Today we have author, writer, poet, and artist Jason Blacker with us. He is the author of three novels, the first of which is Dust on His Soul. His other novel, First Feature, was recently reviewed here, and there will be a giveway for First Feature at the end of this post. Now without further ado, the interview!
First I want to thank Jason for joining me and answering some questions for me and my readers. THANK YOU! Questions are in bold and Jason’s answers are in white!
Where did you get the inspiration for the character of Anthony Carrick?
I’ve loved the hard boiled detective genre ever since I took a mystery fiction class in University. In fact I wrote my first mystery short story at that time and my professor loved it and suggested that I get it published. She also gave me an A for that short story – one of the few As I ever got!
Anthony Carrick was definitely inspired by the masters in this genre like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. I just loved those hard drinking, tough talking guys who were fighting on the right side of justice and although fractured characters still held dear to their own moral compasses. So the overall genre has formed Anthony Carrick, yet he carries within him his own unique quirks and flaws.
I wouldn’t say he has been molded from anyone real or imagined, rather he developed fully formed in my mind as someone I just knew. He’s a delight to write about and he carries the story with him.
Fellini has also said that all art is autobiographical and I have to agree with that statement. So you might say that there is some of me and my experiences within Anthony Carrick. But the pure inspiration comes from my love of the genre and especially the works of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.
Do you have a writing ritual?
I wouldn’t say I have a writing ritual as much as I have a writing discipline. I find writing difficult, as a matter of fact I came up with a quote to somewhat explain the writing process for me that I put up on Goodreads. “Writing is like having your teeth extracted. It only hurts while you’re doing it.”
Now there is some tongue in cheek in their for sure, but writing for me is hard work, and as such it requires great discipline from me. When I’m ready to start writing a new book I’ll sit in my chair and write every day until I’ve written 1,000 words. I’ll do that practically every day until the book is written. Sometimes I might take a Saturday or Sunday off, but most often I keep going. The momentum for me is very important. If I take more than a couple days off I find that getting back to the writing is like swimming an ocean of treacle against the current.
Some days those 1,000 words can be done within an hour or two. Other days it can take me eight hours to write those 1,000 words.
Time of day is not important for when I write, thought I prefer to have silence but sometimes I’ll have some music playing too, depending on what I’m writing about or which scene I’m writing. For example, when Anthony Carrick is listening to some Jazz, that might be something that I’m listening to at the time.
What do you want your readers to take from your work?
Well I really hope that they just enjoy the story and the characters especially. My writing is very much about exploring character under different circumstances. For my mystery series featuring Anthony Carrick I hope that they like him, or if they don’t like him they are at least engaged with him one way or the other. I hope that they’ll come to enjoy the characters in his series as good friends that you come to know and like as the series grows.
As far as my literary writing goes, my hope with those works is to shine a light on the triumph of the human spirit. So although as in Dust on His Soul, the setting is of apartheid South Africa and the many horrible difficulties that many people had to deal with, I hope that the reader sees the ultimate triumph. I hope the reader carries with her the hope that even under dire circumstances, we are more than just our circumstances, we are spirits that can soar above that. The human spirit and trump this human experience and bring us further along the path to understanding, peace and compassion.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
My best advice that I could give to aspiring writers is to carry on writing. It might be easy for you or it might be hard but you’ll get better the more you write. If writing is like monkey on your back that you just have to do, then that’s the best you can hope for. Or if you feel like Honore de Balzac who said “I am a galley slave to pen and ink”, then you are a writer.
I’d also encourage you first and foremost to write for yourself. Write the kinds of stories you’d like to read. At the end of the day if you write about what you like there is a great chance that others will like it too.
And as much as it is getting easier to publish fiction and other written materials now via Amazon, CreateSpace and other avenues of that sort, I don’t necessarily think that everyone who wants to write for a living might be able to. Unlike becoming a teacher or a geologist where there are clearly laid out paths to that outcome and success, being an artist, a painter, a musician, writer or actor is not as clear cut. I think kismet plays a role in the arts more so than in other endeavors. So if you’re writing for yourself or what you like to read then at the very least your days and years spent with the muse will be time well spent in enjoyment.
What project are you working on next and what can we expect from you in the future?
I have 2 projects that I’m working on at the moment. The first is Second Fiddle which will be the second Anthony Carrick mystery novel where Anthony is requested to help solve the murder of a New York Philharmonic violinist. It is obviously set in New York but there are also a couple of small but important scenes in Germany. It also spans 70+ years in time. I’m hoping for this novel to be released early in 2012.
Along with that I am also writing a third literary novel which will be likely titled Red Reign. I’m exploring the idea of karma or the butterfly effect. It follows a single family and specifically the father over several years. Thing is, the story is written in reverse. So you start at the end and go back in time. The reason for this is I wanted to explore the decisions that the protagonists make and how they have real and serious consequences. Yet in telling the story backwards we finish with a deeper understanding of the effects of our causes if you will. I’m hoping that it will give the reader pause to reflect on the very real outcomes of our decisions, on cause and effect and the possibility of living a life of good karma. As all actions have reactions, all our decisions have consequences.
