Name: Jonathan R. Rose
Where are you from:
I was born and raised in Scarborough, which is considered the less affluent, eastern suburb of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and when I was 14, I moved to the more upscale, western suburb of Mississauga, where I lived until my mid twenties.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’ve always been obsessed with learning, so naturally, school bored me. After finishing high school with grades that were much higher than my high absence rate would have you believe, I pursued several dreams that didn’t pan out before developing a passion of travel that has guided me to the present day, and has provided me with a wealth of experience and knowledge that continues to fuel the stories I write. As for family life, there isn’t much to speak of, I’m an only child, who was raised by my mother, who didn’t have much but gave me all I needed to take on the world, and aside from that, family has little importance and significance in my life.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I would definitely start with the recent publication of my novel Carrion, which is currently available on Amazon. Following the book’s publication, I have been working daily on ways to promote it, and to have it read by as many people as possible.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
When I went to school in the first grade, I would write little books with god awful illustrations. My mom still has some of them actually, so I guess I could say that I started writing back then, but I started taking writing seriously however, when I was about 23 years old, during my convalescence following my first of three back surgeries. I rekindled my past love of reading, and from there, realized I admired what I was reading so much that I wanted to join the ranks of those brilliant storytellers, and ever since then, I’ve dedicated my life to the craft.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I finished my first manuscript about 7 years ago; I thought it was a groundbreaking, brilliant piece of literature, right up there with Dostoyevsky’s best prose. It was shit. But, at the very least, I proved to myself that I had the discipline, love, and dedication to finish a novel, so at the point, despite the shortcomings of the work itself, its completion did confirm, at least to me, that I was, indeed, a writer; I just needed 7 more years of constant practice to become a better, and ultimately, published writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
There was never a specific inspiration, person, or occurrence of some sort that inspired my first book, or any book I’ve written for that matter; instead, the world itself always has, and always will inspire everything I write, from the beautiful to the grotesque to everything in between, which is why the idea of writer’s block has always seemed ridiculous to me. When you pay attention to the world around you, and realize that anything and everything can be inspiring, you never run out of things to write about.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I think my style could be classified as minimalist, to the point. I don’t like to say more than necessary, as I believe the more you say the greater the possibility that you stray from what you’re really trying to say. I also work very hard in trying to express multiple layers in a story, as I believe a great story is capable of simultaneously telling a small, personal story along with a much larger, more expansive one.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I first came across the word Carrion when I was about 12 or 13 years old, and I purchased a super Nintendo game, Maximum Carnage, which was, and still is a great game; anyway, in that game there was a villain named Carrion, who was a manevolent figure that loomed above everything, as if he was above it all, and would just swoop down, grab your character, and drain your life force. He was annoying and difficult to kill, but beyond that, what made him so memorable, so different from the other, more maniacal, one-dimensional villains, and the overall chaotic nature of the game itself, was how casual, how fearsome, yet in control he was. That always stuck with me, so when I came up with the concept of this book, about a monster that was so much more than target practice for the story’s so-called “hero,” I knew that word would be the perfect title.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are several messages I put in the book, but I don’t think I can say I necessarily want readers to grasp them, because, for all I know, they might interpret the story differently, and ultimately grasp completely different messages that I might never have thought of, but as long as they are taking something from it, I’m more than satisfied.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
This might seem crazy, especially if you have read the book, but I would say all of it. Despite the whole apocalyptic nature of the story, every single thing I wrote about was based on reality. Whether it was wretched police officers torturing and murdering those they considered monsters, or people with guns and power using the impunity granted by those guns and power to brutalize other people who have neither gun, nor power, those things are real. Even the backbone of the story, which is about a “monster” roaming the streets, desperate for food, encountering other people who just want to stay safe, or get food for themselves; that’s all completely realistic, especially considering that I based much of the story on where I’ve been living in the last five years, Mexico.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
A lot of it was based on experiences I’ve had personally, I’ve observed, or heard about here in Mexico. I’ve seen people harassed, abused and extorted by police. I myself have been extorted several times by corrupt police officers nonchalantly brandishing their machine guns in front of me as a way of expressing their power, their impunity.
There was a big story here in Mexico that took place on September 26th, 2014 about 43 students in Iguala, who were kidnapped by police officers, and handed over to Narcos, who then murdered them at the behest of corrupt government officials. When you hear stories like that, or similarly horrific stories from places like Syria, Congo, Ukraine, the United States, and countless other places around the globe, I feel it is a responsibility to shed light on the horrors of man, to show people what we have done, what we are still doing, not to dismiss it, not to escape from it, not to glaze it over with naive delusions of peace and progress, but to expose it, to take it on.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?
