Geetanjali Mukherjee

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How I Write: Authors on Their Writing Process - Brent Jones

This week's interview is with debut author Brent Jones.

1.            What led to your love for literature / writing? Any favorite books / teachers / writing mentors?
I always liked to write, although I’ve never been a fan of vampires, werewolves, Martians, and the like. The thing is, truth is already strange enough, and I enjoy works of fiction that explore real world ideas, characters, places, and events—whatever draws out conflict, challenge, change, hope, and redemption for the protagonist. Some authors, who I feel do an excellent job at this, include Mordecai Richler, Douglas Coupland, and Nelly Arcan.

2.            When did you first start writing? How did you develop your craft?
I’ve always been writing in some sense or another. When I was a kid, I would take movies and video games and turn them into my own short stories. I won a national creative writing competition in Canada when I was 14. I also wrote music as a teenager, playing the odd local gig with a buddy of mine from school. In my adult life, I’ve been blogging for years and I’ve done some freelance writing work. It wasn’t until last fall that I returned to fiction and began writing my first novel. Reviewing my own work incessantly, finding beta readers, and hiring an editor improved my craft greatly, as did feedback I received after publication.

3.            What's your writing / editing process like?
I tend to do a fair bit of plotting. Most authors dread writing the description for the back of the book, but I often start there, crafting a synopsis of what my story is all about. I plot out characters, their quirks, an outline of major events, and then I began putting it all together in Scrivener, one chapter at a time. I would say that half of what I come up with, however, is done on the fly, listening my characters, imagining how they might react in a given situation.

4.            Where / how do you get your book ideas?
My ideas usually come from a simple place. It usually begins with a long drive or a bike ride, imagining how a person might react when put in a certain position—a position that any of us could one day find ourselves in. I’m most interested in character growth and development.

5.            When in the day do you usually write? For how long? Do you have a writing routine / schedule? Do you listen to music while you write or do you prefer silence?
I find myself most alert and creative in the morning, although I often do not get to writing until the afternoon and evening. I should probably change that. When I sit down to write, I usually aim to complete one chapter. I’ll spend a day writing the draft (2,000 words or so), then review and revise it the following day. It’s a bit of a slow process, but I like to be confident in what I’ve written before I move on the next chapter. When I sit down to write, I’m usually glued to one spot for four to six hours, and I’ll occasionally throw on instrumental music that matches the scene I’m creating. I keep at it until my brain turns to mush.

6.            Do you ever get writers' block? What are some ways you get around it?
If I really feel stuck, I’ll get up and walk away. I don’t believe in writing prompts and trying to power through writers’ block. Writing, to me, is a bit like a fart—if I have to force it, it’s probably shit. Move on to something else, sleep on it, then come back to it. A new day often offers a new perspective.

7.            How do you make the time to write?
I’m fortunate in the sense that my wife took over our business last fall to give me a year or two off to write full-time. Writing is my only focus, but I still need to find balance. I’m splitting my time between marketing my first novel, The Fifteenth of June, while writing the second, which I hope to have published by August 2017. I also divvy up my leisure time between playing guitar, boxing, cycling, reading, and hanging out with my wife and two hooligan dogs. We tend to travel a lot, especially by car, which usually gives my mind time to wander and dream up ideas for new stories.

8.            What project(s) are you working on now?
I’m currently working on my second novel, which I hope to have published by August, and a third, which I hope to have published by December. I’m also playing with the idea of publishing some short stories.

9.            Any advice for aspiring authors?
My best advice is to quit aspiring and start publishing. Thanks to the internet, anyone can publish their work. This is, of course, both a good thing and a bad thing. It means there’s a whole lot of junk available online, but it also means that those who aspire to publish a novel now can with few barriers to entry. The thing I’ve realized is that my work is never completely ready to publish—it could always be strengthened or improved. But if we, as authors, wait our entire lives for everything to be perfect, nothing will ever get done. At some point, you have to take a risk and say, “I’m going to publish this,” or, “I’m going to send this to an agent. Let’s see what happens.” And remember, no matter how great your writing is, not everyone will like it. Some readers will give you a one-star review, and that’s okay. You have to be satisfied and secure with whatever you’ve created.


From bad checks to bathroom graffiti, Brent Jones has always been drawn to writing. He won a national creative writing competition at the age of fourteen, although he can't recall what the story was about. Seventeen years later, he gave up his freelance career as a social media manager to pursue creative writing full-time. The Fifteenth of June is his debut novel.

Jones is working on his sophomore release from his home in Fort Erie, Canada. He's a bearded cyclist, a mediocre guitarist, (mostly) vegetarian, the proud owner of two dogs with a God complex, and a devoted “Instagram husband.”

The Fifteenth of June

Can we lose a loved one without losing ourselves?

Twenty-eight-year-old Drew Thomson is haunted by a troubled past. After struggling for years with alcoholism and antisocial behavior, he ends a stable relationship with his girlfriend and finds himself without a home, job, or purpose.

Just as he learns that his father is terminally ill, he meets a stranger who offers him a flicker of hope for a better future. But is he ready to bury the past?

Rich with dark humor and a keen insight into the human condition, this debut fictional release from author Brent Jones delves into life’s most pressing trials—destructive relationships, love, loss, and pursuing happiness.

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