Author Interview – Jethro Weyman

Here’s another installment of author interviews, and this week is slightly different as today it’s a short story author.

I’ve been meaning to interview Jethro for a while now (sorry for the delay, Jethro!) and I’m glad I finally got around to doing it. Although, I hate to admit I haven’t read his books, after interviewing him and reading the reviews on Amazon – they’re both going straight onto my wish list! Seriously, you guys have to check them out!

About Jethro Weyman

Jethro is a fellow Brit, born in Buckinghamshire and raised in Hertfordshire, not only does he write mind-boggling short stories, he works for the NHS as a physiotherapist in Birmingham. He manages a small team of five (including himself) on a specialist stroke and neurology rehabilitation ward. He also recently snagged some work as a supporting artist working on a film – which he can’t name yet!

As well as writing (and acting, so it seems), he enjoys cycling, bouldering, and as many forms of media he can cram in. He’s a big fan of nature, so tries to surround himself with that as often as possible. He loves animals, although doesn’t currently own any, and in his own words he “also loves not having fur or vomit or the outdoors all over the house!”

Bang to Begin

One of Jethro’s books; Bang to Begin, is a series of short stories, although a mix of genres, they are all linked and, by the end, become one. It’s designed to be a bit of a “head messer”, but also one that grows with a second read through. Read the synopsis below.

(It’s already on my wish-list, Jethro, will be purchasing it as soon as I move into my new apartment!)

Here it is on Amazon

Synopsis:

Reality is Relative.
There is no such thing as universal truth.
But lies are always lies.
From auctions to assassinations, from cosmos to subconscious mind, the roots feeding into these short stories start fine, but thicken and tangle as they grow deeper.
Follow these wayward souls through their darkest moments, each beginning with a bang and each trying desperately to avoid ending with the same.
A metaphysical, visionary exploration of the human psyche and all that it means to be real – discussed via an anthology with a difference.

Interview with Jethro

Now, let’s get into the interview and learn more about the inner workings of Jethro’s mind and these books of his…

What got you into writing?

I actually got into it a little by accident. I had an idea for a scene stuck in my head for a few momths and just felt I needed to get it down on paper for it to stop irritating me. Fortunately, that didn’t work… and I was irrirated all the way to writing a full novel. It definitely wasn’t expertly written, but it was something I could work with. I recently edited that scene out, which was a bit of a blow, but I’ve got it stored on my hard drive for reminiscence purposes.

What is your most unusual writing quirk?

I’ve got no idea if I have any quirks, let alone unusual ones. I guess I’ll need to set up a camera and keen an eye on myself… although, I probably wouldn’t like what I find!

Do you write every single day?

I wish I had the discipline and the energy, but sometimes I get home from work and jus tneed to sit down and watch something mindless for a while. I do go through periods of daily writing, but it’s rare these days. If Twitter stories count, then I do write most days, but substantial writing probably comes about twice a week right now, at best. There’s a lot of life happening at the moment and that’s not necessarily a good thing!

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

That definitely has to be the editing side of things. I can quite easily have the enthusiasm sucked out of me by a long editing stint, especially when I’ve had some brutal feedback calling for a big rewrite. I’ve had to kill a lot of darlings… I’ve had to kill a lot of things I wouldn’t call darlings too, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist as I write too… so having to go back and realising how imperfect it all is after a first draft can be quite dishearening. But such is the life of a writer!

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

For me, as a reader, it’s all about the flow. If a writer can entice me with their premise and make me look forward to reading what sounds like it will be right up my street, only to write in a clunky and fluentless way, that’s really disappointing. It also shows when someone has a handle on their genre or their style as well… it probably shows even more when they don’t. Since starting to write myself, I feel like I’ve become a lot more critical over these aspects as well. I’ll notice and get annoyed by a lot more than I used to, but I think that’s probably true of all of us.

How do you use social media as an author?

I am definitely guilty of a shameless self promo or several, and I think social media is a fantastic marketing tool, at least in the early days of a writer’s career (which is my only experience). I also use it to connect with other writers, to practice my craft with short stories using many word prompt games and also, to a certain extend, to feel part of a wider community, especially in times like these where it’s more difficult to have a social life. I’ve made a lot of friends via social media, primarily Twitter, and if you ignore as much of the toxicity as possible, it can be a very rewarding place to be.

What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?

Self-publishing is definitely a pain – My least favourite part of it (or most hated) was formatting. Especially in the first book I published, which is made up primarily of Twitter stories. The formatting took forever and it drove me a little insane for a while… in fact, the remnants are probably still rattling around in there somewhere. My favourite part was definitely the satisfaction of being a published author, although I do still feel I need to get traditionally published before I can truly accept that. Anyone can publish a book these days, but not anyone can nab an agent and get a publishing deal.

