Name: Jason Kristopher (pen name)
Age: Older than I want to be
Where are you from: I’m originally from Texas, though I spent nearly 20 years in northern Colorado
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc: I live in the Houston area and enjoy reading, writing, movies, music (live and not), the Houston Astros (winning and not), singing karaoke, playing with my spoiled puppy, and the Texas hill country, especially the vineyards. I also own and manage a small publishing company, Grey Gecko Press.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My publishing company just signed our 25th book in just over 3 years, so that’s big news, but for me personally, I’m about 25% of the way through writing the final book in my zombie apocalypse series, The Dying of the Light.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing since 7th grade and likely before then. For me, reading is like breathing – I can’t not read, and have since elementary school. I’ve always loved the way books fire up my imagination, and with all those ideas floating around in my head, I had to find a way to get them out. Writing was the best way I could think of!
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve thought of myself as a writer for a very long time, as many writers do, even if we haven’t written much, or completed anything. But it didn’t truly hit me until I finished my first book. I typed that last period and thought, “Well, that’s it. The genie’s out… let’s see where this goes!”
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A dream… well, two, technically. I keep a dream journal, and long ago I’d had a dream about a solitary man living on an island off the Pacific Northwest who was, as far as he knew, the last man on Earth. Very I Am Legend (RIP Richard Matheson) kinda thing. I’d also had the idea for another end-of-the-world story told over three books with big underground bunkers and such, I just didn’t know what had ended it… One night, the two just crashed together, and The Dying of the Light was born.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I think my writing style is pretty universal – meaning that just about anyone can read my work and at least get some enjoyment out of it (hopefully!). I’ve been told I write very “visually” – that readers can easily see the story in their mind. Which makes sense, because I basically just write down the movie I see in my head. I just happen to be able to do it in a way that lets others see the same movie.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I’ve never been a big poetry fan, but something about Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night always got me fired up, excited, and ready to take on the world. I thought it fit the idea of the trilogy, too. Though I’ll admit the individual book titles have folks confused: End is Book 1, followed by Interval and, later this year, Beginning. Sorta backwards, I guess.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t really write with a message in mind, most of the time, but it’d be foolish to think that my own views and ideas about specific or general parts of life don’t sneak their way in, regardless. If anything, I’d want readers to realize that anything – not even the end of the world – can be gotten past, if at least some people are willing to work together.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
With certain exceptions, I tried to make the military aspects of the series as real as possible. I enlisted, so to speak, folks from every branch of the military, as well as a few folks from the Special Operations group (current and former) for more specific info. I took a few liberties, but by and large, that part of the series is as realistic as it gets. Or, at least, that’s what the hundreds of military fans who like the series have told me. As to the rest, I made it as real as I could with the knowledge that I had or could find.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Fiona, I’m assuming you meant: “Are any of the characters or events in the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?” I’ve answered that question here.
There are some characters in the series whom I inserted specifically to reference real folks, either friends, family, or fans (Sgt Denson, in Interval, is one of these). I’m sure there are other influences from folks, but outside of those specific characters, I didn’t intend any similarities. As to events… well, I would be lying if I said David Blake wasn’t based on me, at least a little – or rather, an idealized version of me – but I think that’s why I could write him as I did, because I knew him that well. I’ve never killed a zombie, worked at a bookstore, or joined a military team, though I have been to Colorado, Laramie, Wyoming, and the spot on Mount Rainier where Bunker One’s entrance is located. That was a very surreal experience, let me tell ya.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Oh, you don’t have the space to list them all. But I can give you some authors: Clarke, King, Brooks, Asimov, Brin, Pratchett, Eddings, Heinlein, Koontz, etc. Stephen King, in particular, has made a major impact on my writing with the single best book about writing I’ve ever read (15 times, no joke), appropriately entitled On Writing. If you’re even thinking about being a writer, you need to read it.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I like the way that King’s writing is so approachable. Everyone can read it and understand exactly what he means. Hemingway was the same way; it’s an economy of words that I find forces you to not only get your point across without all the flowery language, but in a way that people see the same thing you do. It’s certainly not easy, and a very difficult challenge for anyone who’s got an expansive vocabulary. But I also like the descriptive work of the Terry’s – Brooks and Pratchett – as well as Tolkien. They brought their worlds to life so well you feel like you’re there, and as a worldbuilder at heart, I can’t help but love that style of writing.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
For pleasure, I’m reading Mervidia, a fascinating and extremely good mermaid novel by my good friends J. K. Barber, as well as The Buried Life by Carrie Patel, a friend of mine who made it to the bigs and is published by Angry Robot. For work at Grey Gecko, I’ve got 40+ submissions in my TBR pile.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Well, Carrie has, obviously. Other new favorites are J. K Barber, my fellow Geckos George Wright Padgett and Charlie Brooks, as well as Ania Ahlborn, a fantastic horror writer who recently got picked up by Amazon’s 47 North imprint.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
The Dying of the Light: Beginning is first on the list to finish, but I’m also working on a few other things: a metahuman detective novel called Under a Cloud-covered Moon, and a kids/midgrade series called The Adventures of Freddy McPhane, Teddy Bear. I’m always making notes for my 30-book fantasy epic, too – though that’s not going to be for awhile.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
It would be hard to choose between my beta readers and my critique group, since both have helped me tremendously to grow as an author. But out of everyone, the most supportive folks have always been my fans. They really enjoy my work, and that’s the best support any author can get, in my opinion.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. When I get to the point where I can pay my bills from my book sales, I’ll never do anything else – well, except for run Grey Gecko. Once I finished my first book, I knew there would never be anything else I would be as happy doing.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Any writer who tells you that there’s nothing they’d change in their latest book is either lying or hasn’t read it closely enough. We’re always tinkering with our stories, and yes, there’s plenty I would change, were I to go back – and I may, someday. But not anytime soon. For now, the series will have to stand or fall on its own merits. I have too many other stories to write!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I don’t recall a specific event or item that got me interested, but I’d have to say my love of reading is certainly what spurred me on. Reading fantastic tales of science fiction and fantasy and thinking to myself: I can do that!
