A few weeks ago I read and then wrote a review of the thriller “The Last Squadron“. As a result of my review, I was contacted by the author, Dan Jayson, and have been able to interview him.
Myself: I want to express my thanks to you for doing this interview. First, a little bit about your background. When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?
Jayson: I guess since I was old enough to read and write. Then one day I thought okay – I am going to start, so I sat down and wrote the first line. Why that day? I do not know, maybe I was just looking for a new challenge.
Myself: What is your academic and work background?
Jayson: I am a chartered professional engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineers and served for a while in the British Territorial Army. I have been lucky enough to have lived and worked all over the world and spent many months offshore on underwater construction vessels in some remote places.
Myself: What part of the world do you live in now?
Jayson: My family and I currently live in south-west London.
Myself: How do you relax? What are your hobbies?
Jayson: I love being with family and friends, and enjoy military history, diving, walking, and skiing.
Myself: What else would you like to share about yourself?
Jayson: I am married with four children, and am a little worried that we are trashing the planet!
Myself: Do you see Fiction, and more specifically Science Fiction, as a way to educate and persuade people from that path?
Jayson: Yes – I think science fiction / fiction books, plays, and films can influence people to effect change. If you can draw someone into a story and make it memorable then perhaps some scenes and themes will become “decision triggers” in real life. Maybe the events portrayed in The Last Squadron might persuade a few people to take more interest in some of the conflicts that have been bubbling away for decades now and pressure our governments to work together in a common framework to stop the misery.
Myself: I wanted to ask about you as a reader. What is the first book you remember reading by yourself?
Jayson: One of the ‘Hornblower’ novels.
Myself: Did you read much growing up?
Jayson: Yes continuously although – I remember I stopped for little after reading the Exorcist which terrified me!
Myself: What have you read recently?
Jayson: Winston Churchill’s Second World War – Volume 1.
Myself: That’s quite a change from “The Exorcist”. Do you have a favorite genre? book? character? author?
Jayson: I do not think I have one, how much you enjoy any book I think can depend on your mood and environment. Every book has something to offer – as a reader you get to devour in a few days what an author has sometimes spent years writing – that is special.
Myself: Where is your favorite place to read?
Jayson: Just about anywhere! At this very moment, I think it would have to be on a sun lounger outside on a hot day.
Myself: Do you prefer paper or eBooks?
Jayson: I like paperbacks – there is something personal about them – I don’t know why – maybe its because they are tactile? You can scrunch them up and even tear out pages as you go if you need to share the book with a friend.
Myself: Now a little about you as an author. What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?
Jayson: I wanted to write an adventure story that was realistic, entertaining, captured some of the great traits of humanity and shone a light on some of our worst aspects.
Myself: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Jayson: I would like to write a second novel, I just need to get the time!
Myself: Is there anyone who has influenced your writing?
Jayson: Both my time offshore and in the Army influenced my writing – when you are part of a small team in a harsh environment and trying to accomplish a specific task, the resulting comradery and humor are quite special. In addition, the film directors James Cameron and Ridley Scott were an influence, I loved Alien, Aliens, and Black Hawk Down – their attention to technical detail, often-portraying equipment as “scuffed and used” is something I tried to replicate.
Myself: How did you pick the genres for your stories?
Jayson: I wanted to write something I would enjoy – something that was plausible, gritty, realistic, and panoramic. This was the best I could come up with!
Myself: Where do your story ideas come from?
Jayson: The ideas came from disparate and often unconnected sources. So as an example, I saw a documentary about the Black Plague and the residents of the English village called Eyam, and this, coupled with an article I had read a few years before about gene fabrication gave me the idea to create a fairly nasty man-made virus. As another example, whilst we were living in Paris we visited the Palace of Versailles several times. It was on one of these trips that I thought wow … what would a firefight look like in here?
Myself: Do you work from an outline of your plot, or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
Jayson: I do not think I had any preconceived approach, I started with a couple of rather disparate scenes as pegs in the ground and then let the characters and events just lead me.
Myself: What tools (software?) do you use in your writing?
Jayson: Just a laptop and a printer – I basically just bulldoze words onto the laptop then print out what I’ve written, read it, cross out huge tracts, add notes then redo it. I am sure there are better ways but …
Myself: Well, I think that with ‘productivity’ tools and processes, the best one is the one that works for you. What are the hardest and easiest things about writing?
Jayson: The hardest thing is starting the first line, after that, it is easy to write but a pain to edit.
Myself: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Jayson: Just write the first line – you will be hooked and it will always call you back to write another!
Myself: Now a little bit about your works. What novels/works have you published?
Jayson: Just this one novel – I do not really count engineering technical papers as of interest!
Myself: I have to agree. From my experience, technical papers have been far easier to write than fiction. What are you currently working on?
Jayson: Am thinking about another novel – but am currently working on several projects relating to underwater salvage as well as trying to launch a small business.
Myself: I will certainly keep a lookout for your future works. What else would you like to share?
Jayson: I do hope anyone who reads The Last Squadron enjoys it!
Myself: How should your fans follow you or get in touch?
Jayson: Anyone is welcome to get in touch on twitter @danjayson. I would love to hear any feedback.