How much research did you need to do for your books?

I must admit… I’m a bit of a write now, research later kind of chap. If I stop too much to focus on the details, I lost that all important flow and that’s something I really try to avoid. However, there are certain things I had to look up beforeI wrote for example: the geography of where I used to live in Buckinghamshire for my first novel – I needed travel times and names of nearby places and I even did a bit of google map street viewing to make sure it was accurate. For my fantasy novel, I did very little research other than finding names and designs of weapons which could be used or modified for use in the story. And with Bang to Begin, the only thing I can remember fully researching was what happens to someone when they hang themselves for one of the horror elements… so my search history is probably not as bad as Stephen King’s, but there’s a few dodgy key words on there.

What do you need in your writing space to keep you focused?

I wish I’d found it!… probably an EMP device which stops all electronic devices apart from my laptop from working… and will only let me use the internet for research purposes. I basically need a parental lock on my writing space.

Have you ever Googled yourself?

Of course… there’s nothing particularly interesting on there, but it does come up with the awful photos that are on the profile I have with an Extras casting agency. Twitter and my books come up as well… but I’m yet to get the all important Wikipedia page… maye I should make one myself!

Do you play music while you write – and if so, what’s your favourite?

I used to be unable to write unless I was in total silence, even bird song would put me off. Nowadays, maybe I’ve mellowed a bit, but I put on instrumental music. This could be acoustic guiter or piano music, but my favourite music to write to is Neo-Soul or Chillstep – there are a good few playlists on Spotify which absolutely hit the spot for this, including one called Mellow Beats and another called Lo-Fi Beats. When I don’t need to think too much about how I’m working things, I often put on some Tom Misch or Jordan Rakei or their playlists. Whatever I have on… it has to be calm and rhythmic.

Can you tell me a little bit about your book “Bang to Begin”?

I can! The idea for the book came to me after the 6th chapter; a story called The Death of Fate. Originally I was just writing completely disparate episodes as a series for a reading subscription website called Channillo. After that 6th chapter, I thought it should be more than what I set out to create, especially as this chapter gave me the idea of how to link them all together. The concept of face (and other metaphysical concepts) are the cornerstone of the book. What if these concepts were personified? What if that personification were a construct of an individual’s perception or ego? So, I worked prospectively and retrospectively to fit all of the stories together… the original versions are still available on the website and are even harder to follow than the final.

It’s all quite dark and more than a bit twisted, but writing in this way gave me space to dabble in all of the genres I’ve had an interest in. There are stories primarily based in the thriller/suspense genre, in horror, in fantasy and sci-fi and, to begin with, it can definitely be quite confusing. I’ve written it in a way which, I hope, begs for a second read, because there are little callbacks and subtleties that won’t be noticeable at first. I don’t want to give anything away, but once you realise what this book really is… it should come as a bit of a revelation, if not a relief! Plus, it’s only short… which can only help.

Both of your published books are short stories, have you considered writing a novel?

I definitely have considered it and I’ve done it. I wrote a thriller called Kept in the Dark, which I’m currently querying – this was my first foray into proper writing and I’ve had some good feedback from readers, but I’m yet to land an agent. I’ve done some more revisions recently, and I hope that helps. It explores government and insitutional corruption and how the people who oppose this are viewed. It’s set in what I call a near-future dystopia – a little bit Black Mirror. I’ve also written an SFF novel called Craft (Working Title), which explores social, racial and gender inequality in a way I hope is unique. I try to incorporate more meaningful themes into my work when I can.

Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?

Too many, and I curse myself whenever I add another. I’m currently working on a short story (should end up about 5000 words) which is a YA (ish), supernatural thriller. I’m not too far off finishing the first draft of this, but I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. I’m also editing my first screenplay using the wise words of Syd Field and some beta readers as a basis. I would love to write for the screen, so I’m going to try and make a go of this. It’s a post-apocalyptic comedy. I should be editing my second novel, but it is hard to tear myself away from the new stuff (this is always a problem) and I did start writing the sequel to this as well when I was stuck in a Brazilian airport for about 8 hours. So, I’ll get back to that at some point as well.

If you’d like to contact Jethro, here’s a link to his Twitter page!

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Fifty Shades of Life

Life isn’t black and white. There is no good and evil. Everyone has the capacity to be good. Everyone has the capacity to be evil. We all lie somewhere on a scale between good and evil. Some are more good than evil, while others are more evil that good.

I have struggled with this notion for a while. One day I might pride myself in being good. Another day I might feel crushed by how unfair the world is and say ‘fuck it’ and dabble in the world of evil.

But I cannot truly be evil. It isn’t within my nature. I cannot sit by and watch someone suffer. I cannot play a part in such suffering myself.

