Brian Palmer & Jason Rowe Interview
Jason Rowe is a published nonfiction writer and journalist, and has been a creative writer professionally for nearly 20 years. Jason first had the vision for the XII saga in 2001 but it was only after sharing the vision with friend and co-worker, Brian Palmer, in the summer of 2008 that the two decided to join creative forces and give birth to this 8-book series including an imagined future earth, a daunting cast of heroes and villains, and the underlying message of the series as a whole.
Brian Palmer has been a creative freelance writer for print and online publications in the music, literary, film and sports worlds since 2004. He graduated with a degree in English and an emphasis in creative writing from the University of Puget Sound in 2000. The XII saga is unlike any creative endeavor he has ever participated in, and it thrills him to no end.
Here is the blurb for the novel:
A century after the world was predicted to end, it was indeed reborn. Under the leadership of the Overseer of New Earth, minds were united, diseases were cured, and the Earth was healed when population centers minimized mankind’s footprint, and the remainder of the planet was turned over to the will of nature. War was eradicated, the world embraced one religion, and the New Era began.
But darkness rises now, mistaken for a mere shadow cast by the bright light of human progress. It is the time of which the ancients foretold. It is the time when all things must end. …It is the time of The Twelve.
Six men and six women representing all creeds and colors are supernaturally gifted, but the unlikeliest of heroes. They are barely adults by the world’s standards, but still they are called.
Only they can stand against the growing darkness – but will they stand together?
XII: Genesis is the first installment of an eight-book series in the Young Adult / New Adult genres. If action excites you, if the supernatural intrigues you, and if love compels you – then you are invited to join The Twelve in their fight against the growing darkness that threatens New Earth!
What inspired you to become a writer??
Brian: I was at a camp in high school, I think it might have been right before my sophomore year in high school, and they were offering a poetry workshop. I tried it out, dug it, and wrote a lot of poetry until I went to college. I majored in English and did my emphasis in creative writing, and after I took my first short story class, I was hooked and knew that writing–specifically short stories and novels–was what I wanted to do.
Jason: My earliest inspiration was my mother who was a writer, media, and creative talent herself. She instilled a love for reading and storytelling in me as soon as I was old enough to read. So my passion for reading led directly to my passion for writing.
What character(s) of your book(s) do each of you most relate to??
Brian: In a way, I think I relate the most to Juan just because he is not boisterous, and tends to be more introspective than anything else. He also has a habit of getting run over in conversations, which has happened to me on a number of occasions in my life.
Jason: I think there is inherently a part of me represented in each if the characters, make and female – but if I had to pick one, Stone is probably the one I identify with most as his personality, temperament, and mannerisms most closely mirror my own.
How do each of you visualize your stories? By dreams? Inner monologue with your characters, dreams, etc.?
Brian: Usually I’ll get some sort of flash in my mind, either while I am awake or sleeping, that sets me to thinking about what could result from that picture. Is this the beginning of the story? The middle? Who are these characters? What sorts of dilemmas are they facing? Then usually it is a process of freewriting to explore the possibilities while attempting to find the characters’ voices. I also try to think of where this story is set, what I know about the area, what I can add to the background so to speak, and then once I have exhausted those ideas, I determine whether or not I am just going to make up locations for the rest of the story to take place in, or try to use actual settings instead.
Jason: My stories always begin with drama or a vision and are then developed through internal monologue, more story immersion-based day dreaming while away from the keyboard, and then ultimately finished and polished through brainstorming or creative feedback.
What is your individual writing rituals? Music?? Silence? Meditation?
Brian: If I’m solo writing then it’s the film scores of Thomas Newman (American Beauty, The Shawshank Redemption, Road to Perdition, The Adjustment Bureau, Meet Joe Black), or the soundtracks to the Final Fantasy VII, IX and X video games. If Jason and I are Skyping together, that’s a whole other dance entirely! Prayer starts us off in the right direction, and then we hash out the details of whatever scenes we’re writing and pray that we won’t be interrupted too much by our kids!
Jason: I play each scene out in my mind starting at scene one (prologue or chapter 1) before writing it. Then I visualize the next natural step in the story that will most organically, plausibly, and compellingly take it towards the conclusion I have in mind. Because I allow the characters to tell me how they want to get there, I write in silence to better hear their voices. Prayer helps considerably as well.
What inspired you to write & collaborate on XII: Genesis ?
Brian: I’ll defer to Jason on the writing aspect since he had this idea long before he even met me, but as for collaborating, he told me about the idea for the XII Saga and even though it was completely unlike anything I had ever worked on before, I knew I wanted in right away. Even then, four years ago, this story was global in scope and potential, and the challenge of trying to wrap our minds around it all and figure out how we were going to tackle this appealed to me greatly. I was hooked!
