Jason Kurt Easter [jasonkurteaster]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I canít remember my true first book. It may have been Mother Hubbard (the gold series) and I still have that copy. I read Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and the Narnia chronicles by C.S. Lewis at school; even the hobbit by Tolkien. My first adult book was The Rats by James Herbert.
Iíve always sustained a keen interest in the English language during my time at school. Creative writing was a subject that I seemed to flourish in and thoroughly enjoyed. I never forgot the comments of my English Teacher in London. He said, Ďthere are many facets to your vivid and fantastical imagination, Mr Easter.í It was true; my head was like a garden of ideas. He was very adamant that I should write them down instead of using them as fibs. So I did, and then when I started. What inspired me even more, was my first book fair in London where I was a teensy-weensy person amongst a vast array of towering stories...
Although my love of writing came early, putting pen to paper and writing stories actually came later in life. I wanted to write, and I felt the need to write. 'Every writer has to find their own way into writing,' (Margaret Mahy) and so I built up the courage and started. The Grimoire helped me along that path.
The first to read my work? Hmmm, it has to be my beloved wife.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
That's a tricky one. If you would have asked me this question a year ago I would have jumped out with ďfantasyĒ in an instant. I mean, it still is my preferred genre, but when I embarked on my Masters in Professional Writing, it opened me up to genres I would never even have considered like romantic comedy, witty diary writing, historical fiction, gothic thrillers, comic fantasy, but if I had to choose... it's definitely general and childrenís fantasy. I am working on a series of fiction and non-fiction projects.
You can read a couple of shorts I wrote on my website: http://www.jkeaster.com/?cat=7 both were writing exercises for my course. You see, completely different to fantasy *I smile* You can read a sample on Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Grimoire-ebook/dp/B008XZWZIY/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1348324457&sr=8-8
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Iím very liberal with my writing. I tend to have an idea for a novel and then begin to simply write it out of my head. If it progresses and I can see a structure flow, then I know itís going to work. If I get fed up or some things just donít fit, then I go back to the drawing board. I think what some writers say about Ďletting the characters take you on a journeyí is true to some degree. Itís only when I get half way through that the story structure and plan really fall into place. Once I have a rough first draft, then I go through it again and again looking at each and every writing element: characterisation, plot, structure etc.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
I can safely say ALL types of writing. Fiction and non-fiction, academia, I also get inspiration from quotes, everyday life, film, conversations, observations etc. Thatís the beauty with creative narratives; you are not confined.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
It has to be great dialogue! It brings a sense of life to fiction Ė because the reader is permitted to hear characters of the story speaking in their own voices, revealing the most delicate shades of personality and interest by what they say or ask... If dialogue is bad the story will wither, but if the dialogue is great then it can even carry mediocre description forward.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I usually write in third person because my stories are better told and shown that way. But thatís not to say that I don't prefer it over first person. I think first person perspectives are just as unique. Some of the best works are written in first - David Copperfield, The Remains of the Day...
What well known writers do you admire most?
There are masses of great writers out there, from the well-known to the less-known. I love Tolkien's narrative flow and his characterisation. I also love Kazuo Ishiguro's technique - he allows his characters to reveal their flaws implicitly during the narrative. I could go on and onÖ
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Again, I'd say great dialogue, but this must be intertwined with believability. If your reader canít relate to your character then youíve lost them.
I create them first by giving them a voice, and then their description and character develops from that.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Iíve never actually tried, but I think I'd be quite good at it. I read out what I write as itís a really good exercise, so I would certainly have a go. My editor told me Iím a great storyteller with the written word, and I have given oral presentations and haven't put anyone to sleep... not yet anyway. Not even my wife who I sometimes read to.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
You do write for yourself, if not you wouldn't be a writer. But I largely write for my readers. If they are happy with it, then I can enjoy it too.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
I wouldnít say that. The therapy part is in getting your thoughts, imagination and voice down on paper (or monitor). They say creative people are a little mad, so maybe madness is that internal force that drives inspiration and creativity *he smiles*
Does reader feed-back help you?
Certainly! Any feedback and criticism both constructive and harsh can only help. If a writer thinks that every comment is going to be perfect he or she must seek a new profession/hobby. Ultimately you are writing for your readers, to increase your readership, so what they say and think is vital to your success as a writer. Stephen King says, ĎIn the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work.í
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I must say, not usually. I did enter a writing competition in 2010 with Loveís Melancholy and won first prize http://www.jkeaster.com/?p=368 but I usually just want to concentrate on my projects.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I do. I have my own 'inner circle' and I value their thoughts. I also value my editors feedback. I only usually share work with people who can help or understand my project(s). My wife included! She is an avid reader and can pick things in my narrative that I wouldnít have normally picked up on.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I wouldnít say voice, writing styleÖ perhaps, but Iím not looking for a voice. I want to pen great tales, the rest will undoubtedly follow.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I must say I have been relaxed with my writing. This was largely due to my Master's taking over much of my time. However, generally I am very 'deadline' driven, so it is important to have a schedule. But I also believe that you shouldn't rush a project. When it is done, it is done.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Itís very mixed. I need complete silence and no distractions sometimes, whereas other times I can work through noise.
I live in a small one-bedroom flat that faces a road, so you see what I mean. I would prefer a house in the country... with a window facing a meadow... but we canít have it all can we.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write completely on a computer. I try laptops once in a while but thereís nothing like a good-old desktop. I also have my library surrounding me so if I need to pull out the Oxford Shorter itís close at hand.
I try not to print out from an Eco-perspective. I would only print out a near-finished manuscript. Having said that, I only printed out one copy of The Grimoire, but then corrections were made half on paper and the other on screen.
I would love to try an write a novel on a classic typewriter. That's a challenge!
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
I was never a great social media person, but as a writer I can see the benefits to mixing and engaging with friends and readers. The Internet is my friend, not my enemy. I've also embraced Twitter (@jasonkurteaster) and Facebook.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I have sent various manuscripts with cover letters, but have not had any luck. It got really laborious with those rejections, and many never even had the courtesy to reply.
I took it upon myself to self-publish. I will continue to send off my manuscripts, but now that there is another medium to get my writing to the masses, I will use this more and more. I'm also working on a new website which will also feature videos, book trailers etc in the future. Exciting!
What are you working on now?
Lots! Iím working on a new childrenís novel Enchantid... A trilogy with gnomes as protagonists... a novel about a churlish dwarf called Skerry... and something completely different.
I am also working on some non-fiction projects.
My website www.jkeaster.com has more information regarding these projects.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Iíve always lived by the premise of 'never throw anything away'. I would revisit your writing with fresh eyes and take it from there. You never know... you could have the next bestseller stashed away in a dark and dusty drawer.
Jason Kurt Easter