Jon Dobbin: Thanks for the interview, Peter.
I was born in St. John’s, NL and raised in a small town just outside the city (later to be amalgamated into St. John’s) called Goulds (or the Goulds to its residents).
1st: Jon, who are some of the writers who have influenced you?
Jon: I’ve had a few authors who have impacted my life and writing. In my University days, I would say that Lisa Moore (local Newfoundlander and literary fiction darling) was my favourite author. I really loved her books of short fiction: “Degrees of Nakedness,” and “Open.” Other than Lisa Moore, I really enjoy Neil Gaiman, Thomas King, Edgar Allan Poe, and Robert E. Howard. Though, Stephen King is probably my favourite author (or has been off and on for many, many years).
Jon: That’s a fun question, but it’s also pretty hard. I think my knee jerk reaction would be to speak to Edgar Allan Poe. Though he’d probably be depressing to talk to at any length, I think he could shed some light on the mysteries of his life. Now that would be interesting.
1st: Who are you reading right now?
Jon: Right now I am reading Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling’s) second book “The Silkworm.” It’s a great little mystery novel with compelling characters and great writing.
1st: What are you passionate about?
Jon: Besides writing, I have to say my family. My life is encompassed by working my day job and writing at night. My family is my getaway from that. Hanging out with them is the only time I don’t feel like I’m working on something.
Jon: I work with a Child and Youth Care agency. We often work with youth and families who may want to get a little too close and comfortable with you after hours. It’s important to have that break from your work and personal life, so I created a fake name. I came up with it before Frozen was released, so it wasn’t influenced by that little snowman. I just thought it sounded like a good Viking/ Nordic kind of name.
Goodbeard comes from my love of growing my beard. But I’m not an egomaniac, so I said Goodbead, not greatbeard or bestbeard.
1st: I have had the pleasure to read your debut novel THE STARVING. Your characters were well rounded, and amazing storytelling made me starving for more. What can you tell your fans about this book?
Jon: Thanks, I appreciate that.
This book had been stewing in my mind for a few years now. Plans and thoughts around it probably developed even before then.
Really, it’s a “what-if” kind of story. What would happen if you set Beowulf in the Wild West? What would happen if Predator (the original movie) took place in the Wild West? That’s where my ideas came from and I just went from there.
It was a fun process to see how that would play out, and I hope everyone enjoys the journey.
Jon: I was completely blown away. It’s kind of a surreal feeling. You really don’t expect it to happen and when it does it’s just hard to wrap your head around. I still have trouble with it. It was a really cool experience.
1st: Loved the cover art for THE STARVING by Jud Haynes. What can you tell us about the process of making the cover?
Jon: The cover is pretty amazing. Jud Haynes is a fantastic graphic artist located here in St. John’s and he really went above and beyond to make the cover awesome!
I think you’d have to speak to Jud more about the process. From my side, myself and Engen books spoke about the cover briefly and then I contacted Jud who agreed to take on the project. His process, however, was to read the book before doing the cover, which I thought was great. I think you can tell from the cover the little aspects of the story he put in there.
It was really crazy to see the different parts he picked out and how well that fit with my vision of the story. As a writer that is always a cool experience. You don’t really know how you’re writing is going to be interpreted, you just hope for the best. I was very happy to see that Jud picked out those things I really wanted to focus on in the novel.
Jon: Has it been? That’s amazing.
As I mentioned earlier, Stephen King is my favourite writer, but Robert E. Howard is definitely next in line. Being mentioned in the same breath as those two giants of writing is an extreme honour.
I’m not worthy!
1st: How can your fans get copies of your book, where are they available?
Jon: Right now you can get the e-book and hard copy on Amazon. If you’re in the St. John’s area, you can check out a great local bookstore, Broken Books – they carry the Starving. Apparently it has also been found in the Memorial University Bookstore.
If someone wanted a signed copy, they can check out my author page on facebook (Jon Dobbin – Author) or Twitter (@dobbinjon) and I can help facilitate that.
Jon: Here’s hoping. I already have the first draft of the sequel to the Starving complete, I just need to do some major editing and see if Engen Books wants to publish it again. Either way, I’m hoping to get some of my Western Horror stories and novel out there. They’re just so fun to write!
