My last post was my review of the second book in ‘The Afton Morrison series’. Well, this time I am presenting to you an interview of Brent Jones, the author, conducted by me! I am grateful to the author for agreeing to be interviewed by me!
I LOVED reading ‘Go Home, Afton’ and ‘See You Soon, Afton’. They both are two of my best reads of the year! If you’re a mystery/thriller and/or psychology thriller lover then I surely recommend the books to you!
Let’s begin with the interview of Brent Jones!
NOTE: The texts in bold are the things I’ve asked/said and texts in italics are the responses of the author.
First of all, congratulations for the absolutely amazing series which deserves all the praises it has got! I am sure it’ll be great to know about your writing experiences and how it all started! There are so many things that I am curious to know about so let’s begin from the beginning!
- When did your writing career start? How did you get to the conclusion that writing was, is, and will always be your passion?
I’ve always loved to write, and I’d love to continue writing fiction for the rest of my life. But, in truth, I’m forever discovering (and rediscovering) new passions of mine. Who knows? Maybe in a year or two, I’ll be self-publishing indie blues rock on iTunes. Doubtful, but it could happen. I’ve never been afraid to try new things, or to take risks, or to make mistakes, for that matter.
As far as when I began writing, at least in a commercial sense, that happened towards the end of 2016. I got to work on my first novel, The Fifteenth of June, and published it the following February.
- From road fiction to domestic fiction to mysteries to thrillers, you’ve written many books in different genres till now. Which genre is your favourite to dive into when it comes to writing?
I’m not sure that I have a favorite. Even as a reader, I tend to consume a little bit of everything, with the exception of fantasy. Don’t get me wrong. I love the odd supernatural element as much as the next reader, but I find it hard to immerse myself in entirely new worlds, especially when the laws of physics begin to change. Real life is strange enough, I think. Writing The Afton Morrison Series—as a serial thriller, no less—was a lot of fun, and I’d do something like that again. But, I imagine, at some point, I’ll return to writing literary fiction.
- Let’s talk about the ‘Afton Morrison’ series a bit. When I finished reading ‘Go Home, Afton’, I was left completely numb. It was just the same when I finished reading ‘See You Soon, Afton’. I am yet to read the rest of the books in the series but I know it is only going to get better. What exactly inspired you to write such an amazing series? What part of which book hit you first which inspired you to pen it down?
I touched on this briefly in the Acknowledgments (book one) and again in the Afterword (book four). The idea first came to me after watching a rerun of Forensic Files. I wondered, if someone wanted to commit a murder, and I mean just for the sake of killing, how would he do it without getting caught? My original idea was to write a story about a deranged man in a small town who killed for the sake of killing. Soon, however, I realized two things. First, if I were going to tell the story from the perspective of the killer, I’d need to get readers on his side, which meant there’d need to be at least some justification for his actions, even if slight. Second, I thought, wouldn’t this story be a lot more fun if the killer was, not only somebody whom no one would suspect, but somebody that readers could almost, on some level, relate to? A quirky killer, if you will. From there, I began developing Afton Morrison, a twenty-six-year-old children’s librarian. An eccentric vegetarian with a pet goldfish, who loves classical music and candlelit baths, and who wears hipster glasses, ballet flats, and ankle-length, pleated skirts.
- In my opinion, Afton Morrison is one of the best characters in the world of psychology thrillers. There is so much to the character. How did you recognize and shape the outline of Afton’s character. What quality of hers came to you first?
Thank you for saying so. Afton went through a lot of revisions. When I finished the first draft of book one, Go Home, Afton—which is now free on Amazon, by the way—I shared it with a small group of beta readers. I wanted their feedback not only on the plot and pacing of book one, but to get a sense of how they felt about Afton as a character. Could they feel for her? Could they root for her? The feedback was near unanimous. The plot was interesting, but Afton was just too darn difficult to like. In the original version of the story, there was no “Animus” Afton, if you can believe it. There was no Twinkie, either. And, strange as it might sound, Afton was much less kind to Kim.