I don’t have a mentor, but I have had people who have temporarily entered my life and provided me with insight and that extra push when I needed it. As for books that have influenced me, here are the ones that come to mind first: Catch-22, Heart of Darkness, 100 years of solitude, The Divine Comedy, Lost Illusions, Native Son, The autobiography of Malcolm X, The Idiot, Don Quijote, Gulliver’s Travels, Les Miserables, In the Time of the Hero, Touch me Not.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Currently, I’m reading, The Plague, by Albert Camus.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’m sure there could be, and probably are, but I have yet to come across a contemporary author who has really grabbed and demanded my full, undivided attention and interest. For the most part, I think literature, much like film and music, has become too soft, too concerned with its own self-preservation, as opposed to sacrificing being liked for the sake of actually saying something of importance.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Right now I’m working on an online, dramatic adaption of Carrion, which I have already written, and intend on putting together in the next few weeks, and releasing in the next few months.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I don’t know if I could say it supported me, but the world itself has fed me all I need to feel supported in what I’m doing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I hope so because there is absolutely nothing else I intend to do with my life.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
On the back cover, I would change the line “And because of you a group of barbaric men led by a fanatic with a gleaming badge fastened to his chest have banded together with the intention of hunting you and all those like you down.” to, “And because of you a group of barbaric men led by a hero with a gleaming badge fastened to his chest have banded together with the intention of hunting you and all those like you down.”
It’s a small change, and I caught it too late, but the word hero is so much more appropriate for the story, and that character, so every time I glance at that, it bothers me because switching those words would have made it so much better. Detail is important to me, and when I miss one, it irritates me to no end.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As I mentioned earlier, it started writing when I was about 6 years old, but to dig a little deeper however, my interest in writing, and storytelling as a whole, came from being alone a lot, especially when I was young. Being an only child, I had to entertain myself, so I would come up with storylines while playing with my toys, and soon, I started writing those storylines down.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Absolutely, here are a couple of paragraphs from Carrion that I believe illustrate one of the main themes of the story.
He stood before a perfect square, wide and expansive, ambitious and grand. But despite the enormity of the square’s framing, and the buildings surrounding it, the monster’s attention was devoted to the center of its canvas. It was filled with people, a portrait of the populace. At first it appeared as if they were congregating harmoniously, but it took mere moments for him to behold the meaning behind their segregation. Divided into factions whose feuds were clear, the square was a powder keg, and he arrived just in time to witness the lighting of its fuse.
One group ran swiftly, screaming hysterically, their image no more than a blur. Another group consisted of motionless men positioning themselves in a tightly formed line; all of whom had the same dark blue uniforms, the same black boots, and the same thick, black vests that greatly exaggerated their true sizes. They also had the same guns, all of which were pointed at a third group, a horde of fiends that looked just like the monster. The fiends neither ran, nor stood shoulder to shoulder, but moved placidly. Draped in frayed clothing, blood trickling down the chins of their dark faces, they were indifferent to the screams of those running away from them, or the blasts from the muzzles of the guns, as they were powered, possessed by starvation.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The most challenging aspect of my writing is the painstaking process of having a crystal clear idea that reads so perfectly, so beautifully in my mind, and transferring it, exactly as I imagined it, to the page. This, of course, is only as challenging as it is gratifying when, after several edits, changes, and drafts, I finally achieve that synergy.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t have an absolute favorite single author, as I don’t have an absolute single favorite film director or musician; instead, I have several favorites that have all helped me by way of their own unique abilities, which would, in no particular order, consist of Dante, Gabriel Garcia Marques, Joseph Heller, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Honore de Balzac, Hunter Thompson, Victor Hugo, Mario Vargas Llosa (Just his work however, as a person, he is a dreadful hypocrite), Leo Tolstoy, Ernest Hemingway, Cervantes, and Jose Rizal.
