Over the past year or so, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a couple of projects with a very talented author, director, actor, and teacher. And now I’d like to introduce him to you.
Meet Jason Cannon—my very cool fellow thriller writer.
After that, we teamed up with author James Dain to produce Thrillogy: A Trio of Terrific Thrillers.
And Jason has a lot else going on in his life and career right now. I recently interviewed him to get the scoop. Read on and learn more!
Tell us how you got started writing
I’ll go WAY back. My first “published” book… I think I was like 7 years old? Hanging out one rainy afternoon with my little brother and Aunt Von, I wrote a story about a mother chicken, drew pictures, and my aunt bound it with staples. It’s still in a memory box somewhere!
Then Mr. Torrence—best fourth grade teacher in the history of the universe—built a “Book Nook” in his classroom out of spare lumber and carpet remnants. It was basically a library, and he would publish the books we wrote in class. He did handmade covers with stickers and typed them up and there they lived in the Book Nook.
I was deep into my Walter Farley phase then, and I wrote a book about the Black Stallion and all his kids having a race! Never really stopped writing, even though I focused on theater (actor, director, playwright) for my career for 25 years.
Then in 2022 I made the pivot to full-time author.
Which authors have most influenced or inspired you?
Well Walter Farley, of course! Tolkien. Bought my first Tom Clancy (Hunt for Red October) at a 6th grade book fair.
Judy Bloom and Beverly Cleary (I must’ve read Mouse and the Motorcycle a dozen times).
Shakespeare and Anton Chekhov. Neil Stephenson, Lee Child, James Clavell, David Mitchell. Maggie Shipstead.
This could turn into a really long list really fast. 🙂
What is your writing process?
2K words/day. I often have multiple projects going at once, so that when I crash headfirst into a wall on one story, instead of spinning my wheels I just jump tracks to a different story and trust my subconscious to work it out.
I do some of my best “writing” while I’m on my runs. I try to thread the needle between planning/outlining and giving the characters and stories enough breathing room that I can also go off on “seat of the pants” flights of fancy, follow the muse when inspiration strikes. But I’m too impatient to wait for inspiration.
I write daily, and trust inspiration will strike.
How important are character names?
Character names are vital. As are titles.
I sweat and bleed over character names. They matter. They carry information. They cause an emotional response in the reader. They have music.
Not all names need to MEAN something, but I always do research on etymological background and cultural significance of names. I also deeply consider WHY someone is named the way they are.
Names have power. “Rumplestiltskin,” right?
Names are a big, big deal in storytelling.
What’s your favorite kind of story to read? To write?
I read thrillers like I eat ice cream. Geez I love ‘em.
I also love short story anthologies and biographies. Gimme some historical and/or literary fiction, too.
On the writing side—and this shouldn’t be surprising—I love writing thrillers and short stories. I also am constantly writing about the power of art and theatre.
Maybe the best thing I’ve ever written is my anthem about living an artistic life, THIS ABOVE ALL.
What’s something surprising about you that most people don’t know?
I was a preacher for a year. I’m not religious anymore, but I hold nothing against people who live by a set of religious or spiritual beliefs, as long as those beliefs lead them to kindness.
Any belief system that requires you to force it on others? No thank you.
But I tell you what, standing in front of a congregation and having the audacity to share your best ideas about “truth”? It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life, and taught me so much about communication, acting, writing, and the vulnerability it requires to be an artist.
Not the EGO, but the VULNERABILITY.
Tell us a little about what you’ve got going on
Well I’m working on the next thriller in my TROUPE SERIES. It’s called BLACKOUT and continues the adventures of Gideon, Rheia, Stan, Adler, the Director, and Banshee as they come under vicious assault by AlphaSupreme.
I’m also writing an “ABC’s of Directing for the Stage” handbook, and slowly building up short stories for an anthology.
I just wrote and directed a one-man play called CLOWNS LIKE ME—go check it out at ClownsLikeMe.com!
The actor, Scott, tells his true experience of living with mental illness. I spent a year getting to know him and learning his story, and our goal with him basically “coming out” and sharing is to dent the stigma around mental illness. We had a sold out, critically acclaimed world premiere production, and we also captured it with three-camera set-ups, so you will be able to see the film version on streaming channels hopefully by end of year!
That show spawned a new non-profit, Lifeline Productions, dedicated to using true stories to create art that continues to change the conversation around mental health, and they’ve already commissioned me to write the NEXT play, for next May (May is National Mental Health Awareness Month).
I’m also lucky to be in demand as a writing consultant, story coach, and editor, so I juggle those clients (everything from wedding speeches and stand-up comedy to novels and plays).
And hey, I just ran my first full marathon this past January and am training for next half-marathon in August. Like I said, I get a lot of writing done while I’m running! 🙂
Awesome! Where can we learn more about Jason Cannon?
So here’s my cocktail of websites where you can learn more:
My personal website is jason-cannon.com
My publishing imprint website (oh yeah, I also publish other authors! It’s a blast!) is over at ibis-books.com.
Thanks, Jason. Best wishes to you in all your creative endeavors!
How about you? Have you read Breakneck? If not, what’s holding you back? It’s free and it’s fun! Share your comments below.