Hi Jason, Thanks for talking to me. It's always a pleasure to talk (Er….? Over mails may be!) to a writer who creates a whole new world.
BI: Your recent book - “An Ordinary Magic” is based on the very common theme of good vs. evil in the world of sorcery, why this school of thought? ?
Jason : Okay, you got me there. Yes, it’s an archetypal story. In fact, the entire story is an allegory of a Voodoo myth that’s laid out in the book. The sorcery part, though, you have to understand is a construct of the genre—magic realism. To the denizens of my story, a “sorcerer” is like a dentist, just an average part of every town on the fictional Caribbean island that I created. I chose the genre because I have always been a fan of literary magic realism (Marquez, Allende, Erdrich, Morrison). I am fascinated by the fantastic becoming the mundane and ordinary. I chose the archetype because I wanted a simply framework against which I could develop a deep character study (which is really what the book is about; sure it’s a story, but it’s really about the characters).
BI :The protagonists – father and son, what prompted you to have a male parent to fight that battle. Wouldn't having a mother in place make more sense?
Jason : It very well could have, but the story was largely influenced by my own relationship with my two fathers (biological and step) so it made more sense to construct the narrative along those lines. I wanted to explore the relationship that sons have with their fathers and how, when that relationship becomes stifling, a son can develop his own identity even while he feels beholden to his father and his family.
BI : How easy or how difficult it is to create a new whole new fictional world, a world filled with magic?
Jason : I wrote this book almost 20 years ago, while I was an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine studying fiction. At the time, I needed to produce a senior project for completion of my degree. What better, for a budding writer, than to write a novel. With that said, the project needed to be ground in real research. I was always interested in Voodoo and decided that it would be great if I could combine the research requirements with my interests. Hence, the fictional world of La Croix (the Caribbean town’s name in the book) was born steeped in real-world research of Voodoo mysticism and practices with a lot of embellishment and imagination on my part. The reason I mention all of this is because it exemplifies that I think is required to write believable fiction (especially magic realism, sci-fi, or fantasy)—the world that we writers create must have a set of rules that the characters follow. My research into Voodoo gave me some of those rules for An Ordinary Magic. Others I made up. Think about Rowling’s Harry Potter or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Magic doesn’t just happen. It’s governed by a set of rules that the author establishes through the course of writing the story. That’s the hardest part.
BI: You are quite an established writer with about 10 books to your name, years of experience in teaching, marketing and working in start-ups, how does it feel like when another book comes out?
It feels fantastic. Liberating. Cathartic. Ultimately, what I’ve been after all my life is creating things. During my startup days, I was primarily focused on launching new software into the market. Then, as I turned back to writing (basically, I took a couple of decades off from pursuing writing), I discovered that publishing is much the same thing. Each book or story that I launch into the market is all about creating something. So it’s the act of creation that I’m ultimately after.
BI : I also noticed that you give stage talks about customer relationships, topics about marketing and all such real world stuff. Writing or talking. Which is your comfort zone?
Well, it goes without saying that I love to write. Not just fiction. Part of my responsibilities in my day job is to write. Whitepapers. Blog posts. Research reports. And even though I love to write, I love to speak publicly as well. I am on the road for about 40% of the year giving presentations all around the world, which, consequently, gives me a lot of time to write! But presenting and writing are the same for me—it’s all about storytelling.
Now for some rapid fire
BI: Tequila or Rum?
BI: Most treasured possession?
BI: Biggest lie that you've ever said?
That I don’t lie
BI: Idea of perfect happiness?
Giving up the business world to return to the university as a teacher and writer (I walked away from that world 20 years ago)
BI : Dancing or Sword Fighting?
Given a chance to learn, choose one of the two? Sword-fighting. I have two left feet and no sense of rhythm.
Finally, my last question,
BI : Pearls of wisdom for want-to-be writers.
Jason : Have patience. I too often see writers rushing material out. They’ve come up with a great idea. They’ve written it all down (an accomplishment in and of itself) and they want nothing more than to have other people read it as soon as possible. Don’t. Put it in a drawer for 3 months. 6 months. A year. Let it sit and marinate. The experiences we have in life are what shape our writing. Don’t be afraid to come back to something you’ve written and re-write it. Developing a novel or a story isn’t a race, it’s a marathon and, as writers, we need patience to persevere.
About The Book
An Ordinary Magic
By Jason Thibeault
Genre: Literary Fiction, Magical Realism
A new sorcerer has moved into La Croix, upsetting the tranquility of the other otherwise idyllic Caribbean fishing village. But Panon, the town’s priest, can’t afford to waste time wondering about the newcomer. He needs to concentrate on fixing his relationship with his son, Jaime, who has been called by Dela Luamba, a powerful spirit, to join the church. The problem? Jaime doesn’t believe in magic or the spirits anymore. To protect his son from a potentially terrible punishment, Panon must hide the truth from Dela while he tries to make everything right. But when Panon trades for a bit of magic guaranteed to help Jaime believe again, everything goes horribly wrong, turning Panon’s world upside down. Drawn into an epic struggle of good versus evil with the mysterious sorcerer, Panon, Jaime, and the whole town must battle the walking dead, malicious spirits, and potent Voodoo. It’s up to Panon to discover the only power capable of saving his son…and redeeming himself. An Ordinary Magic is a fast-paced, entertaining, and thought-provoking work of literary magic realism.
Jason received his B.A. in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing, from the University of California, Irvine where he wrote An Ordinary Magic for his senior thesis as part of the Campuswide Honors Program. After a year in Europe during which he spent some time working with HarperCollins, London, Jason returned to get his M.A. in English, with distinction, at California State University, Northridge. Jason is currently the author of the middle-reader chapter series Marmalade and a co-author on the marketing thought-leadership book, Recommend This!. He lives in Gilbert, AZ with his family.