Sunday, October 26, 2014

AMONG THE STACKS: Jon M Jefferson


Abry:  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jon:  I know for most people this is pretty much a warm up question, but honestly I am one of those types of people that really hate talking directly about themselves.  More often than not I would rather just jump into the work.  I find small talk perplexing.

I am most likely that guy you find at a work party who is happier to talk about something work related than go through the motions of getting to know the co-workers better.

Cordelia Windygale:  What are five things most people don't know about you?

Jon:
1. Probably what I just mentioned for question 1.
2. I am a horrible speller.  Thank god for spell check.
3. I can curl my tongue.
4. I am so strongly right handed that I find it near impossible to do things with my left hand.
5. I am horrible at finishing lists.

Abry:  What is the first book you remember reading?

Jon:  I dare say it was a Dick and Jane book.  I imagine, in this day and age of internet everything, most people don't know or even remember those books other than the passing joke.

But I came late to reading.  I was actually forced into summer school in first grade I think for my non-desire to read.  My mother taught me to read with Dick and Jane books.

Granted those aren't actually the fun books that most people want to remember.  But at the time I did read quite a bit of the Charlie Brown cartoon books, Andy Capp and Hagar the Horrible.  These books were extensions of the daily comics in the newspapers.  I can still remember some of the cartoons vividly.

Cordelia Windygale:  What are you reading now?

Jon:  The main things has been required reading.  I am working my way through a short story class.  The class forces a student to dig through stories they might not have thought of reading.  A majority of these have been way (a long way) outside the realm of stuff I prefer to read.  But over the next week we are going through some dystopian and cyberpunk stories (Phillip K Dick and William Gibson being notables in the writer list for the week).

I have been slowly working my way through Unicorn Western (Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant).  I also picked up a couple huge collections of Cthulhu Mythos (a complete collection of H.P. Lovecraft and another with other notables) that I am picking my way through from time to time.

And then there is the various bits of nonfiction I am constantly digging through.  Just finished The Pursuit of Perfection (Kristine Kathryn Rusch) and am now working through Killing the Top 10 Sacred Cows of Publishing (Dean Wesley Smith).

Abry:  What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Jon:  This has been something lurking in the background of my life for many years.  When I went into the Marines I actually tried to bring along a notebook so I could gather stories and such for a memoir at a later date.  The drill instructors who went through all our contraband on day one snagged that away.

I did find scraps of paper during my time in boot camp to get writing done.  And then when I was in the fleet I wrote all the way through.  The plan would have been to go right into the writing world right after my release from the Marines.  This was back in 1993.  The world of professional writers was much different then.

I went into college after the Marines.  The thing I found then, the sole purpose of an English major is to become a better English major.  The schools do little to train you in the world of professional publishing.  As I sit in some English classes now (gaining a bit more knowledge to add to all I already know) I realize not much has changed.  The purpose of the assignments we are given is to prepare us for writing other papers later on.

I guess long story short, it has always been there in the back of everything else I have done in life.  The fun thing is, all the years I spent away from sitting down with a keyboard in hand have been years building up experiences that come back into the words on the page.

Cordelia Windygale:  Do you have a special place you like to write?

Jon:  Give me some good tunes and keep people the heck away from me and I am pretty much set.  Which is odd when I like to spend time in coffee shops and bars writing sometimes.  Basically, anywhere that I can become lost as a piece of the background away from all the other activity around me.

Abry:  Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Jon:  I am a creature of habit.  I have certain writing habits that I do everyday, no matter what.  The start of my writing day begins with a warm up session where I do my daily practice.  I have various things I do in that time that are based on whatever I feel like at the time, but they never touch on work within a story I am writing.  At least not in the words of the story.  I can think about the story, I can plan different aspects, but I never write anything that will be part of the story.

Before I go to work on whatever my current story is for the day, I also have a 5 minute speed session.  In that session I purge my brain of extraneous thoughts that can be anything but the work.  This is almost a meditation moment where I prepare for the work ahead.  When I get to the work of the day I am in tune with the story and able to do what I need to do that day.

I won't say this always works, but more often than not I am better prepared for what I need and want to do that day.  And I tend to be less prone to distractions while I am working.

Cordelia Windygale:  Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Jon:  Hell if I know...

