Legendarium Media is actively seeking talented writers to join our team, and one incredibly talented writer to come our way is Jason LaPier, author of the upcoming novel, Unclear Skies, releasing February 25th as book two in The Dome Trilogy. Jason will be joining our team as a regular contributor, and I thought that an interview would be a great way to introduce our readers to Jason and Jason’s work. Enjoy!
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity…and entertainment value.
Writing is hard! Why do it?
I’ve always needed a creative outlet: something that was not a day job, and something I had (nearly) complete control over. For a long time, this was music. I was in a metal band for seven years, and it was pretty much my reason for living in my twenties. Then I switched over to electronic music and started DJing and creating tracks, and I even owned a record store for a bit. When it came time to move on, I spent a few years working on a web-based role-playing game that never came out of “beta”, but amassed a small number of loyal fans. During that time, I dabbled in writing. I think because I write software for a living, I naturally started to phase out the game development I was doing on the side, and creative writing phased in to take its place.
Did your gaming fan base follow you into fiction?
Yes, some of them did! In fact, one of the great things about the game was that I had enlisted a few of the most avid players to help write quests and create content. They had a desire to create, and I felt like I gave them a platform. That felt really good. I still remain in contact with a couple of them today – we were able to establish long-lasting friendships through that game.
When I look back on my creative endeavours, I can really appreciate why writing is the one that stuck. It’s quiet, it’s largely solo, it’s on my time, and it’s very portable – by which I mean, I can sneak it in at any time of the day as long as I have a laptop or a paper notebook. At this point, I’m pretty sure I can’t live without it. It really evens me out!
I’m currently writing the first draft of the third book in The Dome Trilogy. It’s exciting to be able to tie together threads and resolve arcs that have been built up over the first two books, but part of me is sad that it’s coming to a close.
Are you developing any other stories?
I have another unrelated novel that I’ve been working on for a few years, tentatively called Crossfade. It also combines sci-fi and noir/thriller, but in a much different way. It’s set in present day, and the sci-fi aspects are much fuzzier – nothing to do with technology, all to do with tricks of the mind. It’s pretty dark and I’m quite attached to it. I had to set it aside momentarily so that I could work on finishing this trilogy, but I know it’s waiting for me to come back to it this year.
I’m a consumer of all kinds of literature. I love anything under the speculative fiction umbrella: spacey sci-fi, cyberpunk, fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, anything that’s just plain weird. I also get into mystery/thriller from time to time, and some mainstream and literary as well. When it comes to what I write, although I’ve done a little of everything, sci-fi is where I find myself most at home. I love the ability SF has to test boundaries and sometimes even break rules, and at the same time hold up a human element to all the otherworldliness that’s happening and present something believable, and most importantly relatable, at least on some level.
Plus to be honest, I definitely grew up a science nerd. As a youngster, I alternately wanted to be an astronaut or a paleontologist. Once I got my Commodore 64 at the age of 10, I was hooked on computers. Of course, my incentive for learning how to program back then was the desire to make video games.
Because gaming and technology are cool! How do you integrate real-world tech into your stories? How do you imagine new technologies for your stories? Do you write new tech to advance the story, write the story to accommodate new tech you want to introduce, or both?
I’m a software engineer by day, but in the past I spent a lot of time in the bowels of IT support. So I have a little bit of a cynical edge when it comes to technology: I can’t imagine cool new tech without also imagining what kind of bugs it might have. And the bigger and more groundbreaking the tech, the more devastating the defects! I just love playing with the idea that whenever something better comes along, it’s never the fix-all we hope it’s going to be. Bleeding edge tech!
I also have to admit, there are certain choices a writer makes about how they will develop their world. I’ve imagined a future where space flight and dome technology have dominated in terms of engineering mindshare. AI on the other hand is very toned down; it’s actually there inside everything, helping out with the most complex of calculations, but this version of the future has no sentient AI. It’s not necessarily the way I believe our future will look, but it’s the way I wanted it to tell this story.
