Hello everyone! Today I am interviewing Jason R. Koivu, member of Indie Eden Book Club and author of Beyond Barlow, a fantasy novel about a young man who must try to right a terrible wrong without losing himself and his moral compass in the process.
Let’s see what Jason has to say about his book, and about his writing process.
Hi Jason! First things first: What is the one question that you wish people would ask you about Beyond Barlow? (And what is the answer?)
“What was that scary creature that Kellen and Ford found in the cage?” It was only a hairless raccoon, but boy howdy are those things freaky! I like to occasionally use real-life things and play if off as fantasy in my work to see if the reader notices, and because Twain’s saying that truth is stranger than fiction often rings true.
If I may take this question and run with it, one of my favorite things to be asked is “What happened to (character)?” Occasionally characters exit Beyond Barlow under mysterious circumstances and I love it when a reader wants to know what happened to them. It shows I made that character into some semblance of living flesh with the capability of garnering compassion.
Great answers! Now which typical author interview question do you hate the most?
Oh, I don’t hate any of them! –well okay, if I hear “When’s the next book coming out?” one more time I’m gonna to straight up shiv a fool!– but no, hate is a strong word.
Haha I’m sure the rest of us authors can relate to that! So, concentrating on your current book, can you give us a short description of Beyond Barlow?
My adventure fantasy, Beyond Barlow, follows a young man as he attempts to right a terrible wrong he has committed. His path to redemption is waylaid by bandits. This is not an entirely bad thing, but one wonders if it will prevent him from doing the right thing.
Is there any famous author that inspires you, or that you admire?
Patrick O’Brian, best known for his Master & Commander seafaring series, has been a tremendous influence on my storytelling. Perhaps he’s not well-known enough to be considered “famous,” so I’ll include Jane Austen, William Faulkner and John Steinbeck as well. If I could ever attain anything close to the lyrical, yet precise prose and razor-sharp plotting of such folks I would be a happy boy.
Your book is in the fantasy genre. What drew you to this genre? Do you also like to read fantasy novels?
R. R. Tolkien’s books and Dungeons & Dragons attracted me to fantasy at a very young age. It could have been sci-fi or horror or something else, but they got to me first. The strange thing is, I don’t read a lot of fantasy. Of course, I’ve read and reread Lord of the Rings, and I’ve also enjoyed the popular ones that everyone seems to have read, like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. Then throw in a few from the likes of Le Guin, Hickman & Weis, Abercrombie, and Salvatore to round it out. However, I like a wide variety of books. English classics, early American writers, mysteries and detective fiction, history, comedy, and biography, it’s all too wonderful to set aside for any one category.
Wow, what a diverse range of interests! You sound like a very well-rounded reader. Speaking about your own writing, though, who is your target audience for Beyond Barlow? What do you think will appeal to them about your book?
People who want a down to earth fantasy about common folk living in a world where magic is still precious and wondered at, but not unheard of.
When you write a book, do you plan out everything beforehand, or do you let the story follow its own course?
Outlines R Us is the name of my books in pre-published form. I learned early on that I need to know where I’m going or otherwise I meander and eventually forget what the point of the whole thing was. However, I leave enough latitude within scenes, even whole chapters, so that my imagination has plenty of elbow room.
That sounds like a good strategy! Do you have any quirky writing habits?
I write all over the house. I’ve got a desk, but I’ll also write standing at the kitchen counter or laid out on the bed. I have more than a half dozen writing spots. I do this to stave off atrophy and butt sores. Once you understand why it doesn’t seem so quirky, but I’ll bet my neighbors think I’m nuts for standing at the dryer in the back porch for hours.
I have to admit the “butt sores” part just made me laugh… haha! Any writing tips for other writers? (Aside from how to stave off butt sores? :P)
Read and write. When you’re finished, do it some more. It’s practice for your craft, which will not improve without it.
What would you say is the best way to market your book? With which method have you had the most success so far?
My book is best marketed by people other than myself. I’m the worst salesman I’ve ever met. When I do give it a go I find that interaction with readers works well via interviews like this or through social media.
That’s understandable: writers aren’t always the best salesmen! (Plus I think most of us would just prefer to write.) Thanks for sharing, Jason, and for giving us a look at your writing process!
Jason R. Koivu graduated from Fitchburg State College with a degree in professional writing and went on to write for various newspapers before moving from Massachusetts to Los Angeles to try his hand at screenwriting. Eventually he realized what he probably knew within all along, that novel writing was his true calling.
About the Book:
Ford Barlow is banished from his home and the clansmen he loves after a tragic mistake that forces him into joining a band of thieving boys. Adventure and fun abound and it seems Ford has found a perfectly fine new home until a mysterious massacre chases the boys away from their beloved woodland hideaway, through a magical and dangerous forest, and into the arms of conniving bandits. These vicious men and his inner conscience push Ford to the brink of his moral limits in Beyond Barlow.