Interview with Jason Brant, author of Echoes and Gehenna
Posted by cynthiashepp
For the last week I have been talking about this great interview with Jason Brant that I am going to post today. Today is finally here and it was worth the wait! Jason Brant is the self-published author of two wonderful books, Echoes and Gehenna. I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing them both, and I cannot wait for the next book of his to come out. I have gotten to know Jason a little bit in this interview process and I hope that you enjoy his wit and sense of humor as much as I do. I will post links to his books after the interview and I hope that you all will take a chance on at least one of his books today. You cannot go wrong with either one! Please leave your comments below for Jason, or the interview, or my bad questions lol. Show some support for Indie authors and make him feel welcomed on this page. I will stop my blathering now and let Jason take the stage. This was Jason’s first EVER interview and I am so excited that I am the one that got to do it. =)
Jason, I love your books but I know you just recently started writing. What did you do before you decided to become an author?
I did contract work as a Digital Forensic Analyst for the Department of Defense. It sounds more important than it actually is. Basically I broke into computers and looked for naughty things. I’ve also done IT work, and home theater installations. I tried to become a porn star after I quit, but for whatever reason my wife didn’t like that idea.
I asked around to a few different authors for interview advice and Elle Casey suggested asking “Why do you write?” So Jason, why do you write?
After the porn career idea was shot down I had to come up with something else. Writing seemed like a natural transition from pornography, so here I am. Actually, I have a degree in film and television production and was all set to move to L.A. (not for porn, really!), but I met my wife a few months before graduation. I decided to forgo that career to stay back East with her. Though I didn’t go into the business, I have a serious passion for movies and books that never went away. Writing novels isn’t too far from writing screenplays, and with the digital book revolution ongoing, I decided to throw my hat on the pile.
I read on an advice for interviews blog that most authors hate to be asked how they get their ideas…why do you think that is?
If I had to guess, it’s probably because most authors are turds, e.g. Elle Casey. Writers are like anyone else, and most people happen to be turds. Look at me – I’m an author, and I’m a turd. That question might bother some people, because they don’t know how to answer it. Sometimes ideas just pop in there, which is usually the case with me.
Lol…where do you get your ideas?
I have no clue. I wish I could say it was from all the cocaine I do, but I typically just blackout after a few lines. Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve had ideas hit me while sitting in traffic, from dreams, people watching, and pretty much any other random thing you can think of.
The first book I read of yours was Echoes. My favorite character in that book was Nami. Is her character based on anyone you know? How about Ash and Sammy?
Yup. Nami is based on a friend and former co-worker of mine. If you can imagine hanging out with Nami for a day, then you know what my life was like for several years. My friend isn’t a secret agent, and doesn’t shoot Desert Eagle’s, but everything else is very close. She’s a blast to have around, and was gracious enough to allow me to use her likeness in Echoes. The back and forth relationship that Ash and Nami have is very similar to our friendship. And yes, she swears that goddamn much.
Ash is an amalgamation (I’m smrt!) of the experiences of several people. My brother has a purple heart from one of his tours in Iraq, and I used quite a bit of the shit he went through to form Ash’s personality, angst, and opinions. My own experiences working with the government were also thrown in there. Because you read my blog, you’ve probably figured out that his smart ass attitude is from me.
Sammy isn’t really based on anyone in particular. A few of the ridiculous things she said are based on conversations I had with people, but that’s about it.
I have to know because I just died laughing during Echoes: Where did you come up with some of the sayings in the book, such as ‘Holy F*** Balls’ and ‘Kicked in the fart box’?
I say ludicrous crap all the time. Taking two unrelated vulgarities and combing them into one is something I do quite a bit. And balls works with just about anything. Add that to a character like Nami, and hilarity ensues. I’m sure that I picked up on some of the crazy things that the real life “Nami” says too.
The paranormal twist in Echoes was unique in a sea of all the paranormal out there, especially as this book is listed as an action/thriller. Do you consider Echoes in the paranormal genre? What made you want to write a book (Gehenna) in the paranormal genre? Are your following books going to stay in that genre or are you planning to branch out?
I struggled with how to categorize Echoes when I released it. Ultimately, I decided not to list it in any paranormal genres because it just didn’t seem to fit. Ash does have a special ability, but that doesn’t really define the book. I was also concerned that people tend to link the paranormal with ghosts and vampires more than something like telepathy. Most of the story is Ash being confused, and getting his ass kicked, so I went with the Action and Thriller categories.
Having said that, most of my books will have a paranormal angle to them, because that’s what I enjoy to read. I’ve said many times that Stephen King could wipe his ass with some paper, and I’d read it. The Twilight Zone, Tales From the Crypt, and MonsterVision with Joe Bob Briggs are all shows I grew up with, and I still love to watch them.
Do you relate more with the hero of a book or the villain?
In general I probably relate to the hero more. However, if the villain isn’t stronger, or more interesting, than the hero, then what’s the point? I love watching people overcome adversity.
