Thursday, April 8, 2010
Author Spotlight: Jason Barrett, Paranormal Romance
Tell me about yourself. What makes you angry, happy, sad, snoopy dance?
Snoopy Dance? I don’t do the Snoopy Dance. Although the ladies in my romance group, CNYRW, are always taking about it and writing it on the loop I’m trying to keep some semblance of masculinity so I refrained from using the term. I use: That’s Great, That’s Awesome!, I’m so happy for you!, but, no, never the Snoopy Dance.
Oh, Jason, you know? I get that. Watching a guy snoopy dance... *shakes head and grimaces* well... just isn't a pretty picture, LOL
Angry? I suppose still social injustices and prejudices. It’s been that way since I was a youth, It’s a core value and I can’t understand hatred fostered by appearance or beliefs.
I hear that and whole-heartedly agree.
Happy? I’m just the opposite of the Dr. Phil’s saying, “When Mama’s not happy ain’t nobody happy.” I prefer to think of it in this way, “When the family’s happy, Papa’s happy.” Nothing that makes me happier than happy faces, especially those of my family.
Sad? I get sad from not being able to “fix it.” As a husband and father I’ve almost always been able to “fix” the problem, whether it be a broken heart, skinned knee, broken doll or broken furnace. When I run into things I can’t make right for my family it seems to threaten my place in the world and that makes me sad.
Spoken like a true father, Jason. That's what dads do:)
Also, I get sad when I think of the kind of world my children will have to raise their children in. There’s way too much violence and a certain disconnection between the people that make up our society, whether it’s our neighborhoods or the world. The heart is missing. I can only hope that things will change for the better.
Oh Jason, you are so right. I grew up in a neighborhood where everyone knew each other and noone's doors were locked. Kids could wander the neighborhood and play in anyone's house without a worry! Today our neighborhoods are closed and most times you don't even know who lives next door. Fortunately, for me, my immediate neighbors are wonderful but that is within a three house radius in all directions. I have no clue whose around me further out.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Social injustice inspired my first book. I never finished the book as I was seventeen at the time and other things took precedence, yes hormones and dating, but social injustices still make me angry. As soon as one starts to be resolved another one jumps up and rears its ugly head. Sadly, it’s been that way since the beginning of time and doesn’t appear to be ending soon.
How do you decide on the topics for your books?
Ooohhh...great fodder for a vampire story. Sun-safe dwelling. I see how that could get the juices going.
Do you write to make money or for the love of writing?
The first book I actually finished was a story that needed to be told. So that was for the love of writing. The characters and story rattled around in my head for years and it needed, demanded to be written. So I wrote it, and I will always love that book more than any other book I’ll ever write. I break the process of writing a book into two distinct parts. Writing the book is pleasure, and I love to do it. When the book is written it then becomes the business end of the process but I still feel that I’ll always write whether I make money or not. And I think anyone reading this knows exactly what I’m taking about.
Absolutely. And we writers know that unless really fortunate, most of us will make some income but may never become rich. I totally get what you are saying. I love to write stories because for me each little world I create and each character is my escape from the nasties of reality. I know I'm in deep when I seem to stay in the fiction world even when I am living real life. It's like that movie you loved and you just can't shake.
What are some traditional methods of marketing you have used to gain visibility for you and your book(s)?
Of course I have a website, http://www.jasonbarret.com/, and have contracted with several romance sites for online advertisement. I also have an ad in the February edition of the RWR and one in the March RT magazine. As far as drawing attention to myself I plan on doing interviews and author spotlights on Long and Short Reviews, The Romance Studio, Coffee Time Romance and the Vampire Romance Books site, but this will actually be my very first author interview, thank you Dayana!
OMG! A virgin too? I love it, LOL You are very welcome, Jason. I love having you here. You are always welcome here.
What is your favorite holiday? And why?
I love Christmas. Not for the presents but for the family side of it. I loved seeing the kid’s faces on Christmas morning when they came down the stairs and saw the tree all lit up with the presents under it. It was a time of wonder, and I could see it in their eyes. I still see that wonder in my grandchildren and when I play Santa each year at an elementary school, K-2nd, where my wife works. I suppose it’s selfish because the children are so unconditional with their love for Santa. I guess that’s my present to me.