1st: Tell your fans what your day is like, how many hours do you spend writing? Where do you get your ideas?
Jon: My days are spent working and hanging out with my family. Writing is a secondary job at this time (though a primary passion), so I have to make time to write. Often that’ll look like me typing away on my phone while my 3 year old drifts off to sleep at night. If I’m lucky, I can take an hour or two after the kids are in bed to sit at my laptop and pound out a thousand words or so.
1st: Jon, you are also won the 2017 48 hour Novel Writing contest, that’s amazing what can you tell us about that?
Jon: Yeah, that was a great experience. It was really my first time entering a writing contest, and it was fun, thanks to the folks at Engen Book and T.H.E Learning Centre. A lot of great writers gathered over those 48 hours to mix, mingle, and write. That’s where the beginnings of what would become the Starving came into being.
I was very honoured to be amongst the winners. Kelly Power was my co-winner that year, and Stacey Oakley was the winner from last year. Some really talented writers.
Jon: Again, Amazon carries all the anthologies including Chillers and Dystopia, in both hard copy and digital format. I believe you can get them locally at Broken Books, and, in some cases, Chapters and Coles in St. John’s. Elaine’s Books also carries them locally.
If you’re in Nova Scotia, you may want to contact Peter Foote and his used bookstore, Fictionfirst Bookstore. Look it up on Facebook.
1st: I have also read your a winner of Engen Books Kit Sora flash fiction contests. What can you tell us about your contribution the Kit Sora Flash Fiction?
Jon: I had one story in the Kit Sora collection. What a talented photographer with such a vision and process. It’s hard not to be inspired by the images that she produces.
My contribution was called “Barely Risen”. It’s a striking image of a young woman at the edge of a cliff, the ocean in the background. My immediate thoughts were of a woman dancing away from her troubles. Of course, in this case, I pictured her trouble being invading pirates.
1st: Do you find writing flash fiction different than writing novels, if so, how?
Jon: They are much different. Flash fiction is much harder.
Novels let you spread out a little, get comfy, and build a cozy house of words and descriptions. Flash Fiction doesn’t give you that luxury. Your images and words must be succinct in Flash Fiction. Every word you write must be filled with meaning, building towards the overall story and its themes. It isn’t easy, so I’m in awe of writers who can write these consistently.
1st: If a reader is interested in writing flash fiction for Kit Sora, how would they do that?
Jon: Your best bet is to keep an eye on the Engen Books website (engenbooks.com) and the Engen Books Facebook page. They post up the newest contests monthly and they also post the top three stories. You can also sign up to their newsletter if you find that easier.
1st: All the contest winners are combined in an anthology called Kit Sora The Artobiography also published by Engen Books. How can a fan get copies or multiple copies?
Jon: The print versions are harder to come by, but you can get both the e-book and the hard copy at Amazon. I believe you can get them locally at Broken Books, and, in some cases, Chapters and Coles in St. John’s. Elaine’s Books also carries them locally. Goodreads.com
1st: Jon what can you tell the readers about Engen Books? Do they have a web page you want to share with us?
Jon: Engen Books (engenbooks.com) is a great small press publisher of Genre Fiction. They are very receptive and open to their writers and are very supportive.
Though they are on a submission hiatus right now, I urge anyone who has something under the speculative fiction banner to submit to them. Even if you aren’t the right fit for them now, they are usually very helpful and gracious in their rejection notes.
If given a chance to work with Engen, I’d recommend it.
1st: Now that you have a bestseller The Starving under your belt, what are your future plans and projects you would like to share about?
Jon: I just finished my second novel (completely – no more drafts, all edits done). Right now I am querying agents with that, so we’ll see where that goes. It’s a fantasy novel, so a little different for me.
As I already said, I have my The Staving sequel’s first draft complete, so I’m hoping to get back to editing that soon. Right now, I am working on a supernatural mystery novel set in Newfoundland. After that, I’m not sure!
1st: Thanks Jon, its been my honour and pleasure to pleasure to interview you. Is there anything else you would like to inform the readers about we haven’t covered in this interview, any links or shout outs.
Jon: Just a shout out to my family and friends, the fine folks at Engen Books, my buddies in my writing group (Write Club NL), and the kind bunch at GWoAC.
Also, thank you for the opportunity. It’s been fun!