Jason is a traveller who particularly enjoys wildlife, the great outdoors and road trips. Working as a journalist for over 15 years has meant that he could combine this love of travel with his passion for writing. Having caught the writing bug he has also penned his first travel memoir, The Drive North: A Swing Down Memory Lane and has no intention of stopping there.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a writer and travel blogger, the author of The Drive North: A Swing Down Memory Lane, a memoir about my travels to U.S. national parks, and an all-around swell guy. At least so I think. Currently I live in Colorado, but grew up in Minnesota.
If you could describe the storyline of your latest novel to someone in just a few sentences how would you entice someone to want to read it?
Other than historic battlefield sites, we never went to any of the national parks when I was a child. Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon? Forget it. My dad is a Civil War enthusiast, so we instead travelled to see those locations. They were about as interesting as could be expected for a small child, so now as a grown up I decided to hit not only the big boy parks – all of the ones people think of when they think of the national parks – but also some of the lesser-known, albeit just as amazing national parks, like Big Bend, Carlsbad Caverns, and Teddy Roosevelt. Along the way I had a lot of other interesting adventures, writing about all of my stops while incorporating my childhood travels into the mix of The Drive North: A Swing Down Memory Lane. Having never written anything longer than a blog post before, it was a big undertaking. But one that I’m proud to have done, because – as I’ll talk about later – it was really just a lot of fun to do.
When and why did you begin writing?
When I was 17 my dad handed me a notebook and told me to write about my school trip to Greece and Italy. He wanted to read about it when I returned. Well, I only wrote half of a page for the ten days I was in the two countries, but the idea stuck. And the more I travelled the more I wrote. Soon notebooks weren’t enough, so I grew to a blog. But that still wasn’t enough. I wanted to do something bigger, a book. So I wrote The Drive North: A Swing Down Memory Lane.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Work? Who’s working? Writing isn’t easy be any stretch of the imagination, but I hardly consider it work. Every minute I see more as being fun, even therapeutic to an extent. But I hardly consider it work.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
The hardest thing about being a writer is actually getting someone to read what you write. Readers are generally forgiving and open to all kinds of stories, but getting it before them is difficult since there is so much amazing content out there, whether it be travel, fiction, or another genre.
What inspires you to write?
If I don’t write I’d probably pop like a giant zit. Gross, I know, so it’s a good thing I write. Too much time spent not writing allows things to get bottled up inside, so I have to write in order to get it out. How do I decide what to write about? Well, whatever suits my fancy, really. Oftentimes I enjoy writing about my travels, whether it be here in Colorado or elsewhere, but I also gain a lot of satisfaction by writing children’s stories, particularly fantasy. The genre is such a great avenue for both growing the imagination and seeing the world from a different perspective that I’m not sure what I’d do if I didn’t read and write those stories, too.
When working on a new novel, what is the first thing you do?
It depends on the type of novel, really. For instance, while writing a fantasy story, I sit look at points A and B in the storyline and ask myself how the main character gets from one to the other, what change they experience in the story, what kind of growth. Then I look at complicating factors and decisions they have to make in order to get the story to move and actually happen. From there it’s a lot of outlining, writing, editing, more writing, more editing, and so forth.
When it came to writing The Drive North, though, I took a different perspective. Instead of outlining and looking at all kinds of contributing factors to move the story forward, I look backward at where my story came from, since it wasn’t just the present time of my trip. It has a lot to do with my childhood travels, whether they be to my grandparent’s house or on some grand road trip we took every summer in our family’s big conversion van.
Which Writers do you admire and can you name a favourite book?
Asking this question is like asking me to climb Everest; it’s not impossible, but it sure as heck ain’t easy. So many authors and books have been influential for me over the years that it’s difficult to name just a few even if I limit it to travel memoirs. But while that’s a favourite genre of mine – especially when it comes to Bill Bryson and Colin Thubron – I’d have to say I generally read more children’s or classic literature than anything else, particularly when it comes to fantasy or science fiction. Some of my favourite books and authors in those two areas of literature would be Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, most anything by John Steinbeck, as well as Rick Riordan, Neil Gaiman, and Brandon Mull. I’m also a huge Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings dork, so don’t judge.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Write what’s fun. Seriously. It’s as simple as that. If you enjoy reading and writing about travel, then do it. If literature or biographies or children’s stories are more your speed, then go for it. Just be sure you enjoy it, because you’ll fail miserably if you write simply to please someone else, most particularly the book market. If you do this, no matter how many books you sell at the end of the day you’ll be a success because you’ll be happy.
What are your plans for the future?
Currently, I’m working on a paranormal travel book. That’s right, ghost hunting. I’ve done a bunch of it and am writing a book about not only my experiences, but also how others can travel and do it, where they can stay, and what else they can see and do in those cities. I should be done with the book by the end of the summer. At that time I’ll decide if I’ll self-publish again or go the traditional route with this one.
I’m also in the process of sending out query letters to agents for my first children’s book. It’s a middle grade fantasy story that can either stand on its own or work as the first book in a series. I’m quite excited about the whole project as I begin work on the sequel.
If you would like to find out more about Jason please follow the links below:
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Jason for placing himself under our spotlight and answering our questions.
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