Today I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my writing buds and all around amazing crazy friend, the newly published J.A. Romano. The cool thing? He’s younger than I am. And published by JukePop Serials, an online website that has some great serialized pieces of prose floating around for all you speculative fiction readers and writers.
1. Let’s begin. For all the unassuming people out there, I have to ask; who is J.A. Romano?
I’m 14, still in school, and other than becoming a writer, I plan on pursuing dual degrees in Psychology and Film Studies. I’ve been home schooled for around six years now because I lived in Bosnia, and my parents found the international home schooling program more academically challenging than the ones offered there. My hobbies vary from changing the subtitles of foreign movies to just hanging out with family and friends and of course, reading.
2. Cool. Another Paolini I see. Anyway, I understand your published novel is called Radio Silence and is about ghosts, killings, and music. What more can we expect from this new serialized story in the future?
Haha, I’ll just hope that I become a bestseller like Christopher Paolini. Radio Silence is basically my one big experiment. The entire premise was the equivalent to a lab accident, and I keep trying new and different things with the story. So, I’m not exactly sure myself. I will say that I will be introducing at least one more main character, and that Radio Silence will also have the equivalent to boss battles in video games. One of the first things I planned from the beginning of Radio Silence was actually a big fight between Gordon and another ghost possessing someone he knows that would creep the reader out, and solidify Gordon’s resolve against the dead prisoners. So, expect a lot of emotional ups and downs throughout Radio Silence.
3. What was the inspiration behind Radio Silence?
The funny thing about the inspiration behind Radio Silence is that it started as a comedy. I’d started writing a satiric story about the afterlife, and in the first chapter, the main character dies. The last thing he hears is a sound from the radio, and it is later revealed that the voice he heard from the radio was another ghost. So, I put that story in the drawer, and I began experimenting with horror a few months later. NaNoWriMo suddenly came around the corner, and I wanted to write my next book. I’d just finished the Line of Corruption, and had no idea what should I do next. So, I started writing a horror story for NaNoWriMo, and when I wrote the first chapter… The Queen reference was entirely by accident. I was listening to music as I was writing it, and I decided to throw it in. Surprisingly, it worked. And now I have the pleasure of actually using songs I’ve grown to like a lot.
4. Boss battles, eh? Shall we be expecting disturbing horror or suspenseful horror? Or a mixture of both?
A mixture of both. I intend to make them all as different from each other as possible, and to keep Gordon on his toes. I have a feeling that if Gordon were real and we met, he’d punch me in the face and toss me into a river for all the misery I put him through. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened… Yet.
5. I’ve heard you’ve also finished writing a novel called Line of Corruption. What’s that all about? From what I’ve heard, it’s different that Radio Silence, more fantasy elements, but still the same dark, humorous approach.
Well, the Line of Corruption is, in a couple of ways, a lot more epic than Radio Silence. Not in the sense that it is better than Radio Silence, but the stakes are a lot higher. People die by the thousands, and I have a much larger cast of characters. It’s set in a gritty fantasy world dominated by bloodthirsty mercenaries and manipulative religious figures that have access to incredible magic. In the Prologue, the main character technically dies (see a theme here?). His name is Larik, and he was a Chosen One. Unlike most farm boy heroes, though, he was forced to do the dirty, Black Ops stuff. He’s killed people, and while he doesn’t regret following his orders for the greater good, he does wish to make sure his successor doesn’t make the same mistakes. So, he passes on his consciousness to his successor. Then the reader is introduced to Ambrose, a mercenary. I could go on and on about it, but I suspect that would be a bit unprofessional. I like black comedies, and I like fight scenes a lot. So, you’ll find most of my characters to have a quirky sense of humor, and I hope people appreciate their quips. I’m not naturally funny, and I spent hours thinking of the best one-liners for my characters
6. Anything else in the woodworks by J.A. Romano?
Definitely. I have ADD when it comes to my writings, and I can’t seem to stick to the same project at any given time. Just by counting my files, I have maybe fifteen projects in the works. Only one of them is a short story. That should tell you a little something about how I do things. But, for now, I intend to concentrate most of my creativity and time on Radio Silence. At least, until I’ve gotten past the dozen chapter mark.
7. I know a lot of people started writing because of one main book or movie. What was your spark, so to say?
That’s a difficult question, actually. The first time I wrote with the intention of turning it into something (unlike my previous ones where I plagiarized excessively) was Xenon Bane, and I think my main inspiration was Christopher Paolini. I hadn’t read Eragon or anything like that, but my sister was raving to me about Eragon. “He wrote a book when he was 14?” I’d said incredulously.
“Yup, and it’s actually a good book.”
“Hmm. A book, huh? I should give that a try,” I said with all the naiveté of a kid. I was around eleven at that time. And even though I keep citing Xenon Bane as an example of mistakes of a beginner writer, I’ve never actually considered it a mistake. The movie that inspired me to take my writing to the next level, though, was the Godfather. I’ve already written a post about that, though. Of course, a lot of other authors have inspired me, but even though I’m not a big fan of Eragon, I still think that I probably would not have written my first book if I hadn’t heard about the author. In fact, I finished writing the Line of Corruption before my fourteenth birthday because I wanted to be known as The Kid That Wrote A Book At Thirteen. Not the most traditional of origin stories, but wouldn’t trade it for the world.
8. And the last one, probably the hardest: Why do you write? What makes you a writer?
I don’t know what makes me a writer, actually. I don’t think it’s as simple as just writing. If so, that would mean I’ve been a writer since I was seven when I wrote a massive rip off of the Fantastic Four, Lost, and Band of Brothers. I think that the thing that makes someone a true writer is when they can talk about it for five thousand words, and still have more to say. I’m not saying that they should be able to write an instructional manual. It can be incoherent, enlightened, or downright idiotic. But, it’s the mere desire to just talk and talk about your passion for writing… I think that’s when a person should stop and realize: “Huh. I’m a writer.” Once you have that epiphany, the hard work follows. Thoughts to keyboard as they say, though I did start with a pen.
Thanks for giving me a shot and interviewing me, Caleb. It was a real honor and pleasure to chat your ear off.
There you have it folks. The great and always crazy J.A. Romano. If you have an internet connection, which I assume you do from reading this, then head on over to JukePop Serials to read his newly published novel, Radio Silence. And stay tuned to the fantasy web for his maybe-one-day-published-novel Line of Corruption. Or if you can’t wait, jump to his blog. Or Twitter. He won’t mind.