It is such a beautifully festive time of year. It and Halloween are my favorites. I remember being that child who couldn't sleep for anything and who ran to wake my parents up who had just gotten to bed because I just couldn't wait a moment longer! Then the only light was the beautiful Christmas tree and the mountains of presents! OMG! It seemed truly like mountains when you are so small. Also, the crumbs on the plate and the milk gone where we'd set them out for Santa. Oops! Sorry, got carried away...
Do you write every day? Or when the muse strikes?
I work as a construction inspector from spring to late fall, even winter. This year I was in the field on December 28th working with a crew in a minus 14 degree below zero wind chill factor. It was cold, and I was very happy to leave it all behind and start writing again. Normally I try to write whenever I can but long days at work sometimes interfere with my writing. Now, during the winter, I will try to write daily in the quiet solitude of the empty house.
I hear that. Working a full-time job can crimp a writer's style:) I live in that world as well.
Are you someone who can write on demand? Or do you have to stew and coax an idea before you sit down and write? Or maybe you write when the muse knocks you upside your head, like me?
I can write on demand but only if I can get myself to sit down and open the darn book! That’s my hardest part- avoidance. I’m not sure where it comes from but I’ve spoken about it with other authors, and they too have experienced this. One actually told me she’d rather dust the house with a Q-tip rather than sit down to write! She does have several books published though.
Wow! That's heavy... I can not write on demand and only sit down to have at it when something needs to be written. Unfortunately, sometimes a lot of time passes before that happens. Once I get into a project, I'm usually okay.
Where do you write?
We have a study upstairs where my wife works on her photograph and I write. It’s quiet and away from the rest of the house. I can’t write with distracting noises like the radio, or TV. I just loose total concentration when I hear those things and it takes me some time to get back into the moment.
When do you read? Where?
I just got a Kindle and I love it. It actually read my book to me. How cool is that? I normally read while on vacation usually in a beach chair; sunglasses on, Pepsi to my side and a willingness to nod off whenever I want. I enjoy reading books by fellow authors from my romance group, CNYRW, like Alee Drake, Mary Reed McCall, Gayle Callen, Christine Wenger, Maggie Shayne and CJ Barry. Unfortunately, I had to stop reading Maggie’s books in fear that it would influence my thoughts when creating my world of vampires. There are so many wonderful others in our group I can’t name them all here. I try to sneak in some reading on my lap top, now my Kindle, while on break when substitute teaching in the winters.
Where do you go to think?
I do my best thinking while driving. One of my daughters lived in Virginia and it was a 10 hour drive so I would have my trusty recorder available to record any good ideas I came up with while driving. I also go to sleep while plotting my books. I don’t know how beneficial it is because I probably forget half of what I was thinking but it helps push out the day to day stressors.
How do you come up with your title and main characters’ names?
The title to Dead Or A Lie was recognized by one of my critique partners, Alee Drake. We were in critique one night and while I was reading a dramatic scene from the heroine’s black moment Alee stopped me and said “That’s your title, Dead Or A Lie.” She was right; I hope everyone loves the book as much as the title!
Oh, I'm sure they will and the title begs me to read it. I really must get a hold of it. Do you put pieces of yourself or your life in your stories?
Yes, I think my values are always part of my books. I really don’t like a lot of violence and I love a happy ending, and that’s why I turned to Romance. My first book got a little too close for comfort. I tried to write in the same way some actors prepare for a part by using method acting. In method acting you bring yourself to a point in your own life that is associated with the emotional you need to portray. That first book had a lot of conflict and sadness so I was continually bringing myself to different points in my real life that stirred emotions needed for that scene. Bad idea- won’t do that again.
Funny you should say that, Jason. A really emotionally distressing time brought me back to writing in the year 2000. I'd lost my father and my first Sheltie, Kazzy both to cancer within months of one another and writing through the grief is what helped me. So I can definitely relate to what you are saying.
Do you have an upcoming release?
