Please welcome Jason Mott to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge
Interviews. The Returned
was published on August 27, 2013 by Harlequin MIRA. You may read Jason's Guest Blog - The Power of Third Person - here.
The ReturnedThe Returned
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery.
Jason: Thank you very much! Really excited to be doing this.
TQ: When and why did you start writing?
Jason: I started when I was around thirteen or fourteen. I grew up loving the classic heroic tales such as BEOWULF, THE ODYSSEY, etc. Then, one day, I came across an excerpt from John Gardner’s book GRENDEL. I hadn’t imagined that writers were allowed to take pre-existing stories and build something new and unique from them the way John Gardner did. Well, it was a watershed moment for me. Not long after that, I started scratching out my first stories—most of them were alternate adventures for characters in The Odyssey or Beowulf. They were a lot of fun.
TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Jason: I love writing with really, really bad movies playing in the background. I love B movies. They’re just so much fun. And, when I’m writing, I’ll often put one on to serve as background noise.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Jason: When it comes to novel manuscripts, I’m a plotter. For me, they’re just too large or an endeavor for me to fly blind. So whenever I want to start a novel, I draw up an outline first. That helps me keep a general heading when I’m writing.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Jason: Overcoming that voice inside me that says whatever I’m working on is a terrible waste of time. It happens with every project at some point. I start hating the idea, the writing, the characters. I lose faith in everything eventually and just want to walk away. But I’ve learned to push through that. I just keep writing, even if I think I’m writing badly. A bad day writing is always better than a good day not writing.
TQ: Describe The Returned in 140 characters or less.
Jason: What happens when those we have lost to death are suddenly thrust back into our lives?
TQ: What inspired you to write The Returned?
Jason: It all started with a dream. My parents have both passed away, and in the summer of 2010 I had a dream that I’d come home from work and found my mother sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for me. For the rest of the dream she and I simply sat and talked. I told her about all the things that have happened in my life since her passing—she even gave me a hard time for not being married yet…as mothers do. Haha. Well, it was one of those very vivid dreams, the kind that, when you wake, you’re uncertain of whether it was a dream of reality.
That dream stayed with me for weeks. I talked about it with a good friend and he said “What if that really happened? And what if it wasn’t just her?” That was the very beginning of The Returned.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for The Returned?
Jason: I spent a little time talking to people about loved ones they’d lost. I posed the hypothetical question “How would you feel if they suddenly showed up at your door one day?” The responses were interesting. The initial answer was that they would be elated. Everyone talked about how much they’d love to see these people again. But then I followed it up with a second question: “Imagine it’s six months later and this person is still ‘back,’ does that change anything?”
This was when the answers got more complicated. People began talking about how their lives have changed since the passing of their loved one. In many cases, they’ve changed. I’m not the same person I was when my mother passed away in 2001, so if she returned today, she’d be meeting a different version of her son. There are many things that we may have agreed up back then that, now, I feel differently about. Lots of the people I talked to about this had similar responses.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Jason: The easiest character to write was Harold. He’s one of the central characters and he was just pure fun to write. He’s an ornery old man and, frankly, I hope I grow up to be just like him.
The hardest character to write was Agent Bellamy. He became my proxy character and there was a great amount of my personal story wrapped up in him. Watching him deal with certain things dredged up personal memories of my mother’s death. Those made for tough writing days sometimes. But, in the end, it helped me work through some things.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Returned?
Jason: Haha. This is going to be tough because my favorite seen is a bit of a “spoiler,” so I can’t go into too much detail. But I will say that it occurs near the very end of the book and, for one of the characters, it’s a bit of a revelations about their motives. I really enjoyed writing that scene and seeing that character come to a better understanding of themselves.
TQ: What's next?
Jason: Right now I’m working on my next manuscript. I’m always working on something. I’ve got another novel due to my publisher soon and, after that, I’ve got a couple of other projects I’m chopping away at as well. I’d love to get my feet wet in the realms of graphic novels and screenwriting if I can.
Also, the big thing for me right now is watching the production of the upcoming television series. Television rights for The Returned were picked up last year and, over the winter, a pilot was shot. Well, in May ABC picked up the pilot and it will become an ongoing series titled RESURRECTION beginning early next year. They’re actually just about to go into production on season 1. I’m thoroughly excited about that!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Jason: Thanks so much for having me!
Harlequin MIRA, August 27, 2013
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time…. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.The eBook PrequelsThe First
All over the world, people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.
With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.
The Returned Prequel 1
Harlequin MIRA, June 1, 2013
In Jason Mott's haunting and unforgettable debut novel, The Returned, an impossible miracle is occurring all across the globe. Read how it all begins in this short story, The First.The Sparrow
It's been just over a year since Edmund Blithe died, and just over a month since his fiancée, Emily, stopped wearing her engagement ring. Emily has finally begun to move on... Until Edmund mysteriously and inexplicably returns, sending the world--and Emily--into a tailspin.
Edmund is only just the beginning. Around the world, people's loved ones are returning from beyond, seeking only to reenter the lives they left behind. As the world dives deep into uncertainty, Emily and Edmund are determined to find their way back to one another...even if it means risking everything.
The reappearances continue in The Sparrow, and look for The Returned from Harlequin MIRA, a moving tale of a family given a second chance at life and a world where nothing--not even death--is certain.
The Returned Prequel 2
Harlequin MIRA, July 1, 2013
In this short story by Jason Mott, author of The Returned, one determined couple seeks to reunite a young girl with the father who thought he had lost her forever...The Choice
When Heather and Matt Campbell find ten-year-old Tatiana Rusesa on the side of the highway, she is thousands of miles away from her village in Sierra Leone. She hasn't seen her family in almost two decades, not since she and her mother were killed by rebel soldiers. Now Tatiana has inexplicably returned, a lost orphan with no place to call home.
As the world dives deeper into uncertainty and chaos, Heather is determined to save Tatiana and help her find her way back to her family. But how much is she willing to lose to protect a girl she doesn't even know?
Learn how the mysterious reappearances begin in The First, and don't miss Jason Mott's unforgettable debut novel, The Returned, from Harlequin MIRA, a moving tale of a family navigating this unusual new reality and given a second chance at life.
The Returned Prequel 3
Harlequin MIRA, August 1, 2013
In this short story by Jason Mott, author of The Returned, a man is forced to choose between the life he has now, and the one he thought was gone forever….Note
Peter Galvin was just seventeen when Tracy Whitland,— the love of his life—, vanished without a trace. In the years after her death, he had finally moved on, gotten married, started a family. He is content with his life now—happy, even…. Until Tracy suddenly and inexplicably returns.
For weeks, Peter and his wife, Samantha, have been watching mysterious reports of people's loved ones returning from beyond, the world spinning into uncertainty and chaos. But they never imagined it would happen to them. With Tracy's unusual homecoming, Peter and Samantha must decide where they can possibly go from here, and whether their family can survive….
Read more stories of the Returned in The First and The Sparrow. And don't miss Jason Mott's haunting debut novel, The Returned, a story of one family given an extraordinary second chance.
: The 3 Prequels are presently free at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iTunes. The Audible editions of the 3 Prequels are presently free at Amazon.About Jason
Jason Mott lives in southeastern North Carolina. He has a BFA in Fiction and an MFA in Poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poetry and fiction has appeared in various. He was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize award. He is the author of two poetry collections: We Call This Thing Between Us Love
and “…hide behind me…
” The Returned
is his first novel.The Returned
has also been optioned by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, in association with Brillstein Entertainment and ABC. It will air on the ABC network early next year under the title “Resurrection