Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Author Interview: Jarrett Rush

The Speculative Fiction Showcase interviews Jarrett Rush, author of the New Eden Series/Rexall Cycle and the Jackson Cane Adventures.

These days, most writers are glued to their laptops, tablets, and/or e-readers. A few still swear by print books and typewriters, the question is: Do you move at all?

Actually, I move quite a bit. My wife and I have a little girl who is almost 3. She is nothing but energy. Once I get home from work I’m either chasing her around the park across the street or giving her horsey rides around the living room or playing some other game she’s made up that evening. But it’s great. She’s amazing. I didn’t think being a dad would be this much fun, but it really is. It’s fascinating to watch her learn and discover and make connections. And it’s great that I appreciate that since we are about to start over. Baby two comes in June.

Apple or PC?

In a previous life I worked in newspapers. I wound up on the production side of the business and was tangentially connected to all of the artists and photographers. I got a real appreciation for Apple watching all of them work. But, for myself, I’m a PC guy. I do words. I have two requirements of my computer: Have a decent word processor (Or have one available) and don’t cost me a month’s mortgage when I buy you. For all of the great things about Apple, their computers are expensive.

Do you use Scrivener or Word?

Being a PC guy, I use Word. Like Apple, I know there are some great things about Scrivener. Really great. But I’m a creature of habit, and this creature has used Word for too long to change now.

Do you have any pets? Do they influence your writing?

We have a chocolate Labrador named Molly, and she’s the best. She’s still a big puppy. The people we’ve talked to say that we are coming up to the point when she’ll calm down. Honestly, I don’t know if I want her to calm down. Yes, she can get on my nerves, but I’ll miss her happy-go-lucky personality that she has right now. As far as influencing my writing, I’m sure she does. I never stopped to think about it, but I don’t see how she couldn’t.

Would you rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?

Unfair question. I’d imagine everyone says “I’ll take both.” But if you make me pick then I’ll take small screen. I like that the story can be open-ended in television. Plus, the world my stories take place in is big enough that it’d be interesting to see where someone else takes things once they have moved past my original concepts.

Are you hooked on any science fiction or fantasy TV shows? If so, which one(s)?

I try not to get too attached to anything genre related on TV. Seems like when I do they all get cancelled.

Almost Human
Life on Mars

I know there are others, but my track record is pretty lousy. So now I wait for shows to get a season or two in before picking them up on Netflix or another similar service. I may try Agents of Shield soon. And Helix. And no one will kick me out if I admit to never having seen Firefly, right? I need to watch that one as well.

Do you own copies of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings DVDs? The extended version? Do you ever watch them?

There are copies of this in my house. They belong to my wife. I bought them for her as a gift. We may have watched them once or twice. We do, however, stop and watch them when we come across them on TV. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and traditional fantasy in general is really my wife’s thing. I enjoy it, but not in the same way.

Have you seen the first two parts of the The Hobbit? Are you planning to see the final instalment?

I have seen all three parts of The Hobbit, and I enjoyed them all. The second was my favorite. Of course, it was long, but all those movies are long. That one, though, felt like a complete tale. I don’t think I can say that about the others. That’s especially true about the third one. You had the satisfaction of wrapping up the story, but really the movie felt like set piece after set piece.

Your New Eden/Rexall Cycle series is dystopian science fiction. What is it that draws you to dystopian fiction?

For me it’s all about the setting. Even if the plot of the story is man against man, there’s an underlying man against nature that’s still there. The world these characters are living in is always changing in ways that, at the end of the day, could kill our antagonist. In my stories, these people are at the lowest point they can get. They are just struggling for survival. So there’s a challenge there as a writer to not bring a little hope to what may seem like a hopeless situation. I think I did that in the first two books of my New Eden series. At least, I hope I did.

You write both dystopian science fiction and urban fantasy, both subgenres that are currently experiencing something of a boom. So what is your favourite dystopian novel or respectively your favourite urban fantasy novel not written by yourself?

There are a series of YA books that I love: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. He’s a pre-teen criminal mastermind who goes up against fairy named Holly Short. I found them by chance on a staff recommendations shelf at a local bookstore. I read all of them quickly.

I think I love them because they are pure story. If it doesn’t move the plot forward it’s not there. No tangents of introspection. No heart-warming side stories. It’s just the main story. And they are fun stories.

Are you a Luddite? Or do you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology?

I’m not a luddite, and I’m not an early adopter. Like a lot of folks, I’m probably somewhere on the spectrum in between. I will jump on a technology a few generations in so many of the bugs and problems can be worked out. I don’t want to pay to be a beta tester.

I will admit to probably adopting a lot of technologies later than I’d actually like to, but a lot of that has to do with price. I can have a hard time justifying expenses to myself, especially those that I see as going to a want rather than a need.

Now, if my books became crazy successful I’ll want to come back and change this answer. With a bit more disposable income I could see me becoming an early adopter.

Have you ever been to Starbucks or any other coffee shop?

It’s weird. I spent the first 15 years of my working life in newspapers, where they practically install a coffee-filled IV into your arm when you start. For some reason, though, I just never took to drinking it. Something about the taste that I don’t like. Well, didn’t like. I do drink coffee now, but it’s only occasionally. When I do, I like it to taste as much like hot chocolate as possible.

So, to answer the question, I have been to Starbucks. My wife has actually started buying me Starbucks gift cards so I can satisfy my coffee craving. I also volunteer at my church a few Sundays a month. We have a coffee shop there, and I’ll buy something most weeks.

Something to note, I’ve never written at a Starbucks or any other coffee shop. Closest I’ve ever come to that kind of public writing was at the library where I could take a bottle of soda to my desk with me. It was actually very productive.

Do you do Yoga? Meditation? or Deep Breathing? Does it help you cope?

I don’t do any of those things, but I do pray. Like I mentioned in the answer about coffee, I’m a churchgoer. My faith has helped get me through a couple of layoffs and the other challenges that life can throw at you, and it’s very important to me.

Do you consider yourself a slave to the muse?

We tend to want to romanticize the creative process. Like there is some sort of magic to it. In reality, it’s all about butt in chair. Writing, and I’d imagine almost any other artform is, gets easier the more you do it. And I’ve found that when something is easy, the muse tends to show up more frequently. But, to answer the question, no. I don’t consider myself a slave.

About Jarrett Rush:

Jarrett Rush lives outside of Dallas with his wife, Gina, their daughter, Ellie, and an  overly energetic chocolate Labrador, Molly. When not chasing the dog around the back yard, Jarrett likes to write stories about common people put in uncommon situations. He tends toward darker stories, so those uncommon situations usually involve guns and explosions. They may also include a science fiction element.

He started writing as a kid, but didn't pursue his dreams until he met Gina. She gave him the push that he needed to make those dreams a reality.

When he's not writing, Jarrett cheers on the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers and lives out his own baseball dreams by playing rec-league softball.

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