Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Helluva Writer: An Interview with Jason Brant

Today's guest is Jason Brant, author of the West of Hell trilogy.

Was Gehenna your first published work? What have you written besides the West of Hell trilogy?
Gehenna was the second piece of fiction I published. It was also the second work that I'd ever written. Before January 2012, I'd never attempted fiction.

My other books include The Hunger trilogy, The Gate, The Dark, and the brand new Asher Benson series.

What made you decide to go the self-publishing route?
I've never submitted anything to a publisher or an agent. Screw that.

I have zero interest in writing a book, waiting six months to get an agent, waiting another six months to find a publisher, then twiddling my thumbs for a year while it's produced. For all of that bullshit, I would get a lofty 15% royalty for a novel that I produced.

Self-pubbing has allowed me to write and release seven novels and three novellas in two years while keeping 70% of the royalties my work earns. I'm not tearing down people who go the traditional route, but it's definitely not for me.

West of Hell is infinitely more polished than 99% of the self published books out there.  Did you hire an editor or do all the toiling yourself?
I'm much too stupid to edit my own work. My brain automatically fills in missing words. Only my wife and editor can see my unedited manuscripts - they already know I'm 'special'.

What was the inspiration behind the West of Hell trilogy? Are you a fan of weird westerns?
The first book was initially going to be called Zomboys and would have been purely a black comedy. As I got a few chapters in, the humor, while still there, was rapidly taking a backseat to the violence and biblical undertones. When I did some research on scripture that seemed to hint at the dead rising, I ran with the idea.

How much was etched in stone when you started? Any big changes to the story occur during the writing process?
I'm a pantser. I come up with a handful of characters and then throw them in a really screwed up situation. Most of the time, I have no idea how my novels will end or who will survive. I'm just as surprised as the readers when certain things happen.

If money were no option, who would you cast in a West of Hell movie?
Hmm. That's tough. Viggo Mortensen or Karl Urban would be great as McCall. Katee Sackhoff or Rhona Mitra as Karen. A guy can dream, can't he?

Favorite western movie?

Favorite western novel?
The Dark Tower series. Does that qualify? I think those books hit just about every genre possible.

Could John Wayne kick the shit out of Clint Eastwood?
Yes. I should add though, that the awesomeness of watching those two throw down might make my head explode like that guy in Scanners.

What are you reading these days?
Just started 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill. Damn, that family can write.

Who would you say is your biggest influence?
King. I know, I'm a cliche.

What is your favorite book of all time?
IT or The Stand, depending on what day of the week it is. I swear, King isn't paying me for all of this ass kissing.

What's next on your plate?
I just finished Ravaged, the final book in The Hunger trilogy. If you liked West of Hell, that should be right up your alley.

Next up is my second Asher Benson novel, Blaze, which is about a snarky, alcoholic ex-soldier who can read minds.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Get your ass in the chair and write. Don't talk about writing, or wish you had time to do it, just take a seat and put some words down. Don't listen to haters.

This is the best time, EVER, to be an author.

Embrace the grind.

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