January 10th, 2020
I asked Jonathan where he would like to chat:
We sit as the rain gently falls like mist on some quiet intersection on Washington Ave in downtown Saint Louis, at a café that no longer exists. People run past on the damp streets, and a single brave soul sits outside on the black iron table, he enjoys the crisp fall air as he smokes a cigarette. Inside where I sit, the smell of espresso and fresh baked pastries is intoxicating. It fills the lungs and brings a sense of calm to all who enter. The wooden table I sit at is caramel colored and cracked with age. Any large holes that formed, were filled in with Scrabble Tiles. A random assortment, unable to spell any real words had been meticulously added to be level with the surface, though the Q tile is slightly off kilter.
I run my hand along the red brick that makes up many of the older buildings in the city as I sip my caramel latte. There is something hauntingly beautiful about a city that protects its buildings as such,
for even the wood floor is near original, and you can see every scrape and nick. If you listen as the rain falls, you can almost make out the whispers of generations passed. A jingle of entry bells takes my
attention away as a waterlogged patron enters to warm up. I go back to sipping my latte.
Laura Mae: What inspired you to enter the world of writing?
Jonathan Lazar: Writing is one of those things that people know they want to do. Sort of like musicians, we hear the call of characters sing to us, we hear the individual peoples of the world tell us the plights that unfold into the plots. It is something we are born into. People say, anyone can write a book, and unfortunately it’s not true, just as not everyone can play a musical instrument or read music for that matter (I am one of those, that can’t read music to save my life!). I honestly can’t imagine myself not writing, its been something I have done for the longest time.
L: How long have you been writing for?
J: I started writing in the third grade. I had to do a short story using the weekly spelling words. I was the only student to use ALL ten or so spelling words, and I did it with a (looking back) terrible Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (that’s right, I’m a geek), fan fiction. See, everyone starts somewhere. I made this terrible fan fiction, and my teacher swore I would one day get an Oscar… yeah… I’m still waiting too. I have been creating in some capacity ever since them. Whether it is my books, or my comics I want to make. My brother played hockey for the longest time, so I was always in rinks as a kid, and I always had my notebook in my bag ready for when
L: What are you currently working on?
J: Mainly I am currently working with my publisher, Kyanite Publishing, on my urban fantasy series, The Case Files of Zachariah Lars, the first of which is actually available now (Zachariah Lars & the High Elf Mystery). The forthcoming book (date TBD) is tentatively called, Zachariah Lars & the Time Traveler Conundrum! I am also independently publishing my fairy tale fantasy series, The Bound by Tales series, and my epic fantasy, The Gehenna Cycle. I am hoping to have books 1 & 2 of both these series out by March, in time for Tucson Festival of Books, where I will be attending. This is of course not including all the other random works I have plotted and planned, such as my sword & planet series, The Ranul Saga, among others.
L: Are there any books or authors who inspire your work?
J: For much of my fantasy, Roger Zelazny has inspired the way in which I build worlds and characters. But L. Frank Baum also inspired me, due to his ideas that fantasy is fantasy and you can have whatever you want happen.
L: What has been the most challenging for you so far?
J: Holy crap, definitely building an email list!! By far the most challenging thing for me as an author. I know I need to do it, and I have it, just keeping up with it, and advertising that I have it. If anyone would like to sign up here is the link: https://mailchi.mp/deef1dd9af52/jonathanwritesbooks I don’t spam in case you are wondering!
L: Besides writing, what is it you like to do?
J: I am an avid tea drinker. I actually worked for Teavana for just over six years, so I have a vast knowledge about tea. As well, I am a huge video game junkie. Love playing classic RPGs or Nintendo Games, and when I need to take a break from writing, the husband and I actually play Diablo 3 together. Nothing better than crushing demon hordes with your husband to recharge the batteries!
L: What would you say is your favorite book or series of all time? Why?
J: Favorite book series is the Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny. Its ten books in length, divided into two arcs. Books 1-5 deal with Corwin, Prince of Amber, and the second five deal with his son, Merlin. The series while fantasy in nature, also has elements of science-fiction, dealing with the Multiverse, as the royal family hails from Amber, which is the true world and all other worlds, including our own, are copies. It is also fascinating about series, is the first five are much more fantasy based in its writing, and the last five move towards a more cyber-punk, which shows when they were written and how Roger Zelazny himself was influenced by the growing trends in writing. Overall, everyone needs to read at least the first five books.
L: Are there any regrets you have or anything you wish you knew sooner?
J: Knowing that it’s okay to not know everything! I have kicked myself over and over for things I have done, or stupid mistakes I have made, such as sign with a particular publisher, who was not the best. As long as you learn from your mistakes and use the experiences to grow, that is all you can hope for!
L: In a brief statement, have you self-published or traditionally published? What was your experience?
