A Chat with Jason Pellegrini
After overwhelmingly positive feedback amongst readers on Amazon and Goodreads with his debut novel, The Replacement, author ‘Jason Pellegrini, is at it again, releasing his second novel this November. Entitled Booth, Pellegrini’s latest release is an intense story of a man’s journey into the past to earn redemption for his damned soul.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Jason, and found that he's not only a great author, but also an incredibly friendly, down to earth guy. He talks about his latest novel, his writing process and inspiration, and how his experience with self-publishing has been. Enjoy!
The Hungry Chimera: To start off, tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer.
Jason Pellegrini: Oh man! Feels like I’m on a date. I never know what to say when someone asks me this. There’s really not too much to say about myself. I’ve lived a fairly normal life. I’m a native New Yorker. I grew up in Levittown, a suburb of New York City on Long Island. Between family and friends, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a lifetime of good company. Maybe the lack of excitement is I why my characters are always in such unfortunate situations.
As for becoming a writer, I’ve always had a creative spark. I remember my mom calling me a little liar constantly when I was a kid. Looking back on it, I prefer “little story teller.” As I grew older, the story telling became more of a creative outlet. In 2007, a friend published his first novel, and while I was reading it, I started wondering if I could write one myself. I had already done some light writing, and I definitely had a few ideas floating around my head. After throwing a few ideas out, I finally settled on what would become The Replacement.
THC: Who are your favorite authors, and how have they inspired your writing?
JP: Stephen King is my favorite author, and he has been a huge inspiration for me, especially during my earliest attempts at writing. A few friends, also writers, recommended his book On Writing. One piece of advice I took away from it was to constantly read. Experiencing different styles and methods of storytelling from a diverse group of authors has taught me a lot. I’m always looking to improve. There are so many terrific authors out there and there is no better way to improve than to expose yourself to as much of their respective works as possible.
THC: Something that is of great interest to me is the writing process and how it differs from author to author. What is your process?
JP: Well I always make sure to have a clear idea of what I want and where I’m headed before I sit down to write. Some authors can just sit down and write without any idea what comes next. That’s not for me. I’d be lost in the dark.
I try to write a thousand words each session. Sometimes I write more, sometimes less. Usually I’m in the ballpark. I never force myself, though. If the words aren’t there, I’m not going to keep going just so I can hit some arbitrary goal. The end result is usually something I hate. It will just get deleted or rewritten in my second draft.
One thing I do, when the floodgates are open, is write whatever comes to mind. I know a lot of authors won’t do this, but I find it’s better to put down too much, and then cut the fat later. I’d rather include something that could help tell the story or build a character. This is just my personal preference. It might not work for everyone. It’s a good exercise though, as later on, you become more aware of what can go, and what needs to stay.
THC: As I understand your new novel, Booth, is due out on November 22nd. What inspired you to write this story?
JP: Stephen King’s 11/22/63. While reading King’s book, which is about someone going back in time to try and prevent President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, I found myself thinking how cool it would be if I wrote a story about Lincoln’s assassination. Sorry if this spoils the plot for anyone, but if you couldn’t figure out what the book was about by the title and synopsis I don’t know what to tell ya! I’ve always had a fascination with Lincoln’s death, and the events surrounding it. I knew it was a story I could really get into.
When the idea for this story hit me, I got so psyched about it, I almost stopped writing The Replacement. However, I shared my idea with a close friend, and he proceeded to poke numerous holes throughout the entire plot. Needless to say, my enthusiasm was beat down pretty quickly. Looking back at it now, I’m glad he didn’t just yes me to death. The story was weak and too similar to King’s. I’m all for being influenced, but I’ll never let myself be an imitation. Still, a few months after abandoning the idea, the desire to write a story about the Lincoln Assassination was still with me. So I revisited it. I had finished King’s novel by then and the initial mark 11/22/63 had left on my idea had worn off by that point. I came up with my second concept for the novel, and talked to the same friend. Second time around, he told me I had a winner, and I knew I had my second novel.
THC: What made you decide to do a complete departure from the mystery/thriller genre after having such positive feedback from readers with The Replacement?
JP: I never wanted to be an author bound to one genre. All I want to do is just write, and I don’t think a story shouldn’t be told just because it doesn’t fall within the confines of a specific genre. That kind of limitation can be freeing for some writers, but for me, it would definitely stifle my creativity and degrade the quality of my novels. So instead of writing a follow up to The Replacement, or another thriller style novel, I decided to write what ended up becoming the complete opposite. Besides, like I said, I was super psyched to write Booth, and I felt strongly about the story. So why not go with it?
THC: How much research was involved in writing Booth, and how did you go about doing it?
JP: Other than the editing process, the research for Booth was the most time consuming aspect of writing this. Going into this, I was pretty familiar with Lincoln’s assassination so I had enough information to map out an idea of where I wanted the story to go. However, when it came time to write those parts, I turned to Google for the details.
So with that said, I’d like to take this moment to thank the internet and Google for existing. Without them, there was no way I would’ve been able to gather all the information I needed to portray the era of history, or the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
THC: One aspect of your writing that really stands out is your character development. You have some very interesting characters in The Replacement who really suck the reader in and get them invested in the story. Do you bring any real life experience to the table when you’re creating these characters?
