Author Interview: Jason DeGray

0. Name, please!

Jason DeGray

1. We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.

At the moment I’m working on getting 3vE in front of people and negotiating a new contract for my previously published Ruined Man novels. I’m also finishing up a Space Western that I plan on turning into a series.

2. In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.

The Ruined Man and The Dark Goddess were my first published novels. This series is best described as Paranormal Detective Fiction. It really relies on magical realism and is set in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the surrounding areas. The protagonist, Victor Wolf, has a nasty encounter with a demon that leaves him a “ruined man.”

I also have a few novellas out. RE: World is a Don Juan in a cyberpunk dystopia. Blaze Against the Machine is a scifi story about reality television gone wrong. And Family Matters is a horror story written in the shared world of The Village of Wicked Creek.

The first novel I ever published way back in 2008 (when self publishing was still in its infancy) was Absolutely True Retellings: The Saga of Shamus. This one is a fantasy adventure that is heavy on the satire. I still love this book even if I do read through it and wonder at how much I’ve grown as a writer.

3. As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)

Marketing. I’m horrible at it and a much more a creatively minded person. The business end of all of this really turns me off.

4. Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?

I love every moment of the writing process from conception to editing. It’s an art form to me and crafting a story is no different than creating any other masterpiece. It takes dedication, tenacity, and an uncompromising love for what you are doing. Sure, frustration and obstacles arise, but again this is just part of the process. Overcoming these setbacks gives me confidence to keep going. I can see how I’ve grown as a writer during these difficult times.

5. If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)

I would steal Philip K. Dick’s knack for writing believable and relatable characters. Writing is ultimately telling a story and every story must have characters to revolve around. These characters drive the plot, explore the author’s ideas and themes, and should grow and change from the beginning to the end. PKD had a gift for portraying real people that seemed ordinary—like some random person working at a gas station or something. And these real people get caught up in unreal and extraordinary events without ever losing their humanity.

6. Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

Look Jacob and 3vE, I know that I’ve thrown a wrench in the cogs of your everyday lives. I’ve taken you from what was normal (even if it wasn’t comfortable) and thrust you into uncertainty. It’s an uncomfortable process, I get that. But that’s the beauty of it as well. Growth only occurs through friction. Stasis equals death and I love you both too much to allow that to happen.

7. You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

The last book I read was Gilgamesh the King. So Jacob, 3vE and I are playing poker with Gilgamesh, the oldest and greatest hero in human history. This is a man who challenged gods and won, who thumbed his nose at tradition. The stakes are huge as they would have to be. And since Gilgamesh was most afraid of death, we would probably be playing for 3VE’s immortality. Since she is a hybrid of human and machine, she can exist indefinitely. Gilgamesh would love this and very much want it for himself. In return he’d be betting his unconquerable spirit and place in history as the first and greatest hero of ancient mythology.

8. Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)

There’s a lot of meat in this question. But off the cuff I would say to stick to the story. A lot of people in social media writing groups seem to get lost in the details. Whatever those are. Stuff like “I can’t decide what colour shoes my MC should be wearing” or “I need help plotting the geopolitical history of my fantasy world.” All that’s important is what serves the story. What is driving your characters to grow and pushing them toward that final outcome? That’s where the focus needs to be. Always. I remember reading an interview with Michael Moorcock, the creator of Elric, where the interviewer asked how he built such an expansive and beautiful world. His reply was something to the effect of, “I just needed different elements to make a story work so I added them as I needed them.” So stick to the story.

9. Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

After some unforeseen circumstances, my Ruined Man novels are in literary limbo. They found a new home and are on their way back into print, however, and I expect to see them by the year’s end. So stay tuned for that.

Recipe for Perfect Chile con Queso:

1 block of Velveeta

1 small container of frozen Hatch green chile

1 can Rotel

1/3 cup milk.

Directions:

Cut the Velveeta into small cubes and put them into a sauce pan. Add the milk, green chile, and Rotel and continuously stir until melted.