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?
Today I am the final stop in a blog tour for Accidental Damage by Alice May. Today I will be interviewing her!
Jessica’s Reading Room(JRR): What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you?
I remember my father reading ‘Swallows and Amazons’ by Arthur Ransome to me, at a very early age. My siblings and I would snuggle up together by the fire and Dad would read aloud. We always begged for ‘just one more chapter please!’
JRR: That sounds like great family time! Who is your favorite literary character?
My favourite literary character is Lessa in Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Dragonflight’ because she’s cool and there are dragons. I can’t say anything else without spoilers, but let’s just say I really love dragons. I stumbled across this book at the age of 18. I had a lot of time to kill waiting for someone one day and had the choice between a bookcase full of medical text books and one novel. Not surprisingly I picked the novel and haven’t looked back. I’ve since read every single book Anne McCaffrey has written and there isn’t one that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend.
JRR: Dragons! I will have to look into that book! Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?
War and Peace by Tolstoy. This is a novel that is regarded as a central work of world literature. I rather think I should have found time to read it. It’s on my to-be-read pile honest!
JRR: Good luck with that one. It seems like not many have read it. If you could only take one book with you on a desert island, which would it be?
I would take ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy – omnibus edition. Or is that cheating? It would certainly keep me going.
JRR: That’s not cheating, I promise! 😉 What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Katie Fforde’s new release ‘A Secret Garden’ and I am enjoying it very much. It’s a warm hearted, enjoyable read with a bit of romance thrown in.
JRR: Who would be at your dream dinner party (alive, dead or fictional)?
I would love to hold a dinner party for Katie Fforde, Trisha Ashley, Anne McCaffrey, J.K. Rowling, H. T. King and Kate Fenton. All are authors whose books have kept me going through the years and I would enjoy cooking up a feast for them to say thank you!
JRR: Great answers! What’s the best advice you have ever received?
‘Never ever give up!’ My parents have been instrumental in encouraging me to pick myself up and dust myself off after every setback in life. They are right. Anything is possible, you just sometimes have to believe in yourself, grow a thick skin and get on with it.
JRR: That is great advice! Yay for mom and dad! What’s the worst advice you have ever received?
“Do a French A-level. You’ll be really good at it!” Hmmmm – I passed, but only just!!!
JRR: Who is your hero or heroine (real or fictional)?
Soppiness alert! My Beloved Husband is my hero. Just because!
JRR: Awww! Where are you happiest?
I am happiest walking along the beach, whatever the weather, listening to the waves and just ‘being’.
JRR: Peaceful as long as there are not many people there! Who would you like to star in the film of your life?
Victoria Wood. She was such a talented lady. I have thoroughly enjoyed all her work, especially her poignant portrayal of Ella Last in ‘Housewife 49’.
JRR: Describe your best ever holiday.
Surfing (I really mean body boarding but I like to pretend I can surf) in Cornwall with my husband and kids. A whole day on the beach followed by chips and a pint of cold lager (lemonade for the kids of course) in the evening is my idea of heaven. Maybe I will take a learn-to-surf course one of these days.
JRR: That sounds like a good time! If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
If I could be invisible for a day I would probably sleep if, I am being completely honest. As a busy working mother, I spend my life running from one spinning plate / disaster issue to another. If I was invisible no one would see me just relaxing. Could I be deaf to all the people grumbling that I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing too, please?
JRR: Sure! If I joined you on your perfect day, what would we be doing?
My perfect day would involve sunshine and good coffee. Probably cake as well! I don’t have terribly high maintenance needs.
JRR: Cake! Can I join you?
**Thank you for your time Alice! I had fun getting to know you! **
Buy Accidental Damage Now!
If you think the normal school run on a Monday is entertaining you should try doing it from a tent in your back garden surrounded by the jumbled up contents of your entire home. It is vastly more diverting.
Our heroine has survived the sudden collapse of her home – or has she?
