I used to rely on (former) local author Michael Jasper to help manage magazine deliveries to Wake Forest’s Story Teller Bookstore. Now that he’s been living in Boone for a few years, I can only continue to rely on him for fantastic stories. The author of a fantastic collection (Gunning for the Buddha) and digital comic series (In Maps & Legends), novels of first contact sf (The Wannoshay Cycle) and contemporary fantasy (A Gathering of Doorways, which is excerpted in Bull Spec #1), a YA contemporary fantasy series (“Contagious Magic”), and the best supernatural historical baseball novel I’ve ever read (The All Nations Team), Jasper is back with a new novel, out yesterday, starting a new series set in Boone. Here he writes about the struggles of finding the right voice and perspective for that novel, Finders, Inc.
By Michael Jasper:
While the actual writing, editing, and revising of my novel Finders, Inc. took less than half a year, the book itself required over five years for me to figure out how to write it. That was definitely the hardest part.
The novel is a mystery set in the northwestern corner of North Carolina, and it features two misfits from the mountains: Hank Johnson, a 5’5″ black guy obsessed with fitness and his personal code of honor, and Bim Mayer, a 350-pound white guy with no fashion sense and the ability to connect psychically to other people. Together, they fight crime!
These two guys, both in their mid-forties, have known each other almost all their lives, but I knew this book was going to dredge up some secrets from their past that might destroy their friendship, as well as the private investigation business they’d created together in the past two decades: Finders, Inc.
I first wrote about Bim and Hank (he was known as “Hanky J” back then, a nickname nobody liked but me, it turned out) back in 2009, in the short story “Finder.” That was a fun little tale, and I filed it away after it was published by UnWrecked Press and continued on with other projects. But I kept thinking about these two guys, and I knew I wanted to write more about them. Someday.
Fast forward a couple years and a couple novels later, and I felt ready to continue the adventures of Bim and Hank. I had an outline and a cast of characters, and earlier this year I jumped into the novel version, knocking out some words and getting to chapter three. And then the book screeched to a stop.
In hindsight, I can see what I was struggling with, because I kept wanting to writing in first person. The original short story version was in just in Bim’s point of view, first person. The aborted version of the novel was in Hank’s point of view, also first person. Then I tried adding Bim’s point of view in first person to see how that worked. It didn’t; soon I just had a mess.
So I moved to third person and started over. I decided I wasn’t going to limit myself, that I’d jump into whatever point of view I needed, from Bim or Hank to the other members of the so-called “Finder Team” (Shelby, Juan, or Marly). From a third-person point of view.
And boom, I had it figured out. Moving to third person gave the book a more cinematic feel, or, to be more exact, more like a TV show. Which is how I initially envisioned the story – like the two-hour pilot to a new TV series. But there’s no way I want to be a show runner of a TV show, so I made the story a novel with multiple perspectives. And I’m quite happy with how it turned out.
I just hope the next book in this proposed series of mine won’t take five years to write…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Jasper is fascinated with exploring the places where the normal meets the strange.
In pursuit of this fascination, he has published ten novels, a story collection, and over six dozen short stories, along with a digital comic with artist Niki Smith.
In the past he’s tried bartending, teaching junior high, painting houses, being a secret shopper, working construction, and many more jobs; he prefers fiction writing.
His most recently completed projects are Finders, Inc., a mystery novel set in the North Carolina mountains, “Unassisted Living,” a screenplay, and A Lasting Cure for Magic, the third book in his Contagious Magic fantasy series. He’s now working on either the sequel to his rural fantasy novel Family, Pack, or the first book in an all-new science fiction series, with lots of spaceships (or possibly both books at the same time).