Yes, 'Dead Or A Lie' released on February 19th by the Wild Rose Press. It will be in both e-format and paperback. In 'Dead Or A Lie' I create a new genre of vampire. A group of vampires caught somewhere half way between man and beast. An ancient ritual promises to produce a savior, the Sacrosanct. She will bring those unbound by the shackles of hell back to the world of the living. The vampire hero has waited centuries for the coming of the Sacrosanct but now that she has arrived can he help her fulfill her destiny before the evil Lord Trevacular captures and destroys her? I really thought the day would never come but now that it has come and gone I am so excited. You can find me at The Wild Rose Press or you can always look on my site.
What do you do for relaxation?
I like to kayak with my wife, Janice. We paddle up some streams where you can almost believe no man or woman has ever traveled before. When we get close to a picturesque site or we spot some sort of wildlife she puts down her paddle and picks up her camera. Then says, “Scout, get me in close.” We’ve paddled up to within a few feet of a doe (female deer) resting under an evergreen tree on the edge of the stream. We also like to golf without keeping score and I personally enjoy restoring my 1972 MGB European sports car.
Dayana you’ve asked me how and why a man actually got involved with romance so here it goes.
Yes! and that is a question we hit on when we talked about this interview and I am so glad you brought it up, Jason. This is something I'm sure would interest readers and authors alike. Please do tell all:)
I had just finished that first tragic novel, Unrequited Love. I think the title was a give away to everyone but me, but what did I know. I was a guy who primarily read Sci-Fi and mysteries but was now writing a story I needed to tell. I bought a copy of Writers Guide and from the short description I knew I was holding a Romance novel. So out of the blue I looked up a local romance author, Mary Reed McCall, and asked her advice. She was so nice just to take a phone call from a total stranger, but she did and suggested that I go to a conference that was hosted by the Central New York Romance Writers in Syracuse, New York. So I did.
I walked into a room with 80 or more romance writers and slapped a name tag on my shirt. I was greeted very warmly and introduced all around, you see, Mary had called ahead! I was in awe. I wasn’t prepared to be in a room with so may other authors, it’s a memory and feeling I’ll never forget. There were Sci-Fi writers, paranormal writers, time travel, historical, you name it they were there and all there to listen to Deb Dixon speak about GMC, a lucky day for me in so many ways.
Then came lunch, I was waved to a seat at a table by my future critique partners. We all ate and talked excitedly about the conference and our works in progress. When it was my turn I jumped right into a verbal short synopsis of my book, then it happened. I told them that my heroine died at mid-book. Gasps, forks dropped, and a deadly silence enveloped the table. At my best memory there were ten little pairs of unbelieving eyes just staring at me in utter disbelief. I thought I swore and didn’t realize it. Finally, my soon to be critique partners, Alee Drake and Jenna Gray, took pity on me and delicately told me that my book was not a romance but, not a problem, everyone is welcome at the CNYRW group. I came to understand romance writing with their help and I’ve been a member of the RWA and CNYRW since that day. A reviewer once said to my editor, Amanda Barnet, “you can tell it’s written by a guy!”
“Thank God,” I thought to myself.
Great story, Jason. Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself here today. I am so glad to have had the chance to get to know you better and you can be sure I will be purchasing my copy of Dead or a Lie right away.
Below is an excerpt from Dead or A Lie:
“If there’s a scenic route back to Astoria, I guess we took it. Here let me get your door.” He stepped out of the car.
“I can manage.” But as she opened her door, he was already there. “Now that was quick. I suppose in the rest of your spare time you do a little sprint training too? Okay, Mr. Sir Lancelot, you win.” She gracefully extended her hand, which he took. On the way up the dark walkway to her front door, she took her keys from her jacket pocket. Instinctively, she let several of them slide between her fingers, allowing them to protrude past her knuckles. She made a fist, transforming her hand into a formidable weapon.
As they approached the foyer, the warnings she had gotten from the stranger on the internet, Man O War, and Charlie raced through her mind. A battle raged within her, a battle between those warnings and her heart. She gripped the keys tighter, all the while cursing herself for doing so. When they reached the door she turned and when she did, their eyes locked. However, she saw no threat in his dark gaze. Despite the closeness of the foyer and the shadows surrounding them, she loosened her grip on the keys. First, allowing them to dangle with her pinky through the key ring and finally she slipped them back into her pocket. For this moment, the battle was over.