Certain events two and a half years ago led her to deliberately destroy an important piece of herself, hiding away all remaining evidence that it ever existed. What happens when she decides to go looking for it?
Does she really deserve to be whole again?
Inspired by a true story, this is an account of one woman’s secret guilt and her journey in search of forgiveness![Top]
Courtesy of John David Bethel
He has traveled to many places that most of us can only dream of going, and also had a 30 year career in politics, now John David Bethel is a published author. He has written his second book, Blood Moon which was released December 4, 2016.
Buy on Amazon
On a hot, steamy afternoon in Miami, Cuban-American businessman Recidio Suarez is brutally beaten and abducted. Handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded, he has no idea why he has been targeted. What he discovers is heart-stopping. What he endures during almost a month of captivity compares only to the most horrendous stories of prisoners of war. He is tortured, and under the threat of death, and worse – the rape of his wife and torture of his children – Suarez is forced to hand over his multi-million dollar holdings to his captors.
Suarez survives and then spends the next few months staying one step ahead of the murderous pack. During this time, he and his lawyer, Nolan Stevens – a former Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office of the FBI – are having difficulties convincing the Miami-Dade Police Department that a crime has been committed. Their efforts are complicated by Steven’s difficult history with the head of the MDPD Special Investigations Division, who is not interested in pursuing the case.
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.
Abridged version. I grew up overseas as my father was with the Foreign Service. After stops in Germany, Japan and Cuba (we also had six month stints stateside in Honolulu, Norfolk and New York City), we settled in Miami where I went to high school. Following graduation from Tulane University, I worked in Washington, DC for 30 years. I served as a speechwriter and press secretary to various members of Congress and the Senate. I also served in the same capacity for the Secretaries of Commerce and Education. After a stint as Associate Administrator with the U.S. General Services Administration, I retired and returned to Miami. I have written and had published two novels; Evil Town, a political thriller and Blood Moon, a suspense thriller based on a true crime.
JRR: That is quite a life you have lived so far! You had an interesting career before you became an author. Does your previous experience in politics influence what you write?
The years I spent in politics probably influenced how I write more than what I write about.
I learned to fully appreciate the power and consequences of words and language. Legislators and/or candidates often have one opportunity to represent themselves and their vision to constituents and voters. Without the correct words that opportunity could be squandered. With them, ideals can be explained, people inspired, and personalities defined.
JRR: That is very true! They must come up with the correct words or they may not get their point across or even have the changes they want see fruition. Now, did you always want to become an author?
I always enjoyed writing and that might have come from being an avid reader.
As noted, we spent a lot of time traveling, which meant I missed large chunks of formal education. Whenever I wasn’t in school, my parents insisted that I read. I was fascinated by the fact that no matter where I was – Europe, Japan, the Caribbean (or on an ocean liner or airplane between posts) – a book could transport me to a different place entirely. This fascination compelled me to try my hand at writing and I found that I enjoyed it…and it gave free reign to an active imagination.
JRR: What inspires you to write?
A story will come to me and gnaw away until I sit down and weave through it. I’m not sure if that qualifies as “inspiration” or is more akin to an “itch”.
JRR: Whether it is an inspiration or an itch, go for it and write! What does your writing process consist of? Do you research for your novels, do you handwriting or type, do you listen to music or not?
I have the kernel of a storyline which builds as I write. I don’t work from an outline nor do I have backstories for my characters. I have no idea where the story is going to take me, and the characters mature and develop with the storyline. Like the reader, I am drawn along as I write and am often surprised where the plot takes me.
I use a PC and if I listen to music, which is a “how do I feel today” kind of choice, it’s classical. Beethoven, Rachmaninoff and Bach are among my favorites.
JRR: Even if you outline and ‘plan’ what’s going to happen with your characters, sometimes they will ‘do what they want’ and take a ‘life of their own’ and change your plans! What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors? The journey to become published and can be long and hard.
First and foremost one must have a compelling desire to write for no other reward than the product itself. “I write therefore I am” kind of thing. The prospect of publication should not be foremost in mind as, unfortunately, getting published today is very, very challenging.
