Author spotlight: Jason Gurley

Welcome science-fiction author and freaking amazing cover artist, Jason Gurley.

Why do you write fiction?Gurley_Jason_4
You know, I’ve never tried to answer this question. I write because I love to read. Stories are little wormholes into another person’s world, and there’s very little in life that’s as satisfying as that journey. It’s addictive, seeing the world through new eyes all the time. So I suppose I write fiction because I want to feed other people’s similar addictions. I want to build wormholes.

Please tell us about your book. What ideas or images inspired this novel?
The Dark Age is a short story I wrote for two reasons: The first was that, after more than a decade of not submitting work to agents or publishers, I’d just submitted my thirteen-year work-in-progress Eleanor to an agent who represented some author friends of mine. The agent passed on the work almost immediately — well, a few hours after I emailed him — and had some sobering things to say about the work. I moped for a day or two, and then I wrote The Dark Age — not necessarily as a direct retaliation, or a way to puff up my chest and say, “I don’t need you! See what I can do?”, but just to remind myself that I do this for myself, and for readers, not for anybody else. Readers are the only validation that really matters.

But the second reason is that I work. I work a lot. For a long time I’ve been balancing writing novels, designing book covers and a real-world career with being a good husband and father to a little girl. My wife is the most wonderful mother in the world, and has the best job ever: She gets to spend her days with our daughter, teaching her all kinds of things, showing her the world. And while they do those things together, I’m usually working. The Dark Age is incredibly personal to me. It’s a story for every other father — any parent, really — who can’t bear the idea of their child’s childhood slipping away from them. I confess I was a wreck as I wrote this story. It’s rare that my own writing will hit me so hard as I’m writing it, but this story was just a knife in the gut during the six-hour writing session that produced it. I started writing it in a public library; I quickly moved to my Jeep, and wrote most of it in the passenger seat, sobbing my eyes out.

I suppose the most gratifying part of this experience, however, is that readers seem to have connected with this story in a very real way, and have shared all sorts of personal stories with me about the memories that it dredged up, or of their relationships with their own children or fathers. It’s been humbling to hear that something I wrote made people feel as much as this story has.

Do you have an ideal reader in mind when you write? If so, please describe that reader.
Oh, I do. I think every author does, or should. My ideal reader is my wife, Felicia. She’s the most curious, intelligent woman I know. If I write something that gets under her skin and makes her feel something, then I know I’m doing something right. But she’s also my bullshit detector and harshest critic — if I get something wrong, she’ll let me know. She makes my writing better, and my writing is better for having been written to impress her.

Please describe your writing routine.
I have less and less of one as time wears on, and especially in the last couple of years, as I’ve become a father. Before Squish came along, I had all sorts of prerequisites: quiet, instrumental music, the right kind of daylight. If everything lined up, I could produce ten thousand words in a session without breaking a sweat. But becoming a parent really changes things. You learn very quickly that you just don’t have the right to expect routines anymore. So I write whenever I can find time. I’m working on a short story right now that I started yesterday morning, early, before my daughter woke to face the day. And I wrote another thousand words or so while she was napping.

So I guess I’d have to say there’s no routine. I’ve taught myself to write in almost any circumstance. I discover that the easiest way for me to get distracted, though, is if I have all of the things that I once required. When it’s quiet, every little sound is a hurricane that rips me out of my head — one of the cats drinking water from their bowl is like a military assault; the neighbor putting his trash out sounds like someone has picked up a car and hurled it down the street.

What advice do you give new writers just starting out?
Oh, I don’t know if I have any advice that’s better than the great stuff you can already find out there. I suppose I’d tell any new writer to just write stories and publish them, and then write more stories. In most cases, it will take years to ever find real success in this endeavor, and even then success is likely to be wildly different from what you thought it might be when you began. Instead, focus on your stories. Write as often as you can, even if you’re not going anywhere with it. Write, write, write. Don’t hold yourself to anybody else’s standard. Everyone finds a unique path.

Oh, and read. Read, read, read, read, read. Read everything. Read genres you don’t usually read. Just read.

More about The Dark Age:

On the day she was born, he left for the stars.

He waGurley_THE_DARK_AGE_EbookEditiontches her grow up on screens. Misses her first words. Misses her first steps. She’s never kissed his scratchy cheek, or fallen asleep on his shoulder. He’s never wiped away her tears, or sung her to sleep.

Now she’s a toddler, and he’s about to enter hibernation sleep – and when he wakes nearly 150 years in the future, his family will be gone.

This is a short story for every father who never wants his daughter to grow up.


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2 Responses to Author spotlight: Jason Gurley

  1. mary cole says:

    Enjoyed reading this.

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