Author Interview with Katherine E. Soto Author: Jordan P. Barnes
1. What is the first book that made you cry? Where the Red Fern Grows.
2. What is your writing Kryptonite? As a newer author, I am keenly aware that I need to read more, though this is not to be confused with me not being well read. I grew up in a family of avid readers, with a vast library at my disposal that my father had assimilated over a twenty-plus year career traveling the world in the Navy. As a child, my brothers and I could always stay up past our bedtime, but only if we were reading, and I read constantly throughout high school and college. My reading picked up more when I was homeless because it was the only entertainment I could afford. However, as life has picked up, and with our new baby Logan here, it is hard to set aside the time needed to read, especially when I am writing. I squeeze in reading when I can, and am grateful for audiobooks, but know that I can do better.
3. Who is one author you are friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? Glen Dahlgren, author of The Child of Chaos! Glen and I found each other via social media as we both self-published our debut books within months of each other. Beyond our friendship, I have turned to Glen to bounce ideas off of him, and we exchange ideas, successes and failures in an effort to constantly improve our craft and sales. I look up to Glen and his writing style, and though we write in very different genres, have found his input to be invaluable.
4. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? “Jordan, you have a predisposition to addictive tendencies that will induce a world of hurt upon you if left unchecked. Get help for your binge drinking, tell your brother Jonathan he will die at age 36 from alcoholism is things continue, and stay away drugs.”
5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? After publishing One Hit Away, I found myself motivated me to write with vigor and purpose. The response was more rewarding than I could have hoped for, and when I realized how far and wide a message of hope can travel, I made the life-changing decision to quit my day job and pursue my dream of writing full time. I finally understand what it means to love what you do.
6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? If you have not made any money, dream about it? I went through a couple of editors before I finally found Jessey Mills, and we connected in a way that went beyond the standard professional relationship between writer + editor. Not only did I receive critical developmental, line and copy editing services one would expect, but Jessey taught me a ton about craft and technique. I found my voice working with him, and believe that it was only as a team that One Hit Away won the 2020s Best Book of the Year Award from Indies Today.
7. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? In Hawai`i, it is customary for each family to have an Amakua, or Family Protector. It could be a Gecko (Mo`o) or type of Bird (`Iwa). Our Amakua is the Octopus (Tako), which is fitting because they are adaptable, able to squeeze out of tough situations and can hide in the smallest of crevices.
8. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Currently, I have a serialized book titled 12 RULES TO DIE BY: A HEROIN ADDICT’S TAKE ON LIFE IN LONG-TERM RECOVERY that will be available only on Kindle Vella, however I intend to add more episodes to increase the “rules” to twenty-five. I am also 90% complete with my current WIP BRIDGETOWN, which is a novel based in a syringe exchange in Portland, OR. The plot follows a team of Harm Reduction advocates as they scramble to save lives during a mass-overdose event, and I can’t wait to drop it.
9. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction? A lot of craft books (King’s ON WRITING, Brody’s SAVE THE CAT!) have made me realize there is a meaning to the madness, so through studying the design and execution of story, I dissect plot points, pacing, story arcs and character developments when reading. (Side note: The thing is, I never aspired to be a writer—I just felt like I had a story to tell. I actually failed English in High School which hopefully goes to show that passion and motivation can take anyone where they want to be.) Back to the craft books. The thing is, they tend to sap a bit of magic from the experience, but as an author who is committed to being successful at making writing my full-time career, I do what I can to learn from the greats, take what I can and leave the rest.
10. How do you select the names of your characters? For my memoir, I was fortunate enough that nearly every character in my book signed a legal “permission to use name and likeness release” form. Because all but one individual allowed me to use their name, there wasn’t much room for interpretation. As for my current WIP, tentatively titled BRIDGETOWN, I had the pleasure of choosing names as I saw fit. A few just rolled off the tongue, while other characters were named after friends. Then, as a token of my appreciation, I allowed some contributors to my book the option to name a character as they saw fit. I felt like it was the least I could do since so many industry professionals were freely giving of their time and expertise.
11. What is your favorite childhood book? Easiest question ever . . . Treasure Island!
At the age of 24, Jordan Barnes woke up next to a lifeless body, rifled through his dead friend’s pockets for any remaining heroin and went right back to using. Strung out and homeless during the supposed best years of his life, there was no clear way out of the Opioid Crisis ravaging the streets of Portland, Oregon. But though Jordan had long accepted his fate, his parents still held out hope, and would do everything in their power to get him the help he so desperately needed. After a harrowing journey that proves the life of an addict will always get worse, never better, Jordan found himself at the gates of Sand Island, Hawaii’s most notorious two-year inpatient treatment facility. He soon discovers that though his heart was in the right place, the hardest battle of his life was yet to come. One Hit Away is his arduous and unlikely true story of recovery, rehabilitation and redemption
Jordan P. Barnes is a grateful alcoholic & addict in recovery and Sand Island Treatment Center is his home group. When he’s not sharing his experience, strength and hope through writing or talking story, he enjoys bodysurfing and gardening. Jordan resides in beautiful Kailua, Hawaiʻi with his lovely wife Chelsea and son Logan. He has been sober from all mind-and-mood-altering substances since August 29th, 2011. Jordan is an B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree, and his debut book, One Hit Away: A Memoir of Recovery, won 2020s “Best Book of the Year” award from www.IndiesToday.com and was a finalist in the 15th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards.
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