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Author Jason Lawson

Jason Lawson is an author from Main River, Kent County, New Brunswick. In grade nine, his passion for the written word was ignited and has culminated into his first published novel, The Vision (2012), for which he sold the film rights earlier this year. His second published novel, Rum Runners, is soon to be released. In this interview, Lawson shares the inspiration behind his works and some valuable advice for aspiring authors.  

Is writing a full time endeavour or something you make time for along with other responsibilities?
JL: I've been writing professionally for over 10 years now, but until recently it hasn't been lucrative enough to pay the bills, so I've spent a lot of time in the trucking/construction industry. I hope to be writing full time in the not-so-distant future.

What's your first memory of sitting down and writing creatively?
JL: Grade 9: I walked into my English class on the first day and was informed by my teacher, Ms. Hopper, that the class would be participating in creative writing for the year. We had to write every day. It could be poetry, short stories, even journal entries, just as long as we wrote something. And I was furious. Like a typical teenager, I just wanted to goof off. But there was no way out of it, so I did it. Turns out I was pretty good at it. That year I won an award for the best written composition in junior high. I never looked back.

Is The Vision your first novel and what inspired the story?
JL: The Vision isn't my first novel, but it's the first one to get picked up by a publisher. I was toying with the idea of what would happen to a person if they had a dream or vision that was so extra ordinary that when they returned to reality, they could no longer cope with their mundane existence. How would they continue on in their everyday life?

Without giving too much away, what is The Vision about?

JL: Henry Peters is a Native American who is down on his luck. His wife has died as a result of a car accident caused by him. He's become a homeless alcoholic. At a homeless shelter, he meets a shady doctor who convinces him to test a drug for chronic pain that has never been approved by the FDA. Under the influence of the drug, Henry dreams that he's gone back in time to an ancient native village where he finds his wife alive and well, but betrothed to another man. Once the drug wears off, Henry cannot cope with the real world anymore, so he breaks into the lab and steals more of the medicine so he can be with his wife. The doctor cannot call the police because of his treachery, and has no choice but to hunt Henry down and dispose of him.

What is Rum Runners about?
JL: Rum Runners is a historical fiction about rum smuggling in Kent County, New Brunswick. During prohibition, liquor was smuggled into the port of Richibucto from the island of St. Pierre, and from there the booze made its way to the USA. Kent County is also home to French, English and Native Canadians. I decided to write a novel using facts from the era, and created fictional characters from all three cultures, struggling to get along together. The story is about a young French catholic man called Jean Savoie, who goes to work for Captain MacLaren, an English rum smuggler. Jean falls in love with Katie Powell, an English protestant girl who is smitten with him as well. Her parents oppose the union, as does Captain MacLaren, when he learns his son is enamoured with Katie. A feud ensues, over the girl and the rum, with neither side willing to give an inch. Captain MacLaren's evil nature emerges, as he will stop at nothing, murder included, to get his way.

Congratulations on the movie deal you made!! Tell us a little bit about that.
JL: Thank you so much! A local film producer, Brian Francis (Bear Paw Productions) introduced me to renowned film producer Sam Grana (Grana has produced such films as The Boy's of St. Vincent's and Dog Pound). Brian thought Sam might be interested in producing a film version of Rum Runners. As it turns out, he wasn't. But he took a shine to my novel The Vision. In January of 2013, I sold him the movie rights, and he hired me to develop the screenplay. I've just completed the first draft of the script, and will be tweaking it into a second draft in very short order. Screenwriting has been a lot of fun, as it's a group effort with input from both Sam and Brian, who is also involved in the project. A real learning experience!

Was it easier/harder/different to write Rum Runners compared to The Vision?
JL: I guess every story comes with its own challenges. I don't think there was much difference in the level of difficulty, but I have noticed the more I write, the easier it gets. That's a good thing!

What advice would you give aspiring writers about actually penning a novel-length manuscript, creating an intriguing story or the challenges of getting published?
JL: Believe in yourself, keep trying and don't be afraid of criticism and rejection. I've gotten enough rejection letters from publishers to wallpaper a room in my house. But I never gave up, because I knew I could do it. Also, don't be afraid to ask for advice. I've gotten a lot of help from published authors who were more than happy to lend a hand. If you love to write, you will make it.

Is there anything you'd like to add?
JL: The Vision is available on Kobo, Amazon and Barnes and Noble web sites. Rum Runners is slated for release in the fall of 2013.

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