Author Spotlight: JASON P. HEIN
Jason P. Hein is the author of The Varsian Kingdom Series, as well as several companion books to the saga. He lives outside a small town in a rural Oklahoma community. In addition to his writing he enjoys musical pursuits, nature, and clean country living.
He is currently working on a music CD of original songs based in The Varsian Kingdom. Music From Varsia will be comprised of 8 tracks, each one representing a unique culture from his fictional world.
Jason has also taken part in the Mirrored Voices Poetry Anthology, and continues his writing pursuits with numerous new projects.
He has recently dedicated a portion of his time to learning Gaeilge (Irish) and studying about Irish culture, ancient and modern, in honour of his Irish ancestry.
Jason hopes to continue writing long into the future. He spends many hours daydreaming about plots, stories, characters, and fantasy worlds of all kinds in the hope to one day present them all to a waiting audience of intrigued minds and fantasy readers.
Welcome to the Hive, Jason. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
One of my most recent reads was a gamer fantasy book titled Destiny of a Gamer: Beyond the Screens by Katie Da Silva. It was a really enjoyable read, had rich characters, and a fascinating fantasy/gaming world. The main characters were really relatable and fun to get to know. There is also a really awesome horse, which is always a win for me!
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
I would probably be a tank/DPS class hybrid. Something that can deal out a decent amount of damage, but also has a decent amount of health. I prefer a one-handed sword as a main weapon and a buckler on the offhand wrist with a bow and arrows as a secondary weapon to draw the enemy in from a distance.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit?) Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
I prefer to write in the dark, with silence, and a warm cup of black coffee. When all I can hear are the characters inside my head, all I can see is them coming alive in the words before me, and… well the coffee just goes good with any situation! I actually prefer to hand write, but it takes so much longer. Ultimately it all has to end up online to be uploaded to the publisher… so I just start off typing on my laptop. I also like to have Notepad open at all times. Usually about 2-4 of them! I also have my files open, google docs (Which I type in) and a webpage open for research. So, my screen can get to looking pretty cluttered, but it’s important for me to be able to cross reference all my materials with each other to make sure I keep my facts straight! As far as what I wear, just jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. Nothing fancy or too terribly weird. Haha
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
It’s probably a pretty common answer, but Tolkien and C.S Lewis were huge influences on me as a kid. I also absolutely love Andrew Peterson’s The Wingfeather Saga. Working with him would be amazing! Oddly enough, my initial inspiration to write didn’t come from fantasy, or even a book. My grandmother bought an old Featured Film For the Family movie called The Best Bad Thing. It didn’t even have to do much with writing, but in the movie the girl writes a story. She was just an ordinary girl, and I remember as a kid it just clicked in my head… “Anyone can write a book!” I started writing and have never looked back!
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
The Last thing I watched was The Mandalorian, because I’m a huge Star Wars fan! I’m really enjoying the episodes and love that they chose Mandalorians to center a series around. The Mandalorians have always been one of my favorite cultures out of Star Wars.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
Hmm… just a day? If it were longer, I’d definitely take a trip to Ireland! But just for a day, I’d probably binge on Star Wars movies, go out to eat, and maybe go play a few games of bowling.
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
My current WIP is a really exciting venture. It’s my first book that won’t be connected to The Varsian Kingdom, my medieval world. This new book, titled Utopia: A Realm World Adventure, is set in a world where reality is quite relative. The earth is composed of innumerable realms, each with its own laws of nature. The book begins with a tragic crash with two newly wed couples. One spouse out of each couple ends up dead. Years later the surviving husband of the one marriage and the wife of the other must learn to work together before their world dies before their eyes. (There may be a heavy emphasis on romance in this one too… which is also new for me)
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Most helpful: Always remember that there are literally thousands of people out there doing exactly what you do. Writing books. No one knows your name, but it’s not because your writing is terrible. No one knows your name. It’s that simple. Writing is a long term goal with a slow build. I recommend writing and publishing at least 5 quality books before you really pour a ton of effort into marketing, advertising, and getting your name out there. Always do some all along the way, but once you have those 5 quality books published, then hit it hard!
The least helpful would have to be the people who are just vague, nonspecific, and undetailed. I can at least learn something from a bad piece of advice. When all you say is, “Yeah, keep writing! Try something new! Your writing was alright.” I can’t work with that… I don’t know what to change, what to keep, what you like and what you don’t. Give me details!
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
My favorite go-to when I am having trouble writing is world building. I’ll write a poem, then create a legend about it in my world. Or imagine a new culture, a new location, or expand on the history of the world and characters. It’s so much fun, and it always gets me inspired. It is, however, somewhat of a double-edged sword. I always end up coming up with new story ideas that I can’t fit in to my current WIP. Due to this… I’ll probably never get all the stories written that are in my head!
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
I would definitely go to Ireland before the English took over. A large part of my ancestry is from Ireland and I dream of learning their language (which I am working on) and studying their culture. I would love to get a chance to see that native culture and language for myself!
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
The Silmarillion. Even out of all the Tolkien fans that I have talked to, very very few of them have read The Silmarillion. In fact… a lot of them don’t even know it exists! To me, it is by far the best of Tolkien’s works and is hands down, the most fascinating book I have ever read.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
I’ve worked long and hard to try and carve out a unique world in my books. When I sat down to write, I tried to think of what type of world I wanted. Every time I would think I had it, I would find a problem. If I had this, I couldn’t have that. If I did this, I couldn’t do that. So, I decided I wouldn’t write myself into a box. Instead, I created a world where literally anything could be possible! The Varsian Kingdom has unlimited potential that I haven’t even begun to tap into.
I’ve also taken a unique approach to my writing, mixed with some age old methods for the reader’s enjoyment. In my 4 book saga, books 1, 2, and 3, all focus on completely different sets of Main Characters. The three stories build on one another, interweave, and culminate in the 4th and final book where we see all surviving characters from the first three books band together for the most epic battle the realms have ever seen!
I also have two companion books which I use to weave interesting bits of lore through the main books, give unique insights, and add fun (albeit sometimes meaningless) bits of fun trivia and information to the world itself.
That’s brilliant! Thanks again for joining us, Jason!
Jason Hein is the author of the VARSIAN KINGDOM series.