Tag Archives: reading

‘Old School’ Interview

I’m from a small town; a village in fact. Having been raised here, gone to school here, and after many years away, returning here, it remains an undeniable fact that if someone from here achieves anything of any note, it is usually celebrated and everyone knows about it.

This is neither a bad thing nor a good thing. It just is what it is. I am happy to embrace it.

And so, while everyone where I’m from knows I have written and published my first novel, I am constantly asked how the writing is going, how are the sales, when is the next book? Or (and this is something I relish) stopping me to tell me how much they enjoyed Fastian. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of being told that someone enjoyed a piece of work I put so much effort into. I love it.

But when I got approached by one of the teenagers from my old school asking me could I do an interview for the school magazine, that was an extra piece of self-gratification that I wasn’t expecting. However, when I was twenty I worked for this teenager’s dad in the local pub and she was three years old running around the place. I was sadly reminded that I am now getting ‘old.’

Still, at least I’m alive, huh?

Below is that interview.

The Write Stuff
By Taira Lewis

Jason Finnerty is a past pupil of Clonaslee Vocational school; he is now an author writing under the pseudonym, Jay Finn. He sells his books online and has now started a fantasy series. He launched the first book of the series “Fastian: An Edgewier Tale” just before Christmas in the Heritage Centre in Clonaslee.

How did you start writing stories?
I first started (or attempted to start) when I was maybe 12 or 13 because I had read the Narnia books and just fell in love with them. It just clicked in my head that maybe I would like to write something like that but when I started writing properly it was about six or seven years ago. I started writing short stories and one of them got short-listed for an award and when it did I was thinking “Well maybe this is something I could do” so I just kept going from there!

What inspired your book Fastian?
I actually got the idea from the movie The Dark Knight, seeing the character of the joker I just had this idea of a character who was not exactly likeable but could still be kind of the good guy, someone who’s not a nice person but is like kind of the anti-hero. So it just started from there but over the years it developed into the book that it is now. There’s no set way about it, it just organically came together.

Did you know at first that it would be a trilogy?
Yeah, I knew it was going to be long, it might even be more than 3. I had this idea in my head that once I created this world, I could write the story and make it as long as I wanted and that was actually exciting because I wasn’t set to “it has to be in one book” because that’s just too narrow, especially with fantasy. Fantasy tends to be epic, for example George Martin, they’re all in lots of books, so I always knew it was going to be long. It could be four or five books now.

Do you think that literature has been diminished by television and internet?
I’m not sure, maybe in a way. The idea of holding a book in your hand for a lot of people isn’t the same because now you’ve got kindles and things like that, so maybe not literature itself but how we purchase literature and how perceive it is maybe a bit different. And it’s at a stage now where almost every second movie is based on a book so a lot of people tend to watch the movie before they read the book and that annoys me… A lot! People are like “Oh yeah I’ve watched this movie, now I’ll read the book”. No, read the book first! When you watch a movie you have the characters in your head already, so when you’re reading the book it’s not your own imagination that’s creating them in your head – it’s what you’ve seen in the film, and that just annoys me.

Would you like your books to be made into films?
Yeah, that’d be really cool but I think it would work better as an animation. Most fantasy movies are woeful! (Well, apart from Lord of the Rings.) I’d like to see it done in an animation because you can do so much with animation now and you don’t have to worry about making a movie with special effects and stuff. So yeah, I would like to see that someday

What advice would you give to student hoping to become a writer?
Read a lot and write a lot, it’s that simple! You can’t become a writer unless you read, the same way you can’t be a carpenter if you haven’t got a saw. Read everything, don’t just read one genre, read as much as you can and read constantly. I could read fifty, sixty or seventy books in a year. It’s like practise, when you see other people’s styles and see how other people write stories, you will understand plot and characters, themes. You can not become a writer unless you read and once you read you have to write a lot. You don’t have to sit down and say “Ok, I’m going to write a book” and just concentrate on that. Write short stories. Take a month and tell yourself everyday you’re going to write a 2000 word short story. 29 of them could be terrible but you can have one gem. Don’t think about it too much, especially when you are writing short stories. Just give yourself a premise “A man walks into the store and trips over the step” and just work from there! Just something small like that or you could make it as outlandish as you want either. Just read a lot and write a lot!

Were you a good student in school?
I wasn’t bad as in badly behaved but I was lazy. I did all pass subjects for my leaving cert. I was doing honours English right up until two months before the exams. I didn’t want to go to college, I had no interest in education because I didn’t really like school. It’s not that I wasn’t smart, I just had no interest. I liked stuff like history though. So, I wasn’t bad, I was just lazy because I just had no real interest in being there and didn’t want to go to college (even though I did go to college later on). I started travelling once I finished school. So yeah, not a bad student, just lazy!

