Saturday, December 10, 2011

J.P. Kurzitza: The IAN Interview

I’m a procrastinator by nature, so when I took on the responsibility of being a Stay-At-Home-Dad (SAHD), I was forced to “grow up” and learn to keep things organized. I have no doubt that this was a major contributing factor to me becoming an author.

In my spare time I enjoy scrubbing toilets, washing dishes, and changing diapers (it’s funny what types of activities give you enjoyment once you become a SAHD). I also enjoy all major sports, I’m a huge movie buff, and I like messing around with Photoshop—sure helps with designing book covers.

One thing about me that will probably make other authors cringe is the fact that I really don’t like to read. I know it sounds sacrilegious or counter-productive to being a writer, and I realize that the #1 piece of (erroneous) advice successful authors always give is “read, read, read”, but I just don’t believe this at all. And I’m the perfect example that you don’t have to be an avid reader in order to become a successful writer. Don’t get me wrong, I do read, just not excessively. I simply don’t find it very entertaining. Writing, on the other, is something I find extremely entertaining and fulfilling, and would gladly spend hours a day doing it.

IAN. Hi J.P. Welcome to the IAN blog. Please tell us a bit about the J.A.S.O.N. D. series.

JPK. I’ll begin by summing up the J.A.S.O.N.D. book series with one synopsis sentence: 6 teenaged boys, mysteriously connected to each other and to mythological folklore, must rid the world of an untold evil.

The first book in the J.A.S.O.N.D. series (an acronym for the last 6 months of the year, July – December) is aptly title July, and covers events that transpire during this month. The story begins with a boy with a tragic past—Jason Dee—who, while attending the funeral of his late great-grandfather, discovers that he is more than what he appears to be, and that his name is no ordinary name. Jason recently lost his father and one of his arms in a freak accident that left him depressed and questioning his own worth. He soon discovers that the most profound worth usually resides from within, rather than on the exterior.

The story continues with Jason discovering another boy sharing the same name and last initial as him, and together they are thrown into a mythical world of mystery, danger, and adventure. As events begin to unfold that affirm the slow rising of an absolute evil, Hell-bent on reigning over both the real world and the Myth realm, Jason realizes that each month another Jason D. must be found, and that only through their combined powers, attributed by their respective astrological signs, will they ever have a chance at victory.

IAN. How long did it take to write July?

JPK. I always tell people that this first book was my “learn-as-I-go” book. I had no concept of pace, or organizational skills, or writing voice, or even how to type properly. So all that, coupled with the fact that I needed to come up with the entire series story before beginning each individual book, took about 4 years. I am thrilled to say that since finding my writing voice and learning to type much faster, my following books will be churned out much quicker.

IAN. What inspired you to write the the JASON series?

JPK. Two things. The first: my boys. I always noticed while I perused the YA section in bookstores that almost every book—according to the book covers—seemed to deal with themes relating more to young women. That frustrated me and still does, so I wanted to write books that not only anyone could enjoy, but particularly boys. Enough with the video games, lets get them reading more!

The second thing was my name. It’s Jason, and at a very early age I saw a pattern with the last several months of the year. If you abbreviated July through November just using the first letters of each, it spelt JASON—me. I though that was so cool growing up, and was convinced that this must have meant something special. So when I started developing the idea for my book series, I figured I’d tighten things up a bit and include the month of December in with the rest, and use it as the initial for the last names. Everything sort of ballooned from that point on.

IAN. Talk about the writing process. Do you write at night or in the morning?

JPK. Because I’m a SAHD, the evenings are always more productive. But now that I’ve figured things out as for as how to write and publish, I’ve also begun writing in the early mornings, too. This way I’m hoping to double my output and therefore release more novels quicker.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

JPK. Oooh yeah—I’m a huge outline guy. In fact, you might say I’m a bit fanatical about it. When I plan, I usually plan 3 chapters at a time before I continue writing. Each chapter is broken down into roughly 3 scenes that I develop before even attempting to write. My goal for each chapter is generally between 3000-3700 words.

I even wrote a free e-book for aspiring and seasoned writers alike on how to organize a taut fiction story using two proven story templates I developed. If it weren’t for such organizational techniques as well as some great free authoring software that was extremely handy, I’d probably still be working on chapter 1!

IAN. How is your book different from others in your genre?

JPK. It’s totally original. I know everyone says that, but it is. Although the mythological and astrological themes may have been written about already, my months-of-the-year idea and how I incorporate that and intertwine it all with the other themes is truly unique and, frankly, a bit complicated.

Also, I don’t know of many protagonist heroes with a handicap or obvious physical deformity. I wanted to put my character behind the eight-ball right off the hop, and make him very sympathetic. That’s not to imply that amputees are not capable, contributing members of society, but when you’re facing a giant at the gates of Hades, or trying to scale Mt. Olympus with one arm, things get a bit tricky. You truly do wonder how this boy could ever get through some of the circumstances he gets into in the book.

IAN. Is “July” published in print, e-book or both?

