Jones was at the Welland Library Seaway Mall Branch on Saturday, February 24th, from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm.
Amazon.com describes author Brent Jones as a person who has always been “drawn to writing”. He changed career paths to become a full-time writer and according to the reviews, he “has exceeded expectation that his sophomore novel, Fender, might best the debut. This emotionally packed literary saga . . . is powerful and profane and masterfully examines the overwhelming condition of stupefying grief.” –Stanley McShane (Virginia Williams), Author of Cocos Island Treasure.
We talked to him about his book and life as a writer. Here is what he had to say…
Let’s start off with the book you are coming to sign at Seaway. Fender starts of with a family tragedy that leads the main character to find his way home.
What is your definition of home?
The themes of “finding the way home” and “the road to new beginnings” are rampant throughout Fender. Brennan, our protagonist, embarks on a cross-country road trip with Fender (his dog), and his two best friends since childhood. It’s this journey toward new beginnings that forces our protagonist to reevaluate what “home” means to him. His wife and daughter won’t be waiting for him back in Buffalo, after all. My definition of home is, as cheesy as it sounds, wherever the heart is. We can never go home, as the saying goes. All we can do is learn to heal, love, and keep moving forward.
What inspired you to write this novel?
I will be talking about this at length on Saturday, February 24, at the Seaway Mall Branch of the Welland Public Library at 1 pm. The two main elements of this novel—an irreplaceable bond with a canine friend, and a cross-country road trip—were both very much drawn from personal experience. I used both of these ideas as a platform to explore painful (albeit natural) human experiences—loss, grief, and mending broken hearts.
Did you create Fender thinking about your dogs? if so, how similar is the character to your dogs?
Fender (the senior beagle in this novel) was loosely based on my dog, Gibson. Gibson is a twenty-pound pug / shih tzu cross. He just turned six, and we call him the “King President” at home, only because he thinks he rules the world. We’re his servants. You can follow his exploits on Instagram, @KingPrezGibson. The truth of it, though, is that Fender and Gibson share very little in common, aside from being named after guitars. Fender loves to run and explore and chase scents. Gibson likes naps, cuddling, and snacks.
Why did you decide to make Fender the only survivor?
I think, as pet owners, we all wonder at times how much our dogs understand about how the world works, including mortality. Knowing that his dog survived the crash that killed his wife and daughter, it adds some depth to Brennan’s dependence on Fender to get him through this difficult time. Fender was, after all, the last living being to see his family alive. It also lends itself to the question, can a dog grieve? If so, it gives Brennan another commonality with his canine companion. It adds depth to their relationship.
What does a person require to write creatively?
The will to do it. We’re all storytellers, I believe. It’s just a matter of being brave enough to tell that story and to let others experience it.
You gave up your career to become a full –time writer. What is the most difficult challenge you had to overcome to make that decision?
It wasn’t a hard decision for me, in fact. I’ll talk about this on Saturday, too. I didn’t see it as giving up anything, to be honest. It’s more like I switched career paths. My wife took over the business we built together, and I gave myself two years to write fiction full-time, and then re-evaluate if I’m happy with what I’m doing. I guess you could say that I’m forever reinventing myself.
What would you recommend others who want to change their career paths?
A lot of people say that life is short, but living is the longest thing we’ll ever do. I think it would be more accurate to say that life is too short to do something that makes us miserable. I left a director-level position in 2014 when my wife and I moved to Fort Erie from Toronto. We built our own business online—social media management—and then I exited that business at the end of 2016 to write fiction full-time. I made both of those decisions because I wanted to make both of those decisions. If someone wants to switch career paths badly enough, he or she will do it. Save up a bit of cash, live as frugally as possible, and never stop chasing dreams.
What is your writing process like?
I try to spend my mornings at the gym or cycling, and on marketing and administrative tasks, then spend my afternoons writing. I can generally get out 2,000 or so words in a day, or four hours of writing. Whichever comes first. My process involves equal measures of planning it out and winging it and then working with my editor to refine my ideas into one coherent story. Usually, that involves cutting a lot of what I’ve written. The truth of it is that whether I’m writing a novel or a short story, there are often many, many drafts involved.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working a series of four books that I hope to begin releasing in the next couple months. The first two are done. This will be a change of pace for me, writing in the thriller genre. The protagonist of my new thriller series, Afton Morrison, was introduced in a short story I just published this month. It’s called A Book With No Pictures, and it’s available everywhere eBooks are sold. That’s all I’m going to say about it for right now.
When you are having a writer’s block, what do you do to overcome it?
I don’t. I walk away from writing and read, or play the guitar, or watch a documentary, or play with my dogs. I don’t believe in forcing it. If I give my mind a rest, usually the answer will come to me in its own time. In the shower, sometimes.
What did you dream of doing when you were a child?
Child is a broad range of ages. As a young child, elementary school age, I talked a lot about wanting to write fiction as an adult. I was forever writing stories and doodling on weekends. As a teenager, however, I got an electric guitar, and I hoped to one day be a rock star. I have no rhythm, though, so that dream died fast.
Do you have any comments for your readers?
I appreciate the love and support. Especially from readers here in Niagara, and the local libraries, who have all been just so kind to me. Keep an eye out for The Afton Morrison Series, coming soon. I think you’re going to love it.
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