Jason: I had the vision for XII many years before meeting Brian. What I envisioned was a dark themed, dystopian future epic with supernatural and heroic elements featuring young and new adults as the heroes. Beyond that, I wanted the story to have a purpose in addition to being compelling entertainment. When Brian and I began to toss around the idea of a collaboration, I shared the XII premise and we knew right away that it was the project with the most teeth and enough content to keep two capable and independent writers sharing the wheel effectively.
If you could be a book genre? Which one would you choose and why??
Brian: Before the XII Saga came around, I would have said that nebulous little thing called literary fiction because that’s what I wrote prior to starting work on this series. Now, I’m siding more with the notion of a supernatural action series like this one!
Jason: I would choose the young adult/new adult genre with a premise pretty much what we’ve created with XII. There’s action, drama, romance, life choices, and using ones unique talents as well as the collaborative strength of partnering with others to overcome evil and leave a positive legacy in the world.
What knowledge do you want to share with aspiring authors like myself??
Brian: Be authentic, be passionate, be dedicated. People will be drawn to the story you write if they can tell you feel like it’s the coolest thing you’ve ever read or written. It doesn’t have to be the next Twilight, it just has to contain a vitality that jumps off the page at the reader in a way that says, “Wow, this author wasn’t just trying to follow a tried-and-true formula to become a National Bestseller, they freaking had the time of their life coming up with this story!” Readers are smart. They can tell if you’re faking it. Don’t fake it!
Jason: I think being a great writer begins with being a passionate reader. You can’t make a great cup of coffee if you’ve never tasted one and writing is just like that. Having good ideas isn’t enough. You have to learn the craft through absorbing inspiration from other writers and then honing your craft through the writing process. Too many talented individuals either give up because they don’t think they are good enough, or they lack the endurance to stick with it through the long and often daunting process of birthing their story and characters into the world. Be passionate, believe in yourself, and stick to it.
if you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 things would you bring and why??
Brian: A water filtration system, for obvious reasons. A Bible for guidance and peace because that book has helped me through a number of tough situations in my life and I think being stranded on a deserted island would be a pretty tough spot to be in! My laptop complete with a magical battery that could last for many, many years without dying…just in case! And I’ll cheat and say my wife and daughter, that way I wouldn’t be alone.
Jason: My wife because she’s my best friend. A MacBook Pro with Word and satellite Internet connection for my writing. A bible for inspiration. A deck of cards for when swimming, body surfing, fishing, and tree climbing aren’t entertaining enough, and a homing beacon so that I can be found when I decide its time to return to civilization. 🙂
What other books do you have to write or be written in the horizon??
Brian: I’ll let Jason handle the XII-related material we have in the works (which will keep us very busy for many, many years), but I also have ideas for smaller-scale projects like the novels and short stories I wrote before this series started. More along the lines of indie dramas. That said, I do have one or two high-concept novel ideas that I am currently fleshing out in my mind, but for right now it’s all systems go with XII!
Jason: We’re currently working on book two of the series (there are 8 total). There are a number of nonfiction projects I have in development and another fictional series waiting for XII to be fully established on the best sellers list.
If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead? Who would it be and why??
Brian: Tolkien. I would love to pick his brain about how he became inspired to write the works he did, and I would love to hear what he thinks of how his novels have been portrayed in on film.
Jason: It feels cliché to say it, but Jesus. Not because its the answer I should give as a man of faith but because He was and is the ultimate storyteller and I’m sure I would take away more over a meal with Him than countless meals with anyone else I’m a fan of. People disappoint, Jesus never does.
If you could time travel, what time period would you go to and why??
Brian: The 19th Century, just because there was so much going on at the time and so many enormous historical achievements taking place here in America.
Jason: Wow. Just one?!! Probably the 19th Century because it was an amazing period for literature and progress.
How do you write your books?? By the seat of your pants? Or is it plotted out in advance??
Brian: The XII saga is the first instance where I have worked on something that involved plotting. Everything I had worked on before was more of a, “Let’s follow this rabbit down the rabbit hole and see where she goes” type of thing, and to a degree that’s how we began this series. But as time went on and we worked on re-writes, we learned that plotting this sucker out was essential, both to the integrity of the story and to help us keep our sanity!
Jason: I’ve learned to be more proactive through my professional experiences but I’m a dreamer and would be led by my dreams if I could do it without negative consequence to myself and others.
Here is a twist…in a sentence of 5 words or less, what comes to your mind first??
Brian: No day but today.
Jason: Change the world using words.
Brian: One final note is we are donating one-third of all net proceeds from this ebook to a non-profit organization in Oregon that is working to rescue women and young girls from the sex trafficking trade in Mumbai, India. We both used to work for this non-profit (it’s how we met, actually, and learned that we were kindred spirits in terms of our creative streaks, love of music, films, etc.) and I had the privilege of going to Mumbai in 2011 and seeing firsthand the work that was being done to change lives there, so this is an issue that is near and dear to both of us.