We are excited to announce that we have added Jason Brannon to our list of prolific authors, and we have also acquired Brannon's The Tears of Nero - which will be the next book our company will be publishing. Look for The Tears of Nero to come out under the Crossover label May 17.
We want you to get to know Jason a bit better, so we sat down and did an interview with him to discuss The Tears of Nero, Jason's writing habits, and his future projects...
What is The Tears of Nero about exactly?
It is the story of five strangers trapped on a mysterious island by a madman who calls himself Nero after the famous Roman Emperor. The island is home to a mysterious cult of angel-worshipers called The Slaves of Solomon who believe that the key to Armageddon may be found there and that somehow through esoteric means they might find a way to kickstart the apocalypse. Not only must the five strangers figure out why they have been kidnapped but also what their connection to Nero is and how to survive his wicked games.
Is this book part of a series, and if so, where does it fit within the series?
The book is the first entry in The Halo Group series which focuses loosely on a clandestine government organization whose purpose is to infiltrate and investigate cults, sects, and strange religious orders.
Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
If there were a recipe for this book, the ingredients would be all of the things I love in both fiction and on screen. #1. Shows like Lost and Wayward Pines that are brimming with a host of mysteries and puzzles. #2. Page-turners like Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians or Ted Dekker's Skin that relentlessly drag you from one suspenseful scene to the next in hopes of finding out what is going on. #3. Franchises like The X-Files or Supernatural that allow you to revisit the same characters in a wide variety of settings with both stand-alone stories and arcs that carry throughout the series. I wanted to write the kind of book that I couldn't find on the shelves of any Christian bookstore which combined all of my interests but did so in a way that was in keeping with my beliefs and morals. The Tears of Nero was the result.
How do you think your book pushes the boundaries of what is usually allowed in Christian fiction?
For starters, it isn't a safe book. It deals with murder, torture, revenge, cults, fallen angels, and a host of other themes/ideas that aren't that prevalent in most of what you see on Christian book store shelves. With that said, I hope I have used all of those elements to address the central question asked in the book: “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?' There are no Amish romances or knitting club mysteries in The Tears of Nero (although I don't fault anyone who enjoys those types of stories). One of the main reasons I write as I do is because I know there is a whole host of people out there who enjoy the kinds of fiction I enjoy but will never find Christ between the pages of the books they read simply because Christian publishers aren't using fiction as outreach. Most are publishing fiction geared toward those who already believe.
What made you want to become an author?
Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and The Golden Apples of the Sun are the books that made me want to be a writer. They showed me how prose could read as poetry and how a great story could be so much more, providing both entertainment and commentary on the human condition.
What are your typical writing habits?
I have no strict writing habits. My only rule is to try and consistently write every day. I can write just about anyplace at any time. My only requirement is that I don't have any noise. I know a lot of writers type away with music or ambient sound of some sort in the background. I have tried this repeatedly and always end up focusing more on the music than on the words I am writing.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
If you have a story in mind, tell it and don't chase trends.
What are some other books you have written/published?
I wrote a cryptozoological monster-mash novel called The Cage, and quite a few short story collections like The Misunderstood and Other Misfit Horrors which were compiled from the hundred or so short stories of mine that have appeared in various magazines and anthologies. I also wrote several German translations of my work like Der Kafig (The Cage) and Die Kirche Der Toten Zungen (The Church of Dead Languages w/James Newman), the Crypto-Squad series (with Eric S. Brown), and The Maze which is a Christian suspense/fantasy that is Book 1 of The Lost Labyrinth series.
What are some projects you have coming up the future?
Right now, I am hard at work on a coming-of-age novel with a working title of Miracle Man (think The Goonies meets Something Wicked This Way Comes with a little Frank Peretti thrown in for good measure). Also, I am working on Book 2 of The Halo Group.