Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in Australia, in the small island state of Tasmania. I was born in the north of the island (Devonport), but moved to the south (Hobart) to attend university. I was lucky enough to get a job soon after graduating, and ended up staying here. I work in Antarctic science (as an assistant, not a scientist), where I help scientists manage the large amount of data they generate/collect. It's interesting work.
How long have you been writing?
I'm a relative newcomer to writing fiction, only really starting to focus on writing it in 2010. Before that, I had been writing some roleplay gaming material, and self-publishing it in PDF form.
I'd entertained the idea of writing fiction for many years, but like many people I'd never done anything about it. Around September 2010 I decided it was time. With NaNoWriMo coming up, I decided that would be the real test for me. If I completed it, and still enjoyed writing at the end, then I knew it was something I could become committed to. I managed to successfully finish, and I've been writing ever since.
What is Cryoskip's Footprints about?
“Cryoskip's Footprints” is the second story in what I've called the Atomic Wasteland Tales. It's set in a world that suffered a decades ago, and the survivors are doing the best they can to live and survive in the ruins of our world.
Footprints deals with two people who were alive before the war, but for some reason (unknown to them), they were kidnapped and put into cryogenic suspension. When they work up (years before the story), they found themselves in the wastelands. Over the years one of the two main characters (Butch) has decided to settle down as best he can, but the other (Derek) has never given up his search to find out why they were “slept”. In Footprints, Derek believes he has found somewhere that could give them some answers, and he manages to convince Butch to join him in investigating the site.
Unfortunately, they aren't the only ones looking for the site.
How did you come up with the plot?
The seed of the plot came from a news story my wife was reading, about a family in the US who had bought an old missile silo and converted it into a home. I imagined a company doing something similar to a larger military base (especially a company that wanted to do some secretive research), and the story grew from there.
Tell us about Derek and Butch.
Derek is the action hero of the story. We see early on that he's a good fighter, and he is the one driving the group forward. It's obvious that his time in the wastelands has changed him (not for the better), and he has never given up the quest to find out who they mysterious Cryoskip were. I guess it's fair to say that it is his obsession. So far he's not willing to sacrifice everything to find the answers he's after, but there may come a time soon where he has to make that choice.
Butch is the tech guy of the story. He was a computer tech before he was slept, and likes to tinker with the few working items he finds (or trades for). He has settled down, in an attempt to make some sort of normal life for himself, but he is still willing to put all that on hold when Derek visits him. He obviously has some issues from the early years that they spent in the wasteland, although no details are covered in this story.
How long did it take you to write Cryoskip's Footprints? Did you hire any outside help such as a cover artist or editor?
Footprints was a real bear to write, and took much longer than it should have for it's word count (10k words). I started it in mid-January, but didn't manage to finish it until late April. I struggled getting the words from my head to the keyboard.
I did the cover art myself (using a stock photo and some manipulation in Photoshop), but I hired Lynn O'Dell (Red Adept) to edit the story for me. I'm currently planning to hire Lynn for all my editing work, as I find her a pleasure to work with.
As I'm sure you know, many readers like to find their favorite authors on social networking websites like facebook and twitter. Do you have any social network links you'd like to share?
Absolutely! You can find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jason.g.anderson, and I'm on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JasonGA. I don't spend a huge amount of time on either, but I try to keep any eye on everything.
Of course, I also have my normal website at http://www.jasonga.com
What do you feel are the most important aspects of a great book?
For me, it is a combination of the characters and the overall story.
I have to like (or at least understand and barrack for) the characters in a story for me to want to continue reading. Ideally the characters should grow in some way over the story, but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case if they are challenged in a significant way. The characters are our eyes and ears in the world of the story, and any failings here can ruin an otherwise good book.
The overall story is equally important though. I want something to happen in the book – something interesting, exciting, thrilling, or even scary. Most importantly, the story should have an ending. It doesn't have to be an end that ties everything up neatly. The author can leave a few side-elements unresolved. But I shouldn't get to the end and have the feeling the author forgot to write “To be continued...” after the final paragraph.
Really, at the end of the book I want to be able to look back over everything that's happened, and say that it was an enjoyable ride.
Have you ever sat down to write a scene only to have the story take you in a completely different direction than you had planned?
Many times! Not so much in the short stories I write, but the two novels I have in progress have had many scenes where I thought the characters would do X, and I found them suddenly doing Y.
I usually keep the changes because it means my subconscious has come up with some new ideas that are probably better than my initial planning, but I do stop for a few moments to consider what the new actions mean to the overall story. It could well mean that some things I have planned for later need to be changed, and it's better to make those changes earlier rather than later. If nothing else, it gives my subconscious something new to work on :)
And just for fun, favorite movie or television series?
I have quite a few favorite television series – I couldn't pick just one. Doctor Who was a childhood favorite, and I've really enjoyed the new series that started in 2005. From the SyFy channel I like Sanctuary, Warehouse 13, and Eureka. Finally, the series Lost Girl that showed last year was very intriguing (I liked how they were playing with all the fey myths), and I'm really looking forward to the new season.
And I have to say I think TV executives who believe a mid-season break is a “good idea” should be taken out the back and shot.
Thank you so much for stopping by! Best of luck to you!
Cryoskip's Footprints at Amazon.com (US)
Cryoskip's Footprints at Amazon.com (UK)
Jason G. Anderson at Goodreads.com