- The last book in the series is ‘Time’s Up, Afton’ as of now. Can we expect another book to come out as an addition to the series?
Not only did book four, Time’s Up, Afton, come out on October 29, but so, too, did the complete series collection (bundle), in eBook, paperback, and audiobook formats. I always intended this story to be told in four parts, meaning that there is a sense of finality to Time’s Up, Afton.
- Did you experience a writer’s block? If yes, then how did you get over it? Also, have you ever experienced a reader’s block?
Yes, I encountered writer’s block more than once while writing this series, as well as other titles of mine. More often than not, it happens when it’s time to make revisions. I’ll reread a part I’ve already finished, then sit there asking myself, why? Why did so-and-so do such-and-such? What were his or her motivations? And then I’ll need to go back to the drawing board and find a way to add another layer to the story, to keep the reader not only guessing what will happen next, but to add a sense of depth to the characters I’ve created.
As far as a reader’s block goes, I’m not sure what that means. Like, a period of time in which I stopped reading, for one reason or another? If that happens, I’ll usually put on an audiobook and go for a walk or a drive. Sometimes, all I need to do is switch settings or formats.
- How was your writing experience overall? Was it a bumpy ride? What was the best part about writing the ‘Afton Morrison’ series?
Writers are generally described as either plotters or pantsers. I’m both, to an extent. I plot out the key events before starting, but I don’t always figure out how I’m going to connect the dots. I often let that happen as I’m writing. Take my second novel, Fender, for instance. I knew where Brennan and his friends would go. I knew what they would do, and I knew how the book would end, so it became a matter of sorting out the small details in between. There had to be conflict between the men. What would be the source of that conflict? There had to be a critical moment at which Brennan would learn (be forced) to let go. What would be the catalyst for that moment?
I say all this to say that, the best part (for me) of writing The Afton Morrison Series, was surprising myself, at times, with the new discoveries that Afton would make along the way, and how she’d forever find clever (and often violent) ways to get herself in and out of trouble.
- We would love to know about your reading preferences! Which genre do you like and which books of the same genre are your favourites? Is there any author who has inspired you in any way?
As I mentioned earlier, I tend to read a bit of everything. I’m especially drawn to flawed protagonists faced with difficult choices. Three authors who do—or past tense, did—this very well, all of whom happen to be Canadian, are Douglas Coupland, Mordecai Richler, and Nelly Arcan. Nothing makes me tune out of a book faster than a perfect, polished, pristine, protagonist. The truth is, humans are flawed, morally-dubious creatures, operating in gray zones for most of their waking hours. In the animal kingdom, creatures are bound to certain primitive codes, within their own packs and social hierarchies. Human beings, on the other hand, are just smart enough to understand not only how to circumvent such agreed-upon codes, but what we stand to gain by doing so. This is why, when I read a book that has a clear good guy and a clear bad guy, I get bored. No one is all good or all bad, and this theme is constantly reflected in my writing. I think there’s strength in a story that lays out the events and allows the reader to decide if the main character was good or bad, and to what extent.
- If you could say one thing to your younger writing self, what would it be?
Just one? Start sooner, I think. I shouldn’t have waited until I was in my thirties to begin writing my first novel.
- When can we expect to read more books penned by you? Are any books in the process of being written or published?
I have two short stories coming out in December, one called Chambers, and the other called Row Seventeen. Unlike The Afton Morrison Series, which saw a number of events and characters from my other works cross paths, these two will serve as standalone short stories, and both will call into question issues of faith and morality. Again, subscribe to my email newsletter and follow me on Twitter for updates. Who knows? I might even give away a few digital copies of these short stories for free.
And that’s it! Once again, huge thanks to the author for answering my questions!
I’ve been so busy lately! But, FINALLY! Finally, I’m back! Did ya miss me? I missed my blogger family for sure.
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