I mentioned on social media that I had another interview coming and it’s here! Today I’m interviewing Jason Fort. I met him at the Re:Write The Ragged Edge conference in Austin, TX back in February. I think you’ll find him very interesting. Take time to go visit his blog, check out his books, and buy them! Now, let’s get to it.
You’ve got such an interesting and diverse background. Tell us a little about what you do and have done.
I currently serve as a police officer at the Greenville Health System Police Department as a training officer who trains security officers and medical staff how to recognize, prevent, and manage aggressive behavior in patients and visitors. I also work as a normal police officer on occasion, making arrests, transporting committed patients to behavioral hospitals, and other ordinary police work on the various properties of the Greenville Health system. In the past, I was a PE teacher for eight years, a coach of several sports during that tenure, a personal trainer off and on for 15 years, a wellness/sports director for a YMCA for 3 years, and a bouncer for five years. I have had a lot of different experiences to pick up inspiration for stories.
Have you always been interested in writing? If not what got you interested?
I have NEVER been interested in technical writing. However, I have had several people, from past girlfriends to my own father, tell me that I had a way with words when I write. But I did not practice creative writing until my wife and I lost one of our sons late into her pregnancy. My wife was pregnant with twins, and although we discovered we had lost a child, we still had a special son who through God’s grace still held on. As I fight tears back while I answer this question, I can tell you that my emotions brought about words in the form of a poem, A Perfect Picture, which I wrote to help my wife and I have both closure for the life no longer with us, and hope for things to come with our surviving son – who is now thirteen years old. A short time later, after being a bouncer for about a year, I tried my hand in writing a book. After starting story after story and not finishing, it took several years to finally come across the words of Stephen King that said first of all, you have to finish a story.
Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
Ted Dekker is far and away my favorite author. My favorite single novel by the author is a thriller calledSaint. However, my favorite series ever written is Dekker’s Circle books – Black, White, Red, and Green. Dekker builds very strong, very real characters, and I strive to replicate the way he shows how God works on their minds and their hearts. I also attempt to emulate the way he shows characters’ emotions.
My other favorite author is Brad Thor. Although his work lacks the spiritual aspect that draws me to Dekker’s stories, Thor has a way of bringing action alive on the page. I am sure his actual Navy SEAL background and military service helps him, but I also try to convey the clandestine world of assassins and espionage in my stories in a similar manner to Thor.
You are a self-published author, what advice would you give to others who are looking into self-publishing?
First of all, I would recommend that they not be quite as impatient with traditional publishing as I was, if they want to make that big splash and arrive on the scene of the writing world and become a big name – and if they think they are good enough. However, if they are like me, and they could care less about any of that, and just want to get their story out there…then I suggest they bring their story to life on a page, and self-publish it the way they want, and present it to the world. Some authors (especially the traditional ones) might say that Amazon is the devil, but I think it is one of the coolest ideas and developments in the world of writing and publishing. Now EVERYONE can have a voice…not just the stuffy elite authors who think only certain people should write. I am a firm believer that if God puts something on your heart, you should be able to share it with the world.
Looking at your books on Amazon I can see that you have a lot of positive reviews! Tell us a little about your trilogy.
Oh yeah – now we get down to the nuts and bolts! My very first trilogy…who would have thought? Anyway, The Knox Mission is a series of stories that follow the action and adventure of FBI Agent John Knox – a southern, conservative, Christian man who happens to reflect certain tendencies present in the author. Knox and other investigators investigate certain events – and certain assassins, that are brought about by an ever-growing evil (The Activity) within the government of the United States of America. The first book begins with the introduction of an elusive, ‘Misguided’ killer who earns the moniker of the Jesus Assassin from the national media. This assassin is tied to a dark organization that leads Knox and company into even more mysterious events in the next book, Mistaken, which follows the trail of yet another assassin, the Arbiter, inside the walls of a large penitentiary. Knox then embarks on a journey down memory lane in the third book, Misled, as he is forced to face an assassin known as the Klansman, who resembles parts of Knox’s past that his memory had suppressed. By the time the reader gets to the end of Book 3, they will realize that the USA is no longer the country we once knew – and law enforcement in America will never be the same. Something that I think makes my series a bit unique to the thriller genre is that in every book, there is one person who becomes a believer in Jesus Christ. This coincides with my belief that no matter how dark our circumstances, there will ALWAYS be one light that shines through it all – Jesus. I decided to follow this process in each book, because the mission statement of my church is “Reaching the world for Christ, one person at a time.” In my writing, I want to reach the world for Christ, one reader at a time. *See next question.
