Over the past couple months, I’ve had the opportunity to read and review a couple different books by author Jason Andrew Bond. That process started a dialogue between the two of us, and I definitely think his story is an interesting one. Since I’ve always wanted to interview someone, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity. Therefore, please enjoy the following conversation and definitely check out his books if you have the opportunity.
Could you please introduce yourself?
Hi! I’m author Jason Andrew Bond. I’d like to start by saying how much I’ve enjoyed your posts on your Military Dad blog. I know I’ve shared this already with you via e-mail, but just so I can offer you a shout out in front of everyone… I find them very well-written and heartfelt. Thanks very much for your efforts there.
What made you decide to start writing and who are your inspirations in the writing world?
I first got the bug to write when I was 11 years old. I’ve ‘followed’ that dream loosely for many years, earning a Bachelor’s in English Literature from the University of Oregon and so on. I got distracted from my goals for many years, and finally with my wife’s blessing and support, took on writing full-time in 2008. My taste in writers when I was young ranged from the action stories of Robert Louis Stevenson to the science fiction of Asimov, Clark, and Gibson.
Your first two novels, Hammerhead and Mortal Remains, are entirely different. They’re not related in any way, and they are actually entirely different genres. Can you please discuss why you went in such a radically different direction with your second novel?
I’d love to claim some kind of strategic plan, but I don’t honestly have one. Switching genres is exactly what publishing houses tell you NOT to do. However, as I’ve studied best selling authors, they all have one clear message: Don’t chase the market—tell the story you have and do so with to the best of your ability. One day I imagined a man standing on a mountain ridge watching a space ship come burning in over a mountain ridge and crashing into a valley. That led to the short story Scrap Yard, which led to the novel Hammerhead. Mortal Remains was a similar situation. One night while unable to sleep, I was thinking about blue holes in the Bahamas and suddenly got the entire second half of the novel ‘poured’ into my head. I had to get out of bed and take notes for about two hours.
In Mortal Remains, the vast majority of the novel was told from a female perspective. How hard was it to drop into that character and did you have any outside guidance with writing from the opposite gender?
I relied heavily on my wife and my editor Leanne to let me know if I was off-base, which I thought for sure I would be. But it turns out I wasn’t off that much. It had something to do with my own experiences. I grew up sensitive to the female perspective raised largely by my divorced mother who was working in a ‘man’s world’ (1980’s as a professional pilot). I got to watch how a lot of weekend private pilots, whom she could out-fly (she spent many years dealing with heavy cross winds on the Oregon coast), treat her as a lesser pilot because she was a woman. (You can see where I got my flight perspective for Hammerhead there too.) Also, I was very skinny in my youth and often the new kid in school. I’ve caught my fair share of bullying (no longer if you read my bio on my website though). In a lot of ways Mortal Remains reflects my own rise from being a target of violence. Getting Erica’s perspective right was very important to me, especially because I start her off in an abusive relationship. I wanted to handle that very carefully because domestic violence is a serious real world problem.
With Hammerhead, you decided to donate 25% of the proceeds towards disabled veterans. Can you please discuss what your inspiration was behind that decision?
My decision to support veterans bloomed when many veterans began e-mailing me, telling me that I’d really captured the attitudes and experiences of a solider in the character Jeffrey Holt of Hammerhead. He isn’t your usual kill ‘em all guy. This is a man who carries the scars not just for those he’s lost, but those he’s killed. I’d been aware that we have a lot of wounded (physical and mental) coming back from the Middle East, and the more success Hammerhead had because these vets and others were recommending it, the more I felt the need to give back.
My step-father is a veteran of the Vietnam war. Also, I had two dreams as a kid. I wanted to be a writer, and I wanted to be a Navy pilot. It wasn’t just a casual thing. I started studying for my private pilot’s license at the age of 15. As life goes sometimes, I actually never signed up, but came very close—sitting at a recruiter’s desk with a pen in my hand close. However, I took what I now consider to be some bad advice and didn’t sign up. I have no complaints because my life has worked out well, but there’s always that big ‘What if?’.
In terms of patriotism, even in my youth, I fundamentally believed we live in the greatest, freest, most innovative, nation on Earth, and I also understand that there are some pretty bad people in the world that want the world to be less free.
You have self-published both works. Can you please discuss that decision and how challenging/rewarding was that process?
After my BA in English literature, I got pulled into the business world and eventually earned my MBA. With a business background, self-publishing just made sense. My odds of success are equally difficult for both methods, but if get published by a publishing company I have some help in marketing, editing, etc. However, I typically will only get 6% of each book sale. If I self-publish I get 70%+. This means I can offer my readers my work at half the price and still make much more per sale. This increases my opportunity to gain new readers (people are more willing to risk $3.99 on an author they don’t know than $7.99), and I don’t need a huge amount of readers to make a living as I would in the old model. If I sell 10,000 e-books at $3.99 I get $27,930. In the old method those 10,000 e-books at $7.99 would net me $4794. The readers lose (twice the price) and the author loses. It’s easy to see why self-published writers love it and publishing houses say it’s a detriment. One problem with self-publishing is dealing with the stigma. I attack this by writing as best as I can, contracting out a professional editor, and running my own publishing company. Technically I’m published by Kimura Publishing LLC, which I own and serves only one author.
Finally, you’re currently neck-deep in your third novel. You’ve mentioned that it involves the Hammerheads from your first book. What can you tell me about it? Is it a prequel? Perhaps a resurrection? What can I look forward to with the latest work?
Nice, hint Max. Exactly… a resurrection. It will be titled Hammerhead Resurrection and will involve a situation ten years after Hammerhead takes place. In the first book there is a debate on whether an alien invasion forty years earlier ever occurred at all. This came from my realization on how quickly people forget about critical things, or how certain political groups can attempt to claim that genocide etc. never happened. This new novel will fully end the argument on that debate. We’ll see all the old characters back… maybe even Maxine King. Maybe… seriously, maybe. I haven’t fully decided on it yet. I’m 25,000 words into the rough draft (started full-time work on it November 1st) and hope to have the rough draft done by the end of the year. Then the editing begins…
As a final note I really want to thank you for your reviews of Hammerhead and Mortal Remains, as well as allowing me to do this interview with you. If any of your blog readers want to stay in touch I’d love to hear from them on facebook, Twitter, or via e-mail. All those connections are on my website at www.JasonAndrewBond.com.