My favourite author is probably Harlan Coben. I got back into reading when I was in my teenage years by picking up 'No Second Chance'. The rest is history. Besides Harlan, I absolutely adore the way Neil Gaiman writes, I love how Stephen King writes characters that are often more scary than anything supernatural he creates, and Scott Lynch is a master of smart fantasy. These are the four authors I've felt most attached to over the past year or so but there are plenty more that I like.
What are you working on next?
I have quite a few projects coming up. In the next few months I will be releasing a few free short stories--my mailing list might get first looks at these--while also finishing up my first full length novel called Pain Taker, which is about a girl that was born with an ability to take away people's pain. She is used as a tool for her family and she wants to escape her horrible life and join the real world, and hopefully find happiness there. There are a lot of themes touched upon in this story including both emotional and physical abuse, addiction, family, and love, while also being a coming-of-age story.
In addition to Pain Taker, I have another novel almost completely drafted which will really explore the mind and how much mental illness can affect people's lives. I've also drafted the first book in a series of (probably) three books that explore the ideas of alternative realities--and how small changes in your life can have large impact--and religion (especially in the later books in the series).
The last thing I've got on the go right now is a cross-medium project that I'm attempting with my brother (and possibly girlfriend) which will take me the better part of a year or two to get off the ground. I'm hoping it will awe people and really help people who aren't big readers engage in a story that isn't strictly a movie or tv show.
What do your fans mean to you?
Honestly, the word fans is funny to me. I'm a regular guy who likes writing. If someone likes my work, they are my friend. If anyone likes my stories enough to pick one up and finish it, I'm absolutely floored. So my friends mean the world to me.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a qualified mathematician (I have an undergrad and postgrad masters degree). I'm currently studying to be a high school maths teacher. While I study, I work at a maths learning centre where I give one-on-one help to students who want it.
I also love reading and listening to music (check out my twitter or blog, I write a lot about the different forms of art that inspires me), and I also play some tennis every now and again. You'll also find me playing some video games every now and again, especially if a new Legend of Zelda game has recently been released.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do! I wrote this thing I called 'Brother' back when I was probably about 16 or 17. I was super proud of it because not only was it the first novel I'd ever actually finished, I also thought it was amazing. I read back over it a little time later and realised it was essentially trash, but it set me up in a lot of ways. It taught me a little bit about my writing process plus it told me I could actually finish a novel.
As for what it's about... I can't actually remember too much. There was some revenge and some family secrets. Maybe one day I'll rework the good bits, but I probably won't.
What is your writing process?
My process is basically come up with an idea I'm really passionate about. Could be a theme, a scene, whatever. Over a month or two, I normally get more ideas that relate to that central idea. This little sprout of inspiration starts to paint a picture so much that I write a short synopsis of a story. My next step is to flesh out the story into a page or two and then eventually into chapter breakdowns. It sounds like a lot of work, but it feels natural in that each time I'm writing as much as I know about the story. I find more details show themselves the more I know about the story.
My chapter breakdowns are brief, they are more so dot points that point me in the right direction. Once I start actually writing the story, these dot points become a guide, rather than a rule. They tell me where I'm going rather than what I'm doing, if that makes sense.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The first book that comes to mind is Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It's a slow burner at first but I got this feeling while reading it that really awed me. I loved the feel of the book and Jonathan Strange was just an all around great character. I love the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin for a few reasons. First is the all the back story and importance of family. There are so many secrets that people theorise about them and I really hope I can do something like that one day. The second is the grittiness of it. The characters are fully fleshed out as well. I love Jaime. One of my favourite characters of all time. Speaking of favourite characters, I love Rand and Mat from the Wheel of Time series. Rand's gradual descent into madness was breathtaking, especially as someone who loves writing about mental illness. It was a long read, but I look back on the series with fondness. A recent favourite is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. It's a beautifully crafted novel with charming prose and it has really encouraged me to binge most of Gaiman's books. I still have a couple to go but I'm loving them. Back when I was younger, I loved the Bartimaeus Trilogy. I'm not going to go into it but I've read them all twice and the ending is still to this day probably the best ending I've ever read. I know it's a young adult book but it is something special and will stay with me forever, I think
When did you first start writing?
I've written for a long time, but not seriously. I've got folders and folders of short stories on my computer that I will maybe one day reread and edit and send out into the world. But I've taken this year off from studying (although I'm returning to a teaching degree next year) to write and it's been an amazing journey. I've released my first novella earlier in the year and I'm really proud of the feedback I've received so far. I'm keen for even more people to read it, however.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Sharing my view of the world. I might have a dark perspective on what the world offers but I think it's laced with something hopeful too, something special. The joy for me is getting my thoughts onto paper in a way that isn't just me writing an essay. Hopefully people agree with my outlook, or at least respect it, and/or enjoy my books on an entertainment level.
Anything else you want to leave for those reading this interview?
I'd just like to say thank you for taking the time to read this interview. Check out my novella Happiness. It's about a boy who loses his twin sister when they are kids. As he grows up, the childhood trauma takes its toll and we see how well Terry deals with his consequent mental illness. It's only short, 100 pages, and it's on Amazon. I'll have a lot more stories for you in the near future.
If you'd like to keep in touch, check out my twitter at @jonopantelis or my facebook page @jonathonpantelisauthor. I also have a website (and a mailing list for those free short stories) at https://jonathonpantelis.wordpress.com.
I hope to see you around, friend :)
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