Meet the Author: Jason Koivu
Happy Friday Eve Everyone!
I’m on cloud nine right now. I took off Valentine’s day and have Monday off, so I’m excited for a lot of time to myself to work on reading, writing, and destressing. Gotta love staycations, right?
Anywho, I’m back again with another author interview today, this time with Jason Koivu, fantasy author of the Beyond Barlow series.
Jason contacted me directly about an author interview, and when he told me he was a fantasy author I just had to jump on the opportunity. I’ve been looking forward to getting to know him better, so let’s get into things, shall we?
I grew up in rural Massachusetts, where I received a degree in English. After moving from coast to coast and doing a hundred and one different kinds of jobs, I finally settled down in California and began writing seriously in my late 30s…or maybe it was early 40s. Who knows! The older you get, the more it all becomes a blur!
Hi Jason, thanks so much for stopping by. To keep things interesting, I like to ask my interviewees a random question to get the blood flowing.
Through an unknown magic you are teleported to the world of a book you’ve recently read. Where have you ended up?
Amongst the treacherous Melnibonean sorcerers of the Dragon Isle.
I actually didn’t catch the reference on this one, but it sounds both exciting and terrifying!
I would be transported to the world of Watchmen. No doubt I would be a kick-butt superhero with some stellar abilities!
Jason and the Writing Process
For starters, tell us a little bit about your writing.
I started out self-publishing some travel journal stuff after my wife and I went to Oaxaca in 2014. It was a great trip to a wonderful place. I wanted to write about all the amazing things we did and saw, so I kept a daily diary and that eventually was turned into a book. A couple years after that I secured a contract with a publisher and since then I’ve mainly been working on my fantasy series.
Oh wow, that’s a really interesting combination! Kudos on writing in a variety of genres!
I mainly write variations of the fantasy genre as well as scifi, LGBT, and supernatural.
How do you find inspiration to write?
I grew up in the country and loved taking hikes in the woods. I would play D&D indoors on rainy days. This combination sparked a love of the natural world and supernatural possibilities, which to this day continue to provide me with inspiration.
I couldn’t agree with you more. There’s so much inspiration in the world, we just have to look around us. I’m a sucker for beautiful landscapes and make sure I travel several times a year, even if only to clear my head in the wilderness or an exciting new city.
You know, I’ve played D&D too, and I absolutely love it! I just wish I had the time to keep doing it.
What kind of setting do you write in most times?
I write in a number of different settings and I try to switch them up throughout the day, if possible. At my house, I’ll sit at the dinner table or stand at the kitchen counter with my laptop. Writing is not a particularly active endeavor, so if I can find a place to stand for a bit, I will. When the washing machine isn’t running, it makes a nice work surface. I’ll even stand at coffee shops if they have a bar.
My favorite brewpub down the street has a nice corner spot at the bar where I can be out of the way and also give my butt a break for the length of a pint or two. Writing in public isn’t ideal, because of the distractions, but over the years I’ve developed a fair ability to block out extraneous noise.
Wow, major props to you! I’m not the best at switching up my writing atmosphere. I switch off between work (I get there super early before anyone is there) and at home in my bedroom at my desk, but it’s always quiet or I have ambient music on to get me in the mood.
I should definitely give writing in public a try, even if just to build up my ability to block out noise.
I always find it interesting how authors and bloggers alike lead multiple lives. What is your dayjob? Do you enjoy it?
I run the photo booth part of my wife’s photography company. I enjoy it, because it’s the only job I’ve had where everyone is happy to be there and having a good time…well, aside from the husbands and boyfriends that don’t want to have their picture taken, but who get dragged in front of the camera anyhow. I do only a few events per month, so that gives me lots of time to write.
Oh my gosh, I’m so jealous! That sounds like an extremely healthy job to have and a great environment.
I work for a corporate legal firm, so tensions tend to run high most times. That being said, the extra tension does actually help my writing sometimes.
Why do you write?
There’s an urgency within that propels me. I feel like I have to do it. If I don’t write one day, the urge to write the next day is almost overwhelming. These days I can’t even go on a trip without bringing my laptop and doing at least some work along the way.
I am right there with you. I write at least six days a week, and it really gives me a sense of purpose. Yes, it sucks juggling so many things as we all do, but writing is my passion and every day I get to work towards it.
Oh, I always travel with my laptop. Definitely a necessity!
What is your favorite part of writing?
Putting together a nice scene, one that flows well and perhaps even surprises me with its fluidity. When a character forces me to change my outline to accommodate their natural desires and tendencies. Also, just having the opportunity to write. These are all favorites of mine.
Great answer! There really is something special about a scene unfolding naturally and feeling that spark of inspiration. Sometimes I’ll write a scene, then look over it later expecting it to be crap, but I’ll surprise myself a good deal of the time and think “Wow, you’re actually pretty good!”
