5 Minutes Alone… With Jamie Mason

I refuse to write about myself in the third person. I’ve done it when they’ve made me, but I ain’t doing it here. 5 Minutes Alone has always been one my favorite features here on AuthorScoop, so I’m just thrilled to be here in both the Q and A aspects of the post for the first time. As for my debut novel, THREE GRAVES FULL, it’s gotten starred reviews at Library Journal, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly. Last Sunday, Marilyn Stasio called it “a ripping good novel” in the New York Times.

It’s a dream come true to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Jamie: In the legend that is memory, when I was nine or ten years old a teacher loved a poem I’d written in class. She submitted it to Highlights Magazine on my behalf and it was accepted. I remember it was called White, and I seem to remember seeing the magazine itself with my poem on the page. We didn’t have a subscription, so I never had a copy to keep. Of course, this was all a very long time ago. It’s a fuzzy recollection and I can’t prove any of it, so I’ll just go with my novel, THREE GRAVES FULL, as the First-Publishing-Credit-For-Certain.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Jamie: THREE GRAVES FULL is the story of mild-mannered Jason Getty, a guy who, when under pressure, has a propensity for doing smallerversionthe wrong thing. Case in point: when a confrontation goes too far and a man lies dead on the living room rug, Jason buries the guy in the backyard instead of explaining himself to the police. In fine non-psychopathic form, this bothers Jason quite a lot – all the way to the extent that he can’t bring himself to do any yard work. He just can’t be out there.

The seasons have their way with Jason’s lawn until his paranoia drives him to hire landscapers to fix the front yard so that his neighbors don’t file a complaint. Jason’s best effort to keep an eye on the work crew fails to prevent disaster, and when the landscapers, horrified, call him out to show him what they’ve unearthed on his property, Jason’s sure the jig is up. But what they’ve found is a dry-bones skeleton in the mulch bed at the side of the house, not the newer, riper body of the guy Jason planted at the back woods a year and some earlier. And he has no idea who it is.

Jason has about 300 pages of problems after that, as you can imagine.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Jamie: It’s hard to know where even to begin. I’ve been so fortunate to have an incredibly supportive network of family and friends. No one laughed at me when I said I wanted to do this. Not to my face, at least. And when I’d said it and said it and said for years while I learned how to write (but never had anything to show for it) they fed and watered my dreams and because of them, despite periods of wanting to give up, those dreams didn’t wither. My husband and children have been patient and enthusiastic in measures I can hardly believe. My mother and sisters, my in-laws, my incredible friends, they’ve all been terrific. That’s a lie. They’ve been everything.

On the business of making a book, my husband is a tremendous first-pass editor. Then my work always goes through the blistering sieve of wit and talent that is my writing-pal’s brain. His name is Graeme Cameron. You don’t know him yet, but you will. Writer extraordinaire, Tana French, gave friendship and encouragment in resolve-saving doses. And my agent, Amy Moore-Benson, is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Not in any way least, the entire team at Gallery Books has been, to a one, a joy to work with.

And poet and editor, William Haskins here at AuthorScoop, has been a friend, inspiration, and the angel on my shoulder for years. I’m very lucky.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Jamie_Mason_color-smJamie: It doesn’t really matter. Writing is such an effort of concentration for me that my body conspires with my to-do list to keep me away from the keyboard. It’s a stupid fight I have with my reluctance, because when I do turn the inertia my way, writing is a joy, day or night.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Jamie: Read a lot. Sometimes force yourself to finish books you don’t care for. I think I’ve found that knowing what I don’t want to do has been nearly as beneficial as dissecting the books I love. Also, to save your head, I’d say to keep your hopes and expectations in separate boxes. Unpack them both often. Catalog the contents. Cherish them. But always try to remember what goes in which box.

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Jamie Mason is easy enough to find on the web (crap, I’ve slipped into third person.) There’s a website, a blog, Twitter, and Facebook. THREE GRAVES FULL is available in bookstores now, but if you’re impatient or forgetful, there’s always Indiebound and  Amazon.

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