I had the pleasure to do an interview with Jason Price, the author of “Pleasant Grove”. I read this book recently and I really enjoyed it! It is the perfect adventurous book to read during winter. You can read my review by clicking HERE. Get to know Jason Price better and find out more about his reading and writing preferences and his favourite books.
Who is Jason Price?
I’m a husband and father. I’ve worked in movie publicity for almost 20 years, which, I suppose, tells you the most about me as an author: my lifelong love of movies and storytelling.
Tell us a little bit more about your book – “Pleasant Grove”.
In many ways, it was movies – particularly those I watched as an adolescent – that most informed the writing of Pleasant Grove. I wrote the novel for my daughters, who are both in grade school now, and approaching the same age when I first discovered movies like The Goonies, and E.T. and TV shows like The Twilight Zone. I wanted them to read a novel that captured the same spirit of wonder and adventure that Steven Spielberg’s Amblin films captured for my generation. Pleasant Grove is the story of a 12-year-old girl named Agnes Goodwin, who lives in an idyllic small town with one peculiar feature: It’s enclosed by a glass dome. But that all changes the day Agnes discovers a strange boy from the outside. The hook was to take a small town and drop it in the middle of a sci-fi story – a story built around a single mystery: What’s outside the dome? I grew up in the suburbs, so I pulled from those experiences as well. The kids’ adventure becomes an exploration of what it means to leave a hometown – what’s gained…and what’s lost.
What was your favourite moment when writing “Pleasant Grove”?
My favorite moments are when a character says something, or acts in a way, that’s contrary to my outline. It happened multiple times during the writing of Pleasant Grove, despite my best-laid plans. That’s always exciting, because if I can surprise myself then there’s a good chance it will surprise the reader too.
Who is your favourite character in the book and why?
Agnes. She’s curious and likes asking questions…which puts her at odds with the adults in the town, who hold the secrets of Pleasant Grove and aren’t too keen on spilling the beans. But Agnes’s quest for knowledge knows no bounds. I hope readers of all ages can identify with her. I wanted to ground the extraordinary in the ordinary. My favorite sci-fi stories would still resonate without the supernatural element, because as much care is given to the ordinary as the extraordinary.
How long does it take to write a book?
Pleasant Grove took me a little over 2 years, from rough draft to published copy. But the truth is, a book takes as long as it takes. There were months of brainstorming before I began writing. Stories are an accumulation of life experiences, so perhaps the more accurate answer is a lifetime.
How do you deal with a writer’s block?
Some days the writing is easy; some days it’s hard. I outline before I start writing, which gives me a blueprint. Inevitably, the characters and story will take the lead, but the blueprint helps mitigate any potential writer’s block. I also find it useful to end the writing day when I know what happens next, so when I sit down again, I have the benefit of a head start.
What is the most challenging part when writing a book?
I can only speak for myself here. The way I see it, there are 3 major steps to writing a book: brainstorming, first draft, editing. None are easy, but all hold their pleasures. I find brainstorming to be the most difficult. It’s the foundation. Building a foundation is grunt work; it’s exhausting, and your hands get dirty. But a good foundation – a house with good bones – will see you through; so in that sense, it’s also the most rewarding.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A screenwriter. This started in high school when I began writing screenplays. I also wrote stage plays and had a couple works performed at the Alley Theatre and Stages Theatre in Houston. But there’s a certain creative freedom to the long-form narrative that appeals to me now, namely that the work is complete when I type “The End.” It’s not dependent on funding, or performance, only a willing reader.
What kind of books do you like to read in your spare time?
At the moment, I’m coming off a deep dive into Stephen King and Richard Matheson. I like genre books that transcend their genre.
When you are not writing, what keeps you busy in life? What are your hobbies?
When I’m not reading or writing, I’m on the hunt for my next favorite movie or album. Outside of a great book, there’s nothing quite as thrilling as watching a great movie, or listening to a great album, for the first time.
What is your favorite book, author or quote?
I’ll take a crack at all three. I’ll pick the first book to really blow my mind, and that’s 1984. Over any other author, give me Stephen King at his best. My favorite quote comes from King: “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”
What are you planning next for us, readers?
This is going to sound like a dodge, but I like to keep ideas close to the vest. Many of my closest friends didn’t know about Pleasant Grove until it was published.
Thank you so much for this lovely interview, Jason! I wish you all the luck and success in the future.
It was a pleasure. Many thanks Ivana!