Author Jon Cronshaw
JV: Why do dystopian/post-apocalypse novels all have zombies?
Haha. Although these sub-genres have a lot of crossover, they also seem to be tackling different primal questions. With dystopian fiction, the core questions are about the ways people are controlled by a ruling class and how it’s possible to change the world. Zombie fiction strikes me as a metaphor for dealing with major change beyond our control, and good zombie fiction is always about people trying to retain their humanity in face of constant trauma. Post-apocalyptic fiction asks us how we’d live without the technology, government and distribution channels we take for granted. It’s about finding hope in a hopeless world.
JV: Tell us about Wizard…no zombies, am I right?
Wizard of the Wasteland is about a reformed drug addict who joins a traveling magic show. When they stumble across a group of enslaved children held captive by a drug gang, they work together to try to rescue them.
Thematically, the story is about loneliness, friendship, and hope. It’s about how to live with your demons when the world around you is so bleak.
I’m hoping my take on the genre will be familiar enough for fans to enjoy, but different enough for it to be a memorable read.
And you’re right, no zombies.
JV: Who would play you in a movie?
I’m not sure an actor would do my life justice. Perhaps a muppet or a marionette voiced by Matt Stone would be more fitting.
JV: I’ve been enjoying your blog. What is the Ray Bradbury challenge?
The Ray Bradbury Challenge is fantastic. There are two challenges, and because I’m a glutton for punishment I’m doing them both. The first part of the challenge is to write a short story every week for a year. I’ve done this and I’ve put out three collections over the past few months bringing many of those stories together.
The second part is to read one short story, one poem, and one essay every day for 1,000 days. I’m severely visually impaired, so I do most of my ‘reading’ through audio. There are so many great free podcasts out there that feature high quality poetry, fiction, and essays. Do this, and you will never be short of ideas.
JV: Write at night?
Sometimes. I’m definitely more a night person, but I’ve got a family, so doing stuff at night is unreliable. I write or edit for two hours in a morning, Monday to Friday. I tend to tasks like formatting, marketing and chatting with people on social media at night.
JV: What are you currently working on?
I’ve just done the final edits to Book 2 of my Wasteland series, Knight of the Wasteland and am currently working on the first draft for Book 3.
There’s another project I’m really excited about that I’m going to dive straight into once I’ve finished the Wasteland trilogy.
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JV: How would you classify it?
The next book is a young adult post-apocalyptic LitRPG. Half of it is set in a post-apocalyptic virtual world. The other half is set in the near future. I’m going to use the book to explore the idea of living with disability.
I know it’s going to hard to write because a lot of the issues are ones I’ve been through or need to confront in my own life. I’m in a position where I can tell this story honestly and hopefully give hope to young people working through similiar issues.
JV: Your day job as a journalist is to write non-fiction, right? Do you feel it is challenging to switch into fiction/genre writing?
I get paid to find and tell stories. A lot of it is the same. You search for something that readers want to read about. You seek out interesting people. I’ve reported on murder trials, council meetings, and rock concerts. I’ve interviewed the Prime Minister, rock stars, and a transvestite wrestler. I’ve spoken with dying children and their parents, with activists, addicts and artists. I’ve seen the best and worst of humanity doing this job, and I think that can only filter into my fiction.
The challenge comes in the craft. Journalistic writing is very different to fiction writing. I spent a lot of time teaching myself to write again. I attended writing workshops, read books on writing and deconstructed books I love and books I hate to work.
After a several false starts at writing a novel, I wrote my first novel in 2015. I spent months on it and it’s a complete mess that will never see the light of day. It taught me a lot about writing (namely to at least have a vague outline and not have fifteen POV characters). I’m constantly learning how to be better at what I do.
JV: What did you learn from the Kindle Scout experience?
I’m an indie author through and through. I have no desire for a traditional publishing deal unless the major publishers make drastic changes to their business model.
For me, Kindle Scout was a way for me to talk about Wizard of the Wasteland without screaming ‘buy my book’ from the rooftops. It spent a good few weeks on the front page of the site and most of the campaign in the ‘hot and trending’ category’. It was always part of my pre-launch strategy.
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