Today is my stop for the blog tour for The Chosen Path by Jason Hershey. Today I will be interviewing him!
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.
I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona and currently reside in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. I graduated from Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas where I received my BS in Elementary Education while playing football. I have been a teacher for the last 15 years. I am currently a lead teacher at Color Our Rainbow Academy where I work with k-2nd grade children.
JRR: Did you always want to write?
I have always wrote. In elementary school I was always writing poems and short stories. Then when I got out of college, I wrote 2 screenplays, a horror type one and a coming of age one. I have always tried to put myself into other people’s shoes and write and imagine how others would feel, speak and react in certain situations. One I can remember vividly was a poem from the point of view of a Vietnam Soldier who returns home and ostracized for being a soldier. It’s that empathy that I think allows me to write characters that people identify with and want to go on a journey with.
JRR: That poem intrigues me! What inspires you to write?
I have stories that need to be told. I have this burning inside of me to captivate people and bring them with me on a journey, to help them forget about their everyday life and just get lost in the story. I went so long without writing in college and high school, that now I need to write. It’s as natural as breathing and eating.
JRR: Let’s hope you continue to get those stories out there! Now where did the idea of To Die To Live come from? Is Theo based on a particular person? You are a teacher so did your students influence your writing?
The story was something that has always been in me. Theo is based on a culmination of people I grew up with, myself and some fiction thrown in. I purposely left his features and what he looks like vague. I want the reader to envision him as they want, to personalize the story and relate to his situation. My students didn’t influence it as much as it was reflective of things I experienced and lived growing up.
JRR: The Chosen Path is the sequel to To Die To Live. What made you want to continue Theo’s story? Will there be another in the series?
The short answer is that Theo still has stories to tell. I never set out to create a certain amount of books. Instead, I just wanted to write a book that people liked. The fact that they continue through book two and eventually to three, is a testament to Theo and his life and the fact that so many people really connect with him. As for the last part of your question, yes there will be another. I put the first chapter in the back of The Chosen Path. It’s tentatively titled “The Purpose of Life” and will find Theo still trying to figure out his next move while also having to deal with life.
JRR: Such a tease including that first chapter at the end of The Chosen Path! I love that with books, but also hate it to as it makes you want the next book right now! Lol
What age range are your books intended for? They are YA (Young Adult) which can appeal to a wide range of ages.
I envision junior high through high school students reading this, but I have had 40 year olds tell me they connected with him and his story made them cry. I think the story itself is universal and is relatable to just about anyone.
JRR: What was your favorite book as a child, and now as an adult?
My all-time favorite book is still The Giver. I have read it at least a dozen times and it never loses its effect on me. As I’ve gotten older I’ve also come to love the other books in the series, but nothing quite beats the original.
JRR: I have actually never read The Giver. I guess I should! Who was your favorite author as a child and who is your favorite author as an adult?
Lois Lowry without a doubt when I was little. Now as an adult, I love James Patterson’s “Alex Cross” series.
JRR: Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?
Not really. I love the library, so I always try to find time to explore and check out the new books. I have started to read The Walking Dead graphic novels as well as more biographies and history books.
JRR: My husband and I are huge Walking Dead fans! In fact I gave him the first compendium of The Walking Dead as a wedding present. I keep meaning to pick it up to begin it. There are just too many books and never enough time!
Now, what’s the best advice you have ever received?
My dad told me a long time ago, that once work becomes a job, it was time to leave. I am grateful that I get to do two things that I absolutely love to do, teach and write. The fact that I get paid for them just makes it all the more sweeter. Too many people punch a time clock and absolutely hate what they’re doing. I have made a promise to myself to never allow that to happen to me.
JRR: You are actually very lucky to love what you do. If I could find some way to do this blog full time and get paid then I would be in Heaven!
Now, If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be and why?
Roberto Clemente, Pat Tillman, and Martin Luther King Jr. They all gave more of themselves than they asked for in return and strived to make the world better for those less fortunate and looked down upon. The fact that Roberto Clemente died delivering supplies to earthquake victims speaks highly of his character and empathy for the world. Everyone knows MLK and his accomplishments. Pat Tillman is a modern day Clemente. He left the NFL and joined the military after 9/11 and said it was his duty to serve. He ended up getting killed by friendly fire in battle, but the fact that I’m an Arizona State fan and he’s one of the best to ever play there makes his story a bit more personal for me.
JRR: Good answers and reasons! If you could go anywhere in the world without worrying about time or money, where would it be?
I really want to work with more at risk youth, so if time and money were no object, I’d start a bunch of social programs and organizations to give inner city kids more choices and access to more positive male role models. I was fortunate that my parents were able to be involved in my life growing up and to lead me down the right path, but growing up in South Phoenix, there was lots of opportunity to fall off track. Sports and my parent’s constant parenting allowed me to be successful.
JRR: Are you working on anything else currently or ‘taking a break’ with this new release?
I am working on a children’s book at the moment, Harry the Hippo, as well as the third book in the Theo series.
JRR: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
I am so honored and appreciative of the support and feedback from readers and bloggers alike. I hope that everyone who reads the books is able to take something personal from it and that it touches a nerve of some sort. Thank you very much for this amazing opportunity.
Thank you for your time Jason! It was great to get to know you!
Thelonious “Theo” Mitchell is a down on his luck teenager, wandering aimlessly through life with no desire or focus. When tragedy strikes, he is taken in by his aunt and uncle. Thrown into a new school with unfamiliar surroundings, he befriends the class “troublemaker”. After yet another tragedy, will Theo fall victim to life, or use the tragedy as a spark and motivation to embrace all that life has to offer?
Pre-order The Chosen Path(Out May 3rd)
From the author of the emotional “To Die To Live”, comes the next riveting chapter of one man’s search to find his purpose in life.
Thelonious “Theo” Mitchell, now a college freshman, is eager to put the death of his friend, Draven, behind him. Devoting himself to school and sports, he meets Sabrinna, a beautiful co-ed who sweeps him off his feet. Untrusting and hidden behind a wall, he allows himself to fall for her.
Will he find his soulmate and someone who can restore his faith and trust in people? Or will she leave him reeling and continuing his search for a purpose in life?