On the blog today, I am very pleased to be able to interview a very talented author. I happened across this flash fiction maestro on Twitter (I think…) back in the day when I had an account, and we’ve stayed in touch since. Now, after the release of his second collection of flash fiction short stories, Moments of Darkness, I had a chance to virtually sit down with Jason Nugent and talk about his writing. So please welcome Jason to the blog!
Hi there! Nice to be back. And yeah I think it was Twitter where we met.
First off, can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself? Who you are? What do you do? What makes you tick?
In my day job I’m a sales rep. for a fairly large screenprinting company in Southern Illinois. I’m married (almost 20 years now!) and we have one son who just turned 16. I expect the grey in my beard to grew immensely in the next year! In my free-time I play airsoft with my son and our friends. Oh, and I do this writing thing.
When did you decide to start writing? What drew you to the genres you write? What were your influences?
I started writing seriously about six or seven years ago. I’d written angsty teen poetry in high school and some stories early on in college, but it took many years before I found my way back to writing fiction. I was convinced to finally try NaNoWriMo and failed twice. But the passion was ignited and I learned what needed to be done in order to “win” at NaNo and went on a four year long winning streak.
The first novel I remember reading was “Pet Semetary” by Stephen King. My mom was (and still is) a huge fan of his. As a teen, I saw the book on our coffee table and decided to read it. I was hooked! I’ve not read everything by him but quite a bit.
I studied Early Medieval History in college because of my love of Arthurian romances. I started reading more fantasy novels and on a whim, picked up “The Eye of the World” by Robert Jordan at a grocery store. I’ve wanted to write an epic fantasy since.
I’ve also been a huge Star Wars and Star Trek: TNG fan and wanted to be an astronaut as a boy. This led me to appreciate SciFi and look to make my own stories.
I guess you could say I’ve got the tri-fecta of speculative fiction influencing me!
Moments of Darkness is your second collection of flash fiction short stories, can you tell us a little bit about what to expect? Where did those short stories derive from?
The title refers to the stories – they’re short and most all of them have a dark theme or element to them. Throughout the collection you’ll meet maniacal creatures, invading aliens, and heartbroken ghosts. No matter what I write, my tendency is to give it a dark twist. I’m pretty sure I can’t write happy ending stories!
Your first book (Almost) Average was anything but average. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, as I did with your second book. Where did that title come from? What drove you to compile those stories as you did?
Thanks so much! I took the title from my blog “(Almost) Average.” I published new flash fiction on the 15th of every month and decided to clean them up and offer them as a collection. I included a couple unreleased stories and made it happen.
To be honest, I published the collection as an experiment. So many people were self-publishing and I wanted to give it a try. None of the novels I wrote were ready but I figured I could wrangle my stories into presentable shape. I spent a month or so editing the stories and learning how to format for ebooks. I created the cover and hit “publish.” I got a couple early reviews from people I’d never met before (*cough* Mike Wolff and Stephen Hunt *cough*) and I was ecstatic. From there I was convinced by a friend to make a paperback version and that was a huge step for me. I was able to attend book fairs, book signings, and conferences where I met other authors and found a few fans along the way.
Okay, as I always do in an interview, I like to ask at least one fun question, no need to be so serious all the time. So, if you could live in either a ‘Science Fiction’ world, with all the spaceships, laser guns and aliens, OR a ‘Fantasy’ world with the orcs, ogres and dragons, which would you pick and why?
Wow, talk about decisions! I guess if forced to choose I’d go with the fantasy world. I think I’d feel more at home amongst the dragons and orcs. Maybe I’d be a dragon-rider wielding a laser gun.
You have a great talent for writing, how have you developed that since starting?
Oh wow, thanks! I’ve struggled lately with writing and that’s great to hear.
When writing I try to keep the initial story idea alive but I’m much more aware of how it’s conveyed. When I first started I thought the “big idea” was all I needed. Now I’m more concerned with structure, language, and character. If I can fine tune those elements with a dynamic story idea, then I might be on to something!
Promotion is a major part of an Indie Author’s game plan. What have you done that works? What didn’t work? Do you have any advice on this difficult topic for other aspiring authors out there?
This is a struggle for sure! No matter how good (or bad) your writing is, if it’s not in front of readers, no one will know.
I’m active on Twitter and in several Facebook groups. It helps but the results aren’t panning out like I’d hoped. I’ve done Facebook ads and tried several free book promotion sites but still no success. My free days on Amazon have helped a little. I’m hopeful a few more reviews will come in from that.
I take the long view on promotion. One day one of my books will attract a wider audience. When it does, those readers will have the opportunity to check out what my current readers already know – I have more stories! I look at what I’ve done so far as the foundation for what I’m building towards. I’m proud of what I’ve published and stand behind my work. You can’t have a back catalogue without putting stuff out there!
What are you planning next? Any new writing projects you can tell us about?
I’m currently working on the release of my first novel. It’s a young adult sci-fi adventure tale with my customary dark undertones. It’s titled “The Selection” and if all goes as planned, it should be out at the end of March. I didn’t set out to create a young adult novel but as I planned the story it was clear that’s where my idea was headed.
I’m also writing short stories with an eye towards submitting them for publication to magazines and anthologies.
Who are your favorite authors? Have any of them inspired you, or changed the way you approach writing?
Of course Stephen King. His style and subject matter clearly influenced me. Robert Jordan, John Scalzi, and Bernard Cornwell are all authors who I enjoy. Their rich worlds captivate me and push me to try harder.
Okay, one last question. If there was one thing you would tell any young (or old) author just starting out, what would that be?
Do it! If you’ve ever had the dream to write – do it! No one can write your story. It may suck (if it’s your first few it certainly will) but it’s your story and no one else’s. Continually look for ways to improve. Treat writing as a craft and hone the skills needed to make your stories rock.
Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us today. We wish you all the success in the world, and hope to see more from you in the near future!
I appreciate it so much! You’ve been awesome and I can’t thank you enough.
To follow Jason and his writings, use the following links:
(Almost) Average Anthology: http://mybook.to/almostaverage
Note: You can get “(Almost) Average Anthology” for free by signing up to my spam-free newsletter on my website or blog.
Moments of Darkness: http://mybook.to/momentsofdarkness