Good Mornin’ everyone, today we have the Jason Z Christie, author of PageBurner, and he has graciously offered to take time out to visit with us today. Don’t forget to come back Feb 2nd to see my review of Pageburner.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Kankakee, Illinois, but my family moved to Louisiana when I was five or so, so I’m a weird sort of transplant. Anymore, I live in Texas, though. My spiritual home remains Las Vegas, where I spent several formative years.
Oh? I’ve been to Kankakee and lived in Danville, IL briefly. What or who inspired you to write? And how long have you been writing?
I’d have to say comic books and early sci-fi influenced me to read. Asimov, primarily, and the illustrated classics comic books. As a writer, though, it was Mad Magazine. I think it was in the third grade that we had creative writing classes, and I would regurgitate whatever I had read in Mad as prose. The teacher thought I was brilliant.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I read my first novel to my girlfriend and she was captivated. After that I wrote every day and came home and read to her. Nothing makes you feel better as a writer than to have someone hanging on your every written word like that. So it wasn’t the act of writing, but having someone interested in what I had written.
What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?
Six Stories, Short and Sweet is a collection of short stories. In thirty words or less, a mish-mash of old and new writings that show the evolution of my abilities as a writer. A mixed bag that’s mostly good.
I love reading the warnings on the blurbs for many books. If you could write a warning label for yourself as a person or an author, what would it say?
These concepts may be hazardous to your mental health.
If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?
If? I have a character, Pet, who is very unhappy with the fact that I put her novel on hiatus a year ago and haven’t written any more about her since.
What does your protagonist think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author?
It’s sort of funny that you would ask this. I’m marrying Paige Burner, essentially. My girlfriend was the prototype for the character, even though I hadn’t seen her in twenty years when I wrote it. Or, perhaps the character was the prototype for the girlfriend. So, yes, she definitely enjoys hanging out with me, and I with her.
Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamor to be heard over the others?
Janique Turner of the Ultimate Hustle series is the strongest character I’ve created. So much so that she’s spawned four sequels. I made Prail Abraxis as a sort of antidote to Janique. Then they started working together. My other characters are sort of scared of her, actually.
Do your characters try to make like bunnies and create ever more convoluted plots for you? Or do you have to coax them out of your characters?
Ugh. I have to keep myself entertained, first and foremost, right? So I need complexity. Prail, in Perfect Me, resolves to make things more complicated in the future, and right now Cure For Sanity, the novel about her brother Project X, is so complicated I’m trying to map it out on paper to get a handle on the overall story arc. Not only that, but all of my novels intersect in some way. Each of the books connect to at least one other book I’ve written or will write.
Have you based any of your characters on someone you know, or real events in your own life?
Tokio the welder from Radar Love is based on a welder I met, once. Hazel in Penultimate Hustle is someone I worked with. A lot of my female leads are inspired by my girlfriend/fiancée. I’m already delving into self-referential stuff in Cure For Sanity, so there are definitely real moments in there.
I used to get little story ideas and snippets from other interesting people I’d meet. Lately, there don’t seem to be so many people out there with a story worth telling. Some of my best character names come from odd places. I saw ‘Vnew Vreal’ written on a coffee pot, and that became a character in Perfect Me. L’viv is a place in Romania or something. I found it in the address for a religious tract.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t know if it can be defined. I write sort of dry prose. I’m not big on scene descriptions. I like meat and potatoes story, first and foremost. I prefer to let character development come out of the actions and conversations. At the same time, I like to introduce heady concepts, when I can. But written in a lucid manner.
How did you come up with the title?
I called the character Paige Turner when I wrote it, and found out there was a Young Adult series with that character name. My little brother actually suggested Burner, instead, and it made total sense. I’m surprised no one entitled a novel that before.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, the idea that other people shouldn’t be able to rule your life and control you.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
We’ve talked about a Paige Burner sequel, as she is a strong character, but I don’t have any definite plans. When I find the right story for her, I can see writing another one. Plus the book sets itself up for a sequel, with some unresolved relationship issues at the end.
How did you come up with the cover design?
I needed something fiery, I knew, and there’s a strong romantic element as well, so the flaming heart picture seemed the perfect expression of those things.
Who designed the cover of your book?
I did. I’m more of a thumbnail designer. I have a decent eye for design, but my covers don’t look like paperback book covers. It’s a skill I hope to acquire soon.
Where do you see yourself in five (5) years?
Writing full time, traveling. Doing research, as we call it. I want to write a story in lots of different genres, so we need to research circuses, the old west and vampires. How do you research vampires?
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Within driving distance of the Lahaina Bar and Grill in Maui, Hawaii.
Is there an author that you would really like to meet?
I sort of have met Stephen King several times, via some weird dream state/astral projection stuff. So I’d have to say Tom Robbins. They’re my two main influences.
What books have most influenced your writing most and why?
The Stand and The Gunslinger series, for the great stories and epic reach. Still Life with Woodpecker for the magical effect it had on our lives. Those are two elements I try to integrate into my own works.
Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
I used to sniff that I preferred paper books, and I still do, in a lot of ways. But the Kindle is actually pretty nice to read from. I don’t like reading fiction on a computer, for whatever reason. Hardcover books hold up better when reading in the tub.
Are you a self published (Indie) Author or big trade published?
I just made the leap and became self-published after dragging my feet for three years, avoiding any dealings with the print world. I’m pretty happy with things, so far. The upside potential is enormous.