JP: That’s a yes and no answer. You have to make your characters believable if you want people to relate and invest. So they need to have human qualities, and experience human emotions. As the author, I have to make the reader feel as if he or she is following around an actual person. It’s important they’re not just reading words.
I am a human being who has lived on this planet for thirty-plus years. I have experienced every emotion you can think of. So when I have a character in a certain scenario, and I need them to feel a specific emotion, I look within myself, and try to channel the desired emotion. Sometimes I just need to dial it up, accordingly. Sometimes I’ll dull it down.
Still, there are certain traits a character might have that do not reflect me in the slightest. One example is in racism. Racism is definitely a strong theme throughout Booth. Now, personally, I can’t understand how, in the twenty-first century, there are people who are so ignorant towards people of a different skin color or culture. That’s something to be discussed in an entirely different conversation, though. The point I’m making is I decided I was going to touch upon the subject, so there was some research I had to do to create what I thought were believable characters. That saying, ‘You write what you know’ only goes so far. Sometimes you have to broaden your horizons, and touch on subjects that might be foreign, or even uncomfortable, to you.
THC: Something I'm sure many people are curious about is self-publishing. Why did you choose that route and how has the experience been for you?
JP: I always knew I wanted to self-publish. There wasn’t really any other option, as far as I was concerned. With the obvious advantages of the Internet and social media, plus print on demand now becoming popular, self-publishing has become a real avenue for new authors to explore. I don’t have anything against traditional publishers, but looking for a publisher can be like screaming “LOOK AT ME!” while in the midst of a large crowd also screaming “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!” It’s damn near impossible to be noticed that way. I figured I could self-publish, and make a little noise of my own. Maybe a publisher will want to check me out then.
Although it has been difficult at times, the experience has been a good one. I always enjoy learning new things, and this has been one gigantic learning experience. It’s definitely not for everyone, though, and I can understand someone having negative things to say about it, especially if they can’t handle the pressure or if their book doesn’t do well. Luckily, The Replacement has had some amazing feedback, and I’ve been able to keep my cool when things didn’t go so smoothly.
THC: What advice would you give those people who want to go the self-publishing route?
JP: Try to remain as calm as possible when things go wrong, because they will. Believe me, it’s not the end of the world if a marketing plan you thought was going to catapult your sales bombs, or you invest some money in something that fails. Accept your loss, regroup, and move on. No one gets it right on their first go. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and failures.
Secondly, and I cannot stress this enough; LEARN TWITTER! When I first started all this, a friend’s girlfriend asked me if I was on Twitter. I told her I was, but I was no good at it, and I didn’t understand it. Her blunt response was, LEARN IT! That was some of the best advice I ever received. Once I figured it out, and started building a following, my sales and reviews drastically increased. So I’ll say it again; LEARN TWITTER!
THC: Any advice for aspiring writers?
JP: The best advice I can give to an aspiring writer is to never become complacent. Always allow room for growth, and never stop learning. Even your best work will need to be touched up and improved. I believe there are failures in every success, and those failures are just as important, if not more important, to strengthening one’s ability to become a strong storyteller. Like being a human and living, writing is an endless learning experience. There’s no point where one reaches their maximum potential.
I will also pass on the first piece of advice I ever received. Read On Writing by Stephen King!
THC: Now that you've completed your second novel, Booth, what's next for you?
JP: That’s an easy one; I’m going to write! That should be what’s next for every writer! There’s going to be a lot of promotion to do for Booth, and that will certainly be very time consuming. I’m still going to put time aside every morning to write, though. I have a story idea that I really love, and I’m excited to bring it to life!
THC: Is there anything you'd like to say to your readers and fans?
JP: I just want to say thank you. I can't say enough about the people who gave up their time, and took a chance on an unknown author. When I started this, I was at the bottom. I was just some guy. My launching off point was friends and family. Now, as Booth is set to come out, I have actual fans, and it’s still kind of hard to believe. When someone says they can’t wait to check out my second novel, because they loved the first one so much, it’s honestly a feeling that can’t be topped.
As always we thank you for hanging out with us on our blog today and hope you learned something new and found that inspiration to get you serious about writing this week.
If you're interested in getting updates on Jason Pellegrini’s writing and other news, you can follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.
Booth will be available for purchase on Amazon.com, Amazon Kindle, and Barnesandnoble.com on… are you ready… November 22, 2016! So soon, yet so far away! If you haven't already, be sure to read his debut novel The Replacement and then grab yourself a copy of Booth. The limited print pre-order version of Booth is now available, sold directly through Pellegrini’s website at www.jasonpellegrinibooks.com, and will run through November. This edition features an alternate cover, and is signed by the author and numbered. Be sure to check out the synopsis at the bottom of the page!
Jason Pellegrini: Facebook and Twitter
The Replacement: Check it out on Goodreads and Buy on Amazon
Booth: Pre-order available now at www.jasonpellegrinibooks.com