Today on the blog, we have an interview with Michael Jasper, another author featured in the Short Flights bundle. Mike lives in North Carolina, and “is fascinated with exploring the places where the normal meets the strange.” He should feel right at home on my blog. ;)
SDR: I’m asking everyone the same question to start, so please tell us a little about the story you have in the Short Flights bundle.
MJ: My story is called “Finder,” and it’s the first appearance of my dynamic duo, Bim and Hanky J. These guys have known each other almost all their lives, and now that they’re in their early 40s, they’re starting to find some success with their private-investigation company, Finders, Inc. While Hank is the cut-and-dry fellow who has an unquenchable desire to rescue missing people, Bim is the heavy-set slacker who has a special gift for connecting to people that truly makes Finders, Inc. successful. I’ll let folks read the story to find out how his (somewhat disturbing and gross) gift works. I’ve taken these two characters and expanded their situation into a “slightly paranormal mystery” series called the Finder Team, where Bim and Hank and the rest of their ragtag group solve mysteries and find lost souls in the mountains of western North Carolina, and I’m having a blast telling their stories. The second Finder Team novel, Lost & Finders, is currently underway, and should be done very soon.
SDR: Tell us where you like to write; describe your current writing workspace(s).
MJ: We live in a small log cabin in the North Carolina mountains between the small towns of Boone and Blowing Rock, and my work office and writing office are one and the same: I get exactly half of the loft above our living room and kitchen. I have a combination sitting/standing desk for when I’m doing my day job (I work from home as a technical writer for a software company) and when I’m working on the business side of my fiction writing and publishing gigs. But I usually do most of my fiction writing in my comfy recliner up in the loft, close enough to the window so I can see the outside world (right now, a mid-March snow is softly falling out there), but not too close that I get distracted.
Interestingly, I used to be solely an early-morning writer, but lately I’ve started cracking open the laptop at the end of the day, just to fiddle around with my current project, and I end up writing a short scene or untangling a twisty plot issue, and I’ve been doing that writing work away from my usual writing space, downstairs and usually with my wife and kids around me. I think a change of pace is always good for writers, just to shake things up and to keep us from getting into a rut.
SDR: What’s your current writing project? How do you feel about it right this minute?
MJ: I mentioned Lost & Finders earlier, and it’s the second book in my Finder Team series after Finders, Inc. This book takes place about four months after the first book, but it’s taken me nearly four years to write! I’ve developed a sort of love-hate relationship with it, and I actually didn’t even touch it for over a year because it was frustrating me. So I worked on other projects, but I kept coming back to it. Just recently I figured out what the book was really about, and I am now in the process of finishing it up. I think that it will be one of my favorite creations when all is said and done, just because I struggled so much with it and – more importantly – I learned so much in the process of writing it.
SDR: So you’ve written at least one set of series characters. What’s the appeal of series for you?
MJ: I ended up writing a trio of series by accident, mainly because I kept wondering what those characters were up to lately. My first series, Contagious Magic, ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I had no choice but to keep going with book two (eventually!) and then hit book three as well. My other two series, Finder Team and Family Pack, had some interesting side-roads I wanted to take with the various characters in book two, and I’ve been dreaming about a book three where both of those series converge into this nifty crossover event. I look at a series like a really good premium cable TV series, where you can really dive deep with the characters and show them growing and changing as time passes, even more than you can in a single novel. You also get to tell bigger and bigger stories. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying the learning process.
SDR: Are you a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?
MJ: In most of my novels I’ve done serious outlines, which always made the actually day-to-day writing much easier (in most cases!). But lately I’ve been pushing back against detailed outlines and just telling myself the story as I write. It’s scarier that way, and it can lead to a long block of unproductive days if you’re not careful, but I think the stories are always better. I kind of like the risk (if you can call it that) of writing by the seat of my pants.
SDR: As a “discovery writer” myself, I understand (and appreciate) that risk! Now, to finish up, tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview!
MJ: I’m coming off a year where I more or less had to take a break from fiction writing, because I’d just started a new and very challenging job (as a technical writer at a software company), which I really love. But the job required all of my brain-power and left me a pretty drained, so I couldn’t think about writing fiction when I wasn’t working. But now I’ve got a year under my belt at the new job and I’m finally able to scratch that fiction itch that I couldn’t reach for a long while. So I’m blasting away on my second Finder Team novel and planning out that Finder Team-Family Pack crossover (paranormal private eyes meet a father and daughter who are also werewolves; they fight crime!).
Also, the graphic novel I wrote and my artist friend Niki Smith illustrated was recently optioned for the movies, which has motivated me to start work on Book 2 of that series (the first book was 9 issues, and almost 200 pages of graphic novel adventure). And I’ve got an idea or two for a screenplay. For 2018, I’m planning on publishing my second short-story collection, UnWrecked Tales in April or May, and Lost & Finders comes out in June. Which means I should probably end this interview and get back to my writing. In the meantime, you can follow my writing at http://michaeljasper.net, and keep up with my publishing company at http://UnWreckedPress.com. Thanks!
SDR: Thanks for stopping by and chatting with us, Mike!
The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is available now across many online platforms. Along with Kate’s story, you’ll find nine more single stories and five full collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.
We have more interviews coming soon, so stay tuned!