“It’s been a wonderful evening, Lee. I hope we can do it again.” He paused and she saw his eyes grow vacant, like when he looked out the window at the sea, but this time he was staring into the depths of her eyes—her soul.
I wonder what he’s thinking. Is he afraid to make the first move? Oh to hell with it.
She leaned into him and her hand rose to his cheek. He didn’t retreat. He didn’t protest. Instead, he turned and gently kissed her fingertips. Lee let her hand slide to the back of his neck and pulled him closer. He smiled as she gently played with his long hair. Her breath quickened, and the heat rose within her. She kissed him gently. When she released him he lingered at her lips barely touching them with his and then he kissed her cheek. “Beautiful,” he whispered.
Hmm… me or my perfume. Either way is fine with me.
He embraced her, his powerful arms pulled her as close as two bodies could get without being one, and she felt his passion rise. His need obvious. As they kissed his hand slipped down and pulled her into the cradle of his thighs. A too long absent heat raced through her. She wanted more and pushed forward against his hardness, their burning desire now only separated by the delicate threads of their clothing. Yes, she wanted more of his touch—more of him.
“Luke,” was all that quietly escaped from her lips. This time there was no questioning his passion in their kiss, but just as quickly as it peaked, and he pushed himself away, removing her arms from around his neck. He brought her hands to his lips, kissed both palms, and gently released her.
“I’d better go,” his words were barely audible.
She delayed speaking for a moment. “Yes, I suppose so. Maybe it is a little too soon to get things messy.”
“You’re right. I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry.”
“Well, I wouldn’t actually say that,” she said giving him a demure smile, “and don’t be sorry. I enjoyed every minute of the evening.”
“I’ll see you at work tomorrow, Lee. I had a great time too,” but his sad smile told a different story.
“Me too, Luke. I’ll see you tomorrow. We can do that blood sample thing. I’ve been thinking that I should put the lab level on my security rounds anyway. After all, the autopsy room is right next door, and we don’t want any of those bodies walking off on us, now do we?”
“Yeah, that whole walking dead thing, doesn’t it just creep you out?” he asked, followed by a gallows laugh. “See you tomorrow. Good night, Lee.”
“Night.” Lee slipped her key into the lock and entered the building, looking back one last time at Luke through the glass pane. He gave her a playful salute and headed back to his car. When he got in, she saw him hit the steering wheel with the heel of his hand.
Once inside her apartment she heard the predictable greeting from Rocky. “Hello, Doll,” but she was also greeted by something that took her by complete surprise. A fragrance so enchanting, so lovely, she stopped for a moment and inhaled it, as Luke had her perfume. Wanting to make the moment last, she slipped into a warm tub and the heavy, moist air mixed with the scent of the jasmine in an intoxicating way. “Thank you, Luke,” she closed her eyes and allowed herself to slip further into the water until it was just below her chin. With her eyes closed, she inhaled the steamy elixir. “Could you be the one?”
The tires only chirped when he drove away from the curb, but as soon as he was a short distance from her door he slammed the gearshift violently into second, then third, and right on through to fifth gear. He rocketed towards the quickest route out of city and to a winding country road he had visited countless times before. He attacked each curve, each bend in the road as if it were his enemy. At every turn, he tempted fate with his ungodly speed. The scream of his tires echoed through the mountains like a lonely mournful cry. His tires cried for hours that night.
More about Jason:
Jason grew up in Upstate New York at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains where he still resides with his wife and high school sweetheart, Janice. They now have two married daughters, and two grandsons. Jason enjoys activities like kayaking with Janice, candle making, and restoring his antique MGB, a European sports car. The experiences he’s accumulated over the years with his first and only love, Janice, and then their wonderful children help him write of relationships. His college background in math and science inspire him when writing Sci-Fi and Paranormal.
He started his first unfinished book when he was seventeen and has had a few other starts before actually beginning a book that he eventually finished. That book still awaits publication but he’s moved on to other projects, including his new release, Dead Or A Lie, published by The Wild Rose Press . Jason enjoys writing of relationships, real science twisted enough to make a new world come to life, and things belonging to the realm of the paranormal.
Jason’s site: http://www.jasonbarret.com/
Purchase Dead or a Lie