J: I have done both self-published and traditionally and both have its pros and cons. Self-publishing gives the freedom to publish what you want, on a schedule that best fits your needs, and of course you get the majority of the profits, you just have to be ready to put in the work (marketing, promotion, editing, covers, etc.). However the same can be said for traditionally publishing, yes you lose a little control, but depending on the company, they have the tools you need. Best advice I can give is, do your due diligence. What would work best for you? Maybe it’s both, or one or the other. Everyone is different and unique. But always ask questions regarding marketing, royalties, time frames, and any other questions that you find pertinent and remember if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
L: What element of writing do you enjoy the most? (characters, descriptions, ect.)
J: I love world building, hands down! For many of my larger works, I have whole series bibles that contain all my world building notes, my secrets, my characters. Every minor character gets a sub-tab in the respected area. For instance, in my Gehenna Cycle series, there is the Order of the Unnamed Goddess, which is littered with dozens of Priestesses of different levels… so every time introduce one, I make a note… or even if they are never introduced, I know who is in what Temple! I am also a sucker for a good description. I love to let people know when a character is uncomfortable, or hungry, or what food they are eating. Makes the world more alive when you know what is going on around them.
L: What are you currently reading?
J: I am currently reading Frank Herbert’s masterpiece, Dune. I have had it for years, but never had the chance to enjoy it. I have been doing a lot of traveling recently, so I figured now was a good as any time to read it. Though of course, my TBR pile’s around the house are at least three books deep.
L: What genre do you typically read?
J: I am fairly predictable, reading mostly fantasy and science fiction. However I have been dabbled into literary fiction when the mood calls for it, though this is few and far between when I do this.
L: What does a typical day of writing look like for you? Any rituals or ‘must-haves’?
J: I am a morning person, so my writing day HAS to start with some black tea, with a splash of almond milk. Hands down, even the mornings I am off to work, I am making black tea. I typically go into my office in my house, put on some music and get to writing, unless it’s the weekend, then I am typically catching up on Game Grumps on Youtube.
L: Any songs or type of music you need to listen to when you write?
J: 95% of the time, I have on Video Game Soundtracks while I write. This is the best, as the music is designed to stimulate and engage you, but not distract you. It is the absolute best for writing. My go-tos are usually Final Fantasy or similar games soundtracks, or Kingdom Hearts.
L: Where would you say you get most of your inspiration?
J: I would have to say that 95% of my inspiration comes from must everyday things, and places. I can see a random license plate or street name, and instantly have a place or character. I have a note folder on my phone for random names. Once there, I can then pull from it later, or depending on the character, they will instantly tell me all about themselves and I know which story to put them.
L: For aspiring writers out there, what would be the best advice you want them to know?
J: Never give up, never surrender. I know, I know, cliché right? But it’s true. There will be those that support you, and those that don’t, but you have to keep doing what you do. If the characters won’t shut up, tell their stories. There will always be those that read your works, and just wait, you could be their favorite author!
Born to the greatest Generation, the Nintendo Generation, Jonathan grew up in the South suburbs of Chicago for numerous years before going away to the boring planes of Illinois to get a B.A. in English (cue Avenue Q song) from Illinois State University. There he would unknowingly have his life
changed, when he met his future husband. From there, his life would be a whirlwind of adventure as he lived in Michigan, and Saint Louis, which would influence him to create “The Case Files of Zachariah Lars” Urban Fantasy series, before landing (for the time being) in Tucson, Arizona.
Writing since he was in the third grade, he really knew this was his passion, when in sixth grade he wrote a 6-part short story for extra credit. He doesn’t think he got the extra credit, but he does know he never did get the story back. This notion of being a writer really solidified throughout high school when he started the first draft of what would eventually become his “Gehenna Cycle” series.
Something of Him – How do you navigate adulthood? That is the question 30-something year old Jeffrey must learn in order to not get lost in the complications caused by the love he has for two men. Meanwhile an old flame shows that love is more complicated than what is seen in the movies. Will Jeffrey manage? Or will he be forever dreaming of the perfect lover?
Buy it here!
Zachariah Lars and the High Elf Mystery – 150 Years Ago: The Veil, which kept the mystical and magical hidden, broke. Humans were forced to integrate with those that they deemed mythological and the world got more complicated.
Present Day: Saint Louis, Missouri, New World. Zachariah Lars, former Magi Police Officer turned Private Investigator takes the cases that the Magi won’t touch. When the mysterious line of African High Elves make their presence known in the New World, in time for the High Elves Annual Remembrance Ball, Zachariah is visited by their emissary, High Princess Mahtab. She believes someone is looking to assassinate her, and will pay handsomely for Prince Juraxxus of the Saint Louis High Elves to be brought to Justice.
Zachariah must piece together the mystery of not only this stunningly beautiful African High Elf, but also, if Juraxxus is behind the assassination attempts on the High Princess’s life. And he only has three days to accomplish the task. Mystery, intrigue, humor, magic and foul language abound in this series by Jonathan M. Lazar.
Buy it here!