Jeremy is an ESL teacher at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal, and has been writing for as long as he can remember. While unpublished short stories and a children's book are tucked away in his home office, "An Apocalyptic Legend" is his first work to grace the shelves of several Montreal bookstores. Jeremy describes the novel as a descriptive, multilayered psychological fantasy, and gave me a tour of its style, themes and his process of writing in our interview.
In short, after a battle between divinities, one god has resurfaced and is trying to manipulate an individual to bring about the end of the world. Two adolescents have discovered what is going on and are trying to stop this from happening.
WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES IT SPECIAL AS A STORY?
I don’t think it’s a story that’s been told before, with its own organic twists, turns and unpredictability. Once you’ve finished reading it, you might feel a sense of satisfaction at seeing at how it all wraps up.
WHAT GENRE DO YOU THINK YOUR NOVEL FITS MOST IN?
I like to call it a psychological fantasy, but it also mixes the mythological and spiritual. Plus, the style could be considered Gothic, to an extent, because of the tone and descriptiveness.
IF YOU THINK OF YOUR STORY, WHAT 3 WORDS COME IMMEDIATELY TO MIND?
Complex, intriguing and descriptive.
YOU SAY YOUR BOOK IS MULTILAYERED. CAN YOU ELABORATE A BIT ON THAT?
I think the book looks at different levels of consciousness, awareness – so, levels of the psyche, in a way. Plus, there’s an understated level of magic, not quite at the forefront but which plays an important part nonetheless.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MOST POWERFUL THEMES IN YOUR STORY?
Faith, brotherhood, memory.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PASSAGE IN THE BOOK?
I always think of one chapter. I like the imagery, the emotion, the raw naivety of one particular character in the scene. It takes place in a sort of purgatory.
IS THERE ANYTHING IN THE STORY THAT SURPRISED YOU OR TOOK A DIFFERENT TURN THAN YOU EXPECTED?
As I was writing, sometimes something would happen that would actually surprise me. It’s like the ideas were coming out and taking the plot in an unexpected direction. But, I can’t fully answer this question without giving too much away. Once finished, and seeing how the plot wrapped up, I was surprised to see little connections throughout the book that I hadn’t intentionally planned out.
WHAT WAS YOUR MOTIVATION FOR WRITING A BOOK?
I had originally written it as a short story. Then, one day, it’s like a door opened and I saw its potential and where it could go. From that point on my only inspiration was getting the story out, which was just pure enjoyment.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE IT?
About six years. I’m quite a slow, meticulous writer. I started it back when I was at Concordia University – I spent a lot of time writing rather than studying!
WHAT AUTHORS OR STORIES DO YOU THINK HAVE SHAPED YOU AS AN AUTHOR?
Frank Herbert’s Dune, for instance, and other novels with the themes of “destiny” or “fate”. Also, Ursula Le Guin, especially for her Earthsea novels.
WHAT HAVE YOU READ THAT HAS MADE YOU CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION ON FICTION?
For one, Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man. It pushed me to look at the depth writing, the subtext and subtleties. I believe An Apocalyptic Legend has a multileveled style, which asks the reader to be a bit patient and attentive. Also, Margaret Atwood’s novels – her writing technique is at a level that awes and inspires me.
ARE THERE AUTHORS YOU DISLIKED AT FIRST BUT THEN GREW INTO?
Edgar Allan Poe’s stories and other Gothic literature. When I got more and more into reading classic science fiction, fantasy and horror, I picked up Poe’s stories again and really started to appreciate how the English language could be manipulated and used with such complexity and beauty. I started to see how English could be used in a more nuanced way.
YOUR STORY HAS POWERFUL CHARACTERS. HOW DID YOU CREATE THEM?
I’ve always been drawn to characters that are wise beyond their years – how knowledge and intelligence sets them apart, but brings with it challenges and conflict.
DO THEY REMIND YOU OF OTHER CHARACTERS OR ANYONE YOU KNOW?
As I was writing, I didn’t have anyone in mind, but after rereading and talking about it with others who have read it, I realized, hey, there are people from my life who helped to form some characters.
WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES YOUR CHARACTERS RELATABLE FOR YOUR READERS?
Due to the conflicts they face, the devotion and emotions they feel, and the difficult choices they have to make.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF WRITING FOR YOU? HOW DID THAT EVOLVE OVER THE COURSE OF WRITING YOUR NOVEL?
I think the grinding attention to detail – in every sentence or bit of dialogue – makes the writing process emotionally demanding for me! In terms of how it evolved…I think after having finished writing An Apocalyptic Legend, I felt a sense of accomplishment and relief, but I am sure it will still take as much creative energy (maybe even more) to write my next book. I feel a bit of self-imposed pressure. I’m mulling over new ideas and am excited about continuing to write, but sometimes I feel even more critical towards my own writing.
Older teens who are perceptive readers, and adults as well.
WHAT ELSE MIGHT YOUR READERS HAVE READ AND ENJOYED?Well, Dune and the Earthsea novels, as mentioned, because of the similar style, and how the reader can gather a lot from the subtext and insinuations.
IF YOU COULD COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR READERS, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THEM?
If you do choose to read my novel, give yourself a chance to get immersed in the story. If you feel that it’s at first challenging to read, I can pretty confidently tell you that you’ll find your rhythm and almost adapt to the style.
WHAT ARE THE GOALS AND DREAMS YOU HAVE FOR THIS NOVEL?
It would be great if a publisher picked it up. My immediate goal is just to get exposure and for people to read it, hopefully like it (haha!) and to, also hopefully, give me feedback.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
Well, I’ve got a sequel in mind. In the first story, fairly hefty decisions were made and I feel that there might be some fallout. The idea is still brewing, but I’m getting close to breaking the ice. I also have some short story ideas that I’d like to get started on. They’re all linked by a common theme, but I’d like to try writing each story in a separate style.
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