In the nearer term I’ll be releasing my second literary novel called Livid Blue which explores themes of forgiveness and relationships. The protagonist is on his deathbed dying from complications related to AIDS. He’s trying to cleanse his soul of his life’s baggage, a difficult life. And with the help of a psychiatrist he explores ways to forgive and move forward as one journey ends and another begins. I’m trying to ask questions about the validity of relationships and how important familial bonds are to deep and lasting relationships. And as with most of my literary work, it is also a triumph again of the human spirit over the human condition.
What are your favorite genres to read and write about?
As with my music, I have a broad taste and I just really like good writing. As I said in my advice to aspiring writers, write what you like to read, and this is true of me too. I enjoy mystery’s generally and specifically hard boiled mysteries. I absolutely love Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Currently I also really like Sue Grafton and Robert B. Parker.
I’m a fan of poetry too and I’ve enjoyed Charles Bukowski, Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman and many of the renaissance African American poets like Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks and of course Langston Hughes. I guess you could say that I’m really pulled towards folks writing about the human struggle in its varied forms.
Of course, being South African I am imbued with a love for South African literature. Some of my favorites there are Alan Paton, Nadine Gordimer, J.M. Coetzee but also K. Sello Duiker and Phaswane Mpe.
This short list would not be complete without a mention of Edgar Allan Poe, Steinbeck and of course Hemingway. These are just some of the writers whose fire I steal to start my own.
Where is the best place you’ve ever visited?
Wow, this is an especially difficult question. The short answer is the last place I’ve visited with my wife and son.
A more involved answer would likely include Santa Monica where I thought I saw Anthony Carrick walking along the pier. Carmel, La Jolla and Cardiff by the sea are all lovely little spots that have left their impression on me.
Going abroad or across the pond I’d have to say Italy is a place I love. I’ve had the chance to visit a good portion of the middle of Italy, and Napoli of course is beautiful and Vieste on the Adriatic Sea has left memories imprinted on my mind. As did the whole leisurely drive I took all the way up Abruzzi. Italy is wonderful. I loved it.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I really enjoy sports and fitness. I love squash, I find it is like an aerobic chess match. I also enjoy running up to half marathon and I enjoy general weight training and calisthenics. I think it is important for a healthy mind to dwell in a healthy body so I try to keep my body healthy.
I also enjoy coming up with and cooking different vegan meals. I love baking my own New York style bagels. Bread is the staff of life and also my weakness. I enjoy coffee intimately and roast my own coffee beans. My favorite coffees tend to be African, especially Ethiopian, but I’m also very partial to Colombian and Costa Rican coffee too.
Do you have any more stories planned for Anthony Carrick?
Absolutely, Anthony is just getting started on his journey. As mentioned above I’m working on the second Anthony Carrick mystery and there will be many more. How many? I guess when we run out of numbers to count I’ll run out of Anthony Carrick stories. In all seriousness, I do plan on continuing his series as long as he’s got stories to share with me. Probably at least for the next decade or so.
Who is your favorite writer and what is your favorite book?
Yowza, another tough question. I reserve the right to change my mind. In fact, if you asked me tomorrow I’d likely have a different answer for you. My favorite book as I think of it now is probably Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. My favorite writer is probably Chuck Palahniuk at the moment.
I want to thank Jason again for joining me and offering up First Feature as a giveaway. For more information on Jason and to find out more about his work and his books, please visit his website: http://jasonblacker.com
You can purchase his books here:
Money Ain’t Nothing | First Feature | Dust on His Soul
A high profile Hollywood producer lies bludgeoned to death.
In the quiet upscale neighborhood of Beverly Hills, a prominent movie producer lies dead, bludgeoned to death by his own Oscar. Was it a botched robbery or something far more sinister?
Tinsel Town’s facade is rotten underneath.
What lies beneath the luxurious facade of Hollywood is a rotting immorality. Sex for hire, drug abuse, and disintegrating family values combine to ignite explosive consequences.
A half billion dollar estate is up for grabs.
A $500 million estate and everyone wants a piece. Could there be clues in the will to help private detective Anthony Carrick on his quest to uncover the murderer and stop the tabloids from unearthing the dirt?
Drug addled neophytes, nymphomaniacs and mafia all could gain.
First Feature is the first Anthony Carrick mystery. Meet this hard boiled detective as he fights against time to uncover a murder, while juggling mafia lords, drug addled neophytes, nymphomaniacs, gay counterculture, vegan hippies and tinsel town’s dark side in the midst of his own personal turmoil.
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The giveaway will run until Midnight on June 16
The winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be picked
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Filed in: Giveaway, Interview, Prize Tags: Books, Giveaway, Interview