What stories have had the greatest influence on your work?
I’m a big fan of Neal Stephenson, and in particular, I loved Cryptonomicon. I wasn’t thinking it at the time I was writing my first complete novel, Unexpected Rain, but the geek-brawn dynamic in Cryptonomicon (which was also present in Stephenson’s “Baroque Cycle” novels) had a huge influence on me at some level when I was developing my two main characters.
I also love Philip K. Dick, though his influence on me can range from subtle cynicism to full-blown mind warp. My favorite books of his are A Scanner Darkly, Ubik, and The Man in the High Castle.
Lastly, I cannot escape this question without mentioning The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I certainly don’t write to the same level of absurdity, but even when writing gritty, violent, noir-styled space opera, I can’t resist the occasional DNAesque quip. More than his sharp wit, his wild imagination has taught me that anything goes when it comes to science fiction, as long as you create characters people can care about.
What are you reading right now, or what was the last novel you read?
Speaking of Neal Stephenson, I just finished reading Seveneves. Wow, it was so amazing. Stephenson can be so detailed – maybe too much, but I feel like he gets away with it, because he hooks me. What makes it perfect is that with all the hard science going in, he still takes the time to fully develop his characters. And the scope of the book; well, it’s just epic.
I just started reading Stealing Into Winter by Graeme K. Talboys and I really love the atmosphere and the characters. The city in the story is very real to me, very alive, and very deep and complex. It’s a unique and inspiring addition to the fantasy genre.
How do you make time to write?
Like many writers of the 21st century, I have a day job that pays the bills. Actually, it does a lot more than that. It’s a very demanding job, but that’s largely due to my passion for it. This poses a challenge for my writing, because there are days when I spend a lot of extra hours going the distance for my day-job projects and I burn up all my creative energy.
But in the long term, I need the writing. Like I said, it’s my creative outlet. So I carve out the time. The key to me is momentum: I don’t need to write thousands of words when I sit down; what I need is to write something every day. Some days it means I get on a roll and do 2,000 words when I get home from work. Other times it means I get a measly 200 words done. But that’s okay, because I stuck my head into the story, at least long enough to write a paragraph. As long as I keep my head in the story, it stays with me and I stay inspired. And let me tell you, I’ve had those days where I only wrote a few sentences before I went to bed, dreamt about the story all night, and woke up running for the keyboard. On the days I manage to fire off 1,000 words before I go to work, I feel like a superhero.
So you write before or after work, whenever the urge strikes?
Yep! Every word written is another word closer to finishing a book. But there’s a flip side – you have to respect your limits. Sometimes I burn out. That’s when it’s important to remember it’s fine to take a break. With my writing, I feel like I’m my own boss, and that jerk will take all the unpaid overtime he can squeeze out of me. So I have to say, enough! I’m taking a week off!
Unclear Skies is the sequel to the space opera noir novel Unexpected Rain. In the first book, we’re introduced to Jax, a lowly dome operator who is accused of murder and becomes a fugitive, and Runstom, an officer that works for a policing-for-hire corporation called ModPol. Runstom is the only cop that believes Jax is innocent and together the two race from one solar system to another tracking down clues and finding the real murderer. We’re also introduced to Dava, who is an assassin in a criminal outfit called Space Waste (that often clashes with ModPol).
In the second book, Jax is still on the run: though he’s cleared of murder charges, he still made ModPol look bad and they want him arrested for evading justice. Runstom finds himself “promoted” out of police duty and into a public relations role – almost as if to keep him out of trouble, and yet trouble has a way of finding him anyway. Dava grapples with the twin responsibilities of taking lives and showing leadership in Space Waste. Her inability to trust holds her back, but is there justification for her paranoia?
ModPol and Space Waste skirmish throughout the galaxy, and both Dava and Runstom struggle to accept their roles while questioning their orders. Jax, on the other hand, finds his goals twisting from keeping his freedom into staying alive at any cost. Lots of good ol’ sci-fi action!
Welcome to the Legendarium team, Jason!