How does your faith influence your writing?
My faith and my hope are intertwined – and hope is what I want to give all readers. Christianity is the one historical belief system I have found that can truly offer hope, because it provides an answer that I have found all the other religions unable to do. That is, none of them can provide an answer to the unattainable. In Buddhism, one must seek enlightenment – something I consider unattainable, because of our flawed human nature – the undeniable sin in us all. In Islam, one must completely submit to the will of Allah – something else I consider unattainable even by the must devout imams; not to mention the mere conflict this causes by the total non-acceptance of other beliefs. In other beliefs, there is the constant yearning for a redeemer who has yet to come, or the wait for some cataclysmic apocalypse so that their God wins out, all the while they must live perfectly until they mess up, at which point they must offer some sort of sacrifice. Christianity is the only belief system that coincides with what I have observed: 1. Humans are so flawed and sinful by nature, that there is no way to achieve perfection. 2. There is a God who created us; evidence is all around us, and He loved us so much that He provided that one answer to the unattainable perfection we all yearn for – His Son, Jesus Christ. My favorite verse, or life verse, is Isaiah 40:31 – For those that wait upon the Lord (some translations, those that hope in the Lord), they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. To me, there are no more hopeful words in the English language.
I grew up both with severe exercise-induced asthma, and severe fear of heights. You tell someone like me, who experienced growing weary, and even almost passing out from the inability to breathe with asthma – and someone who turned white as a ghost when he stood behind the railing on top of Chimney Rock, NC – that I will be able to soar like an Eagle, and never be tired if I wait for the Lord…then I AM SOLD! So why wouldn’t I try to convey this idea in my writing?
What is one thing you think your readers would be surprised to know about you?
When I was in college, I sang baritone and tenor in the college choir for four years. I was able to sing with an ensemble in some of the largest cathedrals in the world…talk about chills going down your neck!
I also happened to be a college cheerleader. I had to start lifting free weights just so I could literally be strong enough to pick up women…over my head of course.
Do you have a favorite book, if so what is it?
I have addressed this in my blog; I believe the title of the post is The Perfect Story. The gist of the post is that I think all authors are trying to write the perfect story (yet more of us, attempting the unattainable). But I believe there has only been one perfect story ever written – History. The Bible is ‘His story’…God’s story of the perfect sacrifice…the only perfect sacrifice to have ever existed. Not only does is tell us about the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ; it also has action, excitement, love, romance, drama, history, sex, music, war, violence, and everything else you can imagine – all in one book. There is no other book that even comes close.
What is your writing process like?
When I write blogposts, it has to be something that makes me pause to think; I have to be inspired by something that I either heard from a pastor or good friend – or I am inspired by a certain event. I also feed off my own emotions brought about by possible current events, or perhaps actions of those around me at work. My biggest struggle with this is letting my personality come out a little too strong; I tend to be inflammatory when I really want to speak my mind, and I try to keep in mind that I am trying to build an audience; not scare them into hiding.
When I write my novels, I have discovered what works for me. First, I come up with the main theme I want to come across. Then I think of the biggest characters that must be in the story to bring it all about. I sketch out an outline of major events. I list out all these events in chronological order, similar to a table of contents. Then I go in and expound on each of those events like describing scenes in a movie. When I sit down to write a chapter, I go to that particular ‘scene’ in my list of events – and then I try to see how creative I can get. It has taken a lot of missteps, and self-evaluation, and hard pills to swallow along the way, but I think I have found what works for me.
What are you currently working on?
I am really excited to be working on my fourth novel in my Knox Mission universe. Although I finished up The Knox Mission, I am continuing to follow my main character, John Knox, and his partner, Malik Sharif, as they stumble into even more trouble involving the dark group known as The Activity…and a growing threat of a radical agenda that will change the outlook of America, and perhaps the career and livelihood of the characters themselves. To put it mildly, after this next series (The Hunters), there may not even be such a thing as the FBI anymore. Please join along for the ride in the next book, Book 1 of The Hunters – Tracking Game.
I told you, he’s an extremely interesting guy. I’ve not read his books yet so I can’t comment on them, but I will be reading them soon. When I do, I’ll come back and leave a comment here so you can see what I thought of them. Having said that, if you go to Amazon and check them out, you’ll see they have some great reviews. So, here’s where you can find Jason. Check out the links below. Do it! Follow him on Facebook and Twitter and go buy his books either in paperback of for Kindle.
Jason E. Fort Amazon Author Page (This is where you can get his books!!)