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The prologue from The Dying of the Light: Beginning is available free on my website. It’s not the final edited version, obviously, but I think it’s pretty good. Here’s the first line, for any of your readers unsure whether to check it out:
He awoke slowly, and for the first time in nearly twenty-five years, remembered who he was.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My biggest challenge is actually finding the time to write, like many writers. I work two full-time jobs as well as write, so it’s often difficult to balance that with my other commitments. I recently joined a critique group with some pretty strict rules, though, and they require a monthly minimum word count, so that’s helping tremendously to keep me writing.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Again, too many to list. I wouldn’t say I have a single favorite, because I like so many aspects of so many authors. King’s short and simple style, Pratchett’s wit and amazing characterization, Clarke’s scientific-yet-not-boring details… all of them are great, and equally so.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I could justify traveling all over the world with the current series, if I had the money and/or time. My second book, Interval, takes place largely at McMurdo Station in Antarctica – how cool (pun intended) would it be to spend some time there? Of course, part of it takes place in Hawai’i, too, so that wouldn’t be bad, either. Maybe I need to set the next book in Italy… hello, tax deductions!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The covers for my series were designed in collaboration with a German artist named Oliver Wetter. You can find his amazing work at http://www.fantasio.info. He was great to work with; very teamwork-oriented and had a lot of great ideas.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For the first book, it was just getting past the block I had midway through. For eight months it just sat on my computer not going anywhere, because I didn’t know where I was headed. Then I outlined what I already had, and the floodgates opened. For the second, it was just forcing myself to sit down and write. That’s almost always the hardest part for me.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned a great deal about the way I write from the first one, and my editor’s corrections to it. I incorporated those lessons into the second book, and I think it’s a much better-written volume. Things like sentence structure, plot follow-through, characterization, all of those things are better now than they were, just because I’ve already seen how they don’t work.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write as much as you can, even if it’s not every day (though you should try to do that). Join a writing group – either a critique or just a pass-it-around-and-make-general-notes group. These are invaluable to your growth as an author. You’re too close to your own work to be able to see it clearly, but a good group can help. When you’re done with your first draft, stick it in a drawer for at least two weeks (better 3 or 4) and when you pull it out to revise it, read it out loud, slowly. That’s one of the best ways to figure out just how many of your darlings you’ll have to kill.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you. Without you, I wouldn’t be here. If I hadn’t had the reception from readers that I’ve received, I don’t know that I would’ve continued. My fans and readers are the ones I write for… well, that and to get the stories out of my head. Oh, and please, please, please review books that you read, especially if you like them. It doesn’t take very much effort, and it’s one of the best ways to support indie authors and small press.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The Little Engine That Could, when I was about 4-ish. And then I promptly tore off the cover like it was wrapping paper. I then got a swift and painful lesson in how to treat books!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Tons. I’m an Elk, so I help out with local charities and events. I’m also a comic collector, an avid gamer, both on console and PC, I like wine, love anything to do with the water (surfing, SCUBA, etc), I work with local dog rescues, love to cook, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of my favorite places.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t have subscription TV – it’s too expensive for not enough value – but I enjoy well-written shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Dexter, The Walking Dead (of course), Longmire, and others. For movies, about the only thing I’m not interested in are historical dramas and gangster movies. I’m a huge fan of superheroes, sci-fi, and comedies.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Italian, sushi, and seafood of all kinds, as well as a good steak, naturally. Blue, especially royal/cobalt blue. Anything except ska, ‘screw,’ and super-heavy/death metal. Oh, and no polka.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’d like to think I would still have made my way to publishing, because I believe it’s what I was meant to do. Probably owned some sort of business, since I’ve been business-oriented my whole life.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I have two: The Fire In Our Heads http://www.thefireinourheads.com is my personal author’s blog, and Grey Gecko Press http://www.greygeckopress.com is my publishing company.
• The Dying of the Light: End – http://smarturl.it/0t9ttr
• The Dying of the Light: Interval – http://smarturl.it/liiylf
• The Walker Chronicles: Tales from The Dying of the Light – http://smarturl.it/ltgmfs