Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Interview with Jared Gullage

Jared Gullage was born and raised in Opelika, Alabama. Though at first a slow learner in reading and writing, once he began to do so, I grew to love it. His father always told him that to be a great writer, a person must learn to form pictures with words. Since him brother was the better cartoonist and
visual artist, he worked at creating stories. Role-playing and an excellent education in English throughout high school honed his skills further.

Attending Auburn University, he majored in English. Throughout his life, creative writing and anything that makes it better, easier, or more worthy, has been that which appeals to him most. Often, to understand this world, he took his knowledge to imaginary ones to toy with. He's jokingly told his students that writing is his default setting and what he'd do if he had to decide on one thing to do forever. Writing is much less a thing he does, but a place and time, a brief leap from the boundaries of the mundane.

Jared's book Drinna is available on the eTreasures Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Jared, when and why did you begin writing?

This has almost always been something I've loved doing since I learned how to write. My father always encouraged me to write, and consistently reminded me of the power of words. He told me that writers "create pictures with words," and after I began to write, I learned that I could create my own worlds and people and things that happen. For some reason, I've always felt most confident about my ability to tell stories and toy with ideas. My worlds are my little, mental libraries and laboratories--my refuge to retreat a while from the world to come back refreshed.

Tell us your latest news?

I am, so far as I know, getting yet another story published for eTreasures Publishing. However, things have been kind of slow to get started, both for me and ETP. As for me, I've been swamped at school, but readers be on the look out for The Cagulant, a horror story. Also, Drinna will hopefully be getting a second edition. I'm still waiting to work out the details of this, but I'm looking forward to sort of reawakening her and the characters she interacts with. With any luck and blessings, I may also be able to work on the sequels and/or other works taking place in the world of Trithofar.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Third grade, I began stories that went over a page. I remember sitting down at the living room table with my mother and inventing names for a dragon. We named it something like "Gargantua" after looking up that word in a thesaurus. Simultaneously, I was introduced to the amazing experience of entering into worlds of my own design while also learning to look up words in books like the Thesaurus and the Dictionary. After that, I convinced my mother to buy me my own copy of a thesaurus and dictionary, and learned the smell of those fresh books. That lured me in. More and more, I became addicted to looking things up, learning facts about this world I could weave into my own. Of course, becoming published has helped me become professional.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I experiment with different styles. I am particularly partial to Imagism, and the works of Faulkner, T.S. Eliot, and Fitzgerald. However, I like to experiment with different techniques. I think my style is a bit on the dark side, and I would like to incorporate a bit more humor than I have into it.

How did you come up with the title?

For Drinna, I honestly just picked a name that sounded reasonable for the type of character she is, as well as the culture from which she comes. It's a non-assuming, non-elaborate name for a simple, plain girl who learns to stand up for herself in the face of a difficult time in her life and against nearly impossible odds.

The Cagulant, by contrast, I was very intentional about naming. Suffice it to say, the word comes from the word Coagulate, which has something to do with what a Cagulant does in the fiction. Frankly, I think of these monsters as some of the most insidious and awful creatures that can exist in Trithofar.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Often, my books have messages. I am a believer, and so many times, I experiment with the implications of my beliefs, not only espousing my faith in a life ever after and the god that provides it, but also challenging my beliefs and wondering "what if" about some of the things I take for granted or think I take for granted in my life. I challenge my readers, too, or would like to wherever possible, to truly consider what makes a person's life the way it is, or what drives a person's decisions in life. I strive, also, to see things from perspectives different than my own, through people different than myself.

With Drinna, one of the major themes I worked with though, was learning to control one's own anger and learning to truly look at something before acting on it. This could also be true of The Cagulant, in that it also teaches that simply following emotions is risky and dangerous. We must learn to temper our emotions with self control, but sometimes that can be troubling as well.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Challenging to do? Or challenging for the reader? For me, I try to challenge myself by making more and more believable characters and situations in fantasy where the choices and situations for my worlds make a sort of sense. I am sort of a fantasy realist, in that way, trying to make characters that would do what a person might really seek to do, given the choices my worlds provide. Another challenging aspect of my writing is to try and make characters that humans may sympathize with, but who are not necessarily human. For example, Drinna is a kunjel, and because she is, she has issues to contend with that are different than what a human girl of a comparable age would have, but her struggles are also very human, too, and many of the themes of the novel are things a human can learn to contend with as well.

I also challenge, perhaps, the sensibilities of readers of fantasy. Whereas I appreciate such works as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, and where I just got through rereading the Chronicles of Prydain series by Alexander, I find many works of fantasy that use Christian imagery, symbolism, or allegory to be a bit more heavy-handed. Probably, this is because they were the first of their kind; other books that claim to be Christian fantasy--that I've read--have read like morality tracts or as rather...weak...for fear of offending their readership with magic and dragons. However, after realizing that Rowling's Harry Potter could be taken as Christian allegory in much of its symbolism, or simply enjoyed for the adventure it is, I want to do that. I want readers to find what they want in my writing, so while I am a believer, I don't want to beat people over the head with symbolism and allegory.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Finding time to do it. That seems to be getting harder and harder to do. Daughters and career have made it more and more difficult to find time for creativity. What's continuing to be the most difficult part of being a writer is promotion. I HATE to advertise my books, even though I believe in them. I don't like to brag. I don't like to push myself off on people. I want people to read my stuff because they think it is good, not because I've pestered them. I hate advertisements, unless they are funny, and don't want to be annoying to other people.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Largely, this has been addressed above. However, in addition to that, I will say I started playing outside with friends at an early age, and being left to have fun on my own. Picking up sticks and stones, and negotiating imaginary perils, I learned how to role-play with some other friends in early high school and got addicted, I will admit. Now, I was building maps and people groups and doing all manner of fun things on paper. This only propelled me further towards being a writer.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned humility. Looking back on my writing, I realize how much I want to change it, update it. I also learned that I can complete novels and sell them, and I am not as bad a writer as once I thought. But...mainly humility, much needed as it is.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Show, don't tell. Up the stakes. Just keep trying. For everyone who writes, there are those who read.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you. Thank you, anyone who reads my works and finds some nugget of truth or entertainment in it.

What inspired you to write your first book?

The ability to dream. The desire to see myself published.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Not at this particular time. However, eTreasures, if you'd like, you certainly can find an interesting passage for me and put it in here. Actually, to be honest, I would be far more honored by that, than me doing it myself. Jokingly, I made the remarks about my pride above, but truthfully, I am a little shy and do not relish tooting my own horn. Probably not good with relish anyway.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

My work is based on anything I can find that interests me. Stephen King, I believe, said "Write what you know," and I hold to that a lot. No, I've never met monsters, nor has my life ever been put in serious jeopardy like my characters, but many of the details or character traits are based on people I may have met, or things I may have learned.
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