Let’s move on to a question I am dying to ask. In Echoes, the lead female character, Sammy, was portrayed as dumb with big boobs and yet the lead female in Gehenna, Karen, is strong-willed and kicks ass. Which one are you fonder of? (and yes, this is a trick question lol)
I’m a huge fan of tough women. All too often they’re underplayed in books and movies, or they’re taken too far over the top and it almost becomes self-mockery. I’ll take Sigourney Weaver in Aliens any day of the week over Angelina Jolie in, well, anything. Having said that, who doesn’t like big boobs? Come on, what’s more American than giant boobs?
Let’s talk about Gehenna. This book is about cowboys, prostitutes and zombies, or as you call them, Moaners, in the old west. This is certainly a unique storyline. I know I have never read a book anything like it. Where did you come up with an old west setting for a zombie book?
I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone a couple of months ago, right after I finished Echoes, and he asked me what I planned on writing next. Somewhere in that conversation, the initial idea for Gehenna popped in. Originally it was going to be called Zomboys, and it would be strictly a comedy. After about five pages, the tone shifted and it ended up being much more serious than I had planned. Of course a lot of the humor remained, because that’s my style, but it definitely morphed into a wild zombie ride.
The old west setting added a different layer of danger to the survivors. Their crude weapons and lifestyles made it much more difficult for them to prevail. Placing the story in the 1800’s also explained why they had no idea what a zombie was, and I’m not sure if you noticed this, but the word ‘zombie’ is never used throughout the entire book. If the dead were to rise today, we would all know what they were, but the zombie mythology hadn’t been created yet for the characters in Gehenna.
I tried to eat while reading Gehenna and found I could not do it. You write insanely (in a good way!) descriptive scenes about munching on flesh. Some places in the book, my skin actually crawled. Does writing scenes like that bother you or are you just sitting back, grinning and waiting for audience reaction?
After the first zombie scene I actually sat back and asked myself what the hell I was doing. Then I figured, it’s a zombie/western, if that doesn’t necessitate going full bore, nothing does. So I let it rip, and when I finished I felt that it fit the story. Outside of another book about zombies, nothing else I write will have this level of violence.
Did you do any research on Zombies before writing Gehenna, maybe watch a few zombie movies? If so, which ones would you call inspirations?
I didn’t, but being a massive zombie fan I already have all of the greats memorized by heart. It was a very conscious decision to make the zombies of Gehenna the old school, meandering variety as opposed to the Olympic sprinters used today. If I had to pick the two movies that most influenced my book, I would probably pick Night of the Living Dead, and Return of the Living Dead. Night because of the claustrophobic atmosphere of being trapped in a house while surrounded by the dead, and Return for the quirky characters.
I just realized I’ve been entirely too serious over my last few answers. Balls.
I noticed that there was a lot of God talk in Gehenna. The main character, McCall, says he relies more on guns than God. What is your stance on God and however did you find that bible verse you included in Gehenna, Leviticus 26:28, that makes it sound like God is going to make zombies of us all?
And now we’re talking about religion. Shit just got real. Despite the biblical overtones of Gehenna, I’m not a religious man. I was raised a Christian, but no longer follow any kind of belief system.
I’d heard about the various Bible verses discussing the dead rising for a couple of years now. When I started writing Gehenna I hit up Google and was shocked at what I found. There are even more in there than the ones I used. And the zombie Jesus jokes go without saying.
As an avid reader of your blog, I am curious. Why do you call your wife ‘The Tall One’?
She’s six feet tall, which constitutes being huge in my book. When she wears heels she’s actually taller than I am, which just isn’t cool. I never called her The Tall One before a couple of weeks when I blogged about her. It kind of stuck after that, so I use it when referring to her on the blog now.
(Reader Questions) What about your writing environment? Any must have items on hand while you write? What are your top favorite books?
I just bought a laptop, so right now I’m writing on my couch and deck. We have an office upstairs, which is where I spent the winter and spring, but it gets too hot there in the summer. I don’t really have any staples with me when I write, like coffee or energy drinks, I just go with the flow.
My favorite books: IT, The Stand, Hell House, The Shining, The Hellbound Heart, At the Mountains of Madness, Dracula, The Mist, Lord of the Flies, Harry Potter (yeah, that doesn’t fit with the rest, but whatever, it’s my list!), Ender’s Game, Fahrenheit 451, A Wrinkle In Time, and so on.
What do you do after you finish a book? Any ritual or celebration?
There is a microbrewery about a mile from us that I always go to when I finish a book. Granted, I’d go there anyway, but it does give me a convenient excuse to start drinking at 3 in the afternoon.
I am not going to take anymore of your time, but I have to know, what are you working on now? Maybe a sequel to Echoes?
My current work in progress is about two college students who win a contest to be interns on a “Ghost Hunters” type of TV show. When they arrive at a church in Appalachia to shoot a new episode, they end up finding more than they ever thought possible.
After that I’m hoping to start sequels to both Echoes and Gehenna. I’m kicking around ideas for both, and should settle on them soon. After that, I have some interesting stuff coming on the horizon, particularly next year.
Thank you, Jason, for taking the time to answer my interview questions. I cannot wait to read your next book! I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I did through this whole process.
I hope you enjoyed the interview. Please leave comments or questions below for Jason or for me. I am sure Jason will be checking this throughout the day. Everyone knows authors are a little vain lol, but of course they have great reason to be =) I am also placing links for his books below.
Kindle Version Links: