Jacob Whaler, author of Stones (Data), has joined us today to talk a bit about his writing process and exciting new book. I really enjoyed this interview and found myself becoming really curious about the story he has created.
What inspired you to write this specific story?
When I was six years old, I found a beautiful piece of obsidian half buried in the mud on a fishing trip with my dad and granddad. Granddad asked me to bring it over and let him have a look. I can still remember him studying it with a rolled cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth. His eyes lit up, and he nodded his head and told me that an Indian warrior had passed this way, took a chunk of flint out of his leather bag and made arrowheads to shoot deer and bears. Somehow, the rock I found had been left behind by the Indian. That immediately made the rock the most valuable thing in the world to me. I reached out my hand for it, but Granddad wouldn’t give it back. He said he needed it for his rock collection. I remember being on the verge of tears. I looked at Dad, and he nodded to Granddad, who must have seen that I was about to explode. Granddad handed the rock back to me and told me it was something special and that I needed to take good care of it. I put the rock on the window ledge above my bed and kept it close through the years. Over time, the story of Stones began to take shape in my mind. Once I reached the bursting point, I started writing.
Could you tell us a little more about your book?
On one level, it’s a tale of good versus evil that makes for a good thriller-type read. The two main characters are Matt Newmark and Mikal Ryzaard (rhymes with “lizard”). Matt finds a Stone and has no idea what it is. He ends up in Japan with a Shinto priest (who also has a Stone) that opens his eyes to the power of the Stones and their role in the history of the world. Matt learns that the Stone gives him power over time, matter and energy. Rzyaard also has a Stone and has a plan to bring back Paradise and eliminate all suffering from the world. He tracks down Matt and asks him to join in remaking the world, but Matt refuses. From there, it’s a battle between two visions for the future of humankind.
What main theme or moral are you trying to get across?
That’s a complicated question. At its heart, the books are my attempt to present an answer to the meaning of life and suffering and the whole question of who we are as humans and what we can become.
The storyline of your book is extremely intriguing; how long have you been working on this project?
I started three years ago on the first novel in the series and ended up writing all four of the novels in a burst of creativity.
Have you been a keen writer from a young age or has it come along more slowly?
I would say that I’ve been more of a keen reader than a keen writer. I’ve dabbled in creative writing over the years, but didn’t really get a serious start until I began this project. Like many writers, I often read books that moved me and thought: “I wish I could write something like this!”
Where did you find the inspiration for your main character?
All the characters in the book are a part of my personality. The main character, Matt, has a LOT of me in him. There’s always been this wild and crazy side of me that only a few people know about. On the outside, I’m generally calm, steady and low key, but part of me wants to just get out there and do crazy things. But then again, I am very protective of the important people in my life and couldn’t bear to do anything that would hurt them, so I feel all of these strings pulling me in different directions. Just like Matt.
What is your writing process like?
I grab my laptop and go to the top floor of our house next to the window, sit down in a rocking chair and begin writing. I don’t worry too much about the words and just focus on one small scene at a time. I write out a sentence or paragraph quickly and then go back and massage it until it feels right. Then I move on without looking back. I find that my writing always sounds better than I thought it was when I read it a few days later.
Do you have any specific music you enjoy listening to that influences your writing?
No music. But a bit of background noise helps, something like the TV on in a far corner of the house.
What authors have been a positive influence on your writing?
The biggest influence would have to be Ray Bradbury. I started reading him as a teenager and fell in love with his evocative style. I still like to reread his short stories for inspiration. I’ve always loved Michael Crichton and his techno-thrillers. And then there’s Frank Herbert and the whole world of Dune. Dan Simmons and his Hyperion books. Alan Dean Foster. J.R.R. Tolkien. So many . . .
What are three books that you think everyone should have in their library?
Neuromancer, by William Gibson. A Fighting Man of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Is sci-fi your favourite genre to read as it is the genre that you write this book in?
I read all sorts of genres, but I’m always drawn to thrillers, especially techno-thrillers with a bit of horror and science thrown in together.
Is this your first book and is there another project in the works?
Yes, this is my first published work. I’ll be polishing and publishing the other three books in the Stones series over the next few months. In between, I’ve already started working on another techno-thriller that will be set in Japan a hundred years in the future. It will deal with the aftermath of all the environmental devastation going on and the ever-widening gap between rich and poor.
Where can readers find your book?
Stones (Data) is available on Amazon. Here’s the link: http://amzn.com/B00EQEF2LI
Last but not least, what gem of advice could you offer up and coming authors?
The most important advice I could offer is to ignore the voices in your head that scream at you to stop writing because you’re a horrible writer and no one will ever want to read a word of your work. We all have that terrible little dictator/critic in our minds that whispers out a nonstop monologue of criticism and bile in a desperate effort to stop us from ever doing anything wonderful. Acknowledge its presence, smile, ignore it and get to work. Just write.
Thanks Jacob for your fantastic answers, I am looking forward to seeing more of your work in the future and adding all your titles to my personal library – all the best!