Collaborative Writing Challenge

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
― Helen Keller

Author Spotlight: 
March 2017 
Jason Pere

Every month I like to shine the spotlight on one of our participating writers. This month I am pleased to introduce Jason Pere. Jason has had not one but two chapters selected to start our collaborations, and has contributed to all but the pilot project. Learn more about Jason from the short interview below. 

1. What made you start writing?

I would say that it was a fear of death, or rather the fear of leading a life of no consequence or significance. From a very young age as early as six I was terrified of the idea of dying. I spent far longer than any child should spend contemplating ways to cheat death and live forever. Eventually I came to the acceptance that I would one day die so I wanted to leave something behind that was not subject to the laws of flesh and blood. For most I think that the concept of a legacy is a family and while not opposed to such a notion I wanted to accomplish more with my limited time than simply perpetuating the circle of life. I chased fame for a while, a long while. I fixated on pursuing acting and movie stardom. That seemed like a good way to cement something that would last past my own mortality. From age thirteen and for a full decade after that I trained in film, theater and stage. Sadly it never went anywhere while I had natural talents for drama I did not have the drive to push myself to past the point where things became difficult. I suffered from a terminal case of entitlement thinking that I was above paying my dues as a starving artist. Life continued to happen. Life also continued to be unremarkable. I spent so much time leaning on others hoping to ride their coat tails to loftier station that I squandered a lot of potential. It was after a life altering trauma that my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I endured that I soon decided that I would no longer pin my success on others. I refocused my efforts and took stock of what I could do to accomplish something extraordinary. As much as I loathed writing in grade school and battled for every word on an assigned paper I settled on writing. It was a place where I could bring the full weight of my creativity and imagination to bear and I had nobody else that I had to depend on to produce something. It was just me, a pen and a blank page. I found that notion very comforting. I set myself the goal of being able to say “I am a published author.” and I made a plan to attain that goal. I started writing a couple poems a day and four hundred words rain or shine and then in the month of November in the Year 2012 I published “Modern Knighthood”. Ultimately that book was for me. So that I could break off a little piece of forever for myself.

2. Do you use good old fashioned pen and paper or your computer? 

I use a pen a paper when I am without the convenience of modern technology. Today if I have a poem or short piece of fiction pop into my head, I will grab a piece of scrap paper but for the most part my laptop and I are conjoined twins. I wrote my first book by hand. It took up about three one subject notebooks by the time I was finished. I enjoyed how organic and “real” it felt to write by hand. The trouble came when it was time to begin transcribing all that text over to electronic medium. After doing that I decided that was the first, last, and only time I would ever write a full book by hand.

3. How did you feel when your writing was first acknowledged?

There was a tremendous sense of validation for me. It was always nice to hear, “Good job” form friends and family when it came to my writing but getting recognition form people in the publishing world was a whole new level of accomplishment. I feel very much at home putting my writing into competitive events. I think that organizations like the CWC are going to rise in prominence in the years to come. Now that we live in a day and age where anyone can publish a book, I think that completive mediums are essential to help separate quality literature from incomprehensible drivel. I do not see myself leaving the completive writing circuit anytime soon, especially if my material continues to win and I keep getting recognition.

4. What are you currently working on?

I have a post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure that is in the late stages of publication and will be released in the very near future. It is a story that begs the question, “If America had the chance to reinvent it’s government after a total collapse of the country as we know it, would the nation seize the opportunity and if so, what would that look like?”. This novel is titled, “World After Death”.

I also have a second children’s story in the works. That centers around a remarkably courageous stuffed duck who protects a young boy form some of the ugly truths about his parents messy divorce.

I am also working on an anthology of some of my 100 words short fiction pieces.

Then, of course I have about a flibbityjillion collaborative writing projects that I am co-authoring or contributing material to.

5. How did you find writing a chapter for CWC, was it what you expected?

It was not far from the mark. I have a large well of experience in improvisational theater to draw upon so picking up a story mid stride and leaving room for others to build upon is not foreign territory for me.

6. Where is your favorite place to write, and why?

Clearly for creative literary pursuits, I favor my personal library that is situated between the fitness center and private theater in my luxurious gothic inspired family manor that rests comfortably in the majestic woodland along the northeastern Atlantic coastline.

Once that that stops being a dream, it will be my favorite place to create fiction. For now I will settle for my home office or kitchen table. So long as it is quiet and free of distraction I am happy to write most anywhere warm and comfortable.