Second, an aspiring writer must have the discipline to sit down every single day and spend hours over the keyboard. That can be the toughest part of the process…dedication to the task and the discipline to complete that task.
I also think writers must have healthy egos to endure the rejection that comes to all of us from publishers, agents, literary critics and readers. If one has a fragile sense of self, writing is definitely going to be a destructive career choice.
JRR: Great advice! Who was your favorite author as a child?
My father used to read to me from American folk tales. Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill are two I remember well. Those got me started and from there I’d read stories about other bigger than life figures like John Henry Johnson, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Jim Bridger, and finally graduated to Mark Twain.
JRR: Who is your favorite author as an adult?
I have a few. The novels of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald entranced me and demonstrated how brilliantly-written fiction could gobble readers up and transport them to another place and time. The storytelling ability of Stephen King showed me that a good tale could pull the reader into the story, increase their heartbeat, cause them to perspire with fear and anticipation, and come out the other end invigorated. Also, the novels of Aldous Huxley and Sinclair Lewis taught me that fiction could have a social conscience while also being entertaining.
JRR: Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?
The Magic Mountain and Finnegan’s Wake.
JRR: What’s the best advice you have ever received?
Though an aphorism more so than advice, I’ve benefited from knowing that: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
JRR: I like that! Your newest book, Blood Moon is based off of a true story. What made you want to tell this story?
First a little background. The details of the story came to me from Ed DuBois. Ed runs a security firm, Investigators, Inc., and had been brought into the case by a mutual friend of Marc Schiller, the victim. Ed read my novel Evil Town and enjoyed it, and when he wanted to explore the possibilities of having a book written about the crime, he contacted me.
Initially, Ed wanted a true crime book written to counter the treatment the real story was getting in a movie that was being made of the crime, “Pain and Gain.” Ed was serving as a consultant on the movie and grew disenchanted with the “black comedy” slant being applied to the script. I wrote a treatment of the book but when it became apparent a true crime book could not be written and published in time to provide a balance to the movie, that project was abandoned.
I had become intrigued by the crime, especially by the courage of the victim, Marc Schiller, and Ed’s determination to get the “bad guys.” Schiller’s survival of 30 days in captivity during which he was brutally tortured, and had every single penny of his substantial estate extorted, was a story that was too compelling to ignore. My wheelhouse is fiction so I went to Ed and Marc and asked if they’d mind if I treated the story as fiction, hewing closely enough to the real events to convey the true horror of what Marc endured and how Ed worked skillfully to solve the crime.
JRR: I find that hard to believe that they gave the movie a ‘black comedy’ slant on something that actually happened to someone! Especially where someone survived 30 days of pure torture. How much research was involved in writing Blood Moon?
Blood Moon required a great deal of research. I studied hundreds of pages of trial transcripts to fully understand details of the crime and to get a “feel” for the perpetrators and their victims. I also studied police crime reports. The depositions conducted by attorneys for the defense and prosecution were another source of information. Most helpful were hours of discussions with the Ed and Marc.
JRR: How accurate is it to the ‘real life story’? It sounds truly terrifying.
Two passages from Marc Schiller’s Foreword to the novel answer this question best:
After reading this novel, most readers will be hard-pressed to accept that anything as written in these pages could happen. That assumption would be very wrong. I know because I am the one who experienced and survived many of the traumatic events described in Bloodmoon.
My month long stay in what I called “Hotel Hell” – which the author of Bloodmoon captures with chilling accuracy – was filled with physical and mental torture, humiliation and starvation.
JRR: He must have been a strong person to survive his ordeal. It had to have changed him as well.
If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be and why?
- My late father so we could discuss my novels.
- Ernest Hemingway for the same reason. Presumptuous I know, but I’d love to get his critique, and also pick his brain on writing.
- Beethoven because he is a fascinating personality as well as a genius in his field.
JRR: Those are some good choices!
**Thank you for your time with this interview![Top]