Thursday, October 16, 2014

Meet Chris Jane! A Spotty Blog Interview


Chris Jane is a mystery meat stew wrapped in enigmatic bacon covered in conundrum chocolate.... Wait. What was I talking about?

Clearly, I need to eat something.

Let's try this again.


Chris Jane is a writer whose debut novel, The Year of Dan Palace, is at turns funny, smart, painful and most of all, honest as it follows one man's choices in the face of the possibility that the world will end. I don't know Chris well, but the writing is more than solid. This is a writer that doesn't pull punches, that shows us sides of character it might be easier to turn away from. Of course, if Chris did that, we'd have a very different sort of story. This is good stuff.

The book is out on November 22, but it is available for pre-order on Kindle, now.

It is an honor and a privilege to present to you...

The Interview

Q) Where did you draw inspiration for the story of The Year of Dan Palace?

A) It was probably a combination of a fear of dying and a fear of not appropriately living, and added to that a desire to take a real, hard look at what a person might do with the end of the world as a possibility. Not only that, but how that person's actions might impact others.

I also wanted to have fun with the writing. While The Year of Dan Palace isn't, at its heart, a "fun" book (there is a serious theme or two), there is certainly fun stuff in it. It isn't oppressively heavy or "Oh, woe," and the characters themselves are pretty entertaining. They were certainly entertaining to write.

Q) Winnipeg or Winnebago?
A) Tough question. When Dan leaves home, he buys a Pace Arrow made by Fleetwood, a Winnebago competitor. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience choose Winnebago.

I did just learn on a "what to do in Winnipeg" search that a tourist attraction called "Lower Fort Scary" is just half an hour away in Selkirk, which I think makes the choice that much easier.

Q) In the Year of Dan Palace, you address how one person deals with End of the World anxieties which in turn causes the protagonist to second guess everything about the life he has. When 2012 rolled around did you or anyone you know experience anxiety over the much-discussed Mayan doomsday?
A) No. But we did have the standard "What would you do if?" conversation, at which point we listed the things we would do if we were going to die, none of which any of us ended up doing - even though we are all obviously, unquestionably, inevitably dying. Someday. Even so, most of us don't believe it, even if we know it's going to happen. One of the challenges Dan has is holding tight to that belief.

Q) Quinoa or purple rice?
A) I recently had quinoa for the first time. It was a little like tasty wet sand pasta-rice pellets. Pretty good!

I haven't had purple rice. What I'd like to try is risotto at a very high-end restaurant. Any time I catch Hell's Kitchen, Gordon Ramsey is going on about risotto. It's safe to assume it's the best food on the planet when done correctly.

Q) Is this your first novel? If so, when did you begin writing fiction?
A) I've been writing fiction since my pre-teens but didn't get serious about it until my early twenties. I was one of those readers, particularly in middle and high school, who always had to have a book. If I forgot one, my day would be ruined. What was I supposed to do while I was waiting, walking, or sitting in class without a good novel?
All of that reading somehow led to wanting to write. (I say "somehow" because I could just as easily have become a lifelong, passionate reader.)

This is not the first novel I've written. The very first, when I was 19, was a series of interconnected stories: X driving a car hits the brakes to avoid hitting Y. Their eyes meet, and the story lurches forward into the life and story of Y. And so on. I like to pretend it was an original idea at the time.

Q) When it comes to salsa, do you prefer black bean chipotle or mango peach?
A) They're both a little chunky, aren't they? Restaurant style is my daily addiction, with Tostitos lime chips.

Q) What advice would you offer to anyone setting out to write fiction?
A) Don't get hung up on perfection while writing the first draft, because you'll probably never finish (as far as novels are concerned). Write through, get to the end, get to know your story and characters, and then go back and make it better.

If short stories (and this is true for longer fiction, too), be honest, and don't be afraid to be honest. There's little you've felt that someone else hasn't felt at one time or another. Your task is to present that feeling in your unique way.

Q) Artists tend to have pretty interesting job histories. What's the strangest paid gig you ever had?
A) I willingly and knowingly improved the writing of a once-successful charlatan spiritual leader whose books' sole goal was to milk money from people wanting a better life. I'd try to find subtle ways to slip digs into the material.

Q) What's next for Chris Jane in terms of projects?
A) I have two in mind, one of which I hope to write with a partner. One tackles a social issue, and the other is a revenge plot. In real life, I'm probably more of a passive-aggressive revenge seeker - the kind who fantasizes about saying "No" when the wrong-doer needs a favor - so I think I'll enjoy writing a character who is a more active revenge participant.

Q) Binge-watching or binge-drinking?
A) Binge-watching on my smart days. Binge-drinking on my less smart days, and to a lesser degree than in my twenties. I think I can handle about three glasses of whatever is put in front of me. I am a middle-age cliche.

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