Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Interview with Jared Aragona author of "Stories from the Circle: Apprentice"

Author Jared Aragona joined me for an interview here on the blog, something new I'm doing so I can get as many authors as possible into the "Spot Light" here on Page Readers.

Jared has written an incredible story in "Stories from the Circle: Apprentice."  The first of three books, Apprentice starts off with a different and interesting way of telling a story.  I don't want to give any of it away, so I'll just let Jared do the talking here.

Be sure to visit his website at http://www.storiesfromthecircle.com/

Start us off by telling us a little about you.
I’m originally from New York. I grew up in a town called Purchase, just outside the city. However, my family moved to Arizona and then Texas in the 1980s. After college, I spent several years in Hollywood, working in the film industry, but then I went back to school to study literature. Today, besides being an author, I’m a professor of English at Scottsdale Community College, in Arizona. I’m also a husband, and I’m a father to two little boys.


What is your story about?

Stories from the Circle: Apprentice contains the first three books of the Stories from the Circle series: Know Thyself, Riesa, and Oxinopses, each of which, for a limited time, is available individually in paperback. Collectively they tell the story of the Caretakers of Existence, who are a rare and secret race of people who have been around since the spark of consciousness. On Earth, one is born only once every 3.14 years. These Caretakers grow to have great powers, some different than others. However, with enough training and experience, all learn how to see into the past and to know all the likely and unlikely futures that may unfold.

The whole purpose of their life and their powers is to make sure that existence (life) doesn’t end, which turns out to be a really precarious threat and always has been. In other words, when every generation has had its people that proclaim that the end of the world is near, all of those people were right, or would have been if not for the Caretakers. The way Caretakers make sure the world continues is through Caretaker Quests, which usually involve the need to change the circumstances of the world in order to affect future outcomes – and the Caretakers don’t just do this on Earth. Earth is just one world in a system of interconnected worlds that define life in the universe; all of the other worlds grow their own Caretakers too. When Caretakers reach a level of maturity in their training, they travel in consciousness to selves that they already are on other worlds, and in this way they live the lives of those other selves while undergoing Caretaker Quests to ensure that the world continues. In the series, each book focuses on a Caretaker Quest on a given world.

The series is written from the perspective of Miles Dean, who is an experienced Caretaker trying to convince his new apprentice, Luzciel, to accept her calling as the next Caretaker in their line. The problem is the bad guys of the series, the Breakers, who are driven by a desire to see existence come to an end, have learned how to affect young Caretakers in a way that makes them turn away from their calling, and the necessary spark that starts an apprentice Caretaker’s training is a conscious embrace of the calling. Luzciel won’t do that automatically, and so Miles has written to her about his own experiences as the apprentice to the previous Guiding Caretaker, Oliver.

How did this story come to you?


This story came to me very gradually. The first manifestation of it came during a creative writing class that I took at Cornell University in 1989. I always liked fantasy and paranormal fiction, so I wanted to give it a try. Pieces of it have come to me ever since then as I’ve built the nine books that complete the series.



What compelled you to write it?

I think enjoyment compelled me. When I read other people’s books, they end. When writing my own, they go on and expand, so the enjoyment continues. I’m also fascinated by the subjects of utopia and dystopia; my doctoral study centered on it, and writing about other worlds allows me to explore those concepts more easily than trying to force Earth’s baggage into them.


Who is your favorite character?

I like them all for different reasons, but Oliver is one of my favorites. He’s this wise and powerful Guiding Caretaker; one might call him an expert wizard. But he’s only just ascended to this important role that he’s spent most of his life training for. And even with all his powers, he still recognizes how much more he doesn’t know, and it makes him humble in his relative power. He shows a deeper complexity than the wizards in typical wizard-apprentice situations.


What was your favorite scene to write?

That’s a very difficult question, since the different stories take place on different worlds, each of which have many bizarre and thrilling scenes. I think any of the scenes where Miles reflects on how far he’s come would be my favorite. For instance, I love the scene when Miles arrives in his first alien body, on the world of Riesa, and he’s trying to come to grips with perception from this new viewpoint on a world that’s very different from Earth. Riesa is also pretty dystopian, so later in the book, when Miles has gotten used to being his Riesan self, he views a pretty horrific scene as if it’s pastoral, and then he catches himself, realizing how far from his Earth perceptions he’s traveled. Scenes like that are some of my favorites.


How long did it take you to write the story?

I’ve been working on all nine books in the series for more than twenty years. I took a break for a few years while I was in graduate school, but then I picked back up afterwards. It took me about three years to bring the three books of Apprentice to final draft form.


When was it released?

It was released in May of this year, 2010.


How is it available print e-book or both?

It’s available in print and on Kindle. It’ll be available through Barnes & Noble in epub format, for Nooks and such, by November.


Where can we find it online, or if print, where?

It can be ordered through any bookseller, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, storiesfromthecircle.com, etc.


What was your publishing experience like?

In the mid 1990s, when the series was very immature, I sent out many query letters and in fact was signed by an agent who worked hard to pitch it, but it never sold. It wasn’t ready yet. I received many high quality rejection letters, many of which helped steer me as I continued adding and revising over the next fifteen years. What is available now is self-published because I wanted to get the stories out there. I started Muse of Epics Publishing and worked through Lightning Source to print and distribute it. That, in itself, has been an amazing learning experience, and for the most part I’m glad I did it this way. The only downside is that many professional reviewers won’t touch it. Nevertheless, people are reading it and really liking it, and the word about it is spreading. If it catches on to where I’m fortunate enough to attract another agent, then that would be very satisfying. I do have six more books coming down the pike.


Where else can we find you online?

You can find me through storiesfromthecircle.com, and on Facebook and Twitter. Please be my friend on either of those.


Do you have any other upcoming publicity events that you'd like to share?
My next event will be on Saturday, November 6th. I’ll be a featured speaker at the Scottsdale Writer’s Expo at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library. I’ll be signing books too.


Any words of wisdom you'd like to share?

I think the best words of wisdom to authors would be to recognize that it’s a long road with books. Love writing for what it is, and if you love it, don’t stop (at least not permanently).

I’m inspired by the prospect of people reading my fiction, riding the ride I built. When people give me their reactions to it, even when it’s negative comment (it’s not for everyone), I get an amazing thrill. As for setting goals, it’s worthwhile, but it can’t be forced. If the writing isn’t coming and it’s a nice day, go enjoy the day. It might lead to the inspiration you need.

Great interview Jared!  Thank you so much, it's been a pleasure getting to know you and your work.  Keep us posted on the next books, we'd love to have you back on Page Readers!

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