Meet the Author... Jay Northearn
This time I’m introducing you to a brand new, published author; Jay Northearn. He writes epic fantasy; steam punk with the gritty style of GoT. Don’t worry, there are vampires in the book! Let’s find out more about Jay and his debut novel, Beyond Falcon’s Reach.
After cutting his teeth as an artist in the 1990s computer games industry, Jay returned to traditional media and has produced imagery for licensing and abstract art for wall-art publishers. He lives with his wife, Julia, in Leicestershire, UK. New to fiction writing, Jay’s will to continue was boosted thanks to Booksie’s online platform. Not so new to Fantasy in other various media, he has an enviable collection of fantasy-art books sneaked in among Rothko and Kandinsky.
What is your favourite childhood book, and why?
That would have to be ‘The Tall Book of Christmas’ by Gertrude E. Espenscheid. It’s one of those spell-binding books you never forget. It was published in Canada, and mint copies fetch a small fortune now … very collectable. Sadly, my copy was so well perused it’s now held together with tape. It’s a Yuletide gift-box of poems, traditional tales and information about every child’s favourite time of year, and Gertrude’s illustrations have that Pauline Baynes (illustrator of original Narnia editions) magical quality, seldom matched today.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, and it was sci-fi too! I think I was about seven when I wrote a Transformers style story, about an evil scientist who creates a giant robot to smash up cities. If only there was an infant’s writing circle at the time, to tell me I should have given a reason for such antisocial behaviour. You see, you gotta have the narrative arc! Where’s the narrative arc?
What was an early experience when you learned that language had power?
My junior school teacher was giving me a hard time for not knowing the answer to a basic question. After he moved on to something else, I put up my hand and said in a sniffy way: “Look, sir, nobody’s perfect!” His expression was priceless. I made him snigger, so I got back some power … or so I thought. He must have thought I was a precocious little *&%^ all the same.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
The Culture series by the late Iain Banks blows me away. It’s easy to fall into a trap in fear of stepping beyond the zone … getting too far-out for what is perceived to be the average reader. However, as someone like Neil Gaiman might say: the average reader does not exist. The ability, for example, to craft a story involving someone cocooned in a special suit, while he interacts with gas-giant dwelling aliens who take recreational drugs and kill their own offspring in ritual hunting swarms, takes some doing. Banks creates such amazing cosmic scope. If you lose grip of the ride, I think he would say: That’s too bad. I’ll drop you off at the lay-by. His books are not easy-reading, but definitely worth the effort.
What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
That people want to read my work and willing to pay money for it. Truly. My writing endeavours began as self-indulgence. I didn’t start out with any massive expectations.
As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal?
I have several in my back garden. Whenever I feel a bit down, or lost, a blackbird often hops close to my conservatory window. Yes, I know … could be just coincidence, but the spirit of Carl Jung might say synchronicity. According to many folklores around the world, blackbirds are powerful energy conveyers. They are dark, but that does not mean malignant. They are dark in the sense that space is dark, and therefore filled with potential. That’s definitely a glass-half-full approach … space not as absence but possibility. I love to see birds in general: robins, bull-finches, pigeons, but blackbirds especially. They fascinate me.
Do you write alone or in public?
Definitely alone. I don’t know how anyone can concentrate enough to write properly with people shuffling around, but horses for courses goes the saying.
Do you outline or just write?
A bit of both. To kick off the story, I have found it best to go with my mind’s improvisational flow. However, for me that’s only possible to an extent. There has to be a road-map developed at some point, or there’s danger of losing coherence. At the same time, I don’t like to over-plot to the nth degree, because then it’s like a painter who produces such detailed sketches, there’s a drain on freshness and vitality for the final piece. Just a rough scaffold is enough. I guess it’s a balancing act between the macro and the micro aspects of the story.
Music or silence?
I like the companionship of music, as long as there’s no lyrics. Synth artists like Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, Stockhausen and Brian Eno go down well. That kind of music can bolster the imagination without obstructing more conscious thought processes.
What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?
In Beyond Falcon’s Reach there’s a playwright called Pultzer. At the outset, he is the typical pompous aesthete who hides his insecurities and lack of real ability behind a façade of cultural superiority. We often find these types lurking within creative cliques. They’re happy to harp on endlessly about their own work (far more than I’m doing now, I hope) but dare to mention your own project, and even worse: refer to any kind of success, and they blank you out. There’s just no room in their egos for anyone else doing anything which they feel treads on their toes. However, Pultzer does develop into someone we can relate to more readily, even like.
Thank you, Chris, for such insight into your writing background. And I’m so happy to find someone who loves birds! I hand-raised pigeons myself. We found one as a bare bub and took him home. It appeared to be a homing pigeon, and we named him Pino (the name for Big Bird in Holland). He was a true pet, free to fly around as he pleased all day. When I studied, I also had three pigeons (also homing pigeons). They had their own room (as birds do make for a lot of dust), though. They gave me much pleasure; seeing them fly around, giving me cuddles (yes, pigeons love cuddling!), and even when they messed with my plants. They were my little dragons 🙂
Jay Northearn can be found and followed on Facebook.
Beyond Falcon’s Reach is available on Amazon. One click on the image below will take you to the book on Amazon.com.
Beyond Falcon’s Reach
by Jay Northearn
Gothic-medieval meets steampunk in the epic fantasy novel, Beyond Falcon’s Reach…
With the ancient blood-pact between landfolk and mountain-people at a precipice, Mourde Cullis buries himself into torturous experiments, seeking a mythical elixir of near-immortality.
Only the daughter of a powerful Landmaster can realise his goal, but the aristocratic loner soon discovers her gift to be laced with dire consequence. As an ice-age converges and the landfolk must leave their famine-stricken homes, a terrifying new order in Farr City is hungry for the Mourde’s dark legacy.
Cullis finds himself torn between the sinister, and redemption. Blood must flow freely, as it did long ago, without limits and by the sword.