Sunday, 7 August 2011

Author Interview: Jason Halstead

Jason Halstead is one of the authors featuring in the September giveaway. Among other books, Jason has written Wanted.

1. What is your name and where do you call home?
In polite company I prefer to go by Jason Halstead. It’s a shame I don’t know more polite people.

Home for me at the moment is a nice little place in Warren, Ohio. I get around though – I’ve lived in Michigan, Texas, and southeastern Utah as well. So far Ohio is the best.

2. Do you have a pen name?
I considered it over the years but every time I came close, I felt like I was hiding something. I’m a bluntly honest person and it would just bother me to feel I couldn’t be up front and honest about who I am and what I write,

3. What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or less words, what would you say?
Voidhawk – Redemption. A fantasy novel that proves sometimes a warriors hardest battles are the ones hidden inside.

4. Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Yes, several new books! I have four in various stages of publishing (including a sequel to Wanted, entitled Ice Princess, which will be released shortly), and a three book series taking place in my Dark Earth setting. A fourth one is in the planning stages still.

Beyond that I have a series of science fiction novellas partially written that I’m also very excited about it.

Due to reader feedback I’m also working on a follow up book to my near future sci-fi book, Human Nature. Proof that readers should never hesitate to send feedback to an author!

Oh, lest I forget I also have to mention the brainstorm I had just last night about a fantasy YA novel I’m hoping to get my daughter’s assistance with?

I have eight books published as of writing this and guarantees for four more in the near future, plus the ones mentioned above and other ideas that are sure to stick with me. Sometimes I wish I could slow myself down but the voices just won’t let me.

5. What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was ten or eleven. Unfortunately, I was really terrible at it. It took almost two decades for somebody to level with me and tell me as much though. That was the point when I knuckled down and decided to get better at it. After all, writing for an audience is a fun activity and all but without anybody willing to read it there really isn’t a point.

As for who inspired me, I’m not sure there was any single point of inspiration. The closest I can come to blaming someone might be Terry Brooks – I read The Sword of Shannara as my first major novel when I was around nine years old and was emotionally moved by it. Since then I’ve only found a few books with similar impact on me, sadly none of them by Mr. Brooks (Raymond Feist and Dean Koontz, on the other hand, have sucker punched me a couple of times).

Anyhow, I believe that having read that my imagination was supercharged and I thought, I wonder if I could do something like this?

6. Do you gift books to readers for book reviews?
I have no problem with this sort of thing, in moderation. A book that is heavily reviewed already doesn’t need such a thing but for new releases or less reviewed books I think it’s only fair. After all, if a reader is willing to devote the time to not only read the book but also put some thoughts down about it for the author, what right do I have to benefit not only from the review but also a royalty?

7. How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book?
The cover for Wanted grew out of some random images in my head. I tried to put something together myself but gave up on it and went on to put something else together. It was an okay cover, but certainly nothing that jumped out and grabbed your attention. My publisher was not impressed with it – which irritated me (I’d spent a lot of time reaching that point). We talked a bit and I mentioned my initial ideas and, a few days later received the concept cover in my inbox. It was almost exactly as I had envisioned and it jumped out at me. The artist’s name was Michael Mantas.

8. How did you come up with the title for your book?
Ironically, it was before the movie “Wanted” (with Angelina Jolie) came out, but not by very much. The book is about some kids who are chased across the southwestern United States by a band of mercenaries for reasons largely unknown to them. Given the western setting and the fact that they are effectively fugitives in the lawless world I devised, “Wanted”, aka a wanted poster, seemed like a fitting name.

9. Is there anything you would change about your book? And why?
Originally I had planned on the Wanted series being a trilogy. In fact I had even gone so far as to write several thousand more words in Wanted before I realized I was losing myself and the story. I let it sit for a while, confused as to what I’d done, until I had one of those “Ah ha!” moments. I ripped out the excess junk and rewrote the ending. It ended up shorter than I’d expected it to be, but it also had a punch to it that I really liked.

So no, there’s nothing I’d like to change that I haven’t already done.

10. Do you have a book trailer? And what are your thoughts on book trailers?
I do not have one. If they help sell books, then I probably should. My problem is a lack of graphical artistic talent and a general loathing for Microsoft Powerpoint. Powerpoint seems to be what most of the trailers are written / composed in, and I can’t bring myself to use it unless there’s something like a gun being held against my head.

One of these days when I’m independently wealthy I’ll be happy to put some trailers together using real actors and proper filming. Until then, I’ll either have to swallow my angst or continue muddling on without one.

11. Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hardcovers or audiobooks?
I’ve evolved over the years to prefer e-books. My wife recently took the plunge into the world of Kindle herself and now can’t imagine going back. It’s not just about convenience either, there’s also cost (ebooks are usually cheaper) and space. I kept running out of bookshelves and would have to regularly go through my books to donate them to schools or libraries. Not so with ebook, I can acquire as many of those as I’ve got the hard drive space to handle.

12. Are you a self-published / Indie author?
That’s complicated. I started out with two separate publishing companies, each catering to different genres. One of them shut down and the other went through a period of self-discovery. While I waited I decided to put out a book, Voices, on my own. Shortly after I hooked up with a fellow author and an excellent editor who was disgruntled with the same publishing problems I had. Working together and tying our skills together we launched our own publishing company that I am now putting all of my new stuff through, as well as giving other writers (previously published or not) a venue to get their stuff out there.

13. Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?
Yes. I’ve lost track of how many times I read The Hobbit as a teen. There have been many others as well over the years, including Terry Brooks, Raymond Feist, and most definitely R.A. Heinlein. Robert E. Howard  and his literary offspring that took up the mantle of writing Conan stories as well.

14. What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?
Sadly there’s nothing I’m reading at the moment. All of my time is spent either trying to figure out how to promote my books, writing new ones, working at my day job, spending time with my family, or finishing up my MBA.

15. Do you have any advice for other writers? And what’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
Learn how to take criticism. We don’t learn anything from a success, only that we didn’t screw up. Mistakes, on the other hand, are full of opportunities to make things better! That’s an amalgamation of advice received and something I definitely recommend to anyone who wants to write and not be laughed at more than a couple of times.

16. Where can your readers follow you?
Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:
Barnes and Noble:
Independent Author Network:

Thankyou so much for taking the time to do this interview and allowing us a glimpse into your writing world!

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