I see a world that is tainted with negativity and hate. A lot are selfish with a thirst for power – whether this is power in riches, power in popularity, power in knowledge. Everyone wants power.

It’s easy to fall into line and follow like lost sheep. It’s ingrained into us when we’re young to compete over each other. We compete in sports – one team against another. It’s seen as okay to do so. We compete against our classmates for either recognition from the teacher or to get a gold star. We see it in the work force, with employee incentives.

It’s probably human nature to do so. Before humans became civilizations, before we cultivated farming, we were simple hunter gatherers. We learnt to survive for only our own benefit, or at a stretch; our small immediate families. Outsiders were threats. But as we became more complex ‘thinking’ beings, we grew into this huge web of civilizations. We had to learn to get along, but all the while this ingrained desire to dislike the ‘others’ is within us.

But we are ‘thinking’ humans, we are able to think, to creative, to learn, to evolve, to philosophise. We should be able to see past our ingrained human desires to hate the others. We should find ways to work together. If we cannot work together, then the world may as well go back to being simple hunter gathers.

Doctors work with nurses, work with scientists, work with the maintenance staff, work with the people who invent and make new tools. We work alongside strangers in our community to keep the space the way it is, to fix issues, to keep the place clean and safe. We work with the police, the fire department, the tax man (sometimes we don’t, but the majority of the time we do until something threatens us). We have come together to create technology, art, public spaces, road networks, other transport networks, even trading foods and materials to our distant neighbours.

If we don’t work together, all this fails.

Life isn’t black and white, there are those of us don’t want to work with the guy next door because his views are different, or he looked as us funny, or he’s from a different land. We don’t want to work with the police officer because we believe he isn’t doing his job properly for no fault of his own. We don’t want to work with a person because of something that he did a long time ago and has since paid his dues. We don’t want to work with a person because of what a collective body has said and we have decided we believe it.

Sometimes there are parts of life that don’t work well. Whatever it is you believe. It might be that you believe the police force doesn’t work well. It might be that the NHS doesn’t work well. It might be the government. It might be something ethical or moral, like a homeless persons on the street, or a pet being abused, or our sisters and brothers in a foreign country do not have a decent quality of life whether that’s from hunger, thirst, safety or other.

We should do something about these. We should come together and make them right. We should stop making excuses, we should stop our ancient human prejudices get in the way, we should stop thinking ‘someone else will do it’. WE should do it. Not the guy next door. Not the guy with lots of money. Or the woman who is popular. We ALL should.

If you do not do your part in society. I see this as negativity. I see this as being just as bad as pushing someone down or hurting a helpless animal. If you want to live in a world that has better quality of life, better policing, better NHS, better government. YOU should be doing something about it. Don’t just make excuses. Actions speak louder than words.

How many of you can say that you did something selfless? How many can say they gave money to a homeless person? How many can say they helped in a charity? How many can say they didn’t put aside their particular anger and just be nice to a stranger who didn’t deserve to be shouted at for no reason?

This world runs on all of us. At the moment it has become a popularity contest. Who is most popular, who is the richest, who is the brainiest, etc. “How many likes can this post get?” “How many retweets can this post get?” Games require you to be popular for others to help you out. Being creative requires you to have friends to help you out. If you don’t run the race of popularity, you lose.

Back to the idea of life being a scale of black and white. I used to think that because I wasn’t popular, because I didn’t have many friends and family supporting me, I was obviously a bad person. People didn’t want to know me because I was bad. No one was helping me out because I was bad.

Yes, I agree. I’m not a saint. I’m not 100% good. No one is. I’ve said nasty things, I’ve cut people out, I’ve been selfish in cases. But does this mean I am a horrible person? Does this mean I am evil? No, it means I am human. I make mistakes. I have probably said nasty things because I was in a bad place. I have probably cut people out because I was upset (I have cut people out because they were bringing me down, that was for my own sanity), I have been selfish because the world has made me selfish.

I’m not always nasty. I’m not always pushing people out. I’m not always selfish.

I try to be there for people when they need it. I try to support my friends when they need support – whether literal support or emotional support. I give money to the homeless. I try to buy charity items instead of new. I offer a stranger a chair to sit.

I am not evil. I am human.

I am trying. I am trying to stay happy in a world that is full of hate, fear, and violence. I am trying to inspire people to do good or do what they love. I am trying to avoid these ingrained human tendencies to dislike others that are not like me, or who are different, or to avoid angry outbursts when I am upset. I am trying to fill this world of hate with as much happiness and love as possible.

I have hardly any support. I have hardly any friends. I have family that don’t talk to me, who don’t support me. I don’t have a lot of money. I’m not popular. I am struggling through life. I try to make the most of it.

I will get back up again when I am pushed down. What other choice do I have?

I will try to make a difference in this world.