Interview with Jason Schoonover

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The pure pleasure I get from it and the excitement of seeing what appears, as I'm just as surprised by the twists and turns of both plot and phrases as the reader. Probably the single greatest pleasure I get from it is when a character quips something totally unexpected that sits me back in my chair laughing out loud.
What do your fans mean to you?
Having appreciative readers makes the work worthwhile, because taking on the massive creative challenge of writing an adventure-thriller requires one to sacrifice almost two years from one's life, because it's a 24/7 undertaking.
What are you working on next?
People have been telling me for decades that I live an interesting life. It has something to do with that.
Who are your favorite authors?
Strangely, they're not in the adventure-thriller field, like Cussler who I'm most often compared to, though I admired Ludlum who obviously loved writing. Rather, in fiction my favorite author of all time is John Steinback and The Grapes of Wrath. I savoured every word. I'm actually more of a non-fiction reader as I like to learn something from my readings, like Gladwell and Diamond. That perhaps explains why my fiction is noted again and again in reviews for the accuracy of the anthropological and antiquities et al background.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
To see what appears on the pages that day. As well, just to live, and live adventurously. I love life and I'm getting all I can out of it, as I do a lot more than just sit in front of a computer, as can been seen at Blah Blah, my photo blog at www.jasonschoonover.com/blah.html. Writing is not my whole life like most writers, just a very important component, which explains why I only have five books, though they're carefully crafted and based on experience. In the last year and a half alone I was fortunate to be team leader on a 16-person paleontological expedition with Dr. Phil Currie as field leader down Alberta's Red Deer River; hung out with the Trieste's Don Walsh and mountaineer David Breashears at and after the black tie Explorers Club Annual Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York; organized a cruise on a 35m gulet, or Turkish yacht, with my Su and 12 friends along the Turquoise coast; co-led an archaeological dig along the River Kwai in Thailand with Capt. Norm Baker, Thor Heyerdahl's First Mate on the reed boat floats Ra and Ra-II across the Atlantic; led and co-led two other expeditions by canoe and floatplane into northern Saskatchewan seeking key trading posts explorer David Thompson was at; motorbiked around remote corners of Laos and the Golden Triangle piecing together a huge Hmong textile collection for a museum; jumped down to Buenos Aires seeking old Gestapo hangouts; and, incidentally, flew around the world twice. I travel a lot.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
See last question and answer.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I keep my ear to the culture.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, I do. It was in Grade Seven and it was an adventure story of 10 pages that I got to read to the class. It was about my then best friend and I, and at one point we had to steal a Cessna in Alaska to make a getaway, but I (it was first person) didn't know how to fly. Decades later, that basic scene reappeared in The Bangkok Collection/Thai Gold/Nepal Gold (that Bantam book has now had three titles, four publishers and sold over 130,000 copies). I was the kid in school who always got to read his compositions to the class.
What is your writing process?
I treat it like a "job" - nine to five with weekends off to rest my brain and creative process.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Interestingly the first book I read was The Coral Sea by Ballentyne when I was ten and it was an adventure book (if pretty slow paced as the writer came out of the 19th century). I still have that book and it has a prominent place in my library.
How do you approach cover design?
I've only self-published two of my five books but both covers related directly to the book, theme and place. For example, for The Manila Galleon, which largely takes place in the Philippines, with one of the focuses on the "last frontier" island of Palawan, I used a dramatic and beautiful photo I took in the region of the now somewhat famous underground cave there. I'm a very visual writer - I picture a movie because I'm so influenced by them - and it extends to covers. I want to give the reader a window into the book.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kobo.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm fortunate to have a bit of a following because I've had several publishers, including Bantam, so I have a good number of reviews, which I greatly appreciate of course.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
In a small town in north-eastern Saskatchewan, Canada, population 900 called Carrot River. Yes, you can laugh now, I am as well. It was right on the edge of the forest which sweeps up to the tree line in the Arctic and I spent a lot of my youth in the bush. This made me very outdoorsy and expert in bushcraft. It was National Geographic photos of bare breasted girls on tropical beaches - while those horrible, six-month-long -40 winters swirled outside - that fired my imagination in many ways, he laughs. One was that I yearned to live in the tropics, and that's what I've done since the late '70s. I'm still melting the permafrost from the marrow of my bones. And my adventure-thrillers are all set primarily in Southeast Asia, though they'll sweep all over the world. I also had a brilliant teacher in Grade Seven and Eight who was a published playwrite, and in the two years I was lucky enough to have him he gave me the entire toolkit to be a writer.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The traditional way of getting published with an established publisher is seriously being called into question and the industry is in crisis. Partially it's the industry's fault - I've always been amazed at how many short sighted, incompetent people are in it, more than most. But more so it's the internet, which has bled off a huge percentage of readers. How everything will shuffle out - and everything is still in flux - no one knows, but certainly finding a way to meet readers on the net is the future.
Published 2013-11-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

An Adventurer’s Seven Point Guide to Living an Interesting Life
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 89,330. Language: Canadian English. Published: January 18, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Motivation and inspiration
A Fellow Emeritus, Stefansson Medalist, Citation of Merit awardee and on the Honor Roll of the prestigious Explorers Club, Jason lives a very interesting life. In this inspirational book, he shows you—often with humor—how you can avoid digging a rut or, if you’re already in one, how to climb out of it and live one too.
Opium Dream
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 113,010. Language: English. Published: January 8, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
Adventurer Lee Rivers is onto his hottest find: Kublai Khan’s terracotta warriors. Even before he camels into Afghanistan with the lovely Meow to spirit them out, he escapes being murdered; and mysterious assassins and Guardian Angels dog them. Only after Rivers has sold them does he learn they embody a terrifying secret that threatens civilization’s very existence. She has a secret too...
Thai Gold
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 167,880. Language: English. Published: January 8, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
The most sacred relic of Buddhism - the bejeweled head of Buddha - is stolen. Adventurer Lee Rivers is called in to restore it. After learning it’s been stolen by an opium warlord, he nabs it with help from Tysee, the warlord’s beautiful daughter. The chase is on across Asia, but they find themselves dogged by mysterious forces and even more mysterious Guardian Angels….
The Manila Galleon
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 93,930. Language: English. Published: December 11, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
The Manila Galleon was the annual treasure ship sailing between Acapulco and Manila for 250 years. It’s two interlocking adventures — one in 1704, the other today. Protagonists in each — one a young privateer from the frontier town of New York, the other an adventurer from modern Manhattan—try to claim the galleon. Past and present collide restoring an historic figure to his place of prominence.