What can we expect from you in the future? I.E. more books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Well, I have two series, one on the sex and porn industry, and another sci-fi series of at least three books. In the third, the two series merge. I also have a construction murder mystery that I’m working on, Reduction of Forces, and a funny fantasy novel that needs a title. I don’t think I’ll be pigeonholed into any genre for a number of years, if ever.
How do you market/promote your books?
The usual avenues. Goodreads, Facebook. Networking with reviewers and book blogs. It’s really up to the readers to spread the word, if they’ve enjoyed something I’ve written. I’m sort of at their mercy.
What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?
Strong story, of course, but you need strong characters that you care about. Otherwise, why bother? There are a lot of books out there. It needs to be compelling and original. Groundbreaking, if possible.
Have you ever suffered from a “writer’s block”? What did you do to get past the “block”?
Not as such. I usually have two or three novels in the works at once, so I just switch stories for a while until I have the next bit I want to write. There are periods of time when I’m partying to much, working too much, something like that, and I should be writing, but I’m not. But not writer’s block, really.
What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
There’s a sequence in Pageburner where Jean Simons takes ayahuasca, a rainforest drug, and sees another dimension. It’s really a stark contrast to most of the rest of the book, which is detective stuff. It’s an homage to H.P. Lovecraft, actually. I also do an ‘infinite zoom’ when he does DMT. I’m pretty proud of that part, also.
Cool. What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author? What has been the best component?
I honestly haven’t received enough negative criticism. I look forward to it, as I know it’s inevitable.
But the good things I’ve heard so far are really encouraging. Someone started reading Radar Love and was posting about it on Facebook before they were more than a quarter of the way through it. That’s a good feeling.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
What’s that? My girlfriend and I live several hours apart, so we try to see each other every weekend. She’s my hobby, aside from writing.
Have you ever read a book more than once?
I am terrible in that I generally would rather reread something I really enjoy instead of reading new novels. There are many that I’ve read several times. The Stand, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Shining, several Tom Robbins and Robert A. Heinlein titles.
Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?
Generally no. But movies made of Philip K. Dick’s work are usually really good.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (ebook/paperback/hardcover)?
I got the ebook version of ‘Skinny Legs and All’ by Tom Robbins to read to my girlfriend.
Are there any new authors that have seized your interest and why?
Several, but I couldn’t tell you their names. I’m squirreling away their stuff for when I get a chance to read again.
Is there anything you would change in your first book and why?
I’d probably do more character development and give them a backstory and a history.
Do you have a book trailer?
No. Someone did a great video review of Zombie Killa with a zombie hand puppet, though. It was a real treat to see.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
You have to do it all, now. Write, edit, revise, publish, market and promote. And then don’t get so involved in that that you forget to keep writing.
What is the best advice that you have ever been given when it comes to writing?
King says if you write ten pages a day, you’ll have a new novel every month and a half, so I think that’s great advice.
Do you write under a pen name?
No. But I have other personas, as a metal drummer and a nerd rapper, for instance. They became characters in my books, at some point. Even on Usenet, I used my real name.
What are your pet peeves?
People who talk in movie theaters, or use their cell phones. I don’t go to the movies much, and when I do, I’m reminded why I generally avoid them. A lack of civility in society.
Cats or dogs?
You worry me Really!
White wine or red?
Coffee or tea?
Oh, lots and lots of coffee. If a tea tastes really great, and doesn’t taste like tea, I might try it.
Prime rib from Peppers in Pasadena, Texas.
Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?
Hmmm. Now that is a tough question. Vanilla? I’m sure I like chocolate better, though. Everyone does.
What are 4 things you never leave home without?
Wallet, car keys, Kindle, composition book. Pen. Can the pen and composition book be treated as a single unit?
Laptop or desktop for writing?
Handwritten. My girlfriend types them up and helps edit them, lucky for me. She’s slogging through a 500 page monster of a novel now.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I like to write at work, because I get paid to do it. I wrote three novels that way.
If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you?
I’d say my girlfriend is famous, so her and porn actresses Renee Hollander and Ashley Blue.
One of your favourite quotes –
“Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice” – Barry Goldwater?
List 3 of your all time favourite books?
Hitchhiker’s Guide, Still Life with Woodpecker, and The Stand. The disease Captain Trips from The Stand is actually in Pageburner, in a mutated form.
List 3 of your all time favourite movies?
Repo Man, The Shining and Blade Runner.
An actor you have a crush on –
Is Justin Beiber an actor? I’m kidding. Natalie Portman, let’s say.
What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
I watched Bag of Bones. I think they could have done a better job with it, but it was decent.
Where can your readers stalk you?
It’s getting hard to not see me on Facebook. I think everyone there is sick of hearing about my novels, at this point. Thanks for a great interview!
About the Author
Jason Z. Christie is probably best known as High-C, the nerdcore rapper. In deathcore act Gortician, he was known as Jason Gortician. He is also principal lyricist and drummer for the thrash act Festering Sore.
In the BeOS scene, he was known as Sandwich Boy.
As an academic researcher, he is credited with inventing electronic LSD and virtual theater.
Some of his more influential websites included BeDoper, the Death Metal Music Association and Reptilian Watch. He also published some of the first nerdcore hip-hop websites, and released a series of nerdcore hip-hop compilation CDs.