Now, for the promised interview. I had the privilege to ask Jason a few questions. I wanted to get to know the person behind the story, and also to give my readers a peek into this author's mind. It is always helpful to know who is writing what we read!
- Can you tell about your experience with Jesus Christ? (Be as detailed as you want: we LOVE these stories!) Good choice for a first question. I entered the family of God when I was three years old. I realize some people would say that’s too young, but I was able at the time to explain (in a three-year-old way) that I wanted Jesus “to save me from my sins.” And yes, I definitely knew what a sin was! Since then, it’s been a story of faithfulness and failure – God’s and mine, respectively. As I grow more mature, I realize how much I’ve tried His patience, which makes me ever more grateful for that patience. Next to that and to salvation itself, I am most grateful for the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. I can tell you that I am not the person I was a year ago, or even a month ago. Only the Holy Spirit can change hearts in a real and lasting way.
- You say on your website that you are a 2005 homeschool graduate. Were you always homeschooled? (Yes or no, what prompted your parents to teach you at home? Also, what curriculum was used? [If more than one, do you have a favorite?]) I was always homeschooled, as were my five older siblings. Our family started homeschooling in 1979, when it wasn’t even a word yet. Our mother, a teacher by profession, simply could not feature sending the Lord’s children to be educated by the world. One might say she helped invent homeschooling. This was before the rise of homeschool curriculum per se, so she used the next best thing – materials from the 40’s and 50’s. I remember learning to read from "Dick and Jane," and to tell time on a Smokey Bear clock. In the early grades, we did the whole thing with desks, lunch boxes, and a blackboard. As we got older, school became less structured. In a way our whole life was "school," as we were surrounded by educated adults, and were always learning whether we realized it or not.
- Who, or what, inspired you to write? When we were kids, my mom wrote a series of Christian novels for us. (One of them, The Reunion, is now available from Elisha Press.) I’m sure those had an inspiring effect, as did my own love of reading. When I was ten or twelve, my brother and I began to concoct a wild story about a plane crash overseas, which we planned to write as a novel. We actually worked on it, off and on, until about 2009. We probably will never complete it – too many systemic realism issues, among other things – but it was fun, and a good writing exercise. And it gave me an appetite for writing things I could actually finish.
- How did you become your own publisher, and why? We started out self-publishing because it is difficult to get a traditional publisher interested in your work. This is especially true if you do not write fantasy, romance, or thrillers. Relatively "tame" contemporary novels just don’t sell that well. (Which I think is a pity, but that’s another story.) One major benefit of being your own publisher is that you have more flexibility. For instance, a traditional publisher might not be thrilled with our policy of free digital editions. With regard to "becoming" a publisher, that’s easy; all you need to do is buy an ISBN and print a book with it. What’s tough is actually getting your book into people’s hands. We are still learning by experience what works and what doesn’t.
- Are any of the things written in this book based off of real-life events? I don’t usually include recognizable incidents, but I do make use of my experiences and personalities I have known. For example: the nine-year-olds in the story are excited to start homeschool in the fall because of all the homemade decorations and new materials. That was us in the early grades. It was like Christmas, only more so.
- What inspired you to write this particular book? I wish I had an interesting answer for that, but the fact is, it wasn’t anything in particular. I wanted to write about a family experiencing spiritual transformation, because I think that is the greatest need we have today. I came up with the basic premise just by playing with ideas in my note-taking software.
- What is your church background? My grandfather was a Southern Baptist minister, who instilled one basic principle in all of his children: the Bible is absolutely true. In the best possible testimony to his life, none of them ever forsook that belief. That’s a foundation the Lord can really build on.
- What are your hopes for this book, in the lives of those who read it? Eternal impact. I’ve been told that my writing is entertaining, and I hope it is. At the end of the day, however, entertainment alone is not really worth the time it takes to create a novel. But if that entertainment carries a potent payload of edification, it changes the equation entirely.
- Other than writing, what kinds of activities keep you busy? We have a multi-faceted business that keeps me pretty well occupied with everything from web development to commercial lighting sales. I’m also into computer ergonomics as a hobby and minor business. During down time, I enjoy reading and games with the family. My favorite books are true stories where God is the “hero,” such as Angus Buchan’s "Faith Like Potatoes" and Reema Goode’s 'Which None Can Shut." Ironically, I read almost no fiction. In the game department, we enjoy “The Settlers Of Catan,” Carcassonne, Scrabble, mini pool and foosball, among others. I used to play chess quite seriously, but I just don’t have the time anymore. Chess can be very consuming.
- Any words of advice to those currently being homeschooled? Be grateful. By the odds in America today, you were born with roughly a one in twenty-five chance of being homeschooled, so consider yourself to have won an incredible prize that two dozen other kids missed. Actively enjoy and make use of what you’ve got. I’m probably sounding like an old man here, but you will one day look back and wish you’d appreciated your childhood more.
- Any words of encouragement for the parents who homeschool their children? Never give up, no matter what. In teaching your children the way of the Lord, you are fulfilling a high calling. I have great respect for the sacrifices and faithfulness of Christian homeschool parents. I’m unmarried and thus not in the game myself, but I’m cheering you on from the sidelines!
- What would you say to those people desiring to write books, such as the one you wrote and published, but have doubts and fears? Doubts and fears are not of God. However, realism is. The Bible teaches us to count the cost before starting a project (Luke 14:28). Writing for an audience is completely different from writing for fun. You suddenly have to think about things like editing, proofing, design, distribution, and promotion. At times it will likely be anything but fun – and if you’re successful, you may find yourself so busy that you have little time to write anymore! But just by thinking through the ramifications realistically, you’ll be way ahead of most aspiring authors.
Well, there you have it, folks! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this young author. It blesses me to see that there are people seeking to glorify the Lord in all that they do, even in fictional writing! I hope that you take the opportunity, now that you have gotten a glimpse of the writer, to read what he has written.
If you missed out on reading yesterday's review of "The Sparrow Found A House," you can read it here. Do not miss going to the end of that post, as it gives you the information needed (as well as the new tab at the top of this blog) to get your copy today!
**I receive no financial gain for this interview, as well as my book review and discount code. The review is my honest opinion, the questions for this interview were created by myself alone, and the author gave his own answer to each one.**