.”
Zeeyhara flickered and flared, “But that could take thousands, if not millions of years. How can we leave these spirits trapped, alive and aware all that time?”
“They would be hopelessly insane by the time nature sets them free,” Xaygon thought.
“Many of them are already beyond saving in any real way I’m afraid,” Zarkahn’s sorrow washed over them.
The only other possibilities open to use are to destroy the planet now…”
“Destroy it? Now?” Zeeyhara’s spirit shrieked. “It’s filled with life, how can we just destroy it?”
“To destroy it would be evil beyond comprehension.” Xaygon thought.
“I do not disagree with either of you but the last alternative open to us is no less horrific. As you said we can not simple leave these spirits to suffer. We must do something and the only other thing we can do is to exorcize them.”
“Zeeyhara and Xaygon exploded with a rainbow of blinding colors. “You can’t mean that? They would be gone forever? We would be wiping out an entire race for all time. It’s madness.” Xaygon and Zeeyhara’s thoughts blended together in a twisted wave of emotion.
“It’s a terrible choice, I know, but what else can we do? We can not simple walk away and let them suffer on for millions of years slowly going insane. Horrifying as this is, it may be the only way to set them free and end their suffering with out committing and act of unforgivably evil. The life that fills this world now is not responsible for this agonizing reality and we can hardly end the existence of thousands of species just to save one foolish race form their terrible fate. I’m sorry,” Zarkahn’s light dimmed so low it could barely be sensed. “Forgive me; I know nothing else we can do for them.”
“Father, we can not do this. There must be another way.” Zeeyhara’s sorrow was so great that the stars themselves felt is and shuddered beyond the dimming twilight sky.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
…choosing what stories NOT to tell. What characters NOT to give life to. I have a hundred lifetimes worth of stories in my head and a thousand life times of characters I passionately care about and whose stories I want to tell. It’s not so much a matter of which ones to tell, it’s a battle with time and entropy and every time you push something to the back of the line, into the shadows you risk never being able to tell that story. May head is like an animal shelter with a billion lost souls in it and only I can save them because when I go, they ALL go with me. They only have as much time as I have. They are all so very desperate to see the sun, to live, to breathe. None of them want to be silenced. None of them will go gently into to the night. I have to be the gatekeeper.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t know. I suck at favorites. Terry Moore, Aaron Sorkin, Joss Whedon…how many stars can you see in the desert at night? The best of the best are more than just good or even great story tellers. There are two fundamental questions that matter. How things work? That’s science and science isn’t my business. The other is why people do what they do? That’s my question, the arts and philosophy question. I gravitate to writers who want to know why people do what they do. Some writer just want to tell you WHAT people do and some are really good at it and I enjoy reading them, but the ones I enjoy the most, the really great ones explore the why as much or more than the what and that’s what holds my attention and inspires me more than the rest.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I think it always helps if you can. Nothing beats being able to look out the window and see your setting, to go out into it and live it and breathe it. That said sometimes you can’t. You can’t live a lot of SF&F settings. You spend a lifetime collecting experiences, places, impressions. At some point you need to be able to see it in your head clearly enough that you don’t HAVE to be there. That’s the magic of writing. Taking a reader to a place that they aren’t. Showing them things that only you can see, only you can show them. If you can bring it to life in your own mind, how can you ever hope to bring it alive in theirs?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
So far that’s the publisher’s thing. I’d love to do some old pulp noir covers someday, something old school. They did some really great still life covers on some of the old Elmore Leonard books way back. I probably think about that sort of thing more than I should. First I need to finish something that’ll actually have my name on the cover.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Focus. Pushing everything else in a very noisy mind out of the way so I can tell one complete individual story.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
You always do. If you don’t I’m pretty sure you’re doing it wrong. Sorry I can’t be more specific but it would take a book to cover all the things I learn writing a book or even a handful of stories. Writing, at least for me, is an evolutionary thing. Every choice is a path leading to a world of learning about yourself and what really matters to you and about how you relate to the world around you. It’s always changing, always evolving.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
READ. WRITE. THINK. ANALYZE EVERYTHING. Read bad books. You need to be able to recognize bad when you see it. Always ask way something happens. If you don’t someone else will. Learn how to let go and move on to the next thing.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Selling people a message is dangerous territory it can get in the way of story telling and entertaining people, but if there’s any idea worth selling people it’s that freedom and choice matter as much or more than anything else and people won’t always think the way you do. They just won’t. Peace isn’t what happens when everyone finally agrees, because that’s never ever going to happen. Peace is what happens when you stop caring that someone doesn’t think the way you do and find a way to live with them in spite of that. It’s not that simple, there are of course many exceptions, but there aren’t nearly as many as people seem to think there are.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not sure. Probably Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson or Cricket in Times Square by George Selden.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies
Music, cooking, art, tons and tons of reading. It’s hard to write good worth wild stuff if your head isn’t filled to overflowing with tons of stuff that isn’t writing and you can read about those things, but any writing you do about them is likely to be much better if you’ve done some, or many, or at best most of them. First hand is almost always better.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I really liked the new Spiderman, Capt America…I like the new Hobbit movies.
Agents of SHIELD I really like, I love the Newsroom, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Vikings, Grimm, Blue Bloods, Sons of Anarchy, Castle…
This might explain why I don’t get more writing done. I claim it makes what writing I do get done better enough to make up for the loss of time, but it’s hard to know for sure how true that really is.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Pizza/Green/RUSH That’s woefully incomplete but it’s that or a list that make the O.E.D. look like a pocket dictionary.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Soldier…cook…historian…batshit crazy in a padded room some place likely as not.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I have one somewhere, but I honest to gods I forgot where it is. I spend way too much time on FB as it is. My FB is https://www.facebook.com/JackWilliamFinley if that helps anyone.