JPK. It is currently only available as an e-book. To be honest, I’ve never even tried to submit my manuscript to an agent or publishing house. The way the publishing world is shifting and with the ease and speed that I’m able to develop, publish, and distribute my books, not mention all the control I have, I don’t know that I’ll ever go the traditional route. But let’s be frank, money does talk…

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

JPK. A sense of excitement and an insatiable appetite for more. That’s ultimately what we as writers want from our readers—we want them wanting more. We want them to want to keep reading and find out what happens next. I don’t want my readers to have to put down my story when they take the bus, or go to the school concert, or go to the bathroom. I want them wanting more!

IAN. Which writers have influenced you the most?

JPK. No question J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer, not so much for what they’ve written, which itself is amazing, but more for who they were before they became successful.

I can relate to Meyer a bit better, simply because of her life as a stay-home-mom with 3 boys and me being a dad to three boys at the time. She was a huge inspiration to me during those early days when maybe I complained about not having enough time to work on my craft.

And J.K. Rowling, because she literally had nothing at one point in her life, other than an extraordinary idea, and the unyielding will and desire to see it through. There’s no way she could have foreseen her stories pulling her out of poverty and making her hugely successful. She obviously had a passion for writing and creating rich characters and stories as evident by her famous writing marathons in coffee shops and at her flat. She is an extreme example of what perseverance can do.

IAN. Where can we go to buy “July”?

JPK. My website, and follow the links.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

JPK. My next book is the sequel to July—book #2 in the series—and I am currently writing Ch. 6 of the first draft. Following the theme of J.A.S.O.N.D. and the months of the year, it’s aptly titled August, and should be out sometime in 2012. My goal is to have both August and September finished in 2012. If I can spew out 3000 words/ writing-day, I don’t see that goal being unrealistic.

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?

JPK. Please become a follower of me on Twitter @JPKurzitza. Also, please become a fan and “Like” me on Facebook.

July J.A.S.O.N.D Book 1 by J.P. Kurzitza

YA Fantasy

Purple Punk Publishing

Ch. 8 – The Hooded Man

I rolled over, burying my face in what I thought was my pillow, then sat up instantly, spitting and coughing out sand. I gasped for a breath that was half sand, half air, and tried to gain a sense of what was going on. The side of my head throbbed painfully, and I ran my hand over a large bump that stuck out through my hair.

‘I must have fallen…’ I murmured to myself, struggling to get my bearings.

I was huddled up against the base of a large sand dune, underneath a flat-rock that was protruding from the center of it. The sun was gone and the sky was now a deep navy blue that gradually blended into a light pink on the east horizon.

What time was it? How long had I been out?

I looked at my watch and saw the date and time frozen on the face—11:36 am, with yesterday’s date—about the time I had transported from the mansion to the Acclamo.

My chest felt like an extreme pressure was crushing it, and finding a good breath was becoming more difficult. How far had I walked? Was I even going in the right direction? As hard as I strained, I couldn’t remember anything. I glanced at my throbbing feet; dark red stains on the soles of my socks were caked with sand and grit. Yet when I tried to stand up, it wasn’t my feet that made me lurch with pain, but rather my neck, face, and arm.

I ran my hand gingerly over my neck and face and felt the raised blisters and peeling skin caused by over exposure to the desert sun. The pale light of dawn made my skin look a deep sickly purple, and I tried not to think about how badly I was burnt.

I stuck my hand in my pocket, feeling the coin that the Hailer had given me, and the need to keep going was re-kindled. It was becoming imperative that I find another whistle before the sun came up, because I knew my body was in no condition to withstand another assault from the desert sun.

I limped out from around the dune, looking around me, trying to recall the heading I was on yesterday. The sun was at my back for most of yesterday, and now the ever brightening pink sky was ahead of me, so I continued toward it. The wide open landscapes and panoramas of yesterday were long gone, as the sand dunes gradually gave way to mountain valleys and narrow, rocky passageways.

Going around any rocky embankment would surely slow me down, which I could not afford, so I continued along a sandy trail that led directly between two large hills. Each step my feet took made me shudder. It felt like my heel bones were wearing through the skin. And the constant gusts of sandy wind against my tender burns felt as though I was being flogged with pins.

When I reached a tight passageway, the winds slowed and everything went dead quiet. I stopped halfway through and stared ahead, uneasy about the sudden stillness. With towering mounds of sand and rock flanking me and the morning sky still an hour away, I had no choice but to continue through.

As I approached the end of the trail, I could see a crude sign fashioned out of a plank of wood that stuck haphazardly to a dead tree trunk.

Bartering Bridge—1 mile.

The trail opened up to a vast expanse with nothing around except small dunes and scattered rocks along the horizon. Ahead in the distance I could see two orange lights flickering in the wind. I tried to quicken my pace but my feet wouldn’t cooperate. As the orange lights drew closer and the sound of voices grew louder, I started to run, despite my raw feet. The lights were in fact torches, and suspended between them some ten feet up was a large sign carved in bold letters: Bartering Bridge.

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