Really I am a big time stream of consciousness writer and an absolute pantser.  When I sit down to write I might have a title or maybe a line of text but that's about it.  Granted when I am in the middle of a longer work then I have all the stuff from the preceding sessions.  But still, when I first start to write it is just me and the blank page.

Abry:  What books have most inspired you?

Jon:  I look at it more as stories, books seem to pigeon hole the thought a bit too much for me.  I love the stories of Lord of the Rings but hate the way JRR Tolkien wrote.  I came to those first through the cartoons of the Hobbit and Return of the King (the really great 70s versions of the cartoons).  But all that is just to be pedantic about your word choice, not necessarily what inspired me at any given time.

One of the first fantasy stories I remember reading was a book titled Sir MaChinery (can't think of the author right now).  Anyway, the gist of the story was a robotic engineer created a mechanical man that some brownies (fairy type not the ones who sell cookies) assumed was a man in armor.  They wanted the robot to carry Excalibur to defeat a great evil.  Great story for a kids boo, it's one I shared with both of my daughters.

Of course there are tons of other books that I still carry with me but if I went through all of them we wouldn't get anything else done.

Cordelia Windygale:  Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Jon:  Too many ideas.  This goes back to where do I get them right.  Ya, well, I do have a catalogue I keep of all the strange things I run across.  I pull snippets from there when I sit down to write and see where they take me.  The thing of it is, stuff jumps out at you from everywhere and it can be overwhelming when you just can't decide what to write next.  What new world do you want to explore?

Abry:  What do you think makes a good story?

Jon:  The conversation.  Once we get past the uncomfortable BS small talk we jump into a conversation that can be rich and deep.  In a way it's a bit like discovering a new friend.  The kind of friend that you don't spend time asking stupid questions of, instead you look at each other and one of you say to the other "Hey, wanna ride bikes?"

Cordelia Windygale:  Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Jon:  Bullshit answer, they're all me.  (Tells ya absolutely nothing)

Actually, I have a favorite one that pops up from time to time.  Nick the Superhero.  At times I wish I was as cool as he is, but most of the time I know I am just a dork.

Abry:  Why did you pick your particular genre:

Jon:  I write speculative fiction, did we mention this yet?  Horror, science fiction, and fantasy are within the realm of all the stuff I play around with.  It's great stuff really.  I get to do all the things I can't do in the real world.  (Cause, well, the real world sucks anyway.)

Cordelia Windygale:  What makes your books different from others out there in the genre?

Jon:  Another bullshit answer ... cause I am the person that writes them.

I know right, (what an ass).  Anyway, every writer does bring a certain bit of themselves into what it is they write.  At least at some point in life they do.  It takes time.  We all are influenced by what we see in the world around us.  Sometimes these moments will connect but the times are always so random because we all have our own special corners of the world that we claim as our own.

Fluta:  If I took a look in your refrigerator, what would I find in there?

Jon:  Depends on what one you look in, I have three.  One is a kegerator, another one is a back up fridge for overflow, and then the last one is our main fridge.  The main fridge has leftovers in it most likely.  The other two you are most likely to find booze of some sort.  It's been a bit since I have been able to brew so I am not as filled up with kegs right now.

Abry:  What can we expect from you in the future?

Jon:  Probably more of the same nonsense I do now, but hopefully better written than the place I am in now.  Everyday we should always strive to be better than the day before.

I do have a backlog of stories that still need to be cleared up a touch for public viewing.  Notable story themes include steampunk, cyberpunk, some ghouls (eaters of the dead as opposed to zombies who eat the living), who knows what else might tome about from the strange place my mind inhabits.

Cordelia Windygale:  Where can we find you?



About the author:
Jon M. Jefferson writes Speculative Fiction with forays into Noir and Bizarro.  His stories have appeared in the 2013 Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Anthology, and the Foil and Phazer Divide and Conquer Anthology.  His work can also be found on Amazon and Smashwords.
            He is a longtime fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy stories in all their forms.  He has spent most of his life looking for magic in the everyday moments of life.  He hails from the tundra of Southwest Michigan.  The monsters in his life include his wife, two daughters and a granddaughter.

1 comment:

JeriWB said...

Wow, I'm impressed that a university class is incorporating any cyberpunk or dystopia. As always, it's good to learn a bit more about an online friend and fellow writer.