7. What do you consider your best work to date? Tell us a little about it?

I would say that “Calling the Reaper” is my stand out. It is my first experience committing to a full length novel and I am proud of the accomplishment. I am fond of some of the unique elements I was able to present readers with. The concept of “Interlude” texts between chapters and building a sense of a “Unified Anthology” were particularly noteworthy elements of the book. I also enjoyed the rich character creation and building real complex people with deeply layer morality and conflicts. The history and overlying theology of “Purgatory” is also something that I think is a strong draw for readers.

8. You have now had numerous chapters selected for CWC novels. Congratulations, how do you approach the task at hand, and which story did you enjoy working on the most?

First off, thank you. The challenges is never the same twice but I have some “go to” methods. Sometimes I get lucky and I just know exactly what I want to do. I will be able to sit down and pump out 2,500 words in not time. On other weeks it is not so easy. If I feel a little lost or disconnected form the story, I will scour the reference notes and chapter summaries for one hanging plot thread or something that I can strongly connect to and I will build my entire piece around that single element. I find that this happens more and more frequently as collaborative novels develop since the story naturally gravitates more towards continuity and explanation than creativity and world building in later chapters.

9. You had a starter chapter selected for Army of Brass. How does it feel to watch your story unfold?

I must admit it is a grand feeling to have the collaborative team continued to gravitate towards my work. As with “Wytch Born” there is a double edged sword in play as I am a spectator to my creative brain child’s growth, On the one had there is an inevitable degree of ownership I feel and when the story takes a twist or turn that I would not have made myself or when I see a tantalizing opportunity for a plotline to be expanded upon get missed, I feel a little glum. On the other hand I am thrilled to see how other authors take the very limited framework of a story that I provided and continue to develop a rich and powerful sweeping narrative. I never hate it when there is a pleasant surprise or some ingenious story telling for me to read on a Friday when one talented author get their submission added to the text. I realize I’m not the only author with a splendid imagination.

10. You are CWC veteran. What do you enjoy most about collaborating in this way?

I only have to write one or two days a year and pick up another author credit in a traditionally published novel. That sentiment is not too much of a jest. I enjoy the low pressure atmosphere of the CWC and the fact that I get to work with a great host of other talented artists. The connections, professional working relationships and friendships that I have made as a result of the organization are a high point for me.

11. If you could give just once piece of advice to upcoming writers, what would it be?

Write, write and then write some more. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s terrible just pack some text on that blank page and sort it out later. I have been in a situation where I had to write a scene that I felt totally out of my depth with and I just vomited words on paper. I felt like I was composing something that could be best described as Klingon Erotica at the time but when I came back and read it several weeks later I was very surprised at how well put together it seemed. If my “Suck it up and just do it” approach was not what you wanted to hear then I will also recommend, finding yourself a writers group. Actually I can’t recommend that enough. Having other supportive authors, writers and readers are about as essential as the alphabet for an aspiring author. Online, social media and even a good old fashion library are fantastic ways to connect with people that are probably all too willing to help make you a better writer.

12. What is your preferred Genre to read and write?

Fantasy, by far and away. I enjoy the fact that it is arguably the most imagination and least fact driven of genres. When you can just make up whatever you want for your world it really helps give you the freedom to break all the rules and get away with it. I’m in favor of all things that let a writer spend more time writing and less time researching.

13. Inspiration point: Write 100 - 300 words of fiction using this randomly generated word - Cube.

Four walls, a ceiling and a floor. This was all that I knew of the world. I lived in a cube. A prisoner, bound to serve a sentence without end for an offense that I do not understand. When the warden comes he only ever speaks one phrase. When he says “You are different,” I cannot tell if that is an accusation or a question. Either way, I know that I am being punished. I only wished I knew why. It seems that every day the cube grows smaller. I am suffocated by its encroaching walls as I am smothered by hateful neglect of my captors. The cube it my tomb, though as I breath I do not rest in peace. One day soon I will know rest eternal, then hate harbored if fearful harts nor walls of cold unforgiving stone shall be able to bind me. I will take flight and oh, how high I shall soar.

14. What is your favorite book and why?

In all honesty I cannot say I have a favorite book. There is nothing that jumps out at me and screams, favorite, to me. There are a number of books that I have enjoyed, form Brian Jacques Redwall books to David Gemmell’s Drenai Saga and then to The Poetic Edda and Hagakure. Then of course I delight in the writings of many of my contemporary independent authors and unsung heroes of modern publishing, like Kathrin Hutson. Let’s just say that in terms of my favorite book, I have not written it yet!

15. Where can our readers find you?

When I find myself I will let you know but in the meantime here are a few places you can follow my adventures and exploits.

If you are interested in taking part in one of our projects, sign up now to reserve your place.