When do you think the series will be finished?
Well I hope to have the second book out by next Christmas. (Fingers crossed!) I’m working on another book at the minute, it’s just kind of a contemporary fiction which I’m going to try get published the “old-school” way, get it done through a normal publisher. The thing with fantasy is, it’s hard to get it published as it’s such a huge market so that’s why I did the whole self-publishing thing, plus I wanted to see a book with my name on it! So, over-all finished I don’t know. Hopefully in the next 4 or 5 years I’d like to have the entire tale told but we’ll see what happens!

Where are your books available?
Online mainly, any major online store; Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, I-store. Just search Fastian or Jay Finn and you should them (and it’s not expensive!)

Kindle or ‘real-life-in-your-hands-book’

Yes, kindle and e-readers of all kinds have been nothing short of a Reading Revolution. Yes, I heard what I just said. A REVOLUTION!

Hundreds of books on one little digital tablet! Surely this is one of the greatest inventions for all you book lovers out there.

Except, in a lot of cases, it’s not.

The feel of a book in your hands (especially those 700+ page epics); the smell of the new pages; the perfect smoothness and matte finish of a straight-off-the-shelf book. I don’t think there is anything better.

And so, in saying that, I am coming close to having all of my hard copies of ‘Fastian’ gone. I have roughly twenty of them left and they need a good home! I will post them to anyone wishing to purchase one. And why wouldn’t you want one? Only 250 were printed and if (when) one day, global success comes my way, you will be in the possession of something very rare indeed.

My email is coshure96@gmail.com or you can tweet me @jayfinn32 for any details or questions. Go on, what’s the worst that could happen?unnamed

Stories

I have been giving quite a bit of thought lately to stories. I am not talking about plot, structure, character development or anything else that might bore you to death. No, I have been thinking of the power of stories, and how, no matter how you might try to avoid it, they manage to take a life of their own and become something more than what you had intended. As I thought along in this fashion, I ended up back at ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’… Yes, that of Jesus.

Let me give you an example first. Hell, let me give you two.

First, let’s start from personal experience. A few years back, before the release of the final Harry Potter book, I happened to mention to a guy I wouldn’t usually strike up a conversation with that I was looking forward to the book coming out. A few months later I met that guy again and he asked me, with complete seriousness, if I had waited in line with a bunch of children at midnight, outside a bookshop, dressed as Dumbledore, awaiting the final book to be released. It’s amazing, how in a few short weeks, a casual comment could somehow have wound it’s way around to the falsehood that I had dressed as Dumbledore.

Secondly, I want to refer you back to Star Wars. One of the most famous movie quotes of all time, often quoted by children and drunk men on a night out. ‘Luke, I am your father.’ In fact there is no such quote. The actual line is ‘No, I am your father.’

And so brings me to the point I am trying to get to. The story of Jesus. The story itself is two thousand years old. Now, my Harry Potter story managed to warp itself into something ridiculous in the space of a few weeks. This is understandable. Everyone loves a rumour or a good piece of gossip. Especially ones where the protagonist is left looking foolish, even if in their heart of hearts they know it to not be true. Truth has little power in a juicy piece of gossip.

But, the Star Wars story is far more interesting. Here we have a story that should not be manipulated. With the written word, there is room for interpretation and visualising a character in your own fashion. Yet, with a movie, it does your imaginations work for you. Yet still, a movie quote that has worked its way into popular culture, is a quote that never existed. What does this say of the human condition. That although the movie is there for us to see anytime we want (any many of us have watched it countless times) how is it that ‘Luke, I am your father’ has not only survived, but flourished? Simple. It fits better. It feels better. It’s more comfortable. It falls off the tongue better. Basically, if we don’t like the story, we change it to suit the shape we want it to take.

And that is the important point. We change the story to suit the shape we want it to take. With the story of Jesus, two thousand years old and with humankind’s obvious need to change, shift, manipulate our stories, we cannot take the story of Jesus as we know it today as, pardon the pun, ‘gospel.’ To do so would be the greatest fallacy of all. It is blatantly obvious that the story of Jesus was polished, changed, changed again and probably a hundred more times in the past two thousand years to suit the world we lived in at each time period. This is not a condemnation, just a statement. Yet, I also think to discount the story completely is an equal fallacy. Yes I believe there was a person, in that part of the world, in that period of history, who did something that was worth writing down for future generations to know about. Was his name even Jesus? More than likely. The rest is impossible to know for sure. For the world loves a story, yet sometimes, making the story fit to how you might like it to sound is a more outstanding trait of out race than preserving historical accuracy.

Stories have the power to change and to alter the reader(s). They are wonderful things. Beautiful things. Sacred even. However, to take ANY story as ‘truth’ is a very, very dangerous thing indeed. Stories are personal. We all take our own meanings from any story we read or tell. The story of Jesus is no different. Yet it holds a special and sometimes fanatical place in peoples hearts and minds. So much so, that people have gone to war over it. People have died because of it. People have killed because of it. This is where things get crazy. Stories should inspire, ignite and make people think. It is when we ourselves make the fallacy of confusing story with truth or fact (even history is written by the surviviors, usually the winners of a war) that things become dangerous. In the case of religious stories, dangerous on a global scale.

So for the love of stories everywhere, please don’t hold them up to be something they are not.