Tormented as a huge dork in high school, Jason likes to revisit that world and try to make sense of it as a slightly more secure adult.
Currently hiding in the boonies, in a wayward suburb of Chicago, where I'm making friends with the locals -- mostly squirrels and deer.
As promised last week, Reads, Reviews, Recommends has the pleasure of interviewing the handsome-as-sin Jason Ancona. Ladies, this one's for you. For his phone number and home address...distracted you there, didn't I? I promise, this one will hurt less than the Oscars. This week, we travel from Bono country to Bambi land in the boonies of Chicago in search of the elusive yet highly enigmatic author of Debugging Tori Redding.
While I'm trying not to blush uncontrollability here, let's start this interview. Many thanks, Jason, for giving the Reads, Reviews, Recommends readers to stare...I mean, stalk...no that's not right either. *clears throat* Thank you for giving us a chance to get to know you better. Please...state your name, occupation, and cocktail of choice for our readers.
My name is Jason Ancona and I'm a writer/entrepreneur/dream landscaper. Cocktail? Flavored vodka and soda. My two current favorites are Smirnoff Passion Fruit and Absolut Mango.
Good choices! I remember a time when I attended an awards night for excellence in writing. It was the first time I discovered the true meaning of Open Bar. Dear readers, when they say Mango Juice at an Open Bar, expect vodka to be mixed in with it. I only realized this five freaking glasses later. *shakes head* Oops, we're conducting an interview. Grab your drinks and settle down.
Besides drinking flavored vodka, what are your all time favorite books (that you haven't written) and why?
The Sherlock Holmes stories--the whole collection. Love the character--an unapologetic genius who makes the unthinkable seem "elementary." And I like the way each case unravels--hooks me every time.
Hunger Games is my new favorite. It's one of the few books that I truly can't put down. I HEART Katniss Everdeen.
Catcher in the Rye is a book that really strikes a chord with me. When I first read it in high school, I was struggling with finding my identity, wondering who I was, wondering where I fit in. I could really identify with how Holden was feeling. Twenty-five years later, as I contemplate what city I want to move to, what I'll do to make a living, and wonder whether anyone will want to stick with someone who's still bent on pursuing an artistic endeavor, I've yet to figure out all the answers.
Question is, are there answers to be found and what would we do when we find them? I think that's part of what reading Catcher in the Rye, The Hunger Games, and Sherlock Holmes have in common. Wow, that suddenly became too serious. Every time we step into the serious, dear readers. take a sip of your flavored vodka. So, continuing with the interrogation...I mean, questioning...I mean, ah what the heck: If I were to look into your medicine cabinet (assuming you hadn't called the cops on me) what would I find?
It's pretty boring in there. Standard stuff--deodorant, toothpaste, floss. I hide the Just For Men Medium Brown (#5) behind towels under the sink. Actually, I've given up on that--for now. Letting the gray shine through.
I hear the salt and pepper look is making a come back. But then again, the allure of dying hair doesn't escape me. I just turned blonde yesterday, and I keep forgetting, so every time I look in the mirror...okay, on to the writing portion of this interview. When did you decide to start writing?
I started writing screenplays in 2002 and took my first screenwriting class in 2003 at UCLA. My instructor was very complimentary of my work and encouraged me to stick with it. Been writing ever since.
All it takes is that seed of encouragement. My sophomore high school English teacher was the one who said, "I think you have something here." Do you have any writing quirks and what are they?
I'm one of those dreaded morning people who loves starting early--usually begin writing at 5:30AM or so. I feel the most alert the first few hours of the day. I try to keep focused with the aid of a Monster energy drink. Sometimes I reward myself with a few squares of dark chocolate.
Eek! A morning person! I don't fire on all cylinders in the mornings. You are a courageous fellow, dear sir. Those who know me have learned the hard way to stay away until about 10:30am. Do you come up with the titles for your novels that early in the morning too? What about Debugging Tori Redding? How did that title come about?
Debug means to detect and remove errors from. The word is typically used in reference to computer software. In Debugging Tori Redding, Tori needs to figure out her problems and try to solve them. Because of the special computer-like abilities she acquires, "debugging" has a double meaning.
I'm quite intrigued by the idea of a character acquiring computer-like abilities. Having a computer geek for a brother rubs off on me. What I'd like to know more about is your road to publication. How did Debugging Tori Redding make it from the primordial creative soup to readers?
I sent Debugging Tori Redding to my agent at the time. After several weeks, I emailed her for feedback. She informed me that she really enjoyed the manuscript, but she was no longer employed at the agency.
After querying a handful of agents, I decided to skip the waiting game and go directly to market through Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes and Noble. While publishers are figuring out their new roles in the digital media space, I'm working on developing quality content, marketing it, and connecting with readers.
Smart move. Creating a web presence seems just as important now as other forms of promotion. Let's move on to some metaphysical questions, shall we? Bar-keep, more flavored vodka, please! Here's a heavy one: How do you define failure and success?
I guess I'd define failure as giving up on whatever it is you want out of life. And success as working towards what you do. It may be cliche, but I think life is "about the journey." Enjoying simple things and living in the moment.
Cliches are there for a reason. No matter how bad the wrap they get, cliches stay alive because they ring true for everyone. It is about the journey. And speaking of journeys, if you had a time machine, which decade or era would you go back to and why?
The 70's. Maybe it's because I've seen Saturday Night Fever too many times. Disco seems so fun and goofy. And far out--just like Marsha Brady's hair.
Well, you know what they say about the 70s, if you remember it, you weren't really there. Or was that the 60s. I'm confused. Anyway, let's wrap this up with the heaviest question of them all: At the end of the day, what are you most thankful for? Why?
For the people who love me--unconditionally. My family and friends.
Anyone feeling the warm and fuzzies? I wouldn't know what I would do without my friends and family, too. As Patricia Dunker once wrote, "Writing is a secret art; a hidden, coded practice often carried out in the darkness behind locked doors." I'd go crazy without having all the loving and supportive people in my life.
Okay, I think the vodka is going to our head, as most flavored things do. So, before we start dancing on tabletops...Jason, it was a treat. Besides staring at your picture and wondering if you're single, we here at Reads, Reviews, Recommends are thankful for giving us some of your time. Aren't we, ladies? And more than a couple of gentlemen, too!
If you want to get to know Jason better, dear readers, you can always visit his website: http://www.jasonancona.com/index.html There's a particularly funny video there involving his dad and geese. Worth the watch. And tune in to tomorrow's post so you can sign up to win a copy of Debugging Tori Redding. So worth it!
Next week, the Author Interview Series travels to Vietnam to meet Bo Bissett, author of John Hancock. Catch you on the flip-side!