How long have you been writing books?
Jason Z Christie: Welp… I wrote most of my first novel in a jail in Chipley, Florida, 2008. You gotta write a lot of short stories before you attempt to tackle a novel. So, inspired by an urban legend related to me by a guy I’ll call Meth Mouth Larry regarding a woman and a lobster, I started a short story. That soon merged with a different short story I had started named “Fascist Jean”, and they became the epic thriller Pageburner. But I didn’t publish on Amazon until late 2011. By then I had written a few more novels.
What are your influences? Who or what inspires you?
Jason: Well, I am inspired by greatness, and also the quiet struggles of the everyday person.
I’ve dabbled in music, with metal acts such as Gortician and Festering Sore. I broke a subgenre of hip-hop, nerdcore, in 2006, as the nerd rapper High-C. I was an early Amiga fanatic, and a proponent of BeOS, not to mention a video game junkie since the 70s and the age of Atari. So, I have a lot of friends in both the Silicon Valley scene and the music industry. Then I’m a writer, which is yet another “whole other thing”. As a result, I have a wide range of heroes, from H.R. of Bad Brains & Slayer to Jean-Louis Gassee & Tim Jenison to Stephen King & Ayn Rand.
Thus, I aspire to be somewhat great myself, although I will admit I never quite reached the level of the people I admire. At the same time, I sympathize with regular people who struggle with daily life in this country.
What can you tell me about your newest story “Everything Went Black: The Tokio Jones Story as told to Janice Livingston”?
Jason: God, I love this book so much. My latest audiobook narrator was working on my most popular novel, which is a romance primarily set in a connected men and women’s prison. She had casually remarked that a character, Tokio, was really interesting, and that she thought he probably deserved his own backstory. Let’s just say I am a sucker for a beautiful, well-spoken woman.
83,000 words later, the story still isn’t done. It is basically one of my characters from a yet-unreleased book interviewing a character from another book in the same series. He was a pimp, and his prison story is told in the coming Radar Love audiobook. But this backs way up to his early teens as he tells Janice Livingston his life story. He’s far from the average pimp, and his story goes all over the place. Houston, L.A., Germany, Japan, and even Washington, D.C.
People are calling it my best work yet, and it looks like it will end up of an epic length similar to Lord of the Rings, with wildly different content. It’s a raw book, but at the same time, avoids the pornographic. It has a very cool intellectual undercurrent, and I’m really rather proud of it.
Do you create art with a specific message? Or do you prefer art for arts sake?
Jason: Me and my writer friends talk about this often. Certainly, we all want to get certain points across, from the personal to the political. At the same time, you absolutely cannot be heavy-handed or preachy. Sometimes it’s better to just tell the story, and maybe allow one character to briefly espouse something you yourself believe. Even then, you have to be able to embrace all viewpoints, or your books will be monotonous.
But Hurricane Regina set out to be a Clancy-esque thriller answering the question, “What would happen in the U.S. if we actually got a libertarian president?” I say “set-out”, because that one ended up being a fantasy sci-fi homage to Clive Cussler, Jules Verne, and Robert A. Heinlein instead, and has been compared to The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, of all things, in reviews.
So, all of my books have a basic libertarian/anarchist element, but often it just permeates the underlying subtext, and never even approaches the political. My characters live their lives in a freedom-oriented manner. The formula works, for me.
What is your creative process like? What tools and methods do you use to write your novels?
Jason: I don’t write as a career, so that allows me an enormous amount of freedom, there. I am not constrained by things such as publishers, income, or readers, even. No one dictates my content in any way, and that’s probably my favorite thing about writing. It’s just me and a pen or word processor.
As a result, my process is also sort of chaotic. I recently came off of a five-year writing hiatus, and am now back to writing, stronger than ever. While I like to focus on one book to completion, now, I have several half-finished novels. There was a time when I wrote four at once, and published them all at the same time. I’m sort of a method writer in that I like to write up to a point, live a little, and when the next life event comes about that relates to the tale, I pick things up from there.
It’s odd and hard to explain. I sort of know when to stop for a while, and then life triggers something that makes me say, “Aha, time to write this into the story.” It’s often something small that no one would see any significance in. Maybe it’s an excuse for being lazy. But it’s my process, and I’m sticking with it.
I like to tell new writers to think of a great beginning, figure out a great ending, and then fill in the spaces in between.
How long have you considered yourself a libertarian?
Jason: Well, I owe a lot of it to my homeboy Kenny Gaillot, who founded the LSU Libertarian Alliance when we were going to school in 1988, as eighteen-year olds. I first met Ron Paul when we worked to get him on the presidential ballot in Florida. We also got him 4x the national average of votes in our district.
I was always a libertarian, I guess you could say. But Kenny is the person who pointed that out to me, as I had no idea such an ideology existed, despite first having read the word in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress years earlier.
A few years later, I was privileged to also hang out in Costa Mesa, CA for several months, off and on, with David Nolan and Dave Bergland, founders of the Libertarian Party, along with a presidential nominee candidate at the time, Dick Boddie. These gentlemen were also sterling individuals. As a result, although I may have a few problems with the party as it stands nowadays, I despise anyone who talks shit about libertarians. They are my people, along with many ancaps.
What do you think the role of art should be in the libertarian movement?
Jason: Libertarianism is incrementalism. That is to say, people generally don’t become libertarian overnight. You have to break it down for people a little at a time, and in a way that is compatible with their existing beliefs and thought processes. Many people share similar values, and aren’t aware of it. You can also use things like humor to get points across quicker and more effectively rather than rabid proselytizing.
To that end, art plays a crucial role in helping to push people in the direction of freedom. Years of songs, art, and writings that lean that way are a vital part of helping to shape culture in a positive manner. Not to knock straight political speech. It’s all necessary, as we still face an enormous uphill climb in a world that is spiraling rapidly toward totalitarianism.
If you’re a libertarian who makes art, and yours isn’t in some way vaguely libertarian, you’re probably kinda doing it wrong.
Where can people go to find your books and stories?
Jason: I don’t write in any one genre, so there’s generally something for everyone. Thrillers, romance, funny sci-fi, and more. They’re pretty well-received, but I do take flack for my political stances when expressed outside of books, and my ratings sometimes suffer for it. However, Douglas Adams fans all seem to want me dead. If you’re understandably broke, I always give away ebook copies to anyone who asks. I won’t hold it against you if you buy one, though…
Everything Went Black, my quasi-blaxploitation book is being published on Amazon Vella as a serial. The first three chapters are always free, there. I like using Vella as a writing tool because it makes me actively write on stories instead of back-burnering them for a long time.
The rest of my published works can be found in print, ebook, and audio editions on Amazon proper.
Finally, the really juicy stories about my real life, as well as stuff like movie/book/game reviews, and articles for writers, can be found on my blog.
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