As for what strikes me about their work, it would definitely be the sheer power of it; the ability to tell stories that transcended their own generations, and inspired future ones. These authors created entire worlds for the sake of shedding light on the worlds they themselves inhabited, and they had no fear in attacking the fallacies and injustices of those worlds. They had no fear of truth, no fear of showing the ugly with just as much enthusiasm as they showed the beautiful, they had no fear of being passionate, brazen, offensive, and they had no fear of their own abilities, as they spent their lives getting as much from those abilities as they could, and the world was rewarded as a result. They, alongside other great storytellers I’ve grown to admire, were the greatest writing teachers I’ve ever had.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Absolutely. While I believe I would still be writing even if I stayed in Canada, moving to Mexico, along with the other trips I’ve taken to several counties around the world, has granted me such an abundance of experiences and knowledge that have proved invaluable to my work, both present and future.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
David Rogers, who also did the illustrations within the book; he is one hell of an artist, and seeing him capture my words and turn them into a visceral sketch gave me chills.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Funny enough the actual writing of the book, the first draft, the spilling out of the idea was easy; what was difficult however, was the process of cutting, tinkering, editing, perfecting, as that took nearly three times as long as the initial writing.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned, particularly with this book, that I could channel all the anger, disgust, disappointment and frustration with the world around me into something productive. I won’t say something positive because that is subjective, but I believe I learned that anger and all the emotions people say are negative are just as valid, just as important as those emotions people say are positive. I learned that being pissed off at the way things around you are is not something that should be suppressed, but is something that should be expressed, and can be expressed in an artistic, edutaining way.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Be obsessed with it. Think about writing all the time, every waking moment. Think about it when you’re in the shower, eating, walking, reading, always think about not necessarily just writing, but expressing things you feel should be expressed, whether people will agree with what you say or not. It’s not a job, it’s not a hobby, it’s what you are and what you’re about, so embrace that, or choose something else, because it will be, and should be, completely consuming.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
First and foremost, I would like to say thank you! From the bottom of my heart, just the thought that somebody, whether somebody I know personally, or somebody who lives on the other side of the world, who I will probably never meet, took an interest enough to give my work their time, which is, by far, the most valuable thing anybody possesses, is something I don’t think I will ever truly come to grips with, and something that I will constantly remind myself to never take for granted.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss made me the happiest kid in the world until my mother got me Green Eggs and Ham!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I don’t cry often, but I do find myself getting weepy when I see something either incredibly, genuinely beautiful, or something truly horrifying, as either one arouses emotions that I typically keep pretty reserved, but when I see something undeniably passionate, whether it be in a film, or a song, or something I’ve read, or seen with my own eyes, I will often well up.
As for what makes me laugh, that is something I do with far more ease than crying, but things that make me laugh ridiculously hard, like “I can’t breathe, I might die laughing, which is amazing, but shitty because I’m going to die” are usually rooted in the completely ludicrous, or the brilliantly conceived, but sometimes it could be a completely random comment or gesture, I really can’t say, but all I can say is when I am under that spell of uncontrolled mirth, there are few things that make me feel more alive.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Funny enough, while there are countless great people I would be in awe of meeting, the first answer that comes to mind is George W. Bush! I want to know if his callous, abhorrent actions during his 8 year reign were a result of him being a moronic puppet who was controlled by evil men, or if he was much smarter than he let on, and simply played the fool, to mask the fact that he knew exactly what he was doing to the people he was elected to serve, and simply didn’t care, in which case I would punch him as many times as I could before I was torn away from him.
I would also say the Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto, who I KNOW is a moronic puppet controlled by evil men, all of whom represent the PRI party, which is as wretched as any political organization the world has seen, and with him, I would just punch him as many times as I could before I was torn away from him.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“Death was the only thing that would shut him up.”
If that is written on my headstone, that means I accomplished my goal of never shutting up until I died, which I would be more than happy with.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Not really, I used to enjoy playing sports, basketball especially, but since my third back surgery, it’s not something I can do a lot of anymore. I do enjoy swimming when I have the chance and taking walks with headphones speared in my ears as a way to relax and think, and while I wouldn’t call it a hobby, I thoroughly enjoy watching interesting movies.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I enjoy serialized TV shows, especially the good ones, because watching them is like reading a great book, as opposed to procedural shows or sitcoms, which are like reading vapid magazine articles. I also love smart sketch comedy. Off the top of my head shows that I enjoyed are, in no particular order: Shameless, Peaky Blinders, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Archer, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Justified, Oz, Inside Amy Schumer, In Living Color, Deadwood, Chappelle Show. There are a lot more, but those are the first ones that come to mind.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Well being in Mexico, right now, if I’m offered a fresh plate of enchiladas verdes, I won’t say no! I also love huachinango (fish), molcajete (an amazing chicken dish I get in a great taqueria in Mexico City), tacos al pastor, roasted chicken, and I’m a sucker for pepperoni pizza, especially pepperoni pan pizza. Pizza Hut was fancy to me as a child, and by God, I still love eating it as a grown man!
I can’t say I have a favorite color in the sense of loving it above all others, but I have always liked turquoise.
For music, I grew up absolutely obsessed with hip-hop music and hip-hop culture, ever since I was six years old (in hindsight that was quite the life changing year!) it helped teach me how to tell my own stories by telling me stories I could relate to. I still love hip-hop, but the relationship is strained, as I find current hip-hop music less balanced than it has ever been. I also adore film scores, from Philip Glass, Hans Zimmer, James Horner, etc, and sometimes I will indulge in pop music when the singer is a woman with a soothing, melodic voice, as there are few things I find more beautiful.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would have liked to, and might still get into film directing, as I think even if I wasn’t a “writer” I would have gotten into a profession that allowed me to express what I thought about the world around me.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I’m not much for blogging, and I plan on putting up a website soon, when I have enough interesting content to fill it with. Right now though, anybody who would like to reach me, or see me online, can email me directly at email@example.com, follow me on twitter @jonan_rose, or visit my facebook page at: