We are back with another review. This time you will get to read words from Jason Garden, author of You’re Not Dead. You can find my review here. Enjoy!
1. First of all, I must say congratulations on the wedding! We could say you got married fairly young, is this maybe a reflex? That you now consider some things more important than you used to?
Thank you! I knew from the second I saw her that it was going to happen, so the time between asking and the ceremony felt like an eternity. As for my age regarding marriage: it is less of a big deal when one realizes that I am two years younger than her. She is over 30 and is very much ready for that part of her life to start. I am honoured that I can be apart of it and am excited to see what happens next.
2. Could you tell the readers who you are? What got you to the point where you are at right now in life?
I am Jason Garden. I am a nerd, have a sick sense of humour, and I am possibly the worst person to allow to express opinions on all things. I was in the independent music scene for ten years as a drummer and have been on nine albums. I used to run a really bad record label and an equally bad studio. I worked in retail for too long, was a manager of a music store for a year, then everything changed. I contracted Viral Meningoencephalitis back in 2013 and it resulted in me being in a wheelchair. I have been working my ass off to get back what I was accustomed to for 25 years.
3. And after all that, you decided to write a book titled You’re Not Dead. How come you decided to write down what happened? You know, you could have made videos and whatnot, but you chose to write. Why?
A part of the why I wrote the book was for myself. As much as I was in hospital for ten months, I was only in hospital for ten months: a lot happened. That coupled with the fact that I died twice, I found myself a year after being discharged from institution wondering what happened and not entirely sure who I was anymore.
4. Have you at any time felt that you maybe made the wrong decision? Was there maybe a thought that you are not that good of a writer, or what people would think of the book?
Writing the book? Not once. Some of my advertising tactics? Hell yes.
I have dropped websites because I could no longer afford them ALWAYS after doing some huge promotion for that site. I have spent hundreds of dollars on copies of books for reviewers, contests, and family.
Do I wish I knew what I know now when release first happened? Clichéd, but of course. Do I regret the fact that I am tens of thousands in debt to tell my tale? I really don’t. There is always the chance that what I wrote inspired a person or someone could relate to it. Even if that doesn’t happen for 20 years, it will.
5. The book was released last year and it basically covers your recovering process. You mentioned that your biggest wish is to be able to walk again. Has something happened in the last year regarding that? Any progress that maybe you could share with us?
To say that is my BIGGEST wish is a bit presumptive: It implies that nothing ever changes. Is it still a goal? Fuck yes. Is there much to share there? Fuck no.
Now, when I say that, it is not to say there isn’t advancement. After the initial few changes that were spectacles and grand, every change for a while has been “quiet.” That is, to say, I notice changes (like being able to stand longer, advancements in health, things like that). To the average on-looker, it would appear that nothing has changed. Am I still working towards walking? Yes. For “interesting” updates, look into my blog at wheelchairhero.com
6. Now, this is a book blog and I am sorry, but I have to return to the topic. Can we expect more books from you in the future? Maybe even books that are not necessarily connected to yourself?
I am working on a book right now, but I am only about 13,000 words in. I am writing a fiction, for once. I am very nervous about it, but I also REALLY like the tale. I just hope people do, as well.
7. Do you think that maybe there is not enough real stories, like yours, out there? Or do you maybe enjoy, for example, a fantasy novel more than one with a serious topic?
I think that showing a preference towards one or another is very subjective to the material. For my book, for instance, I tried to create an independent world from our own: A world self-contained. My reason to do so was to avoid having to describe situations and procedures that even I do not fully understand.
8. Most authors say that their books are their babies, which I totally agree with. But do you maybe have a favourite book that you enjoy and cherish even more than the one you wrote?
Two books come to mind that are very different from each other. The first is 1984 by George Orwell. It will forever be my favourite book. I just love how accurate it became and still remains.
The other book is jPod by Douglas Coupland. It’s about a bunch of people who work at a programming studio that focuses on video games. The book is funny and relatable.
9. Now, I want to give this question to each author, so you are getting it too: Let us say that you were given a magical pen. The first word you wrote down would immediately influence all people in the world. What would that word be? Why?
Loaded question. Just one word, eh? Probably “Remember.” I am half convinced that any sort of ignorance is due to forgetting the past. I am a huge fan of human history, especially in the realm of Religion and Politics.So many modern blunders seem to be a rehash of a mistake from the distant past. So many stupid things that people say are just from a disregard for situations that are just past. TO MAKE CLEAR: I am not excluding myself from this. The amount of times I will say something to my wife where she simply replies with “You’re going to say that again?” is embarrassing to admit.
10. I am sure people would like to know more about you, or maybe talk to you regarding the illness, maybe even for an advice. Where can people find you and contact you?
As I mentioned prior, my site is www.wheelchairhero.com
. Yes, I chose that URL because of the irony of it. I do not see myself as a hero. I rarely ask for praise for doing the norm and, therefore, picked the name due to its irony. I feel as if I have slowed on the medical as of late, and have been focusing more on day-to-day stuff. I try to do a very off-topic on the last Sunday of every month to stretch my mind. I seem to talk a lot about music and things of that nature.
I also have a very sick sense of humour. Often, I laugh while I write about things of situations. Usually, I am the only person who finds the humour in anything I speak of.
FOR EXAMPLE: I am very VERY honoured that I was asked to take part in this line of questioning. Due to the surreal nature of it, though, I am howling my way through the questions.
I think that is how I have been able to survive all the situations that I have been through in my 27 years of life: I am amazed at the selfish actions made by those around me. I find my continued existence hilarious. The outlandish things that people complain about or draw attention to is so astonishing to me.
Thank you Jason!
Welcome to the first interview done exclusively for Viking Reviews. I am honored that Chris Sarantopoulos took his time and answered some of my questions. For those of you who do not know, Chris is the author of The Man Behind The Bar, that was featured on this blog too. Make sure to check out his Amazon page!
- V: Who is Chris Sarantopoulos? What can you tell us about yourself?
C: I was born in Athens, Greece and learned to speak English almost at the same time I started using my native language. At a time when I still had hair on my head (near the end of the end of the last century – actually the last millenium), I went abroad and studied Geology and Petroleum Geology in Scotland, picked up a few words that I can’t get rid of (like aye for example), then returned to Greece and did a Masters in Service Management. During that time, I was offered the chance to do a PhD, started working on it, but it didn’t work out.
- V: When did you start feeling the urge to write?
C: The really strong urge, the uncontrollable kind, started back in 2013. Until then, I often felt the calling, but didn’t dare following it. The reason for not starting it earlier was due to poor academic skills at school when it came to essay writing, a mandatory subject throughout school life here in Greece. So this feeling of inadequacy gave birth to a little voice at the back of my head that kept telling me that I could never write anything longer than my name.All this changed when, during a casual conversation with a friend of mine about books and the poor quality of some, he simply suggested that I should have a go at writing. I don’t know what changed, but that afternoon I went home and wrote four pages (the world’s worst written four pages ever) of a story I had in my head. And everything felt right. It was as though my life was a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces of my life were wrongly fit together, and suddenly someone knocked the whole thing over, pieces flew up in the air, and miraculously those pieces landed where they should have been originally. Everything in my life made sense after that.
- V: We have met you because of your short story. Are you planning on writing a whole book? Maybe a collection of short stories?
C: I have completed two novels, which are yet unpublished. They will most likely remain unpublished until I can gather the necessary funds needed to hire a good editor and cover designer. The economic crisis Greece experiences at the moment isn’t helping much. The thing is, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to writing and I don’t want to publish something that is below the quality I would allow myself to read.However, this does not mean I will never publish them. I write not only to satiate my inner need to tell stories, but also to have those stories read from others. So they will come out, eventually. For the time being, I intend to publish my short stories (The Man Behind The Bar is my first self-published), some of which have previously been published in literary magazines.
- V: Do you write your stories with a pen or do you use a computer to do it?
C: As a student, I used to write all my assignments first with a pen, then transferred everything to a digital medium. Thankfully, now I use a computer for all my writing. Can you imagine writing up a 120k-word story by pen, then type everything? Thanks, but I think I’ll pass.
- V: Let us focus on your stories. I take it you have a small mountain of ideas, but what are the deciding factors that make you write the idea down in a story?
C: Usually it’s either a theme, a setting, or the idea of a specific conflict that entices me to develop an idea into something more. From there I create characters that will fit into whatever madness I have come up with. I brainstorm and start trying out plot ideas. For short stories I use the 7-point system, but for novels I use a modified version of the Snowflake Method. If everything seems okay at that level and all the pieces fit, then I proceed and draft the story. If not, then I shelf the idea for a later time.
- V: Let us talk characters for a second. Are your characters based on people you have met in your life, or are they made up all the way?
C: Characters are made up. I may borrow traits, mannerisms, and quirks from real characters but nothing more. Usually I develop my characters (their fears and their desires) based on what the setting of the story is all about. For instance, if a story takes place in a dark room and it’s a horror story, I’ll create a character who’s uncomfortable in closed spaces or one who’s afraid of gloomy places.
- V: How about themes? What kind of themes can readers expect from your stories? Are the themes based on real life events or something you are passionate about? Maybe giving people food for thought?
C: I’m told I have the tendency to kill a lot of my main characters. It’s true, though not all the time. So that’s something readers can expect from me. If the story demands it, then that’s what will happen. But if it happens, it won’t be until the very last page. Sometimes I consciously choose not to have a clear-cut ending and let the reader decide.What this means is that a typical theme may very well be death. Another theme I use in my novels is family. I’m also drawn to cyberpunk settings, not for the high-tech part of the genre, but for the low life aspect of it, which allows me to explore social structures and statuses in possible future scenarios for our world. A dark fantasy epic story I have in mind and intend on working on at a later time deals with similar themes.As you can see from the above, I tell stories that are pessimistic rather than the happily ever afters, which I find to be too unrealistic.
- V: How about yourself, what kind of books do you enjoy?
C: My favourite books are those that deal with darker settings and more realistic outcomes, even if they are set in futuristic worlds or medieval kingdoms. Favourite writers are R. Scott Bakker, Stephen King, Margaret Weiss, Tracy Hickman, Peter V. Brett, and Richard K. Morgan among others. As far as genres are concerned I like reading horror, dark fantasy, epic fantasy, sci-fi, and of course cyberpunk. I have a soft spot for noir-style narration, so I’m open to suggestions.
- V: Let us say that you were given a magical pen. The first word you wrote down would immediately influence all people in the world. What would that word be? Why?
C: Common sense. Sorry it’s not one word, but I feel this concept needs to be in everyone’s mind. Nearly every problem in our societies could be resolved with a bit of common sense. Wishful thinking, huh?
- V: Finally, can you let us in on a secret? Is there a new story coming out soon?
C: Let’s see. A few months ago I self-published my short story titled The Man Behind The Bar, a suspense story about a man who leaves his past behind him for the quiet life of a bar owner, until a young man enters his establishment, demanding old debts be paid. There’s another story coming out on July 30 titled At Horizon’s End, a horror story our gracious host has agreed to review (*Chris leans close to Viking’s readers and motions them closer* I’m quite anxious to read it and see if he liked it). If you really want to know secrets and stuff, you may want to either check my blog or sign up for my newsletter.
Thank you Chris!