I deeply enjoy plotting out scenes, especially when they come to me easily. Aside from that, one of my favorites is when the pantster in me comes out (which isn’t all that often) and everything just comes together in a new but better way.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Right now, I’m doing marketing for The Rue of Hope, book two in my Beyond Barlow fantasy series. I’m not terribly fond of promotion, so while I’m doing that, I still set aside time every day to work on book three. Being a shill saps the soul. For me, writing replenishes it.
Oh, I hear you. Promotion is aw-ful, but necessary. I like the balance that you are going for. It can be hard to keep up with, but in the end I think authors like us are all the better for making it work.
If you could give advice to new writers, what would you say?
Read and write. Write, then read. Rinse and repeat.
Wow, are we related or something? This has been a mantra of mine for some time now. To me, reading replenishes the creative juices, which fuels the writing. One cannot exist without the other.
What are some of the challenges you face as a writer?
Self-doubt. Most days are fine, but every once in a while I’ll have one of those days where it feels like everything I write or have written is shit. This horrible feeling passes within a day and I move on.
Self-doubt is definitely a part of being a writer. Everyone has an off day where they’re just not feeling it, but powering through really shows resiliency, and that’s what matters. I can sooo relate to that challenge as well.
Fun Facts About Jason
Could you tell us a couple fun facts about you?
I’ve driven across the United States, from coast to coast, five times. I’m not sure if the worst job I’ve ever had was shoveling cow manure at 6am or cleaning the grease out of the oven hoods at restaurants at 2am. At one time I owned a music store, selling cds and records. The best part was having live in-store punk shows.
Whoa, that’s a mighty amount of traveling. Kudos! The past three or four years, I’ve made a big point of travelling to new places to broaden my horizons. Plus, it’s just great to travel.
Oh no, those jobs really sound awful! I don’t think I have anything that comes close to those.
Wow, that’s really amazing. I am obsessed with music and very eclectic, so I bet owning that store really expanded your mind!
Who are your favorite writers?
John Steinbeck, J.R.R. Tolkien, PG Wodehouse, John Le Carre, Jane Austen, George R.R. Martin, Lawrence Block, Bernard Cornwell, Nathaniel Philbrick, Bill Bryson, Patrick O’Brian, William Faulkner, and a bunch more that I’m forgetting.
Haha, yeah, there’s too many favorites to count for me as well. Some random favorites that come to mind for me are Teri Polen, Emerald Dodge, KA Applegate (because Animorphs of course!), and VE Schwab.
What are you reading now?
Out of the Abyss, a 5th edition D&D game book that rehashes the legendary drow.
Oh wow, sounds extremely entertaining. Back in high school I read a bunch of Forgotten Realms books, especially the ones with Drizzt as the main character. LOVE drow.
Jason and His Works
Tell us about your new book.
The Rue of Hope is a fantasy-mystery in which an impulsive street-fighter named Ford Barlow works to sort out his life, while trying to get his rogue friend out of trouble. She might be committing murders and the way things are going, he just might kill someone, too. Mercenary work for a mage meant to distance Ford from his troubles only highlights his selfish ways and drives him back into a crumbling world of fire, flood and betrayal.
You sure have a way with words. This book sounds right up my alley! I’ll definitely have to check the first one out as well.
How did you come up with the title for this book?
Rue is used as a double meaning here. Aside from “rue the day,” it is also the name of a flower. Taking that, I created a flower with magical properties called the rue of hope. My main character comes to rue the notion of hope throughout the book, since hope seems to have abandoned him.
Very poetic. I love how you came up with this name, and it’s extremely original. Can’t get much better than that!
What inspired you to write this book in particular? Is it part of a series?
The Rue of Hope sprang out of a short story I wrote back in 2009: a little adventure tale set in a forest. I surrounded that story with a larger plot and more characters. The essence of the short story is now a chapter in the middle of the book. After finishing the book, I decided I wanted to get to know the main character, so I wrote a sort of prequel called Beyond Barlow, which became book one. The Rue of Hope was then revised and made into book two.
I’m so happy that your short story turned into so much more. Sometimes the smallest of ideas turn into epic, unforgettable quests. Congrats!
Alright, so it looks like we’re out of time. Bummer, I know! What other projects do you have in store for the world to see in the future?
I’m working on book three in the series. This one takes Ford on a longer journey than he’s been on thus far. Plenty of adventure! I’m having a good time writing it!
Awesome, I’m glad you’re continuing your story. I will definitely be keeping my eye on future works of yours. Thanks so much for sharing all of this with us today.
That’s a Wrap!
All righty book worms, that wraps up my interview with Jason. I had a great time getting to know him better, and I hope you enjoyed the experience too!
If you’d like to learn more about Jason and his work, he can be reached at the social media links provided below.
Thank you for